Exterior 3D Rendering Costs: 13 Areas Impacting Rates & Budget


Today we are discussing 13 areas impacting exterior 3d rendering costs. Whether an individual house, residential complex, commercial building, or industrial construction, no structure you see around you was made overnight. Constructing each one involves a long, complex, and arduous process that often begins with architectural design. 

Back in the day, future buildings were designed and drawn on paper. Today, however, modern technology makes it possible to design anything from the smallest volumetric object to a towering skyscraper with the help of computer graphics and virtual reality. 

Thanks to exterior 3D rendering, clients have the perfect opportunity to see how things will look once construction is completed. Clients can also decide on the materials, textures, colors, and furnishings they want based on the renders. 

With just a few tweaks here and there, architects can easily match the designs they have in mind to meet or even exceed the expectations of their clients. 

What is exterior design?

Exterior design is a subfield of architecture that primarily deals with designing the exterior or outer part of residential, industrial, and commercial buildings. It can also include transforming the façade, landscape, foundation elements, outdoor furniture, etc. This is why the designer must have familiarity with exterior hardscape design. 

Just like interior designers, exterior designers must also have an artistic approach and know the basics of visual perception, color theory, and other similar aspects. Aside from this, a good exterior designer must also be well-versed in structural engineering, landscape architecture, and even construction because they also deal with the design of smaller buildings such as sheds and garages. Due to the nature of this job, most exterior designers are often architects who work hand in hand with structural and civil engineers. 

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Exterior designers must know the fundamentals of 3D rendering software since this is commonly used during the project’s initial stages to get the client’s approval. It is why some people often confuse exterior designers with 3D artists. 

But there are several key differences between 3D artists and exterior designers. It is rare for the latter to be 3D experts who can provide versatile photorealistic renders, while the former are seldom familiar with the basic concepts of construction and architecture. 

Due to these different areas of expertise and skills, exterior designers must collaborate with 3D designers, who can help turn their visions into reality.

Pricing strategies for exterior 3D rendering 

The good news is that exterior design projects are often easy on the budget, although it does depend on the specific level of detail you need in the final images. For example, if you keep the environment simple, you can expect that the price of the images will also be lower. 

The average cost of residential and commercial exterior rendering services in most parts of the world ranges from $500 to $1000. Once again, you have to remember that the final price will still depend on your project’s size and specific requirements. 

Clients can also include other environmental features such as landscaping, greenery, and other aspects. Going down this route will let you see the exact appearance of your development in real life after its completion. 

There are two basic pricing strategies that exterior 3D rendering artists can follow to determine your total cost: per project and image. 

Per scene or project pricing

With this pricing strategy, you send your project details to the company of your choice, and they then send a customized quote to you according to your needs and requirements. 

This type of pricing is commonly used for largescale exterior 3D rendering projects that include various elements such as multiple rendered images, 3D floor plans, web design, and animation. 

You should aim for a volume discount when asking for a quote for largescale projects.

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Per image pricing

If you choose per-image pricing, you will be charged a fixed price for every rendered image. You might also ask for a scalable price according to the specific number of renders that you want to buy. This particular type of pricing is most suitable for smaller projects, like a basic home exterior. 

It is vital to take note that the price of rendering a single image is somewhat higher per image than rendering several images. It is due to the initial intensive setup required for the first rendering. 

13 Key factors affecting exterior 3D rendering costs

Now that you know what exterior design is about and the pricing strategies used by 3D artists, it is time to learn the 13 key factors affecting exterior 3D rendering costs – impacting rates and budget. 

1. Exterior 3D rendering labor

The labor required is undoubtedly the main factor that affects the cost of any exterior 3D rendering project. Three professionals are generally involved in these projects, including the project manager, 3D artist, and photoshop or post-processing artist.

The 3D artist is the most significant element of the labor cost. 3D Artists need to do several things to come up with a render:

  1. Understand the vision and plans of the client
  2. Use 3D software to create the model 
  3. Add texture to the model
  4. Prepare the lighting 
  5. Prepare the camera. 

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What increases the labor costs of 3D artists?

The labor involved in exterior 3D rendering is not really as straightforward as you might think. A skilled 3D artist can develop what may look like a pretty detailed scene within a short span of time using the available tools at their disposal. However, some scenes that seem simple may take a great deal of time to produce. 

For instance, the artist can come up with a very accurate and extensive aerial view of a forest almost instantly using several automated processes and public topographical data. But it may take a few days or even weeks to model, and even just one piece of equipment based on exacting standards can take time. For example, an electronic device that features complex wiring and circuit boards. 

Most of the time, it is possible to speed up the process using items from the existing libraries of the 3D artist, such as people, finishes, furniture, and cars. The key factors that can affect labor include the number of the required unique elements and the level of detail. 

After completing the exterior 3D render, most studios also employ a graphic designer or photoshop artist to touch the image. This post-production can be either a major or minor part of the entire process. 

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2. Use of art direction for aesthetic beauty

The main goal of exterior 3D rendering is to develop photorealistic designs for the future structure in real life. The rendering team and the creative art director work to create function and beauty in the image. 

It is also necessary for the 3D consultants to think outside the box. They try to experiment first with several lighting setups and camera angles to make their designs more innovative. 

3. Influence of the project brief

The project brief can also significantly impact the cost of exterior 3D rendering. A comprehensive brief with several visual references and detailed drawings will enable 3D artists to know and understand the concept of the architect’s design right from the start of the project.

This will mean they can recreate the design in exterior CGI with the highest possible level of precision. It also helps eliminate the need for several rounds of tweaks and corrections that will only further add to the cost. 

Aside from this, a more comprehensive brief can also help speed up the workflow. CGI visualization can finish the exterior rendering project up to 30 percent faster than average through this detailed assignment. 

4. Inclusion of custom-made designs

You can expect the total cost to be higher if you choose more custom-made designs. This can happen even if there are not a lot of revisions, and revisions often increase the price of architectural rendering services. 

You can choose between a premade package or a customized package to decide on the cost accordingly. 

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5. Impact on the environment

The environment and background of the image can also make a big difference to the cost of exterior 3D rendering. The price will obviously be higher if the 3D artist needs to do more work.

The following are the three primary types of environment, starting with the simplest and finishing with the most complex:

  • A photo is the cheapest surrounding or environment available for you to use, and this is an excellent choice if you want to show the difference that the project will make upon its completion. Photos can be taken online, captured from the ground, or even with a drone’s help, which results in an excellent-looking render that can be made in less time. 
  • In the 3D visualization world, ghost buildings are diaphanous, low-poly models. Quick and easy to make, these can put the project in an inconspicuous context that doesn’t contain anything to distract from the architect’s vision. 
  • The last type of environment is photoreal environment rendering that can captivate the audience. Whether it is an elaborated community of realistic buildings or a captivating landscape rendering object, the project will be accompanied by the most presentable surrounding. 

As expected, this background calls for an additional amount and level of texturing and modeling. This will also lead to the highest wow factor, so it is no surprise that many architects settle for a more realistic surroundings. Since the presentation will absorb the viewers, you can expect the higher cost to pay off. 

Since the environment can affect the cost of an exterior 3D rendering project, there are always options for different budgets and project goals.

6. Architectural style

When an artist uses more complex decorations and forms, the 3D visualization studio will also need more work. Even though the style will not dictate the amount of detail directly, there are some obvious tendencies. 

In general, modernist architecture is one of the easiest styles to model. Meanwhile, the more detailed classicism and high-tech tend to be more complex, with baroque following closely behind. The general rule of thumb is that neo-gothic requires more effort and time because of the abundance of ornamentation.

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7. Requirement for multiple revisions

It is already a lot of work to create an exterior 3D rendering layout from the ground up. However, the need to make several revisions may lead to a steep increase in the total cost if more artists need to be hired to ensure the deadline is met. 

Designers might need to make adjustments to the original model. This could involve adding or removing furniture pieces, updating the textures and colors of the walls, floors, and ceilings, or including more décor. 

8. Overall exterior design

Larger projects will cost more than smaller ones since they involve more planning and detailing. Clients must have a clearer design using the CAD format plans that 3D architects share, and they also need to make sense of them. 

But it is a must to keep in mind that these plans will still be subject to numerous changes, and it will take some time, particularly if there is a need to correct errors such as misaligned surfaces or improper structure. 

9. Post-production

The primary objective of the post-production stage is to ensure that the render is more realistic and organic. Even the smallest details may lead to variations in the cost of architectural rendering. 

Details like vehicles driving into the garage, pets playing, and people walking may further increase the price. However, they tend to have a tremendous effect. The image looks like it is living a life of its own, making the client want to be a part of it.

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Different weather conditions can make the atmosphere of the visualization either dramatic, funny, playful, or solemn. For example, an image may radiate peace and calm because of cool weather as people stroll around and socialize. 

Some 3D software architects also opt to use photo retouching to evoke realistic qualities in the design. 

But some texturing and lighting effects, retouching, adding colors, and the inclusion of more items or detailing, are often done much better on the actual layout. 

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10. Rendering time

Rendering time refers to the specific time it takes for the computer to generate your image. This directly relates to the amount of detail you need and how realistic the images are. But there are a lot of tricks that can be used to create detail with no need for additional rendering time.

Depending on the specific rendering software used, the number of light sources can often significantly affect the rendering time. This is why exterior scenes can be rendered faster.

One more factor has to do with the scene’s detail. This is called poly-count in the industry and pertains to how many polygons are used for 3D modeling the scene. One common element that can dramatically increase detail and the rendering time, as a result, is the foreground vegetation. 

It is also essential to optimize the background vegetation with the technique of using sprites or billboards. In addition, more detail is also required for curved surfaces. 


How to reduce rendering time

The best thing you can do to cut back on the rendering time is to reduce the number of necessary revisions. You can do so by providing specific feedback and more detailed plans. Every time you need a revision, some or all images must be re-rendered.

This means that fewer revisions will result in reduced total rendering time. Lowering the need for revisions may help you save money down the road. 

Resolution is also one of the most significant factors in rendering times. However, it comes into play more when developing animations. But it is also an essential factor when making still images. 

Effect of software and hardware on rendering time

With the latest changes in rendering software and constant developments in computer hardware, rendering time for still images has become a minor factor in terms of cost. But rendering time for animations remains a highly relevant factor in the cost of production. 

11. Size can make a difference 

Depending on the size of the area that the house or building will occupy and whether the roof is high enough to make you touch the stars, the team of 3D artists will have to model it. This must be done at the minimum for a few hours but could be done over a few days. 

Exterior 3D rendering comes in all sizes and shapes, from one simple hut to several rows of townhouses. Or from a cozy cottage to a towering skyscraper. Sometimes it is a regular business center or a massive power plant. These constructions will all require separate consideration as far as exterior 3D rendering cost is concerned. 

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12. Specifications and detailing

More detailing can also increase the price of high-quality exterior 3D renderings because of the additional planning. 

For instance, clients need to know how a specific structure will look from various angles. Also, how well it will keep up with the different weather conditions. 

The layout must also be accurate and detailed with textures, shadows, and lights, similar to how it will look in the real world. The client is often provided with the general layout and a few full HD images. These can also be presented in Ultra 4K HD, complete with 3D interactive renderings or bird’s eye perspective visualization.

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13. The views make up the total exterior 3D rendering cost 

All houses and buildings are different, so each will look best from different perspectives. Several architectural designs require viewing from numerous angles. This is to showcase them in all their glory and splendor. 

An angle or front view is an excellent choice for a porch or balcony. This angle view needs some surroundings, resulting in a more expensive exterior 3D rendering cost. Following a similar approach, the general view can also contribute more to the total cost of the rendering project, and the bird’s eye view basically covers the most significant area. 

A general view is the most popular and common option for exterior 3D rendering. However, a single bird’s eye view animation or several bird’s eye perspectives can present the most notable aspects of the design more efficiently and effectively. It is because they show it from various points of view, and it is also more impressive because this is in contrast with people’s daily experiences, where there is no glide or light. 

The windows of the house or building can be made to create a mild shine, throw dazzling light on the ground, or show a reflection of the entire neighborhood. They can also reveal what is inside or feature blinds if this is what you want. The former option, however, can add more value to the project. Remember, though, that the addition of interior elements may further add to the modeling work, which would ultimately increase the rendering cost further.

The bottom line 

These are just 13 areas that can affect your budget and impact exterior 3D rendering costs. Some other factors and variables can further increase or lower the price accordingly.

To ensure that you don’t blow your budget, make sure that you work with honest and reliable exterior 3D rendering artists. Once you find them, take time to sit down with them and talk about your financial limits and constraints to set expectations right from the get-go. 

How can Cad Crowd Assist

If you are interested in 3D rendering services for your next 3D architectural project, we will connect you with a freelancing professional that we know and trust to assist you in making your design come to life with 3D Rendering. To find out more about pricing, feel free to contact us with your design goals, and we will provide you with a free quote!