Architectural 3D visualization is a realistic visual representation of an architectural project. It aims to facilitate communication between architects and clients so that clients can understand the architect’s vision without going through all the technical details. Typical formats are computer-generated images (CGI) and videos depicting the drawing plans in digital 3D structures. 3D architectural visualization services are usually required before construction or after the project is complete, especially for property marketing purposes.
Hand-drawn renderings, such as pencil sketches, still have their place during the early conceptual phase, when the architect and the client need to go through several ideas in quick progression. Once a design theme is decided, they will most likely migrate to computer-based imagery. Modern computers are powerful enough to draw an architectural visualization that is lifelike and hyper-realistic, with quality and level of detail that match those of a photograph.
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Expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $2,000 if you hire freelance 3D visualizer services or smaller firms. You can further break down the range based on project scope or size.
|Service rates for freelancers or smaller firms|
|Building type||Project scope||Cost|
|Residential||Interior||$200 – $550|
|Exterior||$200 – $700|
|Commercial||Interior||$275 – $1,000|
|Exterior (Small)||$350 – $700|
|Exterior (Large)||$700 – $2,000|
|3D Floor Plan||$50 – $450|
Factors that may increase or decrease the quoted price
- Visualization types and styles
- Number of views, which translates to how many renders to make
- Interior layout (more rooms mean a higher price)
- Design complexity
- Information and data the client provides (3D assets and clear description can ease the process)
- Quality or resolution
Larger firms charge between $1,000 and $2,000 per image for a small to medium project, and the rate may increase to $3,000 or more for a more prominent structure. The cost for videos or 3D architectural animation services is between $5,000 to $10,000. Of course, prices vary from firm to firm, but the rate depends on video duration, project complexity, and level of detail. Most firms do not provide any price list upfront, which means the cost can be either higher or lower than you may expect. The main reason is that every project has unique challenges, so a generalization is never a good idea from their perspective. As much as firms want to profit, they must carefully price the service to be competitive.
Regardless of the firms you call, chances are their representatives will ask you to send some files containing project scope, property size, and perhaps some images to be used as references. Based on your descriptions, they can at least estimate how much it will cost and how long it will take until completion. Since architectural 3D rendering services naturally require 3D assets, the cost to draw or build those assets is also billed to the client. You can probably reduce the cost by providing some ready-to-use assets. The best and only way to determine the total cost and timeframe is to discuss the job directly with each firm.
The prices above are for freelancers and firms in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and western European countries. You can hire similar services from other regions for much lower rates. Much like everything else, outsourcing is a viable option for architectural visualization. Some firms in China or India can afford to charge as low as $600 per image for a large project, and 3D animation services are approximately $50 per minute (not per second).
Prices should not be the only factor that affects your decision. For instance, the more expensive architectural 3D interior visualization services do not consistently deliver the best results, and the cheapest may not provide the best value. When talking to freelancers and firms about project details and prices, consider how they communicate, whether in person, via phone, or by email. Project management through effective communication will ultimately affect the result. How firms answer questions, take criticism and discuss ideas dictates their professionalism.
Many studios and artists from Asian countries regularly produce quality architectural visualizations for clients worldwide. If you can handle the communication challenges caused by the language barrier, time zone difference, and work culture, you will have an easier time finding the right firm for the job. Furthermore, you don’t have to pay as much as their more localized counterparts. Since each project has a different scope, the price for 3D architectural modeling services varies.
The cost involves drawing and rendering and includes labor. It’s more complicated when you realize that two professionals with the same credentials may have different levels of experience, and two equally experienced render artists have different visualization styles. It usually is a “you get what you pay for” affair with architectural rendering. The cheapest option can cost more than the pricier alternative because of the number of revisions and possibly a complete do-over in the worst-case scenario. A safe choice is to hire firms or freelancers who speak the same language as yours and are based in regions/countries that produce quality work.
Architectural Visualization Types
Twenty-first-century computers have more than enough power to generate impressive CGI, both still and animated, of every part of an architectural structure. It is the same technology used for creating video effects in the TV and movie industries. There’s no shortage of software and hardware options to visualize even the most complex architectural plan in 3D. A 3D rendering artist doesn’t need top-of-the-range workstations to produce architectural rendering. Modern home computers and laptops—with the correct configurations, of course—should suffice, especially with the availability of render farm to help speed up the process. Clients are also spoiled with various visualization types.
* Exterior Visualization
The most widely used type of architectural rendering is 3D exterior rendering services. Exterior visualization delivers a realistic representation of a building’s appearance as seen from the outside. Lighting and textures are the primary tools used to highlight its most sought-after design features and how well the building blends with the surroundings. Additional elements such as trees or water can be added for a realistic effect. A render artist can draw an exterior visualization from any specific viewing angle. It may take three or four still images to provide views from all sides, including the roof.
* Interior Visualization
Unless the building has only one room, you will need multiple renderings to cover the entire building. For optimum results, there should be one rendered image for every interior section, i.e., bedrooms, living room, bathroom, and kitchen. A 3D interior rendering service aims to visualize the interior layout, including decorations and ornamentations. Main highlights include floor materials, wall colors, kitchen equipment, furniture, and lighting. Some interior visualizations also offer a peek into the exterior through glass windows. Every object in an interior rendering is a 3D asset, and there can be dozens, if not hundreds, of unique objects to fill all the rooms.
Compared to exterior rendering, aerial visualization needs additional elements to populate the area around the main building. Think of it as an expanded version of exterior rendering. The site depicted in the scene may include other buildings, streets, vehicles, and many people. Every detail is meant to harmonize the structure and design within the community. 3D aerial rendering services are suitable for large-scale projects such as entire residential areas, like universities, hospitals, or amusement parks. It is a resource-demanding visualization that requires careful planning on scale and scenery.
For every type of visualization mentioned above, 3D AR/VR architectural services can be used to create an animated scene. More than a slideshow of images, the animation is a video that displays all the building’s features. It is like watching a short, animated film highlighting architectural details. The animation can combine exterior, interior, and aerial visualizations into a single rendering. Natural motions of various objects, such as water, leaves, shadows, ticking clock, and clouds, make the 3D animation more realistic.
Proper pacing and smooth transition from one room to another allow you to feel as if you are walking into the building and feeling the atmosphere inside. The most sophisticated type of architectural visualization is a virtual reality (VR) tour, with some levels of interactivity. A VR headset allows virtual access to the building and interaction with objects such as door handles, water fixtures, or light switches. It is an animated visualization taken to the next level and also the most expensive.
Visualization styles by fashion
Each type of visualization can be further refined using different touches to create unique styles. Some software packages provide various style options, allowing a 3D rendering company to apply several visual effects to the CGI. Some of the most popular visualization styles are as follows:
- Photorealistic: also known as semi-realistic, the style aims to present an architectural visualization at the highest level of realism possible. A combination of natural & artificial lighting (all parts of CGI) generates shadows, refraction, deflection, and color dynamics to make the imagery identical to how the structure should appear in the real world as perceived by human eyes.
- Watercolor: the main idea of the watercolor style is to imitate handmade watercolor paintings. The technical architectural details are still presented well, although the less-prominent parts are usually blended with the surrounding environment using textures and colors as the binding elements. The result is artistic imagery of an otherwise technical product.
- Whodunit: the overall outlook of a “whodunit” actual visualization is almost post-apocalyptic. A practical method to achieve the effect is desaturation. The dominant colors of this style are dark blue, green tones, and grey. In many examples, the atmosphere is dreary above shadowy figures. The visualization carries a strong impression of mystery, quietness, and subtle darkness as if it is a still image taken straight out of a film noir scene.
- Mad Max: a unique characteristic of “Mad Max” visualization is a dimmed city. Most often used in cityscape renderings, the main building emits a noticeable glow. Since the surrounding is intentionally obscured, the structure immediately becomes the focus. Mad Max conveys that the building stands in a former urban wasteland.
- David: not even the slightest imperfection is permitted to be part of a “David” visualization style. Everything is displayed in a utopian atmosphere in which people and the surroundings live together in perfect harmony. Some say this style is clinically precise, making it idealistic rather than realistic. It is often used in the architectural renderings of shopping centers and luxury resorts.
- Katherine Heigl: with an abundance of reflective elements like parks, sunset, forest, and the typical “happily ever after” vibe across the scene, the Katherine Heigl style is the exact opposite of whodunit. The presence of background characters leaves no space. Combine that with bright lighting and high saturation, and you can almost sense the happiness and lightheartedness.
- Gondry: named after Michel Gondry, a filmmaker known for his inventive visual style, an architectural visualization of this type uses a combination of sketches, photos, and sometimes renders to build a scene. If the rendering is done correctly, it is good story-telling material.
Most people think of photorealistic rendering services when talking about architectural rendering as the only choice. Each photorealistic style has a different difficulty level, affecting the overall visualization cost. There are numerous options available depending on your requirements.
How Cad Crowd can assist
At Cad Crowd, we have the privilege of working with hundreds of highly qualified architectural design freelancers. Contact us today for a free quote if you’d like assistance.