5 Tips to create architectural visualisations instead of plain images

BLOG VAR •   2019

Although the most important advise I have ever heard is ‘never stop learning’ there are some tips I find useful to keep in mind when making architectural visualisations.

What is architecture without human stories? Just buildings.

Nowadays we can use amazing software to create stunning still images such as 3dStudio, Lumion or Sketchup. The results we can obtain if we are expert-users can be very realistic in terms of lighting and textures although they can be a bit lifeless and overcleaned if we are don´t pay attention at the scene we are creating.

Let’s see then how can we apply some humanity to our imagery.

1. Tell a story

If your image does not tell a story, it might be just a shallow one. The story might not be told directly with the building you are showing but the context it is placed in, the people that actually are going to experience that architecture or maybe the weather or even the time of day the shot is taken.

There are amazing professionals that know not just how to tell a story in every image they create but to get us involved in it and the architecture they are showing. If I had to mention only two of them, they would be Sergio Mereces and Alex Hogrefe

Images: Left: Sergio Mereces – Creative Hub, Right: Alex Hogrefe – Birch Camo

As an example, during the creation process of the Lake house, we decided to actually imagine characters that would live in the house. That helped not only with the final imagery but with the furniture and decoration layout.

Image: VAR – Lake house. 3D Model + visualisations

2. Study the composition

Within the visualizing architecture process, everything starts with composing a scene that will be aesthetically engaging and interesting. This can be achieved through perspective, symmetry, rhythm, hierarchy, or many other ways.
We can see many well-known examples through the history of arts precisely because of their accurate use of composition techniques.

In the case of the Lake house it was pretty simple to recognise symmetry and enhance it.
If you are wondering what the best composition for an image is, think about the architecture itself and what are its most relevant features. In addition, what is more important, think about how this image can help people understand a virtual space.

Image: VAR – Lake house. 3D Model + visualisations

3. Colour and mood

They are intimately related to each other. A specific palette of colours will influence the mood of the image. Of course, this starts from the designer’s decision on what materials and textures the surfaces are going to be finished, but it ends in you deciding the global look of the image itself.
It could be worthwhile to decide beforehand what season and weather is going to be shown in the image and think about what overall mood depicts that in the scene and in the materials used.

We will create a specific post about colour in architectural imagery, but in the meanwhile I suggest you go to some websites to get a set of colours and start your image. I use adobe kuler to explore different themes and create my own ones.


4. Selective information

The information you show in the image must be a tool for whoever is looking at it. That’s why this point is closely related to the importance of the client.
The information you provide on your architectural visualisation might be different if the prospect is a design business or a family that is about to buy a house.
Besides, the image should have proportional amount of information according to its final size and how it is going to be shown.
I encourage you to think ahead about where and how your image is going to be displayed. This way you can measure what amount of information and detail suits it. Would you expend the same time editing a 4K image than a thumbnail image? Considering the resolution of the output image from the beginning will save you precious time.

5. Be bold and break the rules

Although an accurate technique is important and will make you achieve good results, remember that not every CGI is an architectural visualisation.
Keep an eye in learning to get new tools and skills but also follow your intuition and get to find your own process and style. That is going to be the key to create and improve your best way to create a great architectural visualisation.