As with any burgeoning technology, you’ve got your work cut out for you choosing which engine to use for your architectural renders. While some professions use common 3D graphics software like Blender or Maya for architectural renders, our list below shows out top picks for programs specifically with architectural application in mind. If you’re looking for the best software available for this field, we recommend you check out the following:
VRay / $ depending on your main software (www.chaosgroup.com)
VRay is highly-used plug-in that is compatible with most major 3D rending engines, such as Maya, Blender and Modo. With its vast library of assets and its extreme flexibility, VRay is a must have if you are looking to accurately depict colours, lighting, shadows and textures as they appear in reality. Its gonna take a bit of effort to get to grips with, but you can rest easy knowing that there is a wealth of online tutorials available to help you.
Modo /$1779 / win, mac, linux (https://www.foundry.com/products/modo)
Despite the fact that it is a little more under the radar than other programs on this list, Modo is one of the best solutions available to architects out there, especially considering the fact that it models and renders, eliminating the need to switch between apps. Moreover, Modo has a number of impressive and unique 3D sculpting tools that are perfect for architects. It’s also a super-fast program that won’t tax your computer as much as its peers.
Modo allows artists to experiment with their imagination, without needing to jump through so many technical hoops. It offers numerous features, including modeling, UV workflows, sculpting and so much more.
Archicad /$4,250 / win, mac/ (http://www.graphisoft.com/archicad/)
With origins dating back to the 1980s, Archicad is recognized one of if not the first CAD and BIM program for personal computers capable of generating 3D images, and its current version is one of the few programs designed by architects for architects. Archicad’s strength comes from the fact that its programming cleverly anticipates your next actions and begins preparing for them, greatly reducing the amount of time waiting for things to load.
Archicad offers a wealth of features that will definitely make your job easier. For instance, it includes a convenient stair tool. Designing stairs can be incredibly tough. With the Stair Tool, you’ll be able to lay stairs in your work within a matter of seconds. A similar railing tool is also available.
Vectorworks Architect / from $2950 / win, mac (http://www.vectorworks.net/architect)
Vectorworks Architect is well-known for its robust tool set that allow the artist to bend, shape and manipulate 3D objects with ease, making it a favorite for those working on complex and innovative projects. It also gives you the benefit of working in a fantastically designed digital environment with great work flows and easy options to collaborate with other users. This one is definitely cutting edge.
Autocad architecture / from $190 / win (www.autodesk.co.uk/products/autocad-architect)
Developed by 3D graphics giants Autodesk, Autocad Architect is one of the most streamlined and accessible programs on the market. Built from the ground up with architects in mind, it makes some of the more lengthy and repetitious tasks of 3D rendering faster and much more efficient, drastically cutting down on the amount of time a project takes.
SketchUp / License for $695 / Win and Mac (https://www.sketchup.com/buy/sketchup-pro)
SketchUp aims to be one of the most simplistic and user-friendly rendering programs on the planet. The software’s LayOut feature gives you the ability to add model views to pages, adjust line weight and add graphics and dimensions. The software is also very versatile in terms of exporting your files. After you’ve finished your work, you can choose to export the file in numerous formats, including images, PDFs and CAD files. This ensures that you’ll be able to use your files pretty much anywhere and everywhere.
The software comes with access to a 3D Warehouse. Instead of modeling everything from scratch, you can download tons of free 3D models from the warehouse and speed up your work.
Revit / Starting at $245 / Win 64-bit only (https://www.autodesk.com/products/revit-family/overview)
Revit is a 3D rendering software developed by Autodesk. The software is designed for BIM or Building Information Modeling. It offers features for a wealth of purposes, including MEP, structural engineering, construction and architectural design. As a student, you can get the software for free years for free. It is also available in a comprehensive collection with AutoCAD and others. Or, you can buy it as a stand-alone software.
The powerful tools available in Revit make it possible to plan, design, construct and manage any type of building or infrastructure project. You can also use the software to collaborate with many contributors.
Honourable mentions: Rhino 3D, Lumion 3D, Chief Architect, Maxwell