Creating a Sky for Your 3D Architectural Visualization

30 November, 2017 | Ryan

The perfect sky has a lot more power in your 3D architectural visualization than you realize. Learn how to create the perfect sky for your rendering here.

Creating the perfect sky can be difficult. But, when the sky is done correctly, your 3D architectural visualization will be balanced and appealing to the audience.

Not sure how to create the perfect sky? No problem! Keep on reading to learn how to give your work a finishing touch that will give it appeal!

Creating the Perfect Skies for 3D Architectural Visualization 

Types of Skies

There are 3 types of skies that you can utilize to create the best 3D architectural visualization out there. These types of skies are:

1. Solid Color Skies

The easiest way to create an amazing sky that will compliment your 3D architectural visualization is to utilize a solid color. This can be done by creating a layer behind the drawing that is of light shades. 

Mask the sky color’s layer or choose the area where the sky will be, add a new layer and your color to get the sky’s color behind your visualization.

Or you can even color over the drawing and mask the color. By utilizing this technique you will avoid having to completely redo the sky’s layer if you happen to move something during rendering and can simply redo the color layer’s masking.

Adjust the layer’s opacity to help get the best intensity for your visualization.

2. Dusk Sky

Using a color gradient, overlaying with pictures, and using opacity and layer masks will help to create a realistic sky within your 3D architectural visualization.

This is done by: 

  1. Choosing a gradient layer/ placing background picture
  2. masking the gradient layer or picture in the background
  3. Importing the picture you wish to use while adjusting the size, opacity, and mask
  4. Additional pictures can be added and the previous layer duplicated, resized and even mirrored to help create the perfect combination sky look.

3. The Color Gradient Skies

These skies can prove to be difficult to make successfully in Photoshop

What you need to do for this method is:

  1. Create a layer
  2. Select the gradient tool
  3. Choose the color and fill you would like
  4. Choose from radial, angular, reflected, and diamond gradients to specify how the start and ending points will affect the gradient’s appearance.
  5. Specify the blending mode and opacity
  6. Adjust the gradient angle and gradient amount

Some Things to Avoid


A common problem is oversaturating the skies. Enhancing or amplifying the skies to catch the audience’s attention is often seen to overpower colors that are in the architecture and ground planes. This ruins the illustration’s hierarchy. 

Thankfully, this problem can be fixed fairly easily. All you need to do is move the saturation slider to left, removing some of the colors.

Unnatural Coloring

Similar to oversaturation, having an unnaturally colored sky can throw off the hierarchy of the image and make it difficult to have a successful composition. 

The use of unnatural colors also creates a “Photoshopped” look that takes away from the harmony between the sky, ground plane, and the architecture. 

It is easier to simply find another sky to use rather than trying to fix this problem. But, if you enjoy the formation of the clouds, you can always desaturate the color and use another sky’s color on top with an overlay.

Overly Busy Skies

Clouds, although interesting, can hurt the image by taking the attention that should be on your 3D architectural visualization and putting it towards the sky.

While adding drama to your visualization, be sure you take into consideration the clouds and the piece as a whole. The fine line between drama and distraction is one that can be difficult to spot but should not be crossed.

To make cloudier skies, dilute the image, desaturating the color and fading out details to create a softer looking texture. A simple way to do this effectively is to find another sky, one without

A simple way to do this effectively is to find another sky, one without clouds and set that color as the base sky. Then, you should take the cloudy sky, set it on top of the colored sky and lower the opacity to give the clouds a lighter look.

Wrong Direction of Light

An image with the light in the wrong direction will only set off alarms that tell the audience something is off. Although the problem is not clear, it is simple to fix that helps the 3D architectural visualization to read much better. 

Keep in Mind


Keep in mind the perspective of the 3D architectural visualization. Scenes that show a lot of depth with look better with a sky showing scale. Without this, the background will look much flatter and less appealing.


Clouds don’t always need to be in the sky of your visualization. Sometimes, just using a gradient is all that is needed to create an image with the perfect tone. 

Without the use of clouds, the image becomes calmer, helping to highlight the visualization of the architecture and ground planes.

Other Techniques to Consider

Rather than using a simple blue sky, a quick and easy way to enhance your 3D architectural visualization is to create a black sky. 

The h5 contrasts will be far more interesting and appealing to the audience than a simple blue or gray sky.

However, if you utilize this technique, you must be careful with the black spots that will appear throughout your picture. Using Silver Efex Pro is one way that can better convert your images to black and white. However, it is not necessary for this technique. 


Skies can pull your pieces together or break them apart. Be sure you think about the image carefully, considering all your options, and the problems that are associated with each.

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Need more help with your artwork? Check out our blog or give us a shout! We are more than happy to help in any way we can! 

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