Technology is Changing the Game of Architectural Design

21 September, 2017 | Ryan [simple-social-share]

Technology is Changing the Game of Architectural Design

Technology is an incredible tool when it comes to architectural design. Stay on top of the game and take a look at the latest and greatest high-tech tools!

People with limited technical skills and artistic ability are now able to use some of the easiest architectural design tools. Thanks to continuing technological breakthroughs.

Rumor has it, even the most advanced high-tech tools are becoming more user-friendly.

Meaning … anyone will be able to create their own complex architectural designs. Now, I’m not sure how professional the results will be if you’ve no artistic creativity. Still, it’s an interesting thought. If you like mastering new tools, why not?

Just a heads up…

Architectural design is also called architectural rendering/visualization/illustration or photo-real rendering.The community quite often refers to themselves as “Archviz.”

Archviz members are typically artistic. Many are trained architects. They’re also tech.savvy due to the use of computer technology that’s at times, complex.

However, today there’s a high-tech. architectural design tool for everyone…

But beware, they still take some mastering!

 Photoshop CC 2017

Photoshop has been a popular choice to enhance designs and photos for many years. The 3D part of their product is easier to use than traditional 3D software so it’s a great choice if you’re a beginner.

  • This is an Adobe product…Their 3D model part of the software package is why it fits into the architectural design category.
  • Creates 3D images in minutes whereas traditional 3D software takes hours.
  • To purchase a¬†package including the 3D, the cost starts around $20 per month. But you’ll only get two “assets”(one being 3D) for that price.
  • Only effective on a fairly powerful PC.
  • Ongoing support team if you run into trouble.
  • Popular uses include enhancing office presentations.
  • Adobe is a trustworthy standard and industry leader for this type of software.
  • Raster files. (RAW, JPEG, PNG, or even TIFF) Also known as BITMAP files… More on the importance of this in a moment.

Illustrator CS4 & CS5

It’s much easier to draw images in Illustrator than Photoshop. But, it can be a little temperamental. For example, draw a line and look at the preview. Then you find it appears on the screen in a different place.

  • Another Adobe product.
  • Monthly cost around $20 minimum.
  • Construct the 3D image in Illustrator and color in Photoshop.
  • Vector files.

So, why would you choose Illustrator over Photoshop?

The answer is in the raster vs. vector files…

You see, raster files don’t re-size well. Think of your cherished family photo. If only it wasn’t more than the size of a large postage stamp. You want to make it larger but it becomes distorted, fuzzy. There’s no remedy to your dilemma.

That’s because raster files are made up of pixels. (Like the tiny blocks that display on your computer.) This enables blending of tones, shading and more.

Whereas, vector files re-size perfectly no matter how large or small you make them. Think of say, a logo with a sweet 3D photo style image designed by you. No matter whether it’s a business card or a billboard in Times Square, the image will be crisp.

Vector files are made up of lines, not pixels. So, any work you do requiring multiple sizes is best prepared in Illustrator.

Next up…


If you’re not much for drawing, but like to be visually creative, check this one out. Sketchup has an inventory of just about any model to work on. Seriously … chairs, plants, people, or anything else you can think of…

  • A Google product
  • Simple to use – Pros use this, so can beginners.
  • Ability to turn your model into a document or drawing.
  • A 1-time license fee of about $700 with annual maintenance fee as well.
  • There’s also a free non-professional version to download.

Rhino 3D

Rhino 3D is easy to use and wonderful if you’ve got some drawing skills.

  • Just like drawing a concept on a page, except digital.
  • Works fast with an ordinary computer.
  • Reputed to be the world’s most versatile software for 3D model design.
  • Creeping up to $800.


Maya is best known for animation software. If you’re a budding film or video maker, check it out…

  • An Autodesk product.
  • Academy Award winner for technical achievement for the movies’ Avatar, The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo, Spiderman, and more.
  • I picked these very different movie examples to show you, with Maya, the sky’s the limit.
  • The basic annual fee runs at around $1,500 which is nothing if you plan on winning a few Academy Awards.

Let’s take a breather while I dream of my Academy Award…

No, really!

Okay, on to a couple more Autodesk products…

AutoCAD Architecture

If you’re into detailed and meticulous projects, AutoCAD could be your choice.

  • Interactive software allows for mimicking real life. For example, draw a door and make it open and close.
  • Works well with other software including Photoshop to achieve the highest quality render.
  • Respected for decades as the flagship Autodesk product. (Of course, with upgrades.)
  • Designed specifically for architects to make laborious jobs easier.

3ds Max

If you’re looking for architectural design software that operates well with other rendering software, 3ds Max is a worthy option.

  • Can be used with Adobe Photoshop for the ultimate high-quality render.
  • Closely resembles AutoCAD and works well with that software. But, 3ds Max mostly takes care of the 3D rendering and animation aspects/needs of the construction project.
  • Used by many game developers, TV and film studios due to its versatility and outstanding end product.

We’ll finish with…

Lumion 3d

If you like to share your work like a social media butterfly, Lumion 3d has you covered.

  • It’s able to create the render in just a few minutes. But, you must design your 3D model using other software like Revit or Sketchup and import it to Lumion.
  • Populate your model with plants, people, buildings, weather and more.
  • Turn your images into a 360-degree panorama.
  • Share the link to your image… Architectural rendering with a touch of social media!

What about a touch of Virtual Reality (VR) to complete your architectural design?

Currently, architectural design with VR still requires a lot of technical knowledge. Product developers are working to make this type of software more user-friendly.

Just something to keep an eye on.

If you’ve got a favorite tool, let me know what you love about it in the comments…


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