10 things you’ve got to do to improve your archviz work

Here’s our top ten list of things we strive to do to get better archviz results in our own work…

1. Force your client to be absolutely clear about what he/she ‘s searching for.

Some clients just know from the start what they are searching for, mood-wise, color-wise, furnishing-wise. Some don’t, and may expect you to come up with a zillion different proposal and then decide which one they like best. If your clients are already sure of what they want, ask them to provide you with tons of  references and materials… Ask them to spend some of their time searching pictures of rooms they are trying to recreate, or furnishing elements, textures, materials, colors.

This will lead to them having exactly what they wanted in the first place, leaving them truly satisfied of your work, and then possibly givin’ you more in the future.

You won’t be lost in trying to understand what they wanted, and will be more productive and fast in your work. This will lead also to lower prices (as you won’t lose hours while doing this kind of research for them), a thing clients are particularly interested in 😀

 If your clients aren’t clear enough on what they want, this may imply a risk of spending many hours without getting to the point, or missing the focus on what they want (even if they still don’t know what they exactly want).

You may solve this by sending them the references you have in mind after briefing with them the first time you meet. Be absolutely clear about the fact that this will lead to a higher price they’ll be paying for your work.

2. Do an insane amount of research/updating your knowledge on design.

This can’t be stressed enough. It’s vital that you’re always up-to-date with everythin’ that’s architecture, interior design, taste.

Try to read a  lot of magazines, both online and paper ones. People are today generally more and more aware of what looks cool, fashionable, classy. You have to be as good as everybody else in knowing all the newest trends and solutions. Your clients have to feel that you have plenty of taste and knowledge in design, you can’t be less prepared than them on the subject.

Today there’s an huge amount of very well done blogs on interiors and architecture, and you’d better be one of the daily readers on many of them.

There’s a strong probability that your clients are readers of them as well.

3. Do an insane amount of research/updating your knowledge on photography.

If you’re after cooking renders that look like photos, you’d better know how to shoot a photo. Composition and colors in photography are so important, they’ll translate perfectly into your renders.

Take your time to study photos shot by pros; look how they framed the subject, and try to understand what makes the diffrence between a great shot and a lame one.

The rule of thirds is crucial even if it’s basic stuff. It’s important to know it beacause that will lead to the possibility to break the rule too once you’ve mastered it. Theory of colors applied to photography is also a vital point.

4. Use professionally developed maps/models.

If you’re skilled enough to make your own maps and textures, do them your way. Same goes for modelling furniture. If you ain’t, or don’t have the time to model everything, buy the best stuff on the market.

Don’t download the stuff illegally bacause you’re doin’ wrong to other 3d artists like you.

You don’t have to buy a million models at a time. Your library should be something that grows over time. If your client wants a specific piece of furniture, and you can’t model it, buy it online and make your client know that it’s an additional cost (he doesn’t have to pay for it fully, as you’ll then have a model you’ll be able to use in future projects/works, just ask him a little money to give him exactly what he wants).

At Materica d_sign we tend to do all our maps and textures, diffuse, bump, reflect, displacement, opacity. That takes a whole lot of time but enables you to have full control on them.

We  have bought several HDRI maps, and it’s vital they are good because now we work with fully IBL methods. We have bought also a couple sofas from the best  site on the net for that kind of stuff. We can model most of the furniture our clients ask us, but for some truly naturally looking sofas you have to have skills we still don’t have 😀 We have modelled several sofas and still use them a lot. All of the works featured at this time in our blog  have materica d_sign modelled sofas. They are ok, but sometimes they just won’t cut it. Be prepared to invest some money on pro stuff when you’ll need it.

5. Give the right importance to Postproduction.

I firmly believe that it’s impossible to have a great looking render without doing some postproduction.

It may just be a little contrast, balance of colors, desaturation, image cropping. I know of some very skilled 3d artist who can have an almost perfect render straight out of their 3d/rendering  software. We aren’t that good, and even if we think our renders aren’t that bad when they finish cooking, they still look insanely better after we’ve postproducted them.

The photographic look we try to achieve pops out only when we tweak the images in more “photomanipulating” softwares. Since we’ve bought Magic Bullet Photolooks our renders have changed their impact on our eyes. They look much more natural.

6. Continue studying. Be humble.

Our path is still long to get among the best of them, but still we manage to learn something everyday, be it software-wise, photography-wise, design-wise.

If we look back to the works we did it even just a year ago, we feel we’ve constantly grown as 3d operators. It may be just a little, but still there was an improvement.

Passion and will to learn are the really important thing here, as in everything. You’ve got to work hard to get on top, and work even harder to stay there.

Things evolve so fast you can’t sit back and relax for too long. Be conscious of your limits, and strive to come over your own boundaries. Read tutorials, blogs, follow conventions and be prepared to pay somerthing once in a while to attend some workshops on subjects you still don’t master. Once again, it’s an investment in your future and you professionality.

7. Quality is not for free.

Find the right balance between quality and affordability.

If you are honest and pay for the stuff you use (softwares, maps, models, taxes) you can’t give away your time and work for free or indecently low prices. You paid hard earned money for the stuff you use, for your education and so on.

People must be prepared to pay for your level of competence. While it’s important to have clients, it’s also important they respect you and your work. Many are using the global economical crisis as a stick to beat professionals hard on their head and steal their work.

If you think you can lower a bit your price because you’re dealing with a good client, or you find their project interesting and want it in your portfolio, do it. Still, make them understand the amount of work and skills is necessary to “make their dreams come true”.

They may appreciate the fact that you find the time to explain them your work, and how you’ ll approach theirs.

8. Do personal works.

Take the time  to explore areas of archviz you normally don’t when working on other people’s projects.

When facing a timeline for getting the work done, it’s almost impossible to start experimenting solutions on materials or lighting. If you find the time, do some sort of experiments on your own. They’ll pay in the long distance, because you’ll know better the softwares and will have an array of new instruments to face different possibilities to have the job done. As an example, lighting-wise, we started with  direct lights, then switched to vray lights, then to vray sun, then to IBL. We studied each of the forementioned methods in different lapses of time, and nowadays, even if we almost exclusively use IBL, we could use each and any of them to get a job done.

That kind of knowledge gives you more opportunities and freedom.

9. Do the reality/render exercise as much as you can.

This is strictly linked to point 8. Take a photo from a mag, a website, a blog, of a project you really like. It can be an architecture, an interior, what you like. Recreate the picture as closely as you can: materials, reflections, light, point of view of the shot.

You’ll learn a whole lot of stuff on the way.

Apart from putting greater attention to details when modeling, this kind of exercise will make you look really closely to a whole bunch of things. Recreating a material as closely as possible to the ones you see in a picture will make you understand better how they work. Same goes with lighting.

10. Do some serious sketching.

Free hand drawing is in our opinion  a highway to better rendering. As you’ll find out in some of our dedicated posts on the blog (sketches madness) we believe that putting attention to details and textures in a freehand drawing will make you have a diffrent approach on the subject even when texturing a 3d scene.

Handdrawn sketching takes a lot of patience and passion, exactly what 3d work asks for.


3 responses to “10 things you’ve got to do to improve your archviz work”

  1. John-Michael Wilyat says :

    Thanks for the workflow tips. I have a feeling I will be referencing these a lot as I work on my own renderings. I have an article that discusses architectural rendering workflow that you might find useful http://www.realfxdigital.com/2014/02/27/making-moonlit-shoppes/

    Keep up the good work. I’ll be back for more 😉

  2. John-Michael Wilyat says :

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    Great tips from Materica d_sign!

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