SEVEN TIPS FOR IMPROVING
YOUR ARCHITECTURAL RENDERS

1. Too Many Colors –
Most photographers will say to never use more than 3 colors per shot; we agree. There is an easy way to test this. In Photoshop, you can push one button and make the image black and white. If your image looks better in black and white then you know you used too many colors.

2. Too Bright –
Shadow is just as important as the lighting. This goes without saying, but without lights we woudn’t be able to see anything on the renders. The problem with too many lights in a scene is you can’t see any of the details. Everything gets washed out. Lighting is also an important tool to be able to communicate where you want the viewer to look. Vignetting is a very important tool to direct the viewer’s eyes toward the center of an image. This is done by slightly darkening the edges of the photograph. When done correctly, you won’t even register this being done.

3. No Nature –
Outside scenes require Nature. This is one of the biggest areas where most outside renders fall apart. Adding lots of trees, small bushes, and little details can be one of the most time-consuming parts of creating a 3D render. One of the things we have done is create a tree generator, which places trees in the areas we would like to paint them. In SketchUp, for example, you are limited in the numbers of trees and the number of polygons you can place in a scene. The larger the scene the longer it takes to move around the scene and open it in the first place. For us this is not an issue. Believe it or not, we don’t even store the trees in the scene in some cases. We keep them as reference objects and pull them in at render time, saving system resources as well as time in placing the trees. People feel more comfortable in nature and that means in most cases it is better to have nature in your scenes than to not.

4. No Point –
We often hear that 3D images are too sterile. Yes, some people are not good at creating 3D images, but the buck stops with the artist, not the technology. You don’t want to have a client look at an image and say “so what…” whether it is a 3D image, watercolor, or otherwise. Having an architect on staff who understands photography will help immensely, even if he or she doesn’t know how to use the 3D application in question. What photographers do is have an eye for matching up good angles and they know where to place the camera. Take for example, Hufton + Crow, Helene Binet, or David Leventi, 3 famous architectural photographers. These photographers could take better and more interesting pictures with a $16 disposable Kodak camera than most amateur photographers could with a brand new $6,000 DSLR.

5. No Personality –
Think about a character that you want to live or work in this space. This can be time consuming but makes it easier for the client or prospect to believe they are in this space. This is why homes that are staged sell better than homes that are empty. People have a hard time picturing their own stuff in this space when you don’t give them context. One of the most interesting objections I hear from people is that 3D doesn’t look realistic. This is only true when people look at 3D images with no personality. 3D is a tool, but it requires someone who is able to give the space some personality to make this image have that WOW factor.

6. AVOID Wide Lenses –
Everyone wants to use wide lenses because they want to see the entire scene or building. But in doing this, your eye doesn’t know where to look. By zooming in on a certain aspect it allows people to focus on a small section and allows a better understanding of what they are looking at. This is also a hard thing to achieve because in most projects the client and the architect want to get a sense for the entire place. One of the best ways to address this is to create several small focus cameras, but also include an overall shot.

Wide angle

7. No Focal Element – 
This isn’t referring to what the camera is focusing on, but rather something that immediately catches your eye and forces you to look there, such as a fireplace, artwork, or custom desk.

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