General questions about the visualization / arch viz industry.


After doing the whole architecture school and internships thing, I've found that I have a real passion for rendering and 3D art. Does anyone here have general advice for a young professional trying to get into the Arch Viz industry?

To start, what modelling and rendering softwares are necessary for a good candidate?
What should my portfolio look like? A package full of renderings? An additional website?
If I can't get professional work at the moment, should I be working on personal projects? Maybe do freelance work?
How do I get started?

I've come to realize that I really wish I had gone to school for animation / 3D design, but since I now have an architecture degree, I figured arch viz would be a good career path. Any tips/advice would be greatly appreciated.

Feb 5, 21 1:52 pm

3d viz is a rough field, very crunchy.

Feb 5, 21 2:22 pm  · 

Sounds like a hard truth that I'll have to live with.

Feb 5, 21 4:22 pm  · 

Look up the big players: ATChain for commercial renders (A Chinese render farm) and the European firms such as Mir, Forbes Massie, Bloom Images, Luxigon etc for the artistic ones. DBox kind of offers an entire branding package for luxury condos. Binyan, Hayes Davidson, Brick Visual straddles both artistic and commercial. There are many others. Some architects have their preferred renderers.

A quick Google can turn up some interesting insights:

But as Pete pointed out, the render farms are a rough business to get into. Videos and flythroughs are now increasingly offered as an add-on. As a stepping stone, I think working with younger architects who cannot afford to hire the famous render shops could be a start. DRender in LA got its start that way.

Feb 5, 21 2:45 pm  · 
1  · 

Thanks a bunch, looks like I got some google searching to do later. I'm not surprised that the business is pretty crunchy. I'll definitely consider that moving forward. I'm thinking maybe a good route for someone fresh out of college like me would be to find a job at a larger firm as an in-house renderer. I had this role as an intern at a corporate firm I worked at and really enjoyed it. The problem is I'm finding these positions are hard to come by.

Feb 5, 21 4:18 pm  · 

Its a small overlap between the firms who can afford to hire a renderer and those who are not big enough to simply outsource the work to a Chinese or Eastern European firm. At the beginning, it might be helpful for you to provide other forms of value-add to the firm so they wouldn't have to hire you solely to render stuff - which their staff can probably do already in-house. If you are indeed terrific like the Mir folks, then the world is your oyster.

Feb 5, 21 5:15 pm  · 

I'm definitely nowhere near as quality as Mir, but it at least gives me something to work towards. I guess I'm glad I have experience putting together drawing sets if it means I'm a more viable candidate to hire, although this is exactly the kind of work I've been trying to avoid. Drafting and rendering might both be headaches, but for me there's at least the satisfaction that comes with finishing a nice, quality rendering. Now is probably not the time to be picky though, during the era of covid. Thanks for the insight!

Feb 5, 21 10:18 pm  · 

If you want to be a pro renderer. Learn 3DS and Vray if you want your work to achieve this level some day (plomp work). Chaos Vantage is out now for free now. Try that. Portfolio should consist of stuff you are good at. PDF portfolio should mainly be renderings and other arch visualization drawings. Graphic and presentation layout matters, not just slap rendering images on them. You can also have digital portfolio consisting animation, VR, etc as supplement.

You can either join Arch firm's render department, or professional Arch viz firm. Arch firm usually have lower skill requirements. They want efficiency rather than high quality. If you join professional arch viz firm, after many years, you will realize the skills you learn with arch viz can also be used for other CG industry. Just the 3D subject changed from building to broader spectrum like characters, equipment, environments, etc. Same principle about lights, material, texture, shades, camera work, etc. You will know what things like PBR, Ambient occlusion, Albedo means. Able to produce high quality work is only half, time is everything for viz industry. Using existing assets to cut modeling time, know the program commands to reduce model time, have strong knowledge and library for reduced material editing time, etc.

That career is not even remotely related to architecture. It is a great hobby for me though.

Feb 5, 21 4:23 pm  · 
1  · 

This is really helpful, thanks. My main reservation with joining an architecture firm is that I don't want to get stuck in the field. I'd really like to pick up the kind of skills that you mentioned that could be applied to the broader 3D/CG industry. It's unfortunate that I had to find out now how uninterested I am in architecture (particularly as a profession). But I'm glad that there's at least an avenue for me to get where I want to be. 3D art is a hobby of mine which I hope to one day make a career out of.

Feb 5, 21 10:28 pm  · 

Transitioning out of arch to rendering seems daunting, but can be done. I've been slowly making the transition over the past year.

My tips:

invest in a computer and rendering programs

find a small arch firm who typically older architects who don't render and offer your services

offer services to family and friends. Some people like to see what their space can look like before they even think about remodeling.

take classes in open world material designs. 

here are some links:

Feb 10, 21 9:19 am  · 

Upwork is another site that I recommend. Its freelance work in all fields, but there a lot of people looking for renderings.

Feb 10, 21 9:21 am  · 
your conscience

i wouldn't recommend it. this will be one of the first things to get ai'ed out

Feb 15, 21 1:05 pm  · 

So I am one of the people who did transition from architecture to one of the higher end rendering firms which are listed above . 

I did work for a high end design firm in NYC before switching to one of the “artistic “ render firms which is listed above and honestly best decision ever . 

Like every job yes it has its perks and cons . IN America it’s fairly lucrative job and chances of you holding that position is longer compared to being architect . Most of my friends who were on the viz side of the industry was unaffected compared to the ones who were working as traditional architect who got their hours or completely cut .  (Genlser , HOK, KPF ... the list goes on ) 

Regarding getting into it and starting off -

Learn 3D Max as the modeling software since most of it is done in in Max along with Its plugins like Forest pack (scattering vegetation ) and learning to use HDRI . Learn to use Vray / Corona which ever works for you as a rendering engine and follow their render blogs . They have tips and tricks on how to go about it . 

Create more artistic images - start with your old studio projects before jumping on more complex scenes . 

Regarding the person who said it will be the first job to get AI ... like everything there will be automation . I mean you can use grasshopper and produce best way to divide spaces which literally reduces traditional architecture just detail monkeys / and CA experts . Everything can be automated so it’s the null reasoning . 

So honesty do what your heart desires . Feel free to DM 

Feb 15, 21 2:40 pm  · 
1  · 

What @tomahawks_619 said is correct.

I have a similar experience and have worked for some of the listed architecture firms and visualization studios above.

Firstly, I encourage you to decide on your desired style of arch viz: Do you prefer illustrative, photorealistic, or conceptual style visualization? or maybe you want to create a new innovative style? In any case, that will help you determine which type of studio you would like to create.

Answers to your questions are below:

To start, what modelling and rendering softwares are necessary for a good candidate? 3DS Max, Vray, Corona, Photoshop are industry standards. However, check out your favorite arch-viz firms and contact them to see what they use.

What should my portfolio look like? A package full of renderings? An additional website? As a former hiring manager at one of the firms above, I have seen many types of portfolios -- I encourage you to put renderings that showcase your abilities and skills. Showcase projects that you are proud of and you should definitely have a range of visualizations from interiors, to exteriors, to even vignettes. Maybe have some aerials -- somewhere to view the visuals online is helpful but if going to meet in person a book would be quite impressive (not sure possible this is though with the pandemic) -- something creative would be placing your renderings on billboards or even in front of a construction site as if the architecture is coming soon. Feel free to express yourself and show your passion.

If I can't get professional work at the moment, should I be working on personal projects? Maybe do freelance work? How do I get started? Take part in competitions, do personal projects, freelance work -- all of the above. You'll learn quickly by doing projects for other people as most projects in our industry are time-sensitive.

Good luck and feel free to DM. 

Feb 19, 21 2:26 am  · 

You can do a three month crash course to upskill yourself in the 3D tech and respective softwares.

Feb 19, 21 7:11 am  · 

There is a website dedicated to the questions you are asking called

There are some useful articles there like this one and this one which address some of the questions about how to get started, what software, etc. 

It also has pretty cheap courses in the required software (like under $20) and some free models/courses in the resource section.

Jan 12, 22 5:07 pm  · 

One other thing - Enscape, a 3D VR realtime game-engine type renderer plugin for Rhino, Sketchup and Revit can do a fair amount of rendering tasks - it's not a substitute for high end renders, but it can do well enough for architects and designers to bust out "good enough and quick) type renders - check it out

Jan 12, 22 5:44 pm  · 

Enscape just merged (acquired?) with Chaos, the guys behind V-Ray. Interesting times ahead - do the investors backing the merger have an eye on future VR/meta uses?

Jan 12, 22 6:57 pm  · 

It sure looks that way - if they get bigger, then Autode$k might try and buy them

Jan 12, 22 8:27 pm  · 

I dabble in it from time to time and it pretty nice field if you have a steady stream of clients. You want to focus on boutique firms and construction firms as they are the ones typically to hire your services.

On very rare occasions if you find a young firm, or older firm you can be their sole render guy.

Get started with competitions or freelance work, here is a good website to get you started

Work your regular 9-5 as you slowly build clients , when you can make a profit then switch to your passion.

Jan 19, 22 11:06 am  · 

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