Hello all designers, architects, and all in between,

I'm a masters architectural student exploring rendering programs that are efficient, effective, with stunning photo-realism.

With the understanding of post production using Photoshop, my real question is out of the myriad of rendering programs which ones have any one of you found the most effective, efficient and best in quality?

By effective I mean programs that either have their own rendering engine or are able to be compatible with other rendering engines and to what degree are they compatible i.e. V-Ray, Maxwell, etc

By efficiency I mean rendering programs that have abilities beyond just rendering. i.e. Revit allows efficient section cuts and plans that can be selected in addition to renders.

Quality, well essentially what program needs the least amount of Photoshop Post production.

Example programs (feel free to express any other programs you have experience with):





Google Sketchup



SU Podium

3DS Max

Thank you all,

Sep 2, 12 1:48 pm

Revit of course is great in the efficiency department (one model produces everything you need), but I find the renderings lacking in quality due to added post-processing time (in my experience). I personally use V-Ray largely because after playing around with it for 4 years I have things set the way I want them, with minimal post processing time other than adding linework and entourage. 

Sep 2, 12 2:01 pm
Alex Gunawan

if you have a vray or maxwell quality within revit, then you'll have the answer.

that is sadly also means the end of visualization business

Sep 3, 12 12:14 pm

3DSMax + Vray is the best way to render.

Sep 3, 12 9:55 pm

3dsmax  + Vray best quality but max sucks as a modeling program for architects. Also it is difficult to learn on your own. Good thing thou is that there is a lot of ready made models and materials available online. For me it is the best solution for interiors, very simple buildings. Also 3dsmax is not that popular in the offices (very expensive).

Rhino + Vray awesome for modeling, supersimple. Renderings not comparable to max, but there is a chance chaos group will do sth with that :). Rhino is similar to sketchup - when you compare the logic of the work. 

Generally vray for sketch and rhino is much worse than maxes, messy and illogical. Lacks some useful options.

Also- be aware that with your home computer you probably wont make a photo real. Doing photo real without slave computers is not efficient by default. It is faster to make postproduction in photoshop. Trust me on that one. 

Sep 4, 12 9:03 am

3d max does not suck for modelling architecture.  it is one valid option among several.  there is a steeper learning curve, but if you get past that there will be benefits to modelling with 3d max and it is not that hard. 

revit sucks for modelling.  revit sucks for rendering.  revit sucks for drafting.  revit sucks for producing CDs.  the only thing revit is good at is combining those into a single program.  unless they fixed it.  i haven't messed with the last couple of releases.

Sep 4, 12 9:28 am

Maybe "suck" is not a good word. But is not comparable to rhino where everything is hyper easy and intuitive. Also - i find max good for doing final detailed models. For sketches or fast modeling before deadline i wouldn't recommend it. And i say it as a person who was a 3ds max freak for many years, forcing other people to use it :)

Sep 4, 12 9:38 am

For your rendering plug-in, definitely VRay. It's very easy to use once you familiarize yourself with the parameters. Josh Mings mentioned, once you figure out your settings, you can generally stick to an option set for internal, exterior and nighttime renderings. Again, this is generally speaking, and different settings will yield different effects (ocean scene vs. city scape). I also suggest looking into tutorials which explain using an HDRI for your scene lighting. 

For your modeling suite, I'd suggest whichever you're the most comfortable with out of the 3 competitors: Rhino, Max, SketchUp. Tons of firms use any one of these, so you're not selling yourself short learning one more than the other. However, do continue to learn Revit, as BIM is far and wide the most efficient software for firms that are actively working.

Sep 4, 12 1:59 pm

Still images are so 2005, video game engines are the future! UDK, Source, Crysis, etc...learn to use them before they start teaching it in schools. 

However, if you just want an image, another vote for V-ray. 

Sep 4, 12 2:26 pm

I like the direction you're going LITS.  have you actually tried that?  I've messed w/ skyrim's construciton kit (oblivion before that).  probably not as good eye candy as the others. 

Sep 4, 12 2:37 pm


Video game engines - definitely - 

heres the DIRTT on Video game engines in architecture

Then high school students can work at architecture offices - also EA and Rockstar games can do architecture - they did hire a lot of architectural grads that could not get traditional architecture jobs -and the mandatory hours are: 7am - 10pm Mon - Sun

Sep 4, 12 4:20 pm

I've been using UDK for a couple years now, it plugs in quite nicely with 3ds max so that's always the program I recommend first. I started using it for grad school and I'll never go back to traditional single-frame rendering for anything of significance.

It's really something that can wow clients, allowing them to actually walk around their future building and experience how the spaces interact with one another is something animations/still-frame rendering simply cannot offer. 

The learning curve is quite steep but I started with the "Mastering Unreal Technology" series, $26 on amazon and includes a free copy of the game on steam. I've seen it available on torrent sites as well so you may want to check there.  

Sep 6, 12 12:34 pm

Don't listen to Xenakis, he doesn't know aaaaaaaaaaanything about video games or programs. *unnecessary sarcasm off*

Sep 6, 12 3:07 pm

3ds max (modeling), Vray (rendering), Photoshop/AE (post work)

Jan 20, 13 12:54 am

For thousands of years man produced magnificent buildings with plans drawn by hand, often with a dip pen. Now we produce mountains of crap by machine, most of which is generated by people who don't have the faintest idea what they are doing.

Go figure.

Jan 20, 13 6:52 pm

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