Architectural rendering is the process of creating 2D and 3D images of a design which illustrates how a proposed space or building will look, even before the real project begins. The real-time rendering, which was once considered too good to be true, has now become an essential requisite for the industry’s growth. The rise in demand for high-level visualization has changed the face of the architectural software and has propelled the 3D rendering software market.
Given the dizzying choices of rendering software available in the market, it is crucial to choose the right one to optimize visualization. The key to selecting a good rendering software is mapping your needs to features provided in the software, like easy-to-use interface, powerful rendering tools, simplicity to learn, troubleshooting options, and range of textures and models, etc. A good rendering software will support a plethora of design, geometry, materials, shades, and lightings, and accurately reflect the design concepts and dimensions to the client. Making your design appealing is essential. It will provide the client with a fair idea of what the final outcome will look like. License cost is also an important aspect to be considered.
Here are the top ten rendering software available in the market that you can choose from:
Blender definitely tops the list of the most popular rendering software. It is a complete rendering software and comes with every tool needed to design a house, skyscraper, bridge, amusement parks, or any other place. It is free of cost and has an active internet help community. Grease Pencil, Camera, and object tracking, node-based compositor and textures, non-linear editing, Python scripting, Simulation tools for soft body dynamics, path-tracer render engine, Integration through a variety of plugins, and support for various geometric primitives are some of its salient features.
Another popular software used by most of the architects is Maxwell. It has a powerful combination of an aesthetic user interface and a powerful rendering toolbox capable of designing anything and everything you want. It is not only easy to use, but it is also free to use and distribute. This is particularly useful for beginners because of its simplicity. Network Rendering Post Production, volumetrics Particle Rendering, Compatibility with many hair systems, Multilight FIRE and Materials Realistic Camera Model are some of its key features.
As the name suggests, it is a power packed rendering software with a powerful rendering engine and a large number of designing features. If you are a pro at basic landscape designing, then it is time to move on to Octane Render. The best feature of this rendering software is its rendering engine which is not only powerful but also is a lot faster than other free rendering software available on the internet. If you are a design professional and looking for designing software which can give a boost to your career prospects, then Octane render is a good option. As a designer, you will lay your hands on a large pool of materials and textures through this software.
Another famous name in the rendering community is Autodesk Revit. This rendering software has a powerful rendering engine along with a wide range of powerful tools, textures, and models to experiment with. Excellent customer support and community support are cherries on the top. BIM functionalities make Autodesk an extraordinary rendering software. If you are looking for software for professional use, then Autodesk Revit is a perfect choice. Autodesk offers a free educational license to students for learning to design through one of the most potent rendering software available in the market.
Another popular rendering software in the list is Lumion 3D. Its easy user interface and set of powerful tools lets you create distinctive designs with minimal effort. Apart from that, it is compatible with almost every rendering software available in the market. This feature is especially useful when you have to deal with students or other fellow architects who prefer other software for rendering.
Viz Render is a product of Autodesk. It not only offers powerful visualization and set of diversified and powerful tools but it also makes learning other Autodesk products easier. This rendering software can be your entry point in the Autodesk ecosystem. This software is free of cost and renders animations in HD, 4K and beyond.
VRAY has been one of the most sought after rendering software in the market. It was introduced by 3ds Max, the inventors of computer graphics. It has a very powerful rendering engine along with a long list of tools and features for easy visualization, ranging from a small room to a skyscraper. New learners can find it a little bit intimidating, but it is worth the time, money, and effort spent over it. VRAY is competitively priced; Twin-engine performance, Global illumination, Real-world cameras, Denoiser, One-click VR, Frame buffer, and Network rendering are some of its salient features.
Mental ray is often viewed to be closely similar to VRAY, yet Mental Ray has managed to carve a niche in the world of rendering software. Makers of the software have attempted to make a powerful rendering engine with versatile tools and features. It has an easy user interface, making it more accessible to new users. Mental Ray is built on NVidia’s CUDA technology and can use both GPU and CPU for rendering.
Whether you want to build, animate, render, model or texture, you can do it all with Cinema 4D. If you have invested enough time in learning tips and tricks for using Cinema 4D, then you will find no other rendering software better than it. The software gives the space to render unique and distinctive outputs.
Artlantis has amazing lighting features for creating numerous lighting possibilities for both, indoor, and outdoor scenes. Built-in render manager helps you in dealing with computing load and evenly distributing on local PC’s, which makes rendering extremely fast. You can create both high resolutions still images and high-resolution animation and 360-degree panorama on two versions of this rendering software.
Neo by Foyr is a newly launched software that has all the requirements for an ultimate rendering software. Along with having most of the features from the above-mentioned apps, Foyr Neo is also cheaper than most of the advanced paid software. With a plethora of textures, materials, and designs to choose from, this software was designed for the use of both, professionals and beginners.
Individual feature preferences are the most important criteria for evaluation. Some of the feature preferences are:
- Availability of plug-ins
- Choice of rendering algorithms
- Support for physically based materials
- Flexibility in post-production
- Hardware compatibility
- Output options
- Outdoor and Indoor lighting preferences
- In-built render manager
- Integration with other rendering software
- UI Interface
Evaluate the features you look for in a rendering software like:
- 3D painting and tracking
- Animation preferences
- Compatibility on web and mobile
- Acceptability of file formats
- Availability of plug-ins.
- Primitives supported. Eg-. Polygon, curves, surface and patches, camera, lighting, speakers and particles.
Once you have generalized your needs and your budget, only then make a decision of making an investment in rendering software.
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