Trends in Architectural 3D Visualization according to Faraday 3D

To understand what trends we expect in the future of the field of architectural visualization, let’s go back in time to identify the notion of architectural visualization. What is it? If you say that it is a simplified illustration of a technical image for simplifying users’ perception of a potential building, you will be right – but just partly.

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3D technologies have taken an important place in our life. There are almost no areas of activity where you could avoid using them. Industry, construction, medicine, culture, entertainment, Internet technology, cosmetics, and even advertising – this is not a complete list of the areas where three-dimensional graphics are widely used. The advent of new graphic capabilities has been caused by the needs of modern society, by its desire to clothe complex subjects in a plain envelope, to make them clearer, to simplify the perception of complex assemblies and components, to show the idea brightly.

Fortunately, three-dimensional computer simulation, graphics, animation, and 3D visualization are not designed to destroy the person as the true creator, but, on the contrary, to help us liberate the creative process from physical efforts and allow the master to concentrate fully on the result of his/her creation.

To understand what trends we expect in the future of the field of architectural visualization, let’s go back in time to identify the notion of architectural visualization. What is it? If you say that it is a simplified illustration of a technical image for simplifying users’ perception of a potential building, you will be right – but just partly.

The Early Years: 1993 – 2000

If you look at the first works in the 3DsMax package done in the 90s (1993 – 2000), they were technical drawings made with the help of a computer. The main purpose of those renders was to deliver three-dimensional configurations of a future building, in the case of an exterior view, and to deliver the perception of future space, in the case of an interior view. As the capacity of computers in those days was not as high as it is now, the creation of realistic textures was not possible.

Texture & Shadow: 2002 – 2006

More than 20 years have passed, and modern technology has become 1,000 times more powerful than it was before, but the Internet is still full of 3D architectural renderings made on modern computers but without a level of quality higher than the first renderings. In this article, we will not give examples of such low-level jobs. They are easily found on freelance sites. Just pay attention to the renders you work on and whether they are worth the money that you paid for them or not.

With the development of computer facilities, during the period from 2002 to 2006, computer visualization was growing rapidly. High computer capacity nowadays allows not only to deliver basic shapes of objects but to work on their exterior as well. There is a possibility of processing increasingly large scenes, meaning that the number of small details is markedly incrementing. This makes it possible to visualize not only the building itself but also the landscape around it in more detail.

There are more and more different kinds of green on the exterior visualization: grass, flowers, shrubs, trees. Accordingly, special attention is paid to materials and textures. During this period, there is hope that in the near future 3D rendering will be able to approach the quality of a photograph by a proper display of light and shadow; in other words, to achieve photorealism.

Photorealism: 2006 – 2010

If you keep track of how the quality of the renderings changed during the period from 2006 to 2010, we can surely say that it was the beginning of realism. With the advent of render farms, modelers stop thinking about the technical capabilities of their machines and more and more effort is given to the smallest details of the future project.

For example, in interior design now modelers work on the elaboration of shadows and staging of light, regular reflections are used from objects with different materials. If it is furniture, the effort is to convey the correct pattern of folds and wrinkles. Сlassic interiors show lots of carved ornaments and fretwork.

On the outside, we see not only a correct statement of light and shadow, but also the elaboration of dust and dirt. This is very clearly seen on concrete surfaces. Now the buildings are not sterile clean but have stains. In other words, modelers try to convey the real picture of the world.

3D Impressionism: 2010 – 2015

So, the following period of development of 3D art is 2010-2015. If we look at Wikipedia for the definition of impressionism, we will see that impressionism is an art movement the members of which sought to develop methods and techniques that would allow capturing the real world in its mobility and variability mostly naturally and vividly, to convey one’s fugitive impressions in a sensual and direct form.

That’s why if you look at the work of the artists of that time, it becomes evident that the architecture per se is relegated to second place. Now it becomes important to show not the house itself, but its soul and environment. If this is an example of a private house in the mountains of Norway, the artist is trying to show that the street is dark, damp and cold, but inside the house reigns joy and love, the family gathered at a large table. Inside the house there is a lot of light and heat, the house is going to protect those inside it from external adversities. If it’s an office building, the authors try to show that life boils inside of it no less than outside.

I did not call the renders of that time art by accident. And how could it be otherwise? If the goal is clear – to show the experience of the artist, then are the means of achieving the result all that important? Is the way of painting far more important than its result? Throughout history, art has always reflected the culture of the period in which it was created. It comes in many forms. It is constantly evolving, incorporating all that is necessary for the artist to display a reality.

Our society today has the most advanced technology, much better than the previous generations of technology in our land. But what if Leonardo da Vinci was alive now, and lived during the development of technology? Can you imagine what he could create? The genius inventor would use modern technology and, undoubtedly, would make Pixar fear for their money. Hell, he would probably be the owner of Pixar.

I can imagine that you may have objections:
– “But… it’s not painted, is it?”
– “It’s without real paint, yes, but this is painting. Just made on the computer.”
– “But how can we call this art, if we do not use paint?”
– “Paint is digital, colors and brushes are the parts of the computer program. The monitor or tablet is a replacement for the canvas, so the artist painted directly on the screen as on the canvas.”
– “… But how will you get it on real canvas?”
– “And this is already ‘Magic. The evil, dark magic.'”

Flashback: history of fine arts

Now we come to the most interesting part, “and what can we expect in the future?” Since we have already decided that 3D graphics are also an art, then we can regard the future with the same rules. Let us have a small flashback and see the history of fine art and in particular that of landscape art.

It is easy to identify the main periods in the history of landscape painting…

The first period has to do with the emergence and development of “landscape painting”. Egypt, Babylon, and Pompeii were the main centers of its development. One could call this period “an artistic conquest of nature.” If we draw a parallel with 3D art, we’re looking at the emergence of 3D graphics in the 90s.

The second period would be called “decoration” or “styling” of nature: Byzantine art, medieval art, Italian trecento. I would be amiss if I didn’t add that around the 14th and 15th centuries painting was at a sharp turning point – the Renaissance.

Around the 1420s everybody all of a sudden became much better at drawing. As a vivid example of the time – Jan Van Eyck, the master of Bruges, the Flemish painter of the early Renaissance, and his painting “Arnolfini Portrait”.

Why did images suddenly become so realistic and detailed, with a light and volume in the paintings? This I propose to the reader to figure out – it shouldn’t be difficult at all with current capabilities. The analogy with 3D shows the emergence of 3D realism in 2002- 2006.

A third period in the history of landscape art has its origin in Dutch paintings of the 17th century and their extreme expression – the art of the Impressionists. Pioneering achievements include a secular Dutch realism, about display pictures of the real world around us.

Paintings convey the small corners of the rural landscape in certain weather and lighting conditions. With the means of tonal painting, the idea of the aerial perspective is created, a humid atmosphere, the scattered silvery light and the material unity of nature.

In the analogy with 3D graphics, 2006 – 2010 is a further development of realism, smoothly transferred into 3D impressionism, which began in 2010 and coincides in the analogy with Dutch paintings.

Finally, the fourth period – contemporary art in the way we used to see it: Realism, Symbolism, Modernism, Avant-gardism, Surrealism, Futurism, etc. If you take a look at the world’s leading 3D graphic design studios like,,, we can see that modern 3D graphics have already begun to move on from realism and impressionism to some mixture of surrealism and futurism.

Faraday 3D predictions

Surrealism is considered as one of the most striking trends in art. If you look at the history of human development, you will notice a very interesting fact: cavemen made their first drawings not from nature, but from their imagination.

To do so, those “ancient artists” fell into a trance, released their subconscious and created their imperishable works of art. This fact was proved by science only at the beginning of the twenty-first century, after very long and laborious studies.

So we can say that surrealism is where people started their creativity. And surrealism is still here, it accompanies the entire history of mankind.

As in the past, in the present and the future, surrealism will be one of the most actual trends in art. It is unlikely that a person will lose interest in the supernatural, in super-reality. We expect the same trends in 3D graphics.

If you dream of a longer period: what will the 3D graphics of the future look like? In an average fiction novel it is some sort of hologram that is modified under the influence of the thoughts or feelings of the viewer. Usually, it is in color; musical as well. Science fiction writers are convinced that their dancing holograms will displace traditional canvas and paints. But if the photo is not able to convey the painting, then the capabilities of holography are out of the question.

Any doubts about the success and relevance of head-mounted displays and any other products developed not so long ago by Oculus Rift that provides an opportunity to plunge into the virtual world, have been completely erased with the advent of the new software titled “Tilt Brush” of the company Skillman & Hackett. Through Tilt Brush, all those not indifferent to drawing can plunge in 3D, try not only the usual materials but also the more unusual, such as smoke, stars, and light.

The application is still on the phase of development and refinement: previewers noted that for the creation of a three-dimensional image much effort should be expended, so for the full transition of technology from 2D to 3D there is a need of auxiliary stylus or gloves.

Over time, programs such as Tilt Brush will be better designed and more comfortable, so the artists will explore limitless aesthetic possibilities.

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