Historically, hand-drawn graphic renderings of future architectural models have been in use. When compared to what you can accomplish now, that technique had several disadvantages. With software that allows professionals to show their proposals in a 3D environment, technological advances have changed this procedure. This, however, has raised the bar for any professional in architectural rendering. To be honest, even simple 3D renderings appear better than older ones, but modern standards demand greater detail and intricate representations. This implies that anybody with a basic understanding of 3D rendering may create them, but only those with expertise can create professional photoshop renderings with value in the field of architecture. Here are some of the reasons why architectural rendering is difficult.

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Photoshop Rendering-The Difference at High Line Park_© Forbes Massie

Reality | Photoshop Rendering

Renderings, which are typically idealised, are required to try to sell the idea of a design to a customer, in which case a little creative freedom is a necessary evil. However, if that concept is sold, what happens when a more realistic rendering, one that depicts the structure as accurately as feasible, is created? Architects have several reasons to continue using stylised rendering. Stylized drawings are stunning; they present a proposed structure in the best light and help market current architecture. While there is some truth to this, it does not justify the more problematic aspects of this movement.

For ages, advancements in architectural visualization have occurred. Our capacity to illustrate what a planned building would look like has grown with each breakthrough, as has our ability to make that suggested structure seem better and better with each improvement. That’s been great up to a point. However, there is a point – and architects have now passed it. That is the point at which the absence of realistic rendering harms architecture and the point at which the competition of stylized rendering leads to an unappealing future.

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Photoshop Rendering-Shown Reality and Distant Future_©CLOG

Fake Narrative

The practical risk of all of this deceit is that the rendering becomes something it was not intended to be – a finished product rather than a depiction of a future product. Less photorealistic photographs are less ‘legitimate’ to non-architects, implying that less realism helps concentrate the observer on the building and promotes conversation about the architectural idea. When a portrayal is too excellent, too realistic, the discussion gets focused on the minutiae rather than the notion it is meant to depict.

This is precisely why a public might fall in love with a rendering, only to be disillusioned by reality or become fiercely opposed to a rendering as a result of its portrayal or connotations in the ultimate result. In an interview, Eric de Broche des Combes, partner at Luxignon, one of the world’s largest architectural renderings, reveals – “Never have more than two drawings for a single project. Why? Because renderings are not true representations of what a building will look like, but rather reflect the spirit of what the project will look like, they are used.”

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Rendering for a possible Penn Station_©SOM

Educational Impact

A trap that many architectural schools throughout the world have fallen into, but it’s not merely a reflection of architecture education’s flawed character. It’s also an indication of architecture’s fixation with the image of architecture, a picture that is entirely disconnected from reality. The concept of the ideal architectural picture is fostered not just by academics who value rendering above practical ramifications, leading students to spend hours improving visuals rather than perfecting the design, but also by the architecture media. The architecture media is flooded with glossy images that “market” an idealised building to the public and, to be honest, architects themselves.

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Photoshop Rendering-Hotel + Congress Center Proposal_©OOIIO Architecture.jpg

Hope for a Greater Future | Photoshop Rendering

It’s important to remember that the 3D design software isn’t to blame. 3D visualization is an important aspect of architectural illustration nowadays, despite how frequently it is misused. The focus of architects, as well as the customers and committees that purchase and reward their work, needs to shift. As previously stated, there is the issue of competition with each other. If an architecture company begins to produce realistic representations, it may find it difficult to compete. Some people get around this by exclusively utilising stick figures, but this isn’t feasible for the whole industry.

Finally, the larger organisations must advocate for industry-wide improvements. This will necessitate adjustments in both the way businesses develop renderings and the way reward committees evaluate them. In the meanwhile, the best we can do is attempt to prevent rendering’s worst excesses from entering the relatively new medium of virtual reality. Because this new technology is so immersive, you shouldn’t have to rely on a lack of reality to make your project seem fantastic. If the industry succeeds in doing so, the shift to virtual reality for architectural and construction visualization might be the greatest answer to these issues.

In the end, Architectural renderings for a project is what a cover page is for a book or movie trailers is for that movie and as an old saying goes “Never Judge a Book by its Cover”


  1. Journal. (2017). How Architectural Renderings Are Ruining Your Design – Architizer Journal. [online] Available at: https://architizer.com/blog/practice/tools/how-architectural-renderings-are-ruining-your-design/
  2. Freeman, B. (2013). Digital Deception. Places Journal, (2013).
  3. ArchDaily. (2013). Are Renderings Bad for Architecture? [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/383325/are-renderings-bad-for-architectu

A recently graduated architect, Mohit has a quest to understand the Art and Architecture of our cities. He believes in designing things by understanding the larger context and blending them into the larger environment.