Photorealistic CGI is an amazing tool for architects. It’s the most practical visual solution for project presentations, portfolio updates, marketing activities, and contest entries. At the same time, 3D visualization offers limitless possibilities for the architecture professional’s artistic expression. And it is the choice of weather and season that allows one to create not just an informative, but also a truly atmospheric rendering.

To show you the great variety of looks you can get for your CGI, our architectural visualization studio has prepared several examples. They clearly demonstrate how various settings create different moods, making the renders even more impactful. Also, our 3D rendering specialists have shared some advice on when each option might be the most advantageous. Take a look!


First, let us start with five different types of weather environments for atmospheric 3D exterior rendering.

#1. Sunny

Atmospheric Rendering in Sunny Setting

Sunny weather is the most popular choice for architectural renders. Firstly, it allows the viewers to clearly see the colors and textures of finishing materials, as well as intricate design details. Secondly, it gives any rendering a pleasant look and a light, cheerful feel. That makes the sunny setting a universal choice for presenting concepts to clients.

#2. Overcast

Atmospheric 3D Rendering with Overcast Weather

A rendering in an overcast setting makes a great pair for an image of the same building in a sunny scene. Oftentimes, the time of the day in a cloudy render is late afternoon or evening. That allows for showing the building’s exterior lighting to the client. Plus, it provides for a more atmospheric rendering due to greater contrast between the lights and shadows in the picture.

#3. Rainy

High-Quality 3D Visualization of a House in a Rainy Setting

A rendering with a rainy scene has a calm and slightly melancholic mood. And while it may not be the most inspiring look for a project presentation, it can help you create beautiful and atmospheric works for your portfolio and social media posts. In particular, the rainy environment will make a building, especially a house, look warmer and more inviting. At the same time, it can beautifully complement minimalist designs with its rather monochromatic color palette.

#4. Stormy

Breathtaking 3D Rendering of a Hotel Concept in a Stormy Setting

An atmospheric rendering with a stormy scene has a truly dramatic feel. This is a visually striking image, which is perfect for architectural design contests, magazine publications, and other purposes, for which the visual has to look impressive and captivating. It helps to highlight the artistic value of a concept and works particularly well with avant-garde designs.

Make sure your exterior design project takes your clients’ breath away

#5. Northern Lights

Photorealistic 3D Render with Northern Lights

Although they are a natural phenomenon rather than a kind of weather, northern lights definitely deserve a special mention here. If the project you want to have visualized will be located in an area where auroras occur, you should consider adding them to the render. This way, you will get a stunning atmospheric image, just like this magical hotel rendering above.


Now, let’s move on to the seasonal settings that help fill 3D renders with the right mood.

#1. Spring & Summer

Atmospheric 3D Rendering in a Summer Setting

The two seasons look largely the same in visualizations, so there’s no need to discuss them separately. They are the most common choices among architects as they allow for showcasing projects in a neutral environment, where nothing distracts the viewer from the building. Still, you can get an atmospheric rendering with this kind of setting by choosing different times of the day. For instance, the image above shows the beginning of a sunset, which perfectly matches the relaxing feel of the place.

#2. Fall

Beautiful 3D Visualization of a House in a Fall Setting

When you choose a fall environment for your rendering, you get a gorgeous visual with vibrant colors and a serene atmosphere. It works especially great for designs of countryside residences, where nature plays a big part in shaping the mood of the place. Also, you should consider going with this season if your exterior concept has a lot of warm colors, as it will complement them beautifully.

#3. Winter

Atmospheric Architectural CGI with a Winter Setting

Using a winter setting will always result in an atmospheric rendering. In particular, it will make the building feel especially warm and inviting thanks to the contrast with the snowy landscape. Also, such visuals often feature Christmas decorations, which adds a cozy and festive mood to the image. So, if you know that it’s something your client will appreciate, you should definitely go for it. But, unless it’s a winter-only seasonal residence or resort, you’ll probably need to pair the render with another one showing the building in spring or summer.

Those were our examples of the most distinct weather and season environments. As you can see, each option helps create a certain mood in an image. And that allows you to get an atmospheric rendering that perfectly suits a particular project or purpose.

Looking for architectural rendering services? Contact us at ArchiCGI and get mind-blowingly photorealistic imagery for designs of any complexity!

Chris Kostanets
Senior Project Manager, Mentor

Chris manages the work of 2 CGI teams and teaches Middle PMs. She loves Scottish landscapes, Ancient Greek culture, and Plein-air painting. At home, Chris is a caring parent for 3 cute chickens and a magnificent rooster.