High-quality Architectural 3D Rendering for a Modern University Building

A high-quality architectural rendering takes the viewers into the future. Not just any future, but the moment when one can fully appreciate and enjoy the project.

Just check out the pic above. What an atmosphere! The building is glowing with warm lights cutting through the mist of this urban winter fairy-tale. Leaden gray sky echoes the color of the concrete bridge, staircase, and road tiles. Bushes, trees, and the road are covered with a thin layer of crisp white snow, and the frozen pond is lined with traces of ice skating.

A beautiful winter story, isn’t it? And it suits the building perfectly. Yet there’s one more reason the 3D artist chose winter for this exterior rendering. The truth is that it’s not that common. People tend to choose sunlit summer scenes for their projects, so a winter pic would naturally stand out and catch the investor’s eye.

This was exactly what Vladyslav Shabetia, the author of this high-quality architectural rendering, wanted to show. He set out to demonstrate what winter has to offer in terms of atmosphere and how storytelling can benefit the project presentation.

The Object of the Rendering

Inspiring Architectural Design for the 3D Rendering

Vladyslav had a dream that one day, somewhere in the world a University of CGI arts would appear. Its students would dedicate their time to mastering top-notch 3D visualization software, Adobe Photoshop, coding, plastic arts, architecture, and interior design, 3D animation. In addition, there could be courses on teamwork, time-management, etc.

So the 3D specialist decided to show this dream place in a high-quality architectural rendering. As he looked for inspiration, he came across the photo of Erasmus University in Rotterdam and realized: this is it. This could be a perfect place to teach new generations of 3D artists.

The thing that struck Vladyslav was the monumental elegance. The University looked solemn and beautiful, a lot like a modern business center. This would help maintain the working atmosphere and give students a taste of the future.

Another thing that the CGI specialist liked was the glass facade. It looked imposing, obviously let in oceans of light, and must make for amazing window views. Which would turn every studying day into a memorable experience! Who wouldn’t want to take a selfie against the building and post it on Instagram? Hashtag “a CGI arts student”, hashtag “dream come true”.

The Location

To highlight the effect of the design, Vladyslav decided to change the surroundings. The location in high-quality architectural rendering is imaginary and could be situated in any European country.

Creation of the CG Render

Now, how do such beautiful architectural projects come to life with 3D rendering? Let’s see how the amazing image was made, step-by-step.

#1. Searching for Inspiration

First things first, the 3D visualizer found images of the architectural design he wanted to show. Then, he proceeded to figure out the surroundings. He found the reference imagery for buildings around, the pond, bridge, stairs, etc. To understand how to build and place each object, Vladyslav also examined the requirements to them.

#2. Building the Rendering Scene with Blocks

High-quality 3D Architectural Rendering for a Preliminary Scene

To understand the composition, Vladyslav created a preliminary 3D scene with boxes instead of objects. He then created a rough 3D model of the main building and put it in this environment.

#3. Adding Details to the 3D Model

Photoreal 3D Model for a Facade

The first task at that stage was to model the University. So the 3D visualizer built the walls, floors, added windows, and worked on the façade detail. Next, he textured the 3D model and worked on interior spaces. As they won’t be seen, there was no need for an actual design. So the CGI specialist furnished the places and put people figures where necessary.

The 3D visualizer created all the materials himself, for he wanted them to be really high-quality and have a very specific look. The main materials were concrete, metal, and glass.

#4. Adding Details to the Scene

A high-quality architectural rendering of a winter scene requires photorealistic ice and snow. And these demand a lot of work. The 3D visualizer took the ice textures and adjusted their properties in 3ds Max, including reflections and lines left by ice skating. Moreover, the ice is generally black, but in the middle of the pond, it’s white. That’s because the snow was carried there by the wind. To showcase that, the 3D artist mixed the materials of ice, snow and adjusted them. In addition, he worked on snowdrifts geometry that came after texturing and needed to show footprints left.

#5. Choosing Weather

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

The winter season offers a large choice of weather conditions and moods. So the CGI specialist opted for a cold gray day. It highlights the monumental architectural design of the University and lends the scene some drama. To achieve the effect, he chose an HDRI map for gloomy weather.

#6. Setting the Light

First, Vladyslav added virtual light sources to the architectural visualization scene. To get this warm lighting emanating from the windows, he put planes in the interiors. It’s a useful trick that saves time when there’s no need for showing the interior design. And, as you see, the results are strikingly high-quality.

#7. Final Touches Before the Rendering

At that point, the 3D artist replaced the boxes with the 3D models of buildings that would surround the University. He then measured the effect and added some more snow, plants, and snow-clad trees.

#8. Preliminary Rendering

High-quality 3D Architectural Rendering: Preliminary Version

When everything was set, the 3D artist pre-rendered the image. For double-checking is key to high-quality and impactful results! He liked the overall picture but decided to “plant” more trees, enhance the ice material a bit, and replace one texture altogether. Then, he started the rendering process.

#9. Post-production

3D Visualization of a University after Post-production

Once the architectural rendering was ready, the 3D artist decided to tweak the contrast and adjust the color temperature to achieve cooler tones. Moreover, Vladyslav added life to the atmospheric scene by inserting the figure of a man. He is standing with his back to the viewer and looking at the University from across the pond.

This person is the main human character of this high-quality architectural rendering. According to Vladysav’s idea, the man is a future student. One day, he will go to that bridge, cross the pond, and join the crowd of students. Yet at this moment, he’s staying at the other shore of the pond.

Post-production is a highly creative process, so Vladyslav tried different options before arriving at the final version of the render. Above you can see one of the options the 3D specialist considered, and below – the actual cg image.

High-quality 3D Visual of a University

Isn’t this beautiful? Our motion designer was so inspired he decided to bring the 3D render to life. He added some motion and special effects, and here’s the result.

Now you know what it takes to create a high-quality exterior rendering. It requires expert knowledge of software, plastic arts, photography, physics, architecture, and design. And of course, a deep understanding of the project, its story, and goals. Just look at the result. Isn’t it a Christmas dream come true?

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Irma Prus
Content Writer, Copywriter

Irma writes articles and marketing copy for ArchiCGI. Her dream is that more people discover the power of CGI for architecture. Irma is into neuromarketing, ruby chocolate and Doctor Who series.