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  • Max Agrad

From Sketches to Photorealistic: The Rise of 3D for Architecture


3D modeling in architecture before the 1980s was a very rare resource. The computer graphics technology at that time was still not advanced to allow architects and designers to take advantage of the 3D modeling techniques. However, by the end of the 80's things started to change rapidly thanks to improved graphics technologies, hardware capabilities for more complex calculations, and specialists who have become proficient in software programming methods.

Since 1993, we've seen an increasing number of architectural firms utilizing 3D rendering services . This was made possible with better computers and faster software – along with bigger budgets! We saw how smoother lines were drawn by new 3D graphics cards combined with fast-processing PCs (with lots of RAM!).

The first few years after 2000 saw the emergence of photorealistic architectural fly-throughs. These kinds of design developments were truly groundbreaking in helping architects and Interior designers showcase their projects with a great impact on potential clients.

Nowadays, 3D modeling is utilized for various purposes: from technical applications to photorealistic renderings used as marketing and presentation tools. The most popular uses are listed below:


Display houses

Construction drawings (Sketches)

Interior Design renderings

Exterior renderings

Of course, the list above is non-exhaustive; there are many other possible uses for photorealistic 3D . However, these are by far the most widely known and used applications of 3D in the architectural world.


Additionally, photorealistic renderings can be achieved with a great degree of realism and complexity using photogrammetry. This is not limited to exterior shots only - photogrammetry has allowed even interior photorealistic renderings to achieve high degrees of accuracy.

The first photorealistic renderings date back to the 90s – but it wasn't until years later when technology caught up with the vision of many photorealism pioneers. The early photorealism scenes like that one below had blurry images and were very rough around the edges – literally! Despite its lack in detail, this photorealistic rendering was a monumental achievement for its time .

Today, photorealism can be achieved with such an astonishing level of detail that it's hard to distinguish photorealistic renderings from physical construction . The photorealism scene below is a perfect example of this:

This was possible thanks to photogrammetry – a photorealistic process used by many architectural rendering specialists. In photogrammetry, the objects in the room are photographed and then photo referenced into another room surrounded by cubic pixels in the computer software. These photos are positioned on each individual pixel so that software can create 3D photorealistic environment around them.

Photography today is also much more advanced than before. New cameras have higher MP values, as well as wider angles for more detailed shots. Thanks to those advancements, our photorealistic renderings today are much more photorealistic than before.

So, photorealism has come a long way from those first blurry photorealistic shots to photorealistic photogrammetry renderings. What will be next in the photorealism evolution? We can only guess what it will be!


View our photorealistic rendering demos below: Showcase your architectural projects with photorealistic realism – contact us today!

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