8 Things I Look For In A Rendering

One of my favorite things about being an architectural designer is creating renderings. It can be difficult to truly envision a building’s intent through language, plans, and elevations alone. But digital renderings are a great way to depict how a building is going to look. It is awesome when the response is, “Oh, that’s what you meant… I see it now!” But best of all—and what I deem as one of the greatest compliments—is someone saying, “I would totally live there!” So, without further ado, here are 8 things that I try to incorporate into my renderings.

#1  Architecture is for the people.

The Stanley Marketplace, WORKSHOP8

One of the more challenging aspects of creating a rendering is incorporating people; however, it is not a step to skip out on. Finding the right image cutout with a decent resolution and an appropriate angle and scale is time-consuming, and to make it MORE complicated, each figure needs a shadow to accompany it. To me, a rendering without people communicates I ran out of time! Adding figures to a rendering better portrays the scale of the structure, and—when placed appropriately—can highlight unique aspects of a building.

#2  Angle of attack.

Hue Apartments, Justin Bourn

There is nothing wrong with aerial-view renderings; however, I do not consider this vantage point to provide enough information. I believe a good rendering will show the face-value of a building, and portray what will be seen from the pedestrian point of view. The “squirrel in a tree” viewpoint can be necessary to understand the overall site, but should be accompanied by street view perspectives to show proper details.

#3 The devil is in the details.

Claremont Interiors, Justin Bourn

It is all too easy to get lost in details when creating a realistic rendering. The most frustrating part is when those time-suck details don’t show up as intended. For example, modeling the bolts of an awning that is 20 feet away can translate as 2 tiny dots that could have been added post-production using Photoshop. What I do instead is prioritize my details and spend time modeling things that are closer to the viewer, for example, the bolts of a chair.

#4 String & Quantum meet Color Theory.

Caterpillar Club, WORKSHOP8

Using color theory I can accent cool elements of the building. For example, I can use a blue car to compliment and pop the yellow accent walls I want to emphasize. Check out this informative site for more info on Color Theory.

#5 Don’t be a square.

House of the Woodland, WOJR Studio

It is very rare to see sharp edges and perfection in the real world. Modeling imperfections such as cracks in concrete or fallen tree leaves in the street can make a rendering that much more realistic. Nature is messy, imperfect, and beautiful, and I’m not afraid to use the Photoshop grass brush to add long grass patches around building edges and make things look a little messy.

#6 Let me reflect on that.

The Cube House, Vasilis Koutlis

I am always impressed when a rendering accounts for reflections on materials. Seeing a blurry sky reflection in a window, or the inverse image of a building on wet pavement is a sure way to guarantee a rendering has my stamp of approval.

#7 Let there be light.

Kuhn Riddle Architects, Connor Tiches

One rendering that left a lasting impression on me had nothing to do with the building itself, but the way that the designer utilized lighting. The boy standing in the bandshell was manipulated using Photoshop to brighten the side of the face where the sunlight was hitting. It is the small details like this that show attention and pride in the artist’s work.

#8 Less is more.

Gateway Rowhomes, Ivan Patino

Sometimes it is easy to place objects or cutouts just because they are available and they work with your perspective. But adding objects simply for the sake of adding an extra element may be a mistake. Think of a rendering as a story and every object within it is a word. Adding words to make a story longer may not make it better. And as Brandy always says, “Leave out the damn red roses!”

Thanks for reading!

Ivan Patino | Architectural Designer
28 April 2019