If you’ve been using architectural visualization for a while, you’ll understand the significance of realism: it’s the whole point of visualization. Although some people are used to creating a solo structure scene to emphasize on the design, more ArchViz users hope to get a result in a realistic and story-telling manner. What is the best way to bring life into an image? People.

From warm homes to fancy shopping malls, people are an indispensable part of the scene. You shouldn’t exclude them when visualizing a CGI project. Also, by adding people, the viewers will be engaged in the unbuilt environment more easily. So in this guide, we’ll explore the significance of incorporating human figures into architectural renderings and provides valuable insights into achieving the perfect balance of scale, context, and emotion.


Understanding the Significance of Adding People into Visualization


The inclusion of people in architectural visualizations is not merely a stylistic choice; it is a crucial element in conveying a project’s essence and functionality. Here are the primary reasons why adding people is of paramount importance:

  1. Scale and proportion: As a fundamental purpose, adding people can establish scale and proportion to the scene. The human figure serves as a universal reference point that allows viewers to gauge the size and height of architectural elements.
  2. Context and realism: This is the key point of adding people. Whatever the scenes are, people offer a sense of real-life context, a visual narrative of how the space will be utilized, and story-telling environment the viewers can imagine.
  3. Emotional connection: People can infuse scenes with a sense of life and connection. This emotional engagement can be a powerful tool for architects and designers, as it makes the project more relatable and appealing to clients and stakeholders.
  4. Society and culture: In some architectural projects, the presence of people is essential for conveying social and cultural significance. Imagine a religious space in Saudi Arabia, a diversified and vibrant community in Los Angeles, or a dynamic commercial center in Shanghai.
  5. Aesthetics and composition: Last but not least, people can serve as essential compositional elements in architectural visualizations. Skilled placement of human figures can guide the viewer’s eye and create a harmonious and aesthetically pleasing composition.

With above significance in mind, now we’ll introduce the different types of people.


Types of People in Architectural Visualization: Both Still Image and Animation


2D cutout people:

architectural-visualization-3d-rendering-services-cgi-add-people-render-sceneThis should be the most common methods for adding people in 3D scenes. These cutouts are usually integrated into the scene as flat objects. While they may lack depth, they are a cost-effective and efficient way to populate a visualization with people. Various libraries and resources offer a wide selection of cutout images suitable for different design contexts.



3D modeled people:

architectural-visualization-3d-rendering-services-cgi-add-people-render-scene3D models are available in various poses, styles, and levels of detail. They can be placed within the scene to interact with the environment, cast realistic shadows, and contribute to the overall realism of the visualization. While these models provide greater flexibility and realism, they may require more rendering power and time to integrate effectively.




architectural-visualization-3d-rendering-services-cgi-add-people-render-sceneWhen can’t find the perfect people in 2D and 3D library, 3D artists may custom human figures to align with the specific needs. This can involve adjusting the appearance of 2D cutout images or fine-tuning the pose, clothing, and facial expressions of 3D models. Customizing people elements allows you to make them more relevant and relatable to your design.




architectural-visualization-3d-rendering-services-cgi-add-people-render-sceneYou can add depth to the people in your CG scenes by using silhouettes. Another case is, silhouette is a great choice in the scenes where you want to emphasize the structure. Using silhouettes to add human activities while keeping the structure clear and visible.



Once you find out the most suitable type/types of people, it’s time to learn the professional techniques for adding people.


Techniques for Adding People Like a Pro


How to add people to CGI like a pro? Here, we’ve listed the techniques for effectively incorporating human figures into 3D scenes:

  1. Contextual integration: Consider the context in which you are placing people within the visualization. Are they walking, sitting, or engaging in activities relevant to the space? Ensure that their placement is coherent with the intended use of the environment.
  2. Lighting and shadows: Always pay close attention to lighting and shadows. Ensure that the lighting on the people aligns with the scene’s overall lighting conditions. Shadows cast by individuals should also be consistent with the environment. Accurate lighting and shadow effects make the people appear as if they naturally belong in the space.
  3. Scale and perspective: Ensure that the size of the people in the scene matches the scale of the architecture accurately. Additionally, consider the perspective in the rendering. Make sure that the people appear to exist in the same three-dimensional space as the buildings and objects within the scene.
  4. Blend with the environment: Pay attention to factors like color, lighting, and materiality. People should look like they belong in the surroundings, and their clothing and appearance should complement the design aesthetics.
  5. Diversity and inclusivity: Incorporating diversity in the people within your architectural visualization is essential for making the project more inclusive and reflective of the real world. Showcase a variety of ages, ethnicities, and abilities.
  6. Storytelling: Think of your architectural visualization as a story. The people in your scene can serve as characters that narrate that story. Consider how they interact with each other and the environment. This storytelling aspect adds depth to your visualization and helps viewers connect emotionally.


Challenges and Considerations in Adding People into Visualization


While adding people into architectural visualization has numerous advantages, it comes with its challenges and considerations. Therefore, here are some common issues to keep in mind:

  1. Keep consistency: Balancing the scene is essential. When adding people, it is difficult to balance the realism and style sometimes. You may need to opt for a photorealistic approach or a more stylized one. In all, consistency is the ultimate goal.
  2. Avoid stereotypes: When incorporating diverse characters, be cautious about unintentionally reinforcing stereotypes. Represent different ethnicities, abilities, and ages authentically and respectfully.
  3. Story cohesion: Pay attention to the actions and interactions of people within the scene. Ensure that their presence serves a purpose and makes the narrative more engaging. On the contrary, avoid using incoherent people groups. For example, if you choose to add a street singer is singing on the plaza, it’s better to add some audience around him/her instead of passersby.
  4. Copyright and ethical considerations: Ethical considerations come into play when using images of real people in your visualizations. It’s important to obtain proper licensing for any images you use, especially if they include recognizable faces.




The art of adding people into 3D architectural scenes is a skill that blends technical precision with creative storytelling. It is a tool that architects, designers, and visual artists use to bring architectural visions to life, communicate design intent, and emotionally connect with viewers. Ultimately, the successful addition of people into architectural visualizations contributes to the creation of compelling, informative, and engaging representations of architectural designs. This doesn’t mean you just need to keep in mind the above rules. In fact, it is more important to add people according to each project.

Want to create compelling scenes for your architectural project? Our 3D rendering studio has rich experience in recreating story-telling CG scenes. Order our 3D rendering services now and use our realistic visuals to turn your client’s head!

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