With the increasing need for 3D visualization in architecture industry, it gets more important to choose the most suitable rendering software for your project. It may be difficult as you tend to think about a couple of factors. One of the most common questions may be “can the software help show my ideas in renderings with expected quality?” Besides, there would be another inevitable concern: “is it affordable?” To minimize the influence of price when choosing the best software, here are eight free 3D rendering software for your reference.
Thinking of the best free 3D rendering software, Blender is, without doubt, among the first ones brought to mind. Although it is free, Blender has comprehensive tools for 3D visualization from modeling, rendering to post-processing and even animation. To create perfect 3D renderings, it contains two built-in rendering engines: EEVEE and Cycles. Specifically, the GPU-accelerated engine Cycles allows users to view the rendering effect quickly and directly.
In addition, Blender supports to use various third-party renderers, such as LuxCoreRender, V-Ray, Indigo Renderer, etc. These listed renderers are also free but powerful tools. LuxRender is an open-source renderer that is recommended officially by Blender team. It can also work with SketchUp, 3ds Max, Cinema 4D and other major 3D software. With a free 30-day trial, V-Ray provides support for fast rendering. It is especially suitable for 3D rendering of interior design owing to its great effects of global illumination. Indigo Renderer is also a software with varieties of lighting types for models of different spaces. Besides lighting, it contains a material editor which helps maximize photorealism with rich sorts of materials. Moreover, it can save hours for rendering projects by the preliminary setting of materials and lighting.
Focusing mainly on modeling, SketchUp Free would be an optimal choice for both 3Dmodeling beginners and professionals. As a free version of SketchUp, it allows users to complete the basic process of modeling. Supported by its realistic textures, you can build your models with all the elements in detail covering textures, shadows and so on. In addition to SketchUp free renderer, there are also some excellent plugins that can be used in this best free rendering software, like V-Ray, Lumion LiveSync, SU Podium, etc.
As mentioned above, V-ray is an efficient real-time rendering program especially suitable for interior design. When using SketchUp, V-Ray plugin can make it smooth to create and adjust elements in layers as well as the whole layout. For landscape or exterior design, there is another excellent real-time rendering program Lumion LiveSync. Enabling its plugin, you can import your SketchUp 3D model to the Lumion environment instantly without any interruption while rendering. If you want to share your work via online channels, US Podium can be a good helper. This rendering plugin was specifically designed to be used with SketchUp. It allows users to change complex shapes during the process and adjust settings for lighting and colors after the completion of rendering. It is easy enough for professionals and amateurs to use, and more advantages are to be discovered by yourself.
As one of the newest free 3D rendering software in the market, Chaos Corona (formerly Corona Renderer) is no doubt doing a good job as a renderer. What makes it stand out is its deep integration with 3ds Max and Cinema 4D. This gives its users the full freedom to employ any 3D models without worrying compatibility with your devices.
Meanwhile, this free 3D rendering program has incredible processing speed. This is because Chaos Corona is a CPU-based engine. With a wide range of lighting effects and materials selection, it becomes one of the best rendering software for architectural visualization.
This free 3D rendering software was developed to deliver superior project renderings, VR scenes and even animation. With its management tools, Artlantis is compatible with various programs, such as ArchiCAD, SketchUpPro, Autodesk Revit Architecture, etc. Also, the elements of Artlantis Media make it more convenient to establish a simulated scene close to the realistic environment.
To work with different objects, it consists of two versions: Artlantis Render and Artlantis Studio. If you merely want to create high-quality architectural renderings, the former version can definitely satisfy you. For additional needs, you can use the latter version to complete the projects like animations, VR objects and iVisit 3D panoramas. In all, Artlantis is a perfect tool for different people including architects, interior/landscape designers, urban planners, etc.
Different from many 3D rendering software, this real-time rendering software applies WebGL technology. It is more suitable for users who expect to display their 3D works in an interactive form online. For example, 3D presentations, materials for education, portfolios for studios, etc. As far, users can use Verge 3D together with some modeling programs including Blender, Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya.
This is an open-source software particularly suitable for beginners/students. On the one hand, it provides a full list of furniture model samples for free, which is helpful to work with interior rendering. On the other hand, it is important to view the space before making decisions on any rearrangement of furniture. This best free rendering program supports to create new interiors and exteriors correspondingly in a short time. As a result, users can view and adjust promptly without spending extra time.
As a free version of Houdini FX, it offers access to all of Houdini FX’s virtual functions. By using Houdini Education, you can import any scene files and get higher-resolution renderings without a watermark. Actually, it is also a mature software supporting different processes like 3D modeling, rendering, post-composition, simulation and animation. To improve the rendering effect, this free rendering program allows to work with Mantra, Render Man and some other renderers. More specifically, this software contains rich light sources, many light shades, a large material library and a set of tools for the use of surround sound.
In this free rendering software, there are no watermarks or limitations as it should be for non-commercial use. This 3D rendering software has to be mentioned because it is Pixar’s free version. With its advantages of shading, lighting and rendering, it works with Cinema4D and Houdini. Its plugins can work with some major rendering program such as 3ds Max, Rhino, Blender, etc. Meanwhile, Render Man team developed a user community for discussion and sharing of your architectural projects.
Now we can easily find that there is still some free but full-fledged rendering software. If you are interested in any software above, please check our wrap-up for key information. Once finding the most suitable one, you will better enjoy the process of creating wonderful renderings for your projects. Of course, it will be of greater possibility to make your architectural designs more enchanted and unforgettable.
Too often we go asking for the best programs or software for perfect 3D rendering or 3D animation. In the industry of architectural visualization, it’s not possible to use only one gimmick once for all. From time to time, architects and designers have to choose from the right program to get the best 3D rendering, animation, or VR according to the disparate merits each different software boasts. However, this article is not to suggest the best one, but to provide lead-in insight into different programs and needs. After all, beauty is in the eyes of the “berenderers”.
AutoDesk 3ds Max
Developed by Autodesk Media and Entertainment, AutoDesk 3ds Max, formerly as 3D Studio Max, is a powerful and professional software dedicated to 3D Modeling, 3D Rendering, Animation, and Games. Other than used by lucrative studios or video game developers, it’s also a useful tool for architects and 3D artists to create soulful 3d architectural visualization including still images and walk-through animation.
However, 3ds Max is most noted for its modeling edges, with a number of easy-to-use and flexible toolsets offered to its users. Also, models transformed into 3ds Max file show a more compelling effect, which is one of the reasons why AIMIR prefers well-crafted 3ds Max models.
Blender, compared with other big names of visualization programs, stands out not only at its cost but also its community-driven platform vison. Like it has characterized itself at the website:” Blender is your own 3D software”. The public is granted the power and capability to make changes at the core base and others to streamline the usage and experience. It doesn’t matter if you are students or a private-owned commercial group, Blender is a free software to use out of any directions. It can be regarded as less-capable versatile software compared with other advanced ones, but always good at producing wonderful 3D outcomes. This is an easy one to get start off for 3D freshmen, but they could encounter obstacles while turning to other programs. Anyway, all roads lead to Rome and one will always find something in common and adapt.
The merit of Maxwell is that it’s a free and standalone software that offers access to all kinds of users. It secures accuracy in production and is featured by its Multilight, which allows instant adjustment of lighting or ambiance, and previews are also accessible in seconds. But, it takes, as reflected, long hours to render. The good news is the latest Maxwell 5 indicates a faster experience than ever before, with several updated and new features such as Random UVs, Coating in GPU, and Cloud rendering service. Await the speeding though.
Artlantis sounds promising as a 3D rendering program, impressed by its imitation of Atlantis, the fabled island where mystery roams and inspires modern literature. Back to its feature, is Artlantis really worthy of such a reputation? As a render engine developed by Abvent, it has benefited users by helping them make high-quality 3D renderings, animations, and virtual tours. The user-friendly interface has lowered the threshold to comprehend its function as to full control over the tool. One of its outstanding features lies in Real-time Preview, which is also its founding concept that allows users to process continuous changes instantly. Its processing speed is also exceptional as to showcase the scene, lighting, and stuff. The latest features also include the Denoiser tool to smooth the rough pixel and portal tools to manage indoor lighting better.
V-Ray and Lumion 3D are both excellent programs to produce wonderful 3D renderings. When we put them into detail comparison, they differ in numerous aspects. Lumion 3D offers real-time render, an outstanding feature that’s for preference. While V-Ray is a much more sophisticated option that offers photo-realistic 3D renderings. New users can choose Lumion 3D as a great start and V-Ray for a professional level. But in short, they are both powerful rendering programs. Certainly, for architects and designers, they can follow up on the newest versions and review great changes in either processing speed or final performance.
In addition, previously we have shared thoughts on https://www.aimircg.com/3ds-max-ue4-and-lumion-which-should-i-choose/ to compare different advantages of the different programs with actual cases. To clarify, discussions onto the above six programs may seem biased, but as users of these products, we must keep critical thinking and improve constantly. What suits embodies the best, and learn to track the updates that’s quickly taken place in the 3D world.
If you are interested in this topic, feel free to comment or contact us for more exchanges. We are a professional team providing 3D rendering, 3D animation and VR services, and you are welcome to get inspired by contacting us!
Before the maturity of rendering software, architects struggled to use hand-drawing to explain their design. In order to impress investors, they drew 3D models with an age-old approach, a perspective with vanishing points. It takes a lot of time to draw and color, even for a skilled architect. And it could never achieve the same lavish, professional, and realistic result as 3D architectural visualization done on a computer.
Maybe some fields encourage minimalism. But in architecture, only the projects with details which amaze investors could win approval. That is why we need to use rendering software for construction projects, which could offer full details for investors to preview the future building.
From hand-drawing to software
Previously, architects completed the project by hand from start to finish. They gave mature consideration to all aspects of a project, including the first sketches, developing the design on different aspects like object functionality and the construction, as well as the visualization before building. It’s hard to imagine what efforts they make when we see their 2D floor plans which contain various labels and hatches or their solution includes interior and exterior design and urban planning.
Architects could have a rest until the first software for 2D floor plans developed enough. It saves time and is more accurate than before. Later, the appearance of software for 3D modeling makes 3D architectural visualization easier.
However, 3D models do become really lifelike and breathtaking because of its outcome. Programs like 3Ds Max, Mental Ray or V-Ray, allows any operation concerning 3D modeling and rendering. What’s more, they are compatible with many software in the market which can import or export .dwg and .3ds formats and so on. Architectural visualization becomes simpler and more efficient. These programs have their strong points, which can be seen in the earlier blog – 10 Best Architectural Rendering Software for Architects in 2019. And today, let’s explore how rendering software benefits every aspect of the construction project.
Architects begin 3D rendering after the process of materialization. At the stage of material adjustment, it is easy to operate owing to the programs that enable us to choose or import different textures with ease.
Once we determine textures, we can adjust various parameters such as a bump, ambient color, diffuse color, specular color, self-illumination, glossiness, opacity, reflection, transparency, and more. Every adjustment enriches the final effect of the rendering.
Lighting is important in all types of architectural visualization services. It can highlight the details and increase the realistic effect. Applying lighting in nightscape renders is admirable, while natural or artificial lights also add spice to daytime renders.
Operating steps on various software are a little different. Some like Lumion have already set up natural lighting which can be adjusted based on the needs. However, others like V-ray requires people to create it manually, especially when we deal with interior design. There are many lighting options available in the software and you can choose the best one to highlight the effect.
It’s very convenient when the rendering software offer built-in environment settings. They bring architects’ inspirations to life and help investors to see the unstarted project in the real environment. Landscapes like rivers, seas, cities, mountains and sky as well as greenery are all available in the material library of Lumion.
But if we use software like V-ray, we need to do this step on PhotoShop or other similar programs. But the simplest way is to use a photo of a preferred location. Lots of architects usually take a photo and import the render into the photo, which it’s another way to put render into the real-life environment.
When architects adopted hand-drawing, color difference used to be their nightmare. But now, with the flexibility of rendering software, we can change materials and textures within a few mouse clicks to meet the investors’ needs. And we can also artificially increase some imperfections in the works.
It’s time to make good use of the benefits of rendering software. If you’re looking for 3D architectural rendering, we are exactly your right choice. We AIMIR are a professional company that produces lifelike visualization services. Welcome to contact us for any questions.