Architectural Visualization 3D Rendering Services

Choosing Between Architectural Rendering vs. Drawing

All structures—buildings, homes, bridges, etc.—start with architectural drawings. They’re used to convey concepts, measurements, layouts, exterior and interior materials, and more. Over the last few years, many of these drawings have undergone a more technical process that involves creating hyper realistic versions for various stages of real estate development. As of 2022, the 3D rendering market was worth over $3 billion.

Whether you’re involved in construction, renovation, or marketing, you might have wondered if you should also begin using architectural renderings. In this article, we’ll tell you all you need to know to help you decide if you should stick to drawings or commission renderings for your projects.

What Are Rendering and Architectural Drawing?

Architectural drawings are technical 2D sketches, plans, or diagrams used to communicate the design, layout, style, and aesthetics of real estate projects that are being built or renovated. They’re helpful for getting a better sense of the scope of the project. While they were initially made with pen, paper, and watercolor, the development of computer-aided design (CAD) software has become the general standard for architecture, construction, and design firms.

There are different types of architectural drawings for different purposes: 

  • Cross-sectional drawings show internal views of structures from their foundations to their roofs. It’s as if you cut the structure down in the middle with a saw.
  • Elevation drawings illustrate a first-angle projection that shows the structure from different perspectives: front, back, and side. 
  • Floor plans highlight the structure’s internal layout, including its surface area calculations and other detailed measurements.  
  • Site plans offer an aerial view of the project, including surrounding elements like roads, pavements, schools, and so on.

Drawings present the basic design but they aren’t considered finished works. This is where architectural renderings (alternatively called architectural illustration and architectural visualization) come in. These three-dimensional, highly detailed visual outputs of proposed designs show how the structure will look once they’re completed. It allows designers to convey their visions in a way that is easier for laypeople to understand.

Like its two-dimensional counterpart, it also has different types:

  • Exterior 3D visualizations show the outside of structures from different perspectives (like bird’s eye view and street view). They highlight the best aspects of a design and help convince clients that a project is worth investing in. 
  • Interior drawings highlight the insides of a structure and show how different elements can be used to personalize it and give it character.

Computer graphic (CG) panoramas, 3D animation, and virtual tours can also be used to help clients explore real estate spaces through virtual environments.

Comparing Architectural Rendering vs. Drawing

How do architectural renderings compare to drawings? 

Time Requirements

Hand-drawn sketches are the quickest way to translate your ideas on paper. You can use colors for contrast, draw attention to various points of interest with different types of line styles, showcase new perspectives to bring your designs to life, get crafty with light and shadow, and even play around with different textures. But the more details you employ, the more time it will take to execute.

Still, they take less time than renderings which are more elaborate. 3D visualization can take as much as a day or two to visualize—and we’re not even talking about commercial, full-scale projects! But if you provide all the specifications and details to the rendering firm upfront, you can speed up the expected turnaround time. 

Possibility for Revisions and Customization 

Since you can’t revise a hand-drawn sketch, you’re forced to create multiple versions of them. This can turn it into a resource-hungry initiative. Sure, you could create a base model or utilize previous designs to create a brand-new one that takes inspiration from the old. But you’ll still have to sketch a drawing every time you want to play around with elements or have specific client requests.

That’s not a problem you face with renderings. Since renderings are created with the help of computer software, all the work files are stored locally or in the cloud. Plus, only specific components are built in 3D environments like shaping objects, structures, and characters. Special effects like light, textures, and different materials are done as part of post-production.

This means that it’s easy to tweak features and adapt the rendering to your preferred style or your clients’ expectations. Since you already have a base model to work on, you can present multiple designs (which clients love) and still ensure quicker deliverables. 

Price Tag

Basic drawing plans in the United States cost anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000. Architects may also charge hourly rates between $100 and $250 per square foot. 

In contrast, 3D exteriors on average cost $500, 3D interior perspectives average $250, 3D floor plans are $300 per floor, and aerial views average $800. (This cost is an average. It may vary according to the type of project.)

In both cases, the costs are considerable and can go even higher depending on the complexity of the real estate project. But if you’re working on a technically challenging structure or require extensive marketing because it’s a commercial development, the various benefits that 3D renderings offer are well worth the additional expenses.

Whether or not you’re already using 3D renderings, you’re probably already aware that they are more attractive for potential clients and easier to understand. This has a lot of advantages in marketing and construction. 

Accuracy, Aesthetics, and Precision

Can hand-drawn sketches be accurate and aesthetic? Yes. But that’s assuming you don’t make any mistakes while transferring the ideas in your head on paper which can be difficult. The result may be a drawing that doesn’t look as good as you thought it would. There’s also the risk of smudging which can make rescuing your artwork from potential mishaps more challenging. 

That’s why you’ll love renderings. 3D renderings go into detail, showing each object in relation to its surroundings with meticulous accuracy to the proposed design. They take the guesswork out of the equation and allow you to play around with different elements that bring your vision to life while making the design feel more tangible and aesthetically pleasing.

It allows clients to envision themselves in the space as if they were there. If done correctly, it can also help manage expectations. Professional rendering services take into account a wide variety of factors to create realistically accurate spaces. These factors include lighting, textures, materials, layout, and other architectural elements. When construction projects are turned over to clients, they can make faster and better decisions regarding their new spaces with fewer unpleasant surprises. 

Marketing Potential 

Architectural drawings will always have their place in real estate marketing. They’re great for certain purposes like giving clients snapshots of the general layout. But we’re sure you’ll agree that renderings provide immersive ways to get interested clients more invested in your listings. 

Renderings take sketches and turn them into actual living spaces. The stunning and photorealistic visualizations can be shown in-person or virtually to impress clients with an immersive view of the space you’ve designed. You can generate images, videos, and even animations to give people previews of your work. 

They’re also easier to share online. This means you can attract potential clients regardless of where they live or what time it is. You can also share them on social media for greater exposure.

They can also be used to extend your network. You may want to partner with designers, contractors, and other like-minded individuals by presenting your renderings at presentations and trade shows. 

By effectively using drawings and renderings according to their advantages, you can have professional and polished marketing collaterals that are easy to understand, engaging, and compelling.

Rendering Vs. Drawing: What’s the Verdict?

Drawings remain an essential component of real estate development. After all, they are the foundation of more complex sketches and renderings. If you need to convey simple information (like the layout of an apartment), an architectural drawing can be an easy way to communicate what that might look like from an aerial perspective. 

Meanwhile, if you have multiple stakeholders, a technically challenging project, or require extensive marketing collaterals for your listing, renderings are great for encouraging alignment while increasing engagement and appeal. Though renderings aren’t always necessary, they can provide clients with an immersive and realistic experience that helps them decide whether to buy or lease certain properties. 

Ultimately, projects that require a lot of client reviews and approvals can best benefit from renderings. Though they take additional time, effort, and expense, seeing projects in 3D offers many benefits that can’t be achieved by 2D drawings. 

Still Can’t Decide? Contact Plus Render

The decision to employ renders may not be an easy one for you. If you’re struggling between drawings and moving forward with an architectural rendering, Plus Render can help. We’ve been in the rendering business for more than 14 years and have thousands of projects under our name. If you send us a message through or book a call, we can give you our recommendations based on your requirements, concerns, and considerations. Allow us to help you with our extensive experience and deep expertise.

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