February 6, 2023


February 6, 2023

An architectural model allows you to present your project clearly and with all the necessary details to facilitate your client's understanding.

This implies a significant reduction in modifications, plus we minimize errors and possible misunderstandings due to lack of clarity in the information presented in a project.

Even with all these advantages many professionals are lost when developing an architectural model.

If you still have doubts about what an architectural model is, how to make it or even the software that can be used, this publication was made for you! Check this out!


An architectural model is a three-dimensional representation of an architectural project, which can be developed with different levels of detail, ranging from a schematic model to a photo-realistic representation.


Currently, no matter how small a company is, it has an electronic 3D model, from which perspectives, detailed views and even a virtual tour are extracted.

Thereby the modeling of an architectural model has become a highly demanded skill for any professional in architecture and engineering.

But do you know what are software, knowledge and main care in order to develop an architectural model? Let's check it out below:


The development of an architectural model goes through a series of steps until reaching the desired result, where the greater the realism, the more care and details are involved.

Depending on the complexity, it is common to involve more than one software, in addition to the need for a computer with good graphics and processing capacity.

To facilitate understanding, I will present a script with the main steps in the development of an architectural model.


Modeling the architectural model is the stage where we develop all the 3D geometry, which can range from simple shapes like boxes or cylinders, to complex shapes like trees and other elements.

A 3D model is made of a series of polygons, where the more complex the shape, the more polygons will be needed to ensure its quality, which consequently can make the file very heavy.


With the modeling of all the geometry of your electronic mockup, it is already possible to have a good idea of how your project will look.

Once the modeling step is completed, we move on to the next step, lighting the electronic model.


Lighting is a key element of any electronic model, enhancing space and allowing a better understanding of the volume of your project.


Virtual lights allow both the simulation of artificial lights, such as lighting fixtures, spots, projectors and others, as well as the simulation of sun lighting, where we have controls to define the position of the sun or even the time, offering great precision in your project.

It is most recommended that the lighting step takes place before the materials step; since according to the color of the light source, the tonality of the materials can be affected, changing the desired result.


In an electronic mockup, materials are patterns applied to the surfaces of 3D objects that reproduce the characteristics of real-world materials.


Characteristics such as color, reflectivity, brightness and textures, among others, need to be configured individually, so that they can convey the necessary realism.

It is even very common the presence of small defects such as marks, scratches or even dirt that make the material more natural.


From this stage on, it is already possible to have a complete understanding of how the project is going to be, and it is common to make some adjustments or changes to the proposal.


Rendering is the step in which the computer is in charge of performing the heavy work, which is to process all the information configured in the previous steps.

At first it seems simple, but in order to have a fast and quality result, it is necessary that, in addition to the correct modeling, lighting and texturing; the rendering parameters are correctly configured.


In this step the computational capacity of your machine is put to the test, where it may take from a few minutes to a few hours to obtain a single rendered image.


An alternative in this case is to turn to cloud rendering or services like Renderfarms, which is a paid cloud rendering service.


If you need something other than a static image, animation can prove to be an excellent resource for presenting your architectural model.


It is possible to make camera travel animations, simulating a person walking through the spaces inside the building, providing a high impact on the client.

Animations require heavy processing, a good computer, and even then they can take a significant amount of time to be completed.


Even with all the adjustments made in the rendering step, it is common to need a post-production step where your rendered image is handled in an image editor.


These beautiful renderings that we see on the internet are rarely raw renders, that is, without a retouching step in an image editor; where often the changes can be quite significant.

Vegetation, people, backgrounds and other elements that are too heavy to render can be inserted in this step, in addition to lighting effects and minor fixes.

It is even possible to create different effects, such as simulating a pencil outline, which makes the image look very beautiful.



Once we have a detailed 3D model, we can make use of other resources to present your project.

The purpose of an electronic mockup is precisely to offer the customer not only a better understanding of their project but also a good experience during the development stage of their building.


The use of virtual reality offers a total immersion of the project, where we have a 360° view of a projected space, showing itself as an excellent resource for presenting your proposal.


A model in Virtual Reality can be viewed directly on a cell phone or even through special glasses, or simpler models, such as Google Cardboard, where we fit the cell phone, or more sophisticated versions such as HTC Vive or Rift.



Much confused with virtual reality, the Augmented Reality feature allows you to insert a 3D element into the real world through your cell phone camera or virtual/augmented reality glasses.

With the help of plugins, such as Augin, you can point your cell phone's camera to an open space and visualize a 3D object in reduced scale or even in full scale.



3D printing offers the possibility of creating an architectural model, where some adjustments to your model will be necessary according to the type of printer used.

A 3D printing, regardless of the technology used, works with solid objects, so depending on the software used to develop the 3D model, it will be necessary to adjust or make some fills.


The choice of software for the development of electronic models must be made carefully. It demands, in addition to a financial investment, the necessary time to master the tool.

Another important aspect is that in many cases the process of developing an architectural model may involve more than one software or plugin for the rendering step. Let's check out the main options:


Sketchup is a 3D modeling software very popular among architects and designers, it offers a fast learning curve and with simple tools, it is an excellent option for beginners.

It has a clean and intuitive interface, in addition to having a vast library of models that can be downloaded for free from the 3D Warehouse website.



3DS Max is one of the most traditional 3D modeling software, being a tool focused on animation, but due to its high degree of realism, it became widely used in the use of electronic models.

Due to the vast amount of resources available, the 3DS Max learning curve is usually slower, but the results have a very high degree of realism and detail!



Blender is a 3D modeling software that has been gaining ground in the market, as in addition to having a simple interface, its differential is that it is a free tool.

It is possible to find a wide range of tutorials and tips, which facilitates your learning and is an excellent option for those who do not have the capital to invest in the main software on the market.



Much more than an architectural model tool, Revit is a software specialized in civil construction projects. It creates not only 3D models, but a complete simulation of a building.

An architectural model is just one of the various resources offered by Revit, ranging from precise quantities to tools for managing a work.



One of the most traditional rendering software we have is Vray, which offers a series of tools to work with materials, lighting and other resources to generate photo-realistic images.


Source: Chaos Group.

Vray falls into the category of plugins, meaning it is a tool that is incorporated into a software, adding new features and tools which in this case are geared towards rendering.


Corona is a rendering software with a simple and very intuitive interface, offering very realistic results for your project.

With a fast learning curve and streamlined interface, it delivers very fast results. Remembering that it is also a plugin, being used in conjunction with another software.


Source: Corona.


Lumion is a real-time rendering software that offers very fast results, in addition to having a vast library of models, especially when we talk about vegetation.

In the case of Lumon, the rendering is performed directly on it, it is necessary to import your project, which depending on the software, for example Revit, the synchronization of the model is automatic.



An architectural model is an indispensable tool for the presentation of your project, being also a segment of action for many architects and civil construction professionals.

The first step for anyone to venture into this market is knowing all the processes involved in the development of an architectural model plus the main software available on the market.

Another must-have for your project is a good collection of templates on hand to use in your projects, so get ahead by using Blocks Revit's family library, which has a huge catalog with weekly updates!

Join the Blocks Family!

The author of the article

Luis André
Master of architecture, product designer and professor. Sharing professional content from leading architectural software for 10 years.
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