The Transformative Impact of CGI on Architectural Design

Aurimas Pocius

Aurimas Pocius

CEO of ArchVisualizations 3D Studio working in 3D property rendering market from 2011.

The Transformative Impact of CGI on Architectural Design

Table of Contents

Are you interested to do a 3D Rendering of your real estate project? Please contact us and we will do our best to help you.

Latest cutting-edge technology has been changing the dynamics of multiple industries and their workflow, and architecture is no exception. Including updated modifications and technology can help you and your firm to successfully deliver high-quality projects and maximize client satisfaction along with revenue. 

We shall explore architectural CGI in detail, its structure, benefits, and the steps involved in designing and constructing the best CGI images for your potential clients and portfolio. CGI technology optimizes the functionality, visual clarity, and appeal of your work. These images make up a wonderful addition to your advertising platforms.

Therefore, keep reading to understand how CGI can transform your next architectural endeavor and produce excellent results for your team by saving time and energy.

What is Architectural CGI

Architectural CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery) is a virtual presentation of your architectural design. Gone are the days when architects had to spend hours and hours drawing and perfecting their sketches.

CGI allows an architect to produce stunning images of their designs using special computer software. This technology also facilitates the design and construction of 3D models of the building, catering to several minute design elements, including color, lighting, interior, etc.

3D virtual animations and photomontages can give the illusion of a virtual tour by grouping together several computer-generated images at micro intervals. These specialized and carefully curated videos and images can then be used by the marketing team to showcase the firm’s talent on various social media and advertising platforms to attract more clients.

Similarly, virtual tours offer each collaborator an avatar through which they can access the design virtually by headgear. Such innovation allows a unique and encompassing experience that promises to improve interactivity and offers a greater level of control.

How to Get Started?

Producing Computer-Generated Images for your upcoming project may seem like a daunting task, especially if the process is to be carried out by an in-house facility. However, no need to stress as we have compiled a step-by-step process for creating the best CGI images to impress your clients and secure that deal!

Prior to Production

  • Purpose: Before you start generating CGIs, make your purpose clear. CGI’s can be used for multiple goals including, marketing, design, and customers. Defining your aim will help define the direction you want to take as well as the specific features you want to pay more or less attention on.
  • Create a Mood Board: It is always advised to create a mood board that includes colors, textures, and geometric inspirations. These help create an overall aesthetic for the project and ensure that all design elements are coherent and not contradictory. Vision boards will also act as a solid reference for your design in progress in the future.
  • Set Deadlines: Also, set the number of images required, the estimated time that will take to produce them, project milestones, a regular check-in system, and a fixed project deadline. This helps ensure accountability and overall efficiency. Identify any technical boundaries and constraints and address these issues beforehand. 

Modeling You Design

Create Foundational Geometry

You can kickstart your project by creating a virtual outline by creating a foundational shape and basic geometry of your building. Begin by defining the scope and measurements of walls, ceilings, and floors. Remember to use accurate measurements. Utilize virtual modeling facilitators such as lofting, extrusion, and boolean operations to save time and maximize performance.

Include Architectural Elements

Once the basic structure is in place, move on and add other architectural elements such as doors, windows, Furniture, etc. By now, your design must be taking a solid shape, reflecting a realistic and functional space. At this stage, you are also advised to add pathways, beams, columns, and moldings to add visual clarity and interest.

Adjust Elements

Ensure the accuracy and precision of each of the architectural elements mentioned above to ensure a coherent design. Make use of subdivision modeling techniques to add curvature and shape your building elements. Additionally, use chamfers, bevels, and fillets to get rid of any sharpness intruding on the visual appeal and outlook of the design itself. You can also create and add custom design elements by using 3D modeling softwares.


Select Textures for Surfaces

Now, refer back to your original mood board. Adding textures to surfaces is one of the most crucial steps of the entire production process as textures can gradually alter the visual appeal of digital images as well as physical models. Use UV mapping technique to apply seamless textures. Keep a strict check on the scale and alignment of the texture, as you map it onto a 2D or 3D CGI.

Texture Maps

Using low-quality texture maps will make your model look less realistic and flat. Ensure that texture maps are sourced from well-known websites and sources such as Adobe Photoshop. Your criteria for a texture map must include high resolution and color spaces to maintain color vibrancy and accuracy,

Material Maps

Material maps aid in achieving realistic textured spaces and surfaces. These may include bump maps, roughness maps, specular maps, displacement maps, and secular maps. These maps primarily focus on adjusting roughness/smoothness, distribution, depth, and intensity of the applied texture.


Type of Lighting 

Start by determining if you want to lighten up the space through natural or artificial lighting. At this stage, you will also have to mark the strategic placement of your intended lighting source. A culmination of both sources will give you the best result and visual effect. Make sure that your lights are positioned to reflect realistic casts and shadows.

High Dynamic Range Images

The primary function of HDRIs is to realistically and accurately capture the impact and intensity of digital lighting mechanisms, including interior and exterior lighting dynamics. These high-resolution images will improve the quality of your architectural CGIs by tenfold. You are provided with the option to tweak brightness and contrast to match the overall aesthetic of the space.

Experiment With Setups and Details

Innumerable lighting setups can be used to achieve the desired mood and aesthetic of the space. Therefore, it is recommended that you try a few different lighting options and positions before settling on one. If you wish to enhance a particular focus point, use accent lighting. However, if your goal is to create a cozy aesthetic, opt for ambient lighting.

Simultaneously adjust the relevant temperature, color intensity, brightness, saturation, and contrast of your indoor and outdoor lighting to invoke the illusion of a welcoming space.

Rendering Process

Selecting the Right Software

Choosing a relevant rendering software will help bring your entire project together. Consider factors such as cost, project demands, and other preferences before making your final choice. Speed, realism, and utility are some other points to keep in mind. Compare various rendering software providers and weigh each source’s strengths and restraints against each other in order to make an informed and well-researched decision.

Rendering Parameters

Set suitable and relevant rendering parameters to effectively achieve your target. You must decide on factors such as ray tracing, resolution, sampling rate etc. Also refer back to your original purpose and use of the CGI in process, to adjust these parameters accordingly. Experiment with various parameters before deciding which one produces the maximum results.

Test Images

Render test the entire or a specific part of your CGI to spot any potential errors and inconsistencies. You may find issues concerning texture seams, lighting, geometry, or other glitches. It is, therefore essential to address these issues beforehand and test renders with original design inspiration for possible revisions.

Post CGI Production 

Import Images

Once the rendering process has been successfully completed, the following step involves importing these images into an editing software such as Adobe, Affinity, or GIMP. Once the photos have been imported, additional design edits can be made before the final delivery.

Enhance CGI

Editing software allows you to edit images and adjust them easily and flexibly. Some areas or parts you may want to edit are color balance, brightness, contrast, saturation, and optic consistency. Additionally, you or your team can selectively choose to focus on certain aspects of the design to highlight your best focal points while toning down the others.

It is recommended that you add glare, lens flare, light reflections, and depth of field to make the image come to life and look as close to real as possible.

Entourage Elements

Entourage elements such as people and vehicles mainly serve to situate the design in a more realistic, everyday life setting, thereby emphasizing the utility of the design structure. However, take special care that these elements blend nicely with the CGI and do not look foreign to the rest of the interior/exterior.

Revisions and Delivery


Once the CGI has been generated, schedule a meeting with all potential stakeholders to discuss the final design. Explain key design elements and design choices while gathering suggestions and constructive feedback concerning the design for future reference. Ensure a healthy and safe environment for relevant and timely feedback.


Note down relevant suggestions and change requests. Discuss these requests with your design team and refine your CGI model accordingly. The client may, for example, request lighting changes or the composition of the building. At each step of the revision, consult with stakeholders to make sure everyone involved in the process is on the same page.

Final CGI

When appropriate revisions have been made, package your CGi for final delivery. Your package may include images as well as videos and animations. Therefore, it is crucial to pay special attention to file formats. The format will depend on either client specification or the model’s intended use. Standard file formats include ONG, JPEG, MP4, TIFF, etc.

Verify Requirements

Before you deliver the file to the client, ensure all necessary requirements are met. You may want to include an additional document with the delivery, stating additional information and clear instructions concerning the access and use of the CGI. Answer any potential questions from the client and complete the delivery process.

Benefits of Architectural CGI

As you may have assumed, Incorporating CGI technology in architecture has several advantages over the conventional process of sketching and presenting your model. Let’s look at these benefits in detail in the following section.

1. Realistic Visuals

Computer-generated Images (CGI) offer architects and their prospective clients the opportunity to immerse themselves in highly realistic visuals and animations before the construction process begins. Therefore, potential stakeholders can simultaneously assess the functionality and quality of the design itself. By bridging the gap between abstract, artistic imagination and a solid visual representation of that vision, both clients and architects can hope to foster clear and effective communication.

2. Cost-Effective

CGI’s are relatively cost-effective as multiple revisions do not require ample sketching and drawing material. The need for solid prototypes is eliminated, thereby saving both money and time. Any potential suggestions and edits requested by the client can be fixed within a shorter time span, sometimes by a slick or two. Additionally, the delivery system is completely handled virtually, without hassle and fear of damage.

3. Advertising and Revenue

By producing high-quality images, you can expect a rise in sales through strategic marketing. Posting these images online on various advertising platforms allows you to build a customer base that expects similar work in the future. Additionally, you can add these images to your portfolio for potential future clients, as they are visually attractive and appealing. These photorealistic CGis can be utilized to market properties and buildings before construction starts to stir the interest of their target audience and increase pre-selling designs.

4. Customization

Compared to traditional models, which are hard to revise and change, CGIs can be customized and tailored to the client’s specifications quickly and efficiently. While options may be limited on paper, this technology offers unparalleled design freedom and flexibility, which is the dream of any artist. Explorative design options satisfy the architect and client by accommodating feedback and revision requests. It is, so far, the most feasible way to materialize your original vision board.

5. Precision

Generating a digital image allows for accurate and precise decisions. There is little room for possible mismeasurements and inconsistencies when it comes to geometry and measurement of surfaces. Slight inaccuracy can put the entire design and its credibility in question. Ensuring precision will be useful when construction starts, as no issues will arise once the calculations have been settled.

6. Remote Communication

A possible advantage that you may have yet to discover is that CGI across all formats eliminates the issue of mobility. They effortlessly remove restrictions concerning time and location. These images can be discussed, collaborated on, and accessed virtually through common digital meeting platforms. Therefore, you can expect to cater to clients both at home and abroad, hence expanding the scale of your team on a global level.

7. Simulation

Through CGI technology, architects can simulate the environment and context, such as nature and natural lighting, that might impact the model in one way or another. By incorporating a simulation of these factors before construction begins, architects like yourself can strive to optimize architectural decisions and gravitate towards sustainable options.


By now, you must have familiarized yourself with a surface-level understanding of computer-generated images’ role in architectural endeavors. The latest trends concerning CGI and 3D visualization technology offer immersive scenarios that mimic reality.

The impact of this technology dramatically benefits all stakeholders. Communication barriers restricting clients and architects are surpassed to achieve constructive, goal-oriented feedback. This has, in turn, drastically improved pre-salle units and customer satisfaction.

Whether you outsource this project or entrust it to your in-house team of design experts, remember to stay involved in every step of the process. The virtual design must be consistent and align with your original mood board. The CGI should be able to capture the essence of your original artistic vision.


Q. How much time does it usually take to generate high-quality architectural CGI?

The time taken depends on several differential factors, including the number of images required, the scope of the product, revisions requested, and the complexity of the design. The level of detail and precision can increase time. Altogether, the process might take anywhere between several weeks to a few months.

Q. What are some of the challenges associated with generating architectural CGI?

Generating high-quality CGI can challenge your team’s existing skills and capability, especially if you are new to the concept. Additionally, investing in software will incur initial recurring costs that will only be balanced over time.

Q. How well does CGI illustrate interior design details?

CGI has the potential to clearly capture and depict intricate interior design details that might be tricky to represent through traditional techniques. Accessories, lighting, and furniture placement can be accurately placed, and their size can be adjusted easily and flexibly.

Q. Is CGI limited to static Images?

Although CGI stands for digital images, these images can be used as a solid base for animations and 3D visualization by grouping them together strategically. The images can be modified to navigate through virtual architectural spaces in real-time.

The Transformative Impact of CGI on Architectural Design

Article by
CEO of ArchVisualizations 3D Studio working in 3D property rendering market from 2011.

Table of Contents

Are you interested to do a 3D Rendering of your real estate project? Please contact us and we will do our best to help you.



Are you interested to do a 3D Rendering of your real estate project?

Please contact us and we will do our best to help you.

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