In recent years Architecture Visualization has boomed as the standard showcase to clients. They can understand better an image than plans. The truth is, ultimately, renders have developed so much that the feelings they give win competitions.

The tools we architects commonly use for our visuals are tightly connected to our workflow. Archicad, Autocad or Revit often include their own rendering system or are connected to external ones with ease.

The boom of Virtual Reality have revealed the necessity of changing our tools. All eyes are on real time rendering software which is the technology that lies behind the videogame industry. It also reveals something, there are some professions merging. Architects, Game Developers, Artists, Engineers or are finding a new common language thanks to the possibilities of the Virtual Worlds. And that something called gamification is not a joke anymore, it’s here to stay.

Stingray by Autodesk

Autodesk is the biggest software maker for architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, media and entertainment. Their tools are often the standard in their fields. This computer behemoth is behind AutoCAD, 3D Studio, Maya and Revit among others.

With the expansion of the videogame industry to fields mainly dominated by Autodesk, it was a matter of time they participated in the cake of real time engines. Their solution is not visually striking and its performance is not yet so consolidated but Stingray has direct connection with all the Autodesk suites the US based company acquired during these years. This way it assures the most efficient workflow possible.

Cryengine by Crytek

The German studio Crytek released this technology back in 2004. Their game Far Cry promised a lustful nature, extreme sandbox style and amazing lighting rendering. These are the three main pillars of their engine.

In 2007 they created Crysis, a game that is still a reference in graphic power. Its sequels have also become the benchmark for graphic cards. While is not as widely used as other game engines with every release they set the bar higher to reach. They usually define what the upcoming advances will be. One of the last games using their engine is the visually compelling Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture by The Chinese Room.

Image from Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture © The Chinese Room

Lumion by Act3D

This Netherlands based independent company is behind Lumion. Their main achievement is the user friendly interface that makes the software widely used. Back in 1998, Act3D was among of the pioneers in the industry. They have been improving their graphic engine since then. With each release they impress us more with what you can do with a few clicks.

Their target are architects and construction companies not very technologically savvy. They have a good workflow implementation and Lumion is compatible with the main design suites. While their export options are not so wide their software is incredibly simple and easy to use. For quick good looking videos, Lumion is completely unbeatable.

Image from © Act3D


Born in 2005 as a flexible and multiplatform game engine. It wasn’t until 2006 when Unity started to gain momentum. The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference acclaimed the software as the runner up for Best Use of Mac OS X Graphics. Since then it been expanding to multiple platforms becoming the standard in iOS and android games. It is even compatible with the last Blackberry OS and Windows 10 Mobile.

During these years, Unity has become the standard the facto for independent game developers. Its flexibility gives Unity a wide base of users and a devoted community. With an unprecedented position for Augmented and Virtual Reality, Unity is the standard tool for the future Hololens

Image from Bedroom Demo © Unity

Unreal Engine by Epic Games

First released with the 1998 game Unreal from Epic. Its advanced visual technology made Graphics Card mainstream. Since then it has become the standard of game engines in blockbusters for PC, Xbox and Playstation.

It was conceived with a modular architecture that could be improved in following iterations. This allowed users to create their own custom modifications and made Unreal one of the first games in having a big community behind.

The last two versions had included tools to tease professionals in other fields such as architects or film makers to try the software. While not as flexible in the output as Unity it empowers non coders with its visual scripting method. It allows to create great visuals and apps compatible with commonly used platforms.

Image from personal portfolio of Anton Palmqvist © All rights reserved

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