3D Software For An Architect

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So you’ve entered an architectural school, and there comes this long-awaited moment when the professor says you to make the course project in computer graphics. And poor students, who 1.5 years were studying how to do washing and draw amazingly, have to sit at the computer in search of new knowledge. They would have to master the very tough material: learn basic drawing program, 3-D visualizers, and finally, CorelDRAW and Adobe Photoshop. They start to thrash about, which program is best for drawing – ArchiCAD or AutoCAD, which visualizer is steeper – Autodesk 3Ds Max, Cinema 4D or Artlantis.

In this article, we will help future architects to understand these intricacies and tell where to get this or that program).Let’s begin.

The debates about what is best – ArchiCAD or AutoCAD – are disputes like ‘which of these cars is cooler?’

The answer is – both cars are good! So feel free to choose any of these programs and you will not be mistaken – they have great potential for drawing and visualization. Important to know: ideally, you have to know both programs, as employment in some companies e.g. Vrender requires knowledge of ArchiCAD, while in others – AutoCAD. The best option is first to study Archie, and at the end of the school year (at summer) – to learn AutoCAD.

Now go to the 3-D visualizations. Here we have two options: either to start to learn complex, but very effective (in the right hands) 3Ds Max, or to make a couple of coursework in the simpler program – Artlantis, and only on vacation at summer to spend a couple of weeks on learning such a ‘monster’ as 3Ds Max (the second way sounds better). The advantages of this option are obvious: as a student by definition is in constant time pressure, wasting time exploring all the salt of 3Ds Max – is 80% fail guarantee! With Artlantis, it is much simpler – it has intuitive interface and fast rendering – these are what you need at first (it has more opportunities of beautiful visualization than ArchiCAD or AutoCAD have).

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Another school year came to an end, and you have done several coursework, using a bunch of ArchiCAD or AutoCAD (in which you do the drawings and the templates of the bulky items) + Artlantis (here you do rendering, final visualization) and maybe you will feel limited, wanting more featured course work. There is a right time to study 3Ds Max and Adobe Photoshop. We repeat: do not hurry, leave the study of complex 3Ds Max and Adobe Photoshop for later! In the study of Max (3Ds Max), it is strongly recommended to download the libraries to it. Libraries are everything you may need in visualizing the projects: trees, people, textures (asphalt, brick, wood, grass, etc.), cars. As well as plugins for Max: VRay (improved render) and Forest Pack Pro (allows to make forests without overloading the computer’s memory). Finishing stage is ‘assembly’ of project in Photoshop. We input all plans, sections, façades and pictures in this program and we make the composing. Why Photoshop? The answer is simple: this program opens up a truly tremendous opportunity to create a variety of beautiful compositing effects putting pictures on each other, like transparency and so on.

So, we receive the following scheme:

  • Learn ArchiCAD (then in the summer, at free time – AutoCAD). By the way, you can visualize using them, but these programs have less opportunities, compared to 3Ds Max or Artlantis.
  • Learn Artlantis (simple at learn and circulation – working horse, not a program).
  • Again, in the free time (in the summer), learn 3Ds Max and Photoshop.
  • Download the libraries for 3Ds Max: trees, people, cars – all this helps to ‘revive’ the scene, adding the realism + plugins: VRay (improved rendering) and Forest Pack Pro.

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