i d d q d Studio
Picking the perfect visualization: balance the technical and the conceptual
Picking the perfect visualization: balance the technical and the conceptual
It’s not always easy to find the most suitable visualization style

You plan to delegate the visualization of your project to an architectural rendering studio, but find yourself lost in the variety of styles and types of images. Sounds familiar? Digital visualization studios’ offers come at every price and in various styles. It’s not always clear which manner of rendering suits your design best. And can you tell if your project requires a single type of visualization or a combination of many?


We have come up with this short guide to help you navigate the offers,

cut corners and maybe save a little bit of money in the process.

The two types of architectural visualization

The first thing you have to recognize is there are two major types of architectural visualization:


  • technical images that explain the design proposal, and elaborate on how the building looks, functions, and interacts with the environment. They vary from simple schemes to illustrative photorealistic renderings that depict the appearance of the building or the interior, its detailing, and views from different angles. 

  • promotional “artistic” visualization that presents the concept of the design project in a condensed and visually convincing form. If the purpose of the technical render is to explain the project, then this artistic type of visualization aims to captivate and persuade the client. It should draw attention to the project and make it memorable. The so-called “hero shots” – emotionally engaging images designed to captivate potential clients – fall into this category.


Herein lies a dilemma. On the one hand, you want renderings to be as informative as possible and contain all the necessary data that explains your design proposal. On the other hand, you need spectacular visualization to express its idea, atmosphere, mood, and feel. This concept image should be able to elicit an emotional response and make the client fall in love with your design. 

That is why usually projects require both types of visualization, not just one.

Illustration:  "Pacific Getaway" by Iddqd Studio. Atmosperic concept images elicit an emotional response.

Never combine spectacular and technical approaches in a single rendering

It is not always clear how to balance the spectacular and the functional when you choose the type of visualization that suits your project best. Your first urge may be to find a studio that promises to squeeze technical information into attention-grabbing shots.


However, this obvious shortcut more often than not results in images that work neither as striking conceptual art nor as technical illustration. The price may come too high – it could be a lost contract.

Why hybrid technical/spectacular visualization doesn’t work

The reason is technical and alluring visualizations have distinct requirements for the image composition, color scheme, light and shadow balance, and so on. They should be rendered differently.


In technical renderings, special effects should not be distracting. Technical render must not mislead or overwhelm the client; it should give a clear idea of how the building looks and functions. But if you infuse it with art, you draw attention to the wrong places.


Similarly, a hero shot with technical information loses its charm, because the views, colors, and textures are no longer mesmerizing. 


There is also a clear hierarchy between technical and spectacular renderings. It is based on a simple and obvious observation: you need to capture the viewers' attention to make them dig deeper into your project.

Technical renderings are often cheaper than spectacular visualization

Last but not least, technical photorealistic images usually cost less than more artistic digital visualization. Architectural rendering studios usually specialize either in one type of visualization or the other. You have to go to a more expensive architectural visualization company to order renderings that work both as technical illustration and spectacular hero shots. And all of sudden, images that should have been purely functional are valued as if they were archviz masterpieces. And don’t forget that the allure of such images will probably be lower than that of purely spectacular renders.


In the end, you and the architectural rendering firm will end up dissatisfied and frustrated. You will end up paying more for images of lower quality. From our experience, the right way would be to split your visualization between two studios: one for captivating artistic images, the other for the cheaper functional renders.

How many renderings of each type to order?

It is usually enough to order up to 7 spectacular images (1–3 of them being hero shots) from the studio specializing in expressive archviz. If this set of images provides sufficient information about the project, there is no need to order extra. In exceptional cases, you can add 2–4 additional images, but keep in mind that they will most probably turn out to be less impressive than the rest. More is not always better. People get overwhelmed and tired when they see too many images; their attention starts to wane. Quality should prevail over quantity regardless of whether we speak about artistic work or technical render. Always think about what you can exclude without compromising the quality of the presentation.


The number of explanatory renders from a studio that does technical photorealism is not normally limited. But it is better to break those renders into thematic blocks of 3-7 images.


Header illustration: "Pacific Getaway" by Iddqd Studio.