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  • Writer's pictureJamie Wilkes

Architectural Visualisation - What are the options?

Updated: Jan 18


A 3D visualisation is a blanket term that is used to describe a 3D image of a proposed architectural concept.

However, there are many types of 3D image that fall into this category. In this blog post I will give you an introduction to each type, as well as an example and this will help you to make an informed decision as to what type of 3D image you require for your next project.

The most common types of 3D visualisation are:-

  • Photo-montage

  • Wire frame

  • Greyscale models

  • Basic 3D

  • Photo-realistic

  • Hyper-realistic

I hope you find this blog post helpful, if you do let me know in the comments.


A photo-montage is the best of both worlds.

This is the process of inserting a photo-realistic render of the proposed design into an existing photo. This gives the viewer a clear illustration of how the new unit will look in its proposed surroundings. These are great to supplement a planning application, but they do have their limitations.

However, they illustrate clearly how the proposed and existing, will come together in one clear image.

Wire frame

A wire frame image is the most basic form of 3D CAD.

Although basic, it does have a place as a useful tool when displaying design information. This type of image strips away materials and finishes, allowing the viewer to focus on the shape and form of a scheme. Reducing the design information displayed, enables the designer or client to comment on the proportions of a design and not be distracted by finishes and materials.

Although basic looking, it is a useful tool for designers to share ideas without information overload.

Greyscale models

A greyscale image is a step up from a wire frame model.

Greyscale images allow you to introduce sunlight and shadows to your model. This gives the designer the opportunity to see how sunlight will react within the proposed design and carry out sun studies. As they are relatively quick to produce they do offer designers the opportunity to see their concept in 3D relatively quickly.

This then allows the designer to review a project and make informed decisions about the proposed design.

Basic 3D

A basic 3D model will give you an indication of how your proposed development will look.

This type of model would include basic materials, finishes and transparency, but will lack the qualities of more advanced rendered CGIs. However it will give you some idea of the shape, form and materials of your scheme. This is ideal for the early stages of a project, while the design of the concept is still evolving.

As the project moves forward the 3D model can then be developed and a polished visualisation can then be crafted.


These CGI images are so real, they could easily be mistaken for a photo.

It is these accurate computer generated images that makes photo-realistic visuals the perfect tool for showcasing proposed schemes. You can clearly see how the final scheme will look once built, with advanced realistic lighting and accurate materials. What you see on screen is how it will look once built.

And it is this accuracy that makes photo-realistic visuals a powerful tool for construction and property professionals.


Hyper-realistic visualisation is taking your CGIs to the next level.

They really are head and shoulders above photo-realistic 3D visuals when it comes to how realistic they look. The viewer will believe it is a photo, everything about it says it’s a photo, the only give away is that everything is too perfect to be a photo! These images are truly stunning, they can showcase a development in its best light, giving the most accurate representation of your scheme.

They are so realistic, you don't believe they are CGIs, even when you've been told they are!


We have covered a lot, from basic 3D wire frame models to hyper-realistic visualisations.

As you can see, there are many options available, I hope this blog goes some way to explaining what your 3D visualisation options are. There are many factors to consider, that may affect the type of image you require, from size of project, time available and the budget allocated for the 3D work.

However, there is a CGI option to suit most projects, times scales and budgets.

And as always, if you need any help with 3D visualisation, then please get in touch.


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Articles of interest.

If you find this blog article interesting then below is a collection of articles which may also be of interest to you.

About the Author

Jamie Wilkes has worked as a 3D visualiser and has over 20 years experience working with 3D CAD in the architectural industry. He is now owner and director of Resolution Studios, a 3D visualisation firm based in Halesowen in the West Midlands.

Starting out as an Architectural Technician, Jamie worked on a number of commercial and residential schemes, producing CAD plans, elevations & sections of buildings. After completing his Masters in Digital Architecture Jamie then followed his passion for 3D & took a role as a full time 3D visualiser working mainly in the leisure sector.

Resolution Studios was established by Jamie in 2008 and has since provided 3D visualisations, animations and interactive imagery for planning applications and marketing developments in many sectors throughout the UK and abroad.

Do you want to be making use of the latest tools and technology with your next project, if so then please get in touch and we can see how we can work together.

Email me at or 0121 674 40 20

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