Can An Architectural Illustration Look Better Than An Actual Building?

Can An Architectural Illustration Look Better Than An Actual Building?



The prime aim of architectural illustration is to make a space look as realistic as possible.

There are times when a CGI can look better than the actual thing. This is something that Craig Smith, a dependable member from our architectural visualisation team, believes in.


An Architectural Visualisation Belief

“When we say that a CGI can look better than an actual building or interior, lets get straight to the point.

Imagine the work from a photographer. Their role is to capture an image in the best light possible and to encourage others to see things differently. The range of visual options a photographer has today has increased considerably. Now transfer that to the role of the architectural visualiser, then our roles are both similar.

Matt mentioned in a recent article that we are now at a stage where 3D visualisation is the same as a real photograph. I am saying that it can become better.


CGI Shouldn’t Be Noticed

Every piece of work that we create at AIM has to look real. When customers and wider audiences see one of our CGIs, they shouldn’t realise it’s a great looking CGI. It’s something that shouldn’t be noticed at all.

When something looks better than the real thing, there are a number of factors involved.

A huge aspect that is well documented within our blog section is the use of lighting. Whether a dusk shot or a spring morning, understanding the role that lighting plays and its effect on the composition is imperative.

However, in reality the opposite may be true. The orientation of the building may mean there are specific shadows cast during the day that may not perhaps portray the subject in the best light.


Lets Not Get Too Carried Away

What we have to be aware of as architectural visualisers is to find that even balance between what is true and not getting too carried away with artistic license. One thing that I have never done is portray a building project with unsightly surroundings. However, we need to be aware of the environment that a project is within.

Too much freedom can be misleading. For instance creating an exterior environment with a background in the distance of rolling hills and forest, only for reality to show dense residential areas is not the approach to have. Understanding the immediate environment is key.


Context Is Key

The key to making CGI look better than reality is context. When working on interior spaces, we have a prescribed space to work within, which is great.

We have angles to work with, lighting to set-up and an idea of furniture layout. It is our role to compose the image in the best possible way. That means limiting too much content, which can make an image look noisy and reduce clarity. For an image to work, the role of the visualiser is to understand and best communicate the architecture and design.


The Idea, Not The Reality

The role of the visualiser is to sell an idea, not present the reality. We want people to become attached to what they see and this can mean the virtual looking better than the reality. However, a key aspect is to make every image look as authentic and believable as the technology allows us to do.

Adding realism and portraying a subject in a faithful way, but making an impact beyond the real world space, is a powerful position to be in.”


Thanks to Craig for sharing his angle. If you are looking for a helping hand for your next architectural visualisation project or just want a chat about where to start, get in touch and lets have that conversation. Call Sandra on 0117 9251050 or


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