Architectural Rendering Prices

How much does architectural rendering cost?

Architectural rendering prices can vary greatly and depend on several factors such as the complexity and scale of the architectural project, the number of 3d renders required and the experience, location and quality of work of the 3d rendering studio. 

Below we’ll run you through all the variables that can affect architectural rendering prices and offer you some advice on how to get the best bang for your buck.

Clients:
Architects, Property Developers, Interior Designers, Builders, Planners

Author:
Nick Martin 

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For architectural renderings you can expect to pay anywhere between $300 to $6000 per image. Why so much variation you might ask? Well, there are several contributing factors which we’ll run through in more detail below.

Contents

  1. What influences architectural rendering prices?
  2. Why do some studios or freelancers charge more than others?
  3. How much time does it actually take to make a 3d architectural render?
  4. The correlation between quality & price.
  5. What’s the difference between a high quality and a low quality 3d render?
  6. What to look for when choosing a 3d rendering studio?
  7. What’s the return on investment for architectural renders?
  8. Tips to help you maximise value

What influences architectural rendering prices?

01

Project Specific Pricing Factors

Almost all 3d rendering studios and freelancers alike price on an itemised ‘per render’ basis. And that price is usually derived by calculating how many hours would be needed to create the render. And because each project presents its own set of unique challenges, pricing is typically customised from project to project. But what exactly makes one image more expensive than another?

01. The scale and complexity of the design. One front external 3d render of a small 1 storey home with a modest front garden will be significantly cheaper than a front external render of a 30 storey apartment building with commercial ground floor.

02. The documentation provided by the client. Well organised, complete and high quality supporting documentation will make life easier and more efficient. This saves time. And we all know, time is money.

03. Custom ensemble. If obscure, hard to find furniture, plants, accessories or props are required (and a similar looking substitute from an online library can’t be used) then the time needed to create those custom pieces will be factored into the price of the render.

04. The size and complexity of an interior space. A 3d render of a small bedroom is cheaper than a large open plan kitchen / living / dining / alfresco space with a butlers kitchen and fireplace.

Time is money

Why do some studios or freelancers charge more than others?

02

Studio Specific Pricing Factors

Some studios or freelancers can price their architectural renders at almost 10 times more than others. What accounts for this large disparity in pricing?

01. The quality of their work. As with most things in life, high quality work attracts a higher price. Superbly detailed, photoreal 3d renders are very difficult to create and there are a limited amount of artists on this planet who are capable of creating them. Therefore, demand for their services is high which enables them to charge more.

02. Personnel & service. A larger studio that employs dedicated project managers, interior designers and stylists is likely to provide a far superior level of service than a single freelancer juggling 5 projects and trying to do everything by themselves. Given that most 3d rendering projects involve a lot of communication, collaboration and organisation, quality service can make a huge difference in the overall experience. People are prepared to pay more for great service.

03. Experience. A studio or freelancer with at least 5-10 years of experience has worked on a large variety of projects, are more efficient and are able to make better creative decisions in order to get the best possible results.

04. Reputation. A well known, established 3d rendering studio will have worked with a broad range of clients over many years. They have a proven track record and are seen as trustworthy and reliable which enables them to charge a higher price for their services.

05. Location. Architectural rendering prices can vary depending on the country or city that the studio or freelancer is located in. This is mainly to do with cost of living and overheads (rent, electricity etc).

06. Efficiency & Speed. Larger studios with years of experience are typically more organised and efficient and are able to move through projects at a faster pace. This means faster turnaround times for the client, which is something that people are often happy to pay a premium for.

3d rendering of a melbourne aprtment living room interior featuring a grey sofa and large artwork

How much time does it actually take to create a 3d render?

03

The 3D Rendering Process

Unless you are a 3d artist or have some sort of experience in 3d rendering, you probably only have a limited understanding of exactly what is involved and how long each process takes. Below I will run you through the common steps in creating an external architectural rendering of an apartment building and approximately how many man hours are needed for each step.

Step 1 | Pre-production | Approx 1 hour : gathering and organising all supporting documentation such as cad plans, elevations, details, sections, landscape plans, material schedules etc

Step 2 | Modelling | Approx 2-8 hours : If a basic 3d model has been provided by the architects it will take approx 2-4 hours to clean it up, add details and re-model certain parts. If no model is provided then the render studio would need to model it from scratch using cad files. This could take anywhere from 6-8 hours depending on the complexity of the design.

Step 3 | Materials | Approx 2 hours : Adding all the materials and textures to the 3d model according to the project material schedule

Step 4 | Camera Angles | Approx 1 hour : Exploring the building for the best camera angles and compositions.

Step 5 | Lighting | Approx 2-3 hours : Experimenting with different types of lighting (daylight or dusk etc) and adding internal and landscape lights.

Step 6 | Internal Styling | Approx 3-4 hours : Placing furniture and accessories on balconies and inside visible rooms. Fitting out ground level commercial spaces. Adding people & vehicles to the scene.

Step 7 | Fine tuning | Approx 3-4 hours : Fine tuning lighting, materials, landscape and interiors according to final camera and lighting selections.

Step 8 | Retouching | Approx 1 hour : Photoshop colour correction and retouching on final high resolution image.

So as we can see above, depending on the exact scale and complexity of the design, it would take anywhere from 15 to 24 man hours to complete one 3d render of a standard modern apartment building.

The quality will remain once the price is forgotten.

The correlation between quality and price:

04

Architectural Rendering: Quality & Price

As we’ve discovered, there is quite a large disparity between the cheapest renders and the most expensive. And we’ve explained the reasons why some are more expensive than others. To make things even easier, here are some figures for what you might expect to pay for 1 architectural rendering (in Australian dollars):

 

Low Quality architectural renders: $300 to $1000

Average quality architectural renders:  $1000 to $2500

High quality architectural renders: $2500 to $4000

Best of the best: $4000 to $6000

 

As we’ve discussed, architectural rendering prices don’t only reflect the quality of the render but also the service, reputation and popularity (demand) of the studio as well.

What’s the difference between a high quality and low quality render?

05

Low quality vs high quality. How can you tell the difference?

In order to make it bleedingly obvious, we’ve chosen a really low quality architectural render of a single storey home and compared it to a really high quality architectural render of a single storey home.

A very low quality architectural render

A high quality architectural render

Lets get specific.

Its pretty clear to see that the high quality 3d render looks significantly better than the low quality render. So lets examine them in more detail so you know what to look for when making less obvious comparisons.

01. Photorealism – if a 3d render is indistinguishable from a real photo then its a high quality 3d render. One of the main goals for architectural renderings is to achieve photorealism. We want people to believe this is a photo of a real building.

02. Details – in order to achieve photorealism, a lot of time needs to be spent on the fine details. This means observing and studying how every element looks in real life and replicating this in the render. In the comparison of the houses above you can see that pretty much every element in the low quality render doesn’t look real. And in the high quality render everything looks real. This is because the 3d artist that created the high quality render has taken the time to go through every element in the image, tweak settings and make fine adjustments in order to get make it look perfect.

03. The lighting – creating natural, appealing, photoreal lighting is one of the hardest parts of architectural rendering. In the examples above the lighting on the low quality render just doesn’t look natural. The sky is too dark and the shadows are too black. In comparison, the high quality render looks perfectly natural and realistic.

04. Landscape & plants – typically one of the easiest way to distinguish between a low quality and high quality exterior architectural rendering is by examining the plants and vegetation. Often low cost 3d artists from different countries will use low quality 3d models of plants and trees that are species that just do not belong in that country. Its important to take the time to research the vegetation that is found at the site of the project and use high quality, accurate 3d models.

05. Interior Styling – although not really visible in the above exterior renders, in interior architectural renderings, the choice of furniture and accessories is paramount. Interior design and styling is an artform and a lot of 3d artists come from more of a gaming background and wouldn’t have the first clue about style! At Harp we realise the importance of interior styling and actually employ a full time stylist to make sure we are on trend and delivering images that appeal to our clients target audience.

 

There are a few more nuanced, technical things that also play a role in the quality of a render… things like image composition and material creation methods can have a profound impact on the overall quality but we won’t go into them here.

In terms of architectural rendering prices, the time, experience, talent and technical know-how needed to get everything looking perfect is why high quality renders are more expensive than low quality renders.

What to look for when choosing a 3d rendering studio:

06

How do you tell a good 3d rendering studio from a bad one? 

Choosing the right 3d rendering studio is a tough decision and should be based on several factors such as the price, quality and service they offer. Sometimes it can be difficult to see why one studio would be better than another so here are a few tips that will help you sort the best from the rest:

01. Portfolio – a good studio will have a large portfolio of really high quality architectural renderings. It should have a range of projects from small scale homes to larger scale apartment buildings and commercial properties. If they only have 5-6 nice renders and the rest are average, there’s a pretty good chance they are just getting started in the industry or just aren’t very good.

02. Consistency – if the images in their portfolio or on their instagram etc all look quite different and some look great while others are average, then there’s a good chance they are outsourcing their projects to a range of low cost overseas 3d artists.

03. Do they have an office? Do they have an office address listed on  their website? And is it actually a legitimate address you can visit? If not, the ‘studio’ is probably just 1 guy working from his house or worse still… 1 guy working from his house outsourcing everything to cheap overseas freelance 3d artists.

04. Team – do they list real people on their website? And do those people check out on LinkedIn?

05. Contact Phone Number – if this is a mobile number then its likely the studio is just a one man band.

06. Client and project list – have they worked for any well known architects or property developers? Have they worked on any projects you’ve seen or heard about?

07. Quality web design – does their website look good? Most high quality architectural rendering studios are very design minded so they will have a cool website. If the website looks home made, is a bit dated or just looks a bit daggy, then its unlikely that that studio is producing high quality on-trend architectural visuals.

 

Price is what you pay.
Value is what you get.

Return on investment:

07

Value and the return on investment (ROI) of architectural renderings.

Instead of thinking about how much money an architectural rendering will cost you, think about how much it could make you. For most property marketing campaigns, the 3d renders are the most important and primary asset that the sales team has available. So it makes sense to think about architectural renders from a financial point of view and how they can significantly affect the success or failure of your project.

Sell faster – a high quality 3d render will help you to achieve sales faster than a low quality render. This would typically enable a project to reach its pre-sales target faster, start taking deposit payments earlier and begin construction sooner. How does this affect the finances of the project? On the flip side, if you go for cheap, low quality renders and you struggle to get any pre-sales, how does this affect the project?

Sell for more money – a high quality render will make your project and your brand look better and enable you to charge a premium price. A low quality render will have the opposite effect and will actually hurt your brand and negatively impact sales prices.

Your Brand – the imagery you use in your marketing touchpoints all reflect back to your brand. Do you want your brand to be associated with cheap and low quality? Or would you prefer to be known as a premium, high quality brand?

The bottom line – if you approach it from a mathematical stand point, lets say you have a 5 unit luxury townhome project and you need an external hero 3d render. You could either spend $3500 on a really high quality render from a well known and trusted 3d rendering studio or $700 on an average render from an overseas freelancer. The chances are the $3.5k render will look a LOT better and the experience with the trusted studio will be much smoother and more enjoyable. And if this helps you sell the townhomes faster and for more money, how much is that worth? Usually a lot more than the $2800 price difference between the high and low quality renders.

On the flip side, if you were to go with the low cost (and probably low quality) render for $700, and it takes 5 times as long to achieve your pre-sales target and you’re not able to get the price you were hoping for, how badly does that hurt your finances?

Obviously, every project is very different and the above example oversimplifies things, but the point is: do the maths and think about architectural renderings as an investment and not as a simple cost.

Instead of thinking about how much money an architectural rendering will cost you, think about how much it could make you!

Tips to save you money:

08

How to maximise value with your architectural rendering project.

There are a few things you can do in order to maximise your return on investment and get the best value out of your architectural renders:

01. Create a well thought out and thorough brief. This will help you and your rendering studio create a solid strategy for the renders, make everybody’s life easier and will ensure everyone is on the same page. Luckily we’ve written an article called ‘how to write a design brief for your 3d rendering project‘ which helps you through this process.

02. Don’t start too early. Its often best to wait until your design is finalised before engaging a 3d rendering studio. If you’re still in the early stages of the design and your plans aren’t finalised it could cause issues down the line and end up costing you quite a lot in design revision fees.

03. Choose a mix of shot types. Depending on your marketing strategy and which platforms you intend to use, its important to select the right balance of camera angles to maximise performance.

04. Get multiple quotes. Now that you’re full bottle on how to compare architectural renders and studios, put all this new found knowledge to work. Choose the option you think will provide the best value for your project.

More info on architectural rendering:

Architectural Rendering Software

What software do you use for architectural rendering? There are a lot of options available. In this guide to architectural rendering software, we’ll walk you through what we use at Harp and all of the most popular alternatives as well.

Architectural Visualisation Jobs

Are you an architectural visualisation artist? How much does an architectural rendering artist make? We are always on the lookout for talented and passionate people. Check out our careers page for more info.

Harp’s Architectural Visualisation Qualifications

How do we stack up as a 3d architectural visualisation company? Here’s some more info on our team, their credentials, who we’ve worked with and how we’ve bcome one of Australias’s leading architectural visualisation studios.

Architectural rendering case study:

Mist.

Architectural visualisation of a boutique apartment.