ARCHITECTURAL VISUALIZATION - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is Architectural Vizualization? - Arch viz, as in LearnArchViz.com is short for architectural visualization, and it refers to the 3d graphics that are used to visualize architectural projects for the purposes of design communication, marketing, etc. It can involve rendering still images, or computer generated 3d animations. More recently, arch viz artists have started to integrate virtual reality with programs such as Unreal Engine 4. Other professional grade software packages used in the industry include 3dsMax, Vray (render engine plugin), and Photoshop. These each serve a different purpose in the arch viz artists' workflow. These programs are similar to what is used for creating video games, movie special effects, and other computer graphics. Arch viz is the art of applying these tools, and artistic techniques, to illustrating and animating architecture.
How do you become an architectural visualization artist? Arch viz artists come from various different backgrounds. Some have a strong background in architecture, while others may have strong background in computer graphics, traditional art, etc. The important factors are the artistic eye of the artist for composition, light, color, etc., and also mastery of the software tools. Beyond that, the single most important factor for getting a job as an arch viz artist is portfolio. For this reason, many of the artists are self-taught in one way or another, and come from various different backgrounds, studies, and professions.
What is the best way to learn the software and develop a good portfolio? There are many resources available for learning the tools of the trade, this site included. YouTube is also a popular place to learn different aspects of the software, however, most of the tutorials there are very focused on specific techniques, often making it very hard to know where to start. I suggest paying a little bit of money to get a beginners course for 3dsMax, the main program used by arch viz artists. This will give you a good basis and overview. From there, you can supplement with more advanced courses, or with specific youTube videos that answer questions that arise as you start to experiment. This site, learnArchViz.com, offers a great beginners course that gives a complete overview of the process, but also demonstrates a professional workflow, so you can see exactly how a pro operates. I recommend this to everyone because I know (from experience) how hard it can be to teach yourself online. It can take years to get to a professional level -- it did for me. With my pro course, I have taken years of learning and knowledge and condensed it into about 6 hrs, and it only costs $15 for members of this site. Check out the 3dsMax course here. As far as developing a good portfolio, it is all about practice. It can take a long time to master the tools, but the best thing to do is to start experimenting. Learn the basics of the program, then start working on your own creative projects. Questions will arise, you will find answers, and you will learn. Always look at professional work to emulate, and have a pro look at your portfolio (If you are member of any of my pro courses, I will do a free portfolio review for you).
How much can you make as an architectural visualization artist? Well, that is top secret! Not really, but it is a tough question to answer. I can only speak for the United States of America, and even here it varies greatly. If you are an intern modeler, you will make much less than a senior artist at a big studio. I can verify, though, it is possible to make a good career of it that can support you and your family comfortably. I think the high-end of what you could expect as an arch viz employee is probably around 80k / year. If you want to get better data on all of this, see cgarchitect.com salary surveys.