Getting into Arch Viz and going down the right path.
Arch Viz and you.
I have been working in this field for a little over 15 years I would say. I've seen the ups and the downs of the industry. You get rainy seasons and sometimes it's dry. If your a hobbyist or trying to break into the industry then I you have come to the right page. No this isn't going to be a tutorial of how to create a scene as there are already plenty of tutorials out there on the web. For this hub I would like to talk more personally about what is involved and what you could focus on to get better in this field. Originally I didn't grow up thinking I would be doing Arch Viz for a living. In fact I really didn't know what I wanted to do when getting out of high school. All I really knew what I wanted at that time is that I wanted a career creating something.
Why Arch Viz?
Now your probably wondering to yourself "Why would I want a career in Arch Viz?" Well for me it started as just a foot in the door for doing 3d as a living. It started to grow into something more over the past few years. You see when your new in this field things can get overwhelming at times. But your going to see that your always under a deadline whether you choose to do games or work on movies. And even if you choose games or movies to do 3d in your still going to be doing something similar to Arch Viz in there too. The difference is that the Arch Viz will be built in real life. I love that I have helped in the design process for buildings, airports and stadiums. Being apart of the design process is a good feeling when you see it built in the end.
Your renderings and animation help sell the design.
I use to work in retail and one manager I had would always say, "Pictures sale!" What did she mean by this? Well for one she would make us put the boxes with the pretty picture facing the customer on the end cap when they would walk down the isles. People can get so much from just an image. "A picture worth a 1000 words" is how the saying goes. You become part of the process on creating the image that will sell the design. It can be your image that will tell the story of what the architect is trying to sell.
Programs of choice for Arch Viz.
In getting into this field you might notice how many different types of software that are out there. You are probably wondering what is the best choice for you. The programs I list are only from personal experience. You might have a different preference on what software you prefer to use in the end to create your renderings. And that is okay if your better in a different program and gets you there. In the end it's usually what ever gets the job done. I've used C4D at one time for Arch Viz for a short period.
Don't feel the software I list is what you have to use. Explore and do as much homework on the subject as you can. There are so many options to use now days. I've even seen people use Blender ( a free open source software) to create awesome images.
3D Studio Max
After all these years of working with Arch Viz I've found that 3d Studio max has been the best option for me to use with Arch Viz. Plus it's become the industry standard for the area I live in. Since the past years architects have started to use Revit more and more it imports to 3d max pretty good. Also it feels Autodesk knows this and has made functions a little more streamlined to get the revit models into 3d Studio Max. Since what I do is mainly sell the idea for the architect or desginer to get their designed made and signed off. Max has its ups and downs, but what software doesn't. If you go to Autodesk website you can usually try max for 30 days to see if it is the right program for you.
Given that you will be rendering images you can't go wrong in getting Photoshop. Photoshop can help you push your images beyond what the standard renderer can do out of Max or any other program that you will be rendering from. Photoshop allows for you to add mood or even comp in some extra finishing touches that you may need to add last minute. I sometimes would use Photoshop to add some people to the scenes I would render out. Blending them into the environment and scene. It's often the little things that make your image stand out from the rest. Something as little as adding birds to a scene can give some life to an image.
Other things to note!
Given I just listed 3D Max and Photoshop for doing Arch Viz you will also need to get an understading of what your client may use in order to get their job done. Over the years I've usually just imported the model or cad drawings into 3D Max and went from there. These past years Revit has been the norm as far as getting models from the client. Use to be a few years ago they would just give the CAD sections and you would model it all from scratch. This would help keep the models clean given you created every piece of geometry. Every now and then I will get Sketch Up models from the client. All will import pretty good into 3D Max. Every now and then you will get geometry that will need to be remodeled.
Is this type of work for you?
I never questioned if this type of work was for me over the past years. It just took a form of it's own and I have come to love what I do. Is this type of work for everyone? Probably not. You will be put under deadlines and computers will crash. You will probably be put to the test at times with late nights of getting an image to final concept. It can be little stressful when doing this type of work. But If you stick with it you will get faster and be able to problem solve any issue that come your way over time.
A couple of sites to help you learn more on the 3D field.
I started out asking questions in community forums and doing tutorials. I want to list 2 sites that you can't go wrong with. The first site I recomend looking into is www.cgarchitect.com . Cgarchtiect has a really good community geared towards artist who do architectural renderings. This site also has really good gallery that will inspire you in this field.
Now if your looking to get an overall forum to learn from I'd say look at http://forums.cgsociety.org . Cgsociety will cover everything 3d if you have any other questions. Architecture isn't the only thing you can do with ArchViz. Even video games and movies use architecture in them. It's just good to get an overall understanding to make you a better artist and so you know your tools better.
I hope this gives you an idea of what software to look into and what direction to head down in learning this type of work. I know it is more of an overview of what to look for if your interested in learning Arch Viz. Yes I mentioned there are deadlines and troubleshooting along the way. But in the end your contributing on helping a design get done and envisioned. Nobody said it was going to be easy. If you have any other questions feel free to post them below in the comments section here. Hopefully some of the information here helped you and gave you an idea of what's needed to get in this type of work.