What is Real-time Rendering and Why is it Important?

What is Real-time Rendering and Why is it Important?

real-time rendering
Today, architectural visualisation has come far from mainstream sketches or 2D models to 3D renders. The credits are surely due to the advancements in technology and software. In the ever-evolving realm of digital visual storytelling, the significance of real-time rendering cannot be overstated, just like video games transport players to stunning virtual worlds. Likewise, interactive real-time architectural walkthroughs redefine design visualisation. Without a doubt, 3D rendering is revolutionising how we perceive and interact with the digital universe.

Moreover, real-time rendering has unlocked exceptional possibilities in architectural design, engineering, and urban planning. With photorealistic visualisations rendered in real-time, stakeholders can now explore and assess architectural projects and landscapes. It offers remarkable realism, which helps reach informed decisions and gain invaluable insights before construction even begins. 

Whether you're a seasoned professional, a budding enthusiast, or simply curious about the art of real-time rendering, then read below. In this blog series, we delve into the intricacies of real-time rendering, exploring the technologies that power it and its incredible potential for the future. 

The Art of Real-time Rendering

Ever wondered “what is real-time rendering” and “how it works” in architecture visualisation and design communication? Real-time rendering is a cutting-edge technology that allows the instantaneous generation and display of highly realistic and interactive visual content. This real-time approach enables seamless and interactive experiences, making it indispensable in applications like video games, architectural visualisation, virtual reality, augmented reality, simulations, and more. With real-time rendering, architects can create photorealistic virtual environments displaying stunning design details, complete with realistic lighting, materials, and textures. It allows clients and stakeholders to explore virtual spaces in real-time. One may walk through buildings, experience interiors, and even adjust design elements on the fly. 

Several key technologies power real-time rendering, working harmoniously to deliver stunning architectural interior and exterior. One of the primary technologies used for architectural rendering is the Unreal Engine. These engines use advanced algorithms to optimise rendering. For instance, handle lighting, shading, and texture mapping, and support various visual effects like reflections, shadows, and particle systems. Additionally, real-time rendering relies heavily on powerful graphics processing units (GPUs) that can handle massive parallel computations for rendering complex scenes with thousands or millions of polygons.

Learn more about real-time web-based interactive walkthroughs using GPU servers

Techniques Used in Real-time Rendering

As a matter of fact, 3D architectural visualisation is backed by expert techniques used in real-time rendering. Real-time rendering techniques are employed in computer graphics to create lifelike and interactive images in virtual scenes. These methods utilise different approaches to achieve various visual effects while maintaining high performance during real-time rendering. After all, it is the design communication that immerses viewers within the architectural space. Here’s a list of techniques employed by architects and designers to create real-time visuals and animations. 

Ray Tracing: Ray tracing is a rendering technique that simulates the behaviour of light as it interacts with objects in a virtual scene. It traces rays from the camera and calculates their interactions with surfaces, leading to realistic optical effects like shading, reflection, refraction, motion blur, and more. The result is photorealistic imagery, making it a powerful alternative to traditional rasterisation methods.

Rasterisation: Rasterisation converts 3D shapes in a scene into a 2D grid of pixels displayed on a screen. This technique simplifies rendering by converting vector objects into pixel-based raster images. Basically, it allows computers to understand the colour, brightness, and other characteristics of individual pixels. This efficiently displays images on digital screens. However, it cannot replicate certain lighting effects based on reflected light.

Texture Mapping: Texture mapping overlays textures on the surface of 3D objects, enhancing their detail and realism. This technique is widely used to add intricate visual elements to virtual scenes.

Shadow Mapping: Shadow mapping involves creating a depth map from the light source's perspective, determining areas of the scene in shadow and illuminated regions. By painting pixels in shadow with darker colours, the technique creates the illusion of shadows cast by light sources.

Physically Correct Rendering: This technique accurately simulates the behaviour of light, materials, and their interaction to produce realistic images. It relies on physically accurate formulas and properties of real materials to achieve accuracy in rendering.

Level of Detail (LOD): LOD adjusts the level of detail in a scene based on the camera's distance from an object. This optimisation technique improves performance by reducing the number of polygons and vertices for distant objects while maintaining visual quality.

Also, explore the current trends in 3D architectural rendering

Importance of Real-time Rendering in Architectural Visualization

In the ever-evolving architecture and design industry, real-time rendering has emerged as the future of real estate. Within seconds, a complete dream property is envisioned into reality. Today, architects and designers around the world create magic in their work through real-time rendering in architectural visualisation. From intricate details of floor, walls, and furnishings to realistic displays of day or night time, a sense of realism is introduced. Viewers experience reality beyond their imaginations when they get to interact with the designs and make modifications as per their taste. Everything happens in real-time when it comes to architectural visualisation using Unreal Engine.

From enhancing collaboration and communication to facilitating informed decision-making, real-time rendering has become an indispensable tool for architects seeking to create compelling and immersive architectural experiences.

1- Real-Time Rendering: An Architectural Marvel

Real-time rendering has revolutionised architectural visualisation by enabling architects to create virtual environments that closely mimic real-world scenarios. Utilising advanced rendering engines and powerful GPUs, real-time rendering generates photorealistic images, complete with accurate lighting, materials, and textures. For instance, a complete interior display of a living room is presented with realistic furnishing, aesthetics and details. Architects can explore designs in real-time, dynamically adjust elements, and visualise projects from various perspectives. Ultimately allowing clients and stakeholders an unparalleled understanding of the architectural vision.

Learn more about photorealistic rendering techniques and how it works

2- Enhancing Collaboration and Client Engagement

One of the key advantages of real-time rendering is its ability to enhance collaboration and engagement between architects and clients. By presenting designs in an interactive, immersive environment, architects can conduct live virtual presentations and walkthroughs with clients. For instance, viewers experience realistic weather conditions with sound effects that confirm their presence within the space. Moreover, they get to make quick changes on the go, like changing curtains and floors, or setting mood lights as desired. This fosters better communication and feedback, allowing architects to address client preferences and make real-time changes during meetings. As a result, the design process becomes more iterative, inclusive, and client-centric.

3- Streamlining Design Iterations and Decision-Making

Real-time rendering drastically reduces the turnaround time in the design process. Architects can quickly experiment with different design options, materials, and lighting scenarios. Compared to traditional methods of design sketching and 2D modelling, 3D rendering makes design communication quick and precise. As a result, it makes the decision-making process easier for all the stakeholders involved. This agility in design iteration empowers architects to explore a wide range of possibilities efficiently. Thus, leading to better design outcomes and minimising the risk of costly revisions later in the process.

4- Public Engagement and Urban Planning

In urban planning and large-scale architectural projects, real-time rendering plays a crucial role in public engagement. City planners and policymakers can use real-time visualisations to present proposed developments within existing cityscapes. Hence, allowing citizens to experience the potential changes in their environment firsthand. In fact, this transparency fosters meaningful public participation, ensuring that urban planning decisions align with the needs and aspirations of the community.

5- Showcasing Sustainable Design Concepts

Real-time rendering is a powerful tool for showcasing sustainable design concepts. Architects can model green buildings and eco-friendly features in real time. This demonstrates the positive impact of sustainable practices on energy efficiency, natural lighting, and environmental conservation. Thus, promoting sustainable architecture and encouraging clients to invest in environmentally conscious design solutions.

6- Virtual Reality and Immersive Experiences

In addition, real-time rendering seamlessly integrates with virtual reality (VR) technology, unlocking a new dimension of immersive architectural experiences. By donning VR headsets, clients and stakeholders can walk through digital representations of buildings, exploring spaces as if they were physically present. This level of immersion provides a deeper emotional connection to the design, leading to more confident decision-making and investment.

Learn more about the benefits of 3D modelling and rendering services for real estate


In conclusion, real-time rendering has emerged as a transformative force in architectural visualisation, offering architects the tools to create captivating and interactive experiences for clients and stakeholders. The technology's ability to generate photorealistic visuals, enhance collaboration, streamline design iterations, and promote sustainable practices makes it an essential asset in modern architectural design. As real-time rendering continues to evolve, architects can look forward to pushing the boundaries of creativity and innovation, elevating the art of architectural visualisation to new heights.

ArchXStudio makes a mark within the real estate industry by delivering globally acclaimed architectural projects. Go through our portfolio to peek into the fine Architectural marvels crafted by our expert designers and architects. Join hands and let us transform the face of architecture! 

Author | Mubashrah Rahim

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