As a developer, ION strives to build high-quality but also beautiful projects. It goes without saying that architecture is one of the most important milestones in the development process of a new project. 

For a potential buyer it is very difficult to imagine the appearance of a project. However, this is important because in most cases, no parts of the building can be seen in ‘real life’ before the construction. 

3D visualisations are a nice addition to the plans. Below we describe the process from an architectural plan to a commercial 3D visualisation or render. 

We spoke to Davey Verpoucke, Art Director at Nanopixel, one of ION’s suppliers of 3D visualisations. The Waterfront project by ION serves an example in this article. 


At the start of a new project, an (online) meeting is set up between the developer and the team at the 3D agency. 

The idea is for the parties to get on the same wavelength during this meeting. In this phase, the story behind the project is very important.  Where do we as a developer want to go with our project, what are the advantages, the references, the target group, etc... 

Davey Verpoucke: "During such a meeting you immediately understand what you can do in terms of the images, and whether or not the client is open to your ideas. It's our job to reassure the customer at this stage so that we have enough freedom during the actual process. That freedom often results in the best images!"  

stap 1

The different steps of the process

Step 1 

Davey Verpoucke: "An Artist is briefed and assigned to the project. Subsequently, together with the Art Director, he briefly reviews the project. 
In the meantime, we have received the Autocad plans, which we import into our 3ds Max software. These plans include the floor plans, façade views, cross sections and site plans that we receive from the architect. 

We use these 2D plans as a template to build our model. We start by drawing the walls, floors, windows, etc... We model every façade until we get a complete model. Details are added later based on the chosen perspectives."

stap 2

Step 2

Davey Verpoucke: "Once our model is largely finished, we determine the perspectives, composition and lighting. This step is crucial in the process so as to create high-quality images. We photograph virtual architecture, so to speak. We also immediately consider what we are going to do with the images, why we are going to use a specific type of lighting and which atmosphere we want to create. The camera proposals are checked internally by the Art Director and the rest of the team once again. These perspectives are the first thing the client receives from us." 

stap 3

Step 3

Davey Verpoucke: "Once the perspectives have been established (after consultation with the client), we develop the model further. We creatively decorate our model based on the chosen perspectives. We add vegetation, and we materialise the building and its surroundings. Once again, we only send an update to the client once we are satisfied with it internally."  

Stap 4

Step 4

Davey Verpoucke: "After the feedback round, in which the customer can still change course where necessary, we start the final step in our process: 'post-production'. 

Here we import our renders into Photoshop and we tune colours, tweak contrasts, add characters, replace backgrounds, and so on. 

In this phase we sprinkle our magic over the images, as it were. Everything comes together, and the images come to life... 

To us, each project has its unique features, and we try to reinvent ourselves time and time again to highlight those features. 

As I explained earlier, we draw inspiration from architecture, photography and the Archviz (Architectural visualisation) community, but we are also inspired by everyday life. By watching films, reading books, driving a car or walking in the park or the city".  


What about the interior?

Nanopixel has a team of interior architects, and they work in a slightly different way. Marieke Mestdagh, Art Director for the interiors, explains. 

Marieke Mestdagh: "For the interiors we start by looking at the floor plans and presenting perspectives on the 2D floor plans based on the project and what the client wants us to visualise. 

Then, based on our knowledge and experience, we make a selection of the best perspectives from which the client can then choose. We also propose moods for certain perspectives (day, night and evening). 

The client makes a choice and also gives us a clear briefing on the desired style for the interiors (high-end, Scandinavian, modern, rural,... ) . Often the client also gives us a mood board or some references to illustrate this style. 

Then we start our ‘painting’ and fill in these interiors creatively, in line with the predefined style. We draw inspiration from national and international interior designers and studios, Pinterest and the latest trends, and we always try to stay up to date. The visuals which give us the most freedom are the images we are most proud of; it's also nice when clients trust our vision and experience. 

For visuals of interiors it's not ideal to make 'clay renders' first, like those made for the exterior, because they don't say much. We usually fill them in immediately because the interpretation depends on the perspective as well as the lighting and the 'tweaking' of the materials. The composition of the furniture, the type of lighting, the colour and the choice of materials are carefully tested until we have the best first version. We have a huge library of furniture at our disposal in order to be able to put enough variation into our images and of course to have a wide choice. We then discuss these test renders with the Art Director and with the rest of the team, in order to make any adjustments and/or delete errors, until we are satisfied and ready to send it to the client for the first time. 

The phases that follow are similar to the phases for the exterior. Through further communication with the client, we are able to finally 'finish' the renders with a final Photoshop session." 

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