People always tend to see a product before purchase it, so the next time while you are searching through a catalogue to buy a house, jewelry or a car, you may find that images you see are not real ones but rather 3D renders.
As architecture is as old as human civilization, emperors or kings always wanted to have a vision of their precious palaces, tombs or gardens before a century building saga begins. Architects often made a tremendous effort to show they ideas to kings or nobles in front, so drawings in sand, sketches on stones, muddy sculptures, or chalk stokes of temples on papyrus may be the precursors of today's architectural renders.
Before digital age, architects always created architectural illustrations by hand using variety of methods such as watercolor, pen and ink, or acrylic techniques. Rich in detail and crafted with great care by architects, these handmade architectural illustrations are the vanguards of today's architectural renderings. These days, when we speak about architectural renders we mostly refer to CGI (Computer Generated Images) images, which are made with pieces of software such as: 3ds max, Cinema 4D, Photoshop, V-ray, and many others.
Since today's market has different kind of clients, the world of renders abounds in diversity. For instance, renders styles and forms can range from fundamental still images, used in an architectural practice, real estate and marketing industries, to a series of images called animations, used in a movie industry and in architecture as well. There are also more advanced forms of renders such as interactive renders, packed as virtual tours, or the new age realtime renders, which had been used mostly in video games industries but now reborn to present architecture buildings or goods.
Despite the swarm of renders forms and styles and renderings development during ages, the purpose of architectural visualizations stay the same. The aim of architectural illustrations aren't just to show how a building will look but rather to convey a message, to tell a story, or to evoke emotions. Ultimately, the main goal of renders is to help a project to be sold to a client and to be built.
From hand drawn sketches, through draft images to the final renders, an architectural visualization usually converts an architect's vision into a product that can be presented to a client. As architecture has a rich diversity of styles and approaches, the renders that cope to present it are heterogeneous as well. For instance, we can sort still architectural renders from conceptual images, usually made in a short time to show a general architectural design, trough semi-realistic renderings, to hyper-realistic renders.
Fantasy looking and highly aesthetic, conceptual renders often find a place in architectural competitions. Always do architects lack the time for design during a competition, so mostly they spent more time for a design process then a rendering one. Still, as competition final images have to create an astonishing effect, to invoke an admiration, or simply to outstand an architectural piece from a swarm of competition works, authors have to do their best to make the renders as best as possible in a short period of time. Making a good composition, adding surrealistic effects, or bleaching an image, the architects compensate a short rendering time to get nice fantasy effective renders that show the best features of a project.
Usually, the best option between speed, quality and price are semi-realistic renders. The name of this group of renders does not implicate that these images are bad or unreal, but rather just plain. Sometimes these renders give an impression of mass-produced images, because occasionally they can be uninspiring and monotonous due to the low price and fast production.