Long ago are the days we used manual drafting tools.  This is not a lost art yet; however, most try to create designs efficiently by using computer programs.  Now with a click of the mouse, you can create not only a space plan but also a 3D rendering in a matter of hours versus days.  Technology plays a big role in the improvement of time which makes design presentations a much smoother process.  Below are a few programs designers are using with a few new and improved options.


  • Autodesk 3Ds Max (formerly known as 3D Studio Max)

Advanced software connected with AutoCAD can turn your space into an architectural vision.  This program is also used in games and animation so you can imagine the lengths to achieve a real life looking spaces using their tools to render the space.  Graphically and visually renderings create a dynamic presentation.  This advanced program has quite a few features to learn so training could be beneficial.


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  • Adobe Suite – Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator/InDesign

Another avenue to create your portfolio as well as adjust your photos, designs and pretty much anything when it comes to these tools.  One of the best tools in these programs is taking a rendered 3D space and correcting any flaws you need to rather than recreating the rendered image.  It not only saves time, but money.  This is ideal for all designers and you can easily create a design portfolio utilizing Adobe Suite.  Some training may be useful but you can also teach yourself on this program relatively easier than the Autodesk 3D program above.


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  • AutoCAD

Not only can you design your 2D plans, elevations and cross sections but you can also create your 3D space by using this program.  Unlike some other programs, the 3D space created is not a true rendering it’s a lined drawing of your floor plan.  Although, it can be more time consuming these days to create your 3D space using this tool, it still benefits us as it’s the most accurate, exact program out there to create your drawing.  Depending on your needs, sometimes it’s beneficial to use this program with a 3D program to create your design presentation in a timely fashion.


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  • Chief Architect

Another 3D program that offers easy, quick avenues to create 3D renderings.  It can be limited in the forms and materials; however, you can always create your own library database to utilize throughout your career.  Other great perks with this program are material lists, schedules and the ease of creating an exterior or interior space quickly for 3D viewing.  This helps the client visualize the space along with taking a walk through video so they feel how the space flows.


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  • Revit

Is a great all-in-one program like Chief Architect; however, it is specifically built for BIM which is Building Information Modeling.  As you can in other programs, you can create the 2D plans, MEP drawings as well as create a 3D rendering.  It’s more advanced for users working with a full set of construction documents along with working with MEP engineers, structural engineers plus more while coordinating these documents between all the disciplines involved.  Those accustomed to AutoCAD would most likely prefer this all-in-one software over another type of 3D program.



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  • Sketch Up

This last program is another 3D program and basically anyone, even outside the trade, can use it.  It is very basic which can create a good starting point for those who are looking at remodeling their space.  We have lots of clients who have used this program to see their space before moving forward to remodel their space.  This is an easy program to start with and training videos are available online.


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By: Sandy Dicus