Architecture Modeling???


Hello everyone.

I’m an architect and I’ve been using computer as a tool for drawing since 1995.

I always used Macintosh, altough PCs in the architecture world is the main plataform till last year when, due to the Apple lattest events such as adopting a new OS system and FORGETTING about the old one and its respective users ( and also the prices charged here in Brazil that makes it dificult to upgrade to new systems such as G4s and G5s ), I decided to migrate to the PC world - kind of that switch campaign from apple backwards. With all that said, I also decided to relearn everything from the bottom. From drawing 2Ds, modeling 3Ds, texturing and even animate.

While in Macintosh, I use to work CAD drawings in Vectorwork ( still using it on PC ) and also I use to model architecture 3D in Vector or Form-Z and export it to Art-Lantis to apply texture, lights and render. Now I’m learning AutoCad and working on a few tutorials for 3D Max, Maya and LightScape.

My question is: could I suggest to make an Architecture CG specific forum??

Could you guys could make me suggestions on how to start modeling architecture elements such as walls, windows, doors, roofs etc? In Vectorworks I used to take the 2D drawing and extrude the walls, inserting holes as windows and doors, defining 3D locus points in particular world coordinates so I could them draw polygon surfaces clicking on those points etc, etc, etc… The thing is I’m really used with the whole coordinate system and the architecture way to draw ( precise drawings, with distances and snap all the time, diferent from the freely enviroment found in Maya ), after all I’m an architect. So, what could you suggest me to start with? 3D MAX? If so, where could I get tutorials for step by step modeling of an architectural model?

Well, hope someone out there can help me find a light in this tunnel.

tresD :wink:


i’m a fourth year architecture student, and i just started using maya for presenting projects done in AutoCad.

i’m mixing between it and 3d studio max because the lake of input in maya,
all you have to do is group all your objects in cad as one
like walls one object and window doors etc…

then you can add materials what so ever in max


I have to apologise for my stupidity :blush: but I think I didn’t quite understood what you said. I’m afraid I miss some of the terms and process that you related in your post because I’m a little bit unfamiliar with the AutoCad process.

I will try to make it more clear ;). I think I would take a CAD drawing such as a plan for a building and import to either MAX or MAYA ( at this point I don’t have any skill on these soft so I guess it doesn’t matter where to start, altough I rather try with MAX due to the industry standart and the possibilities to keep working with units, distances, snap - please correct me if I’m wrong ). Them I would draw a rectangle polygon as a wall so I could start to rise its elevation. I would firts try all the walls. Them I would start making holes where the windows and doors are. With a little more work I would start to detail in a separate file the windows and doors to place them later in the main file… I don’t know. That’s how I would do normaly in Form-Z or VectorWorks. Maybe for more powerfull tools such as MAX and MAYA there are different procedures. Maybe it has some clues or steps that makes this process a breeze. That’s why I’m looking for specific tutorials :wink: .

Anyways. That’s it. If you or someone could help on that…

Thx a lot


Hi, um, perhaps you might try Sketch Up


well, I’ve already tried sketch-up. But no, that’s not what I’m looking for. I really want to leanr to steps from modeling architectural models in 3D Max or MAYA. Been looking around and seems that Max is the one to go for architecture. I want to be able to make high-end perspectives and even animations as I used to make with Macintosh softwares ( well not as high-end as a lot of work I’ve seen here done in MAYA and MAX ). Nut that’s it.
Still looking for Max tutorials on architectural modeling


cinema 4d is mac and pc…has a plugin/connection for vectorworks…has just released sketch&toon…all in its favour…its advanced render module is very nice also.

check in on the cinema 4d forum on cgtalk and ask away…there are a few arch types on there.

there is also
bit maxified…but some great work done in cinema on there…dunno about the forums.


I’m a licensed architect, with my own practice in NY, so I can relate to your inquiry.

I’ve been using CAD on the PC since the very first CAD program was made for Windows… it was called Drafix Cad, and was made by Foresight Resources. It was a 2D CAD Program back in 1990, and just WAY too easy to use, but I had inklings of thier transitioning to 3D from thier staff, which, made my appetite quite wet. I used it like crazy, waiting, hoping, etc… and then, it was bought by Softdesk but no 3D yet (but still planned development), and then, 2 years after that, AutoDesk bought Softdesk, and they killed the line, but reinserted it as “Autosketch”, the failed 2D intermediate program. Today, youcan buy it for about $100 US, and Autodesk has made it clear that it will not go to 3D, for obvious reason (AutoCad, with 3D, sells for $3750 US)!

Why tell you the above?

Well, once I realized that 3D wasn’t coming to my 2D Cad program, I had to look around for another alternative. That’s when I found TurboCad Professional.

Amazing software. For general 3D modling, its many times more powerful than AutoCad could wish to be (and many CAD Mag reviewers have stated as much, as well), and is much easier to use; but the real asset forus architects is that it is a full CAD program with parametric tools like self healing 3D walls, etc…

More importantly, if, as you stated above, you started with a 2D plan that you drafted in another program and exported as either a .dxf or .dwg file, TurboCad Pro will take them in, and, you can extrude the lines that represent the outer edges of walls, columns, etc… to reflect thier real world height with very little effort. I mean, this is Micky Mouse easy…

The price level for TurboCad is also appealing: $695 for full, and if you own AutoCad, $495.

It’s not avialable for the Mac, however you did say that you were looking to switch to the PC anyway.

There is a rich user community online, as well.

Ok without soundingtoo much like a TurboCad commercial, here is the link if you would like to find out more (and yes, they do have a downloadable, fully funcitonal trial version):

Best of luck


OK, first of all I have to thank you guys for putting a little piece of time and advise for me. A started this tread with only Max and Maya in my head and now I have TurboCad, Rhino C4D among with the above. I’m really looking around these products web pages to find out a little bit more about them.

I guess I can conlude something so far: 3D architecture is generally modeled in some CAD software like AutoCad, Vectorworks or TurboCad and them, maybe, exported to some high-end soft like Max to give final shaders, tectures, lights, cameras, renders and even animation. If that’s the case I think I have little problems at the modeling issue since I’m pretty confrtable modeling in VectorWorks and in Form-Z and they both have versions for PC which I’m using at the moment.

But that lives me with the final steps problem: lightining, texturing, rendering etc… Some of you like a particular program while others may like a different one. I think I’m really going to pick 3D Studio Max for what I’ve seen around. But yet, I still need some tutorials ( those step by step procedures that a five years old could make ) based on architecture CG so I can get what’s there specifically for this kind of 3D like tips, shortcuts etc…

Hope you get what I mean :wink:

Thanx again for all the help


Although i am not an architect i work for an interior design company, we design bars and the like. Since i have been here (im here on my placment from university) we have started using 3dsMAX for visulaization. It is very nice and easy to use. Generally i will take a drawing produced in autosketch and prepare it for 3ds MAX this involves sepearated out seperate shapes (like walls etc) to be extruded in max. Then its a simple process of exporting them as dwg or dxf importing them into MAX. Then i will sperate out each part as splines and conver t them to polys. This sometimes means going around and welding vertices and stuff but it is easy to get a grip of. an then extrude them to the correct heights etc. It gives me an accurate model of walls etc for a room in perhaps a minute rather than drawing it all out again or modeling it with boxes.

Then once ive finished i simply set up max to render (not so simple really) and i can produce some nice visuals for my customers.

Max makes it very easy to do all this so i would recomend using it.

Get a plugin calles solidify its a real help and can go where extrude and cap holes cant.


Architectural projects do not always orginate in some primary 2D program like Autocad, it is quite possible to do your conceptual design in a program like Cinema 4D, Maya, Max, Zbrush, and so and never come to a program like AutoCAD except to generate some kind of measured drawings- detailed floor plan, elevation, section.

It is quite possible to build an architectural model in these other programs to generate a 2D or 3D section or plan (one is a vertical cut the other a horizontal section) anyways- it is not always necessary to go from Autocad to Cinema4d, Max, Maya, Zbrush etc.

You can start with say, ZBrush and eventually at some point do something that requires AutoCAD or Vectorworks.

The whole 3D revolution for Architecture is really about other paths that can be taken that are not always originating in AutoCAD or Vectorworks- there allow for much more evaluation in what can be carried out in design concepts in 3D modeling program designed primarily for character animation or development.


I get faster, clean and good models with sketchup. Is by far the faster tool I’ve never used.



I’ve never used, or ever? :rolleyes:

djshivan, SketchUp is really good for accurate modelling based on *.DWG/DXF?
i took a look at SketchUp site, and it seems to be a simple and fast tool, and produces very clean models… and it exports to *.3DS :smiley:


Hello there and welcome to the world of app chosing…

I am an architecture student and have been stuck on the same problem some time ago. In the end, as you will eventually find out for yourself, it’s not the software it’s the artist (the most comon answer on this forum but the most neglected one too). I see nobody has mentioned ArchiCAD, which i think is a great architectural app, lot’s of lib’s availlable and also some decent creational freedom for a CAD software, plugins may be involved if you want booleans and meshes, but on top of that i have a friend that modeled the Guggenheim Museum (Bilbao) in Arhicad just to prove that it’s possible. Since you want architectural design you will eventually need blueprints and sections/elevations so i suggest the best aproach would be to find a CAD software which can export to a decent amount of formats for a later import into a 3D app that has a beter renderer/modeler for finalising details and geting the perspectives done. As for CAD apps there are more than enough, you just need to get demos from them and try them out; the 3D apps that are worth mentioning all have their specific forum here. I am not saying the only those apps are worth the trouble, i have seen some amazing work done in Bryce or Art-lantis. I my quest i narrowed the search to 3dmax/lightwave/Cinema 4d and Architectural Desktop/Nemetschek/Archicad/VectorWorks.
I ended up using Archicad and Art-lantis and some very rare incursions in Autocad, now i am tuting myself C4d since Art-lantis is quite limited (only advantage is speed).

Conclusion: You should try Archicad as my personal sugestion since it’s the app i would be missing the most if i had to lose it.

PS: I doubt sketch-up will handle a comparison to a cad/3d app, it’s like comparing mspaint to PS.


Well, I have no experience personally with what you’re doing I thought I’d throw in another app you might want to look into. I’m not preaching Silo because I use it but I did notice on the silo3d forum that there’s been more and more use for architechual modeling. here’s a few links to look at It’s a general modeling application so it’s not specifially designed for what you need but compared to other modeling programs it’s great and inexpensive. …er, end commercial now. :wink: Cinema 4D is another impressive package and fairly inexpensive also depending on which version you get.

Good luck,


I think that nobody here compare SketchUp with main packages like 3DStudio, Autocad or ArchiCAD… :rolleyes:
we are saying that SketchUp could be an useful extra in specific tasks. From what i saw at SketchUp site, it could be a good option for architectural modelling, that later will be exported and finished in other software like 3DStudio… also it seems to be a good option for schematical presentations to the customer during the WIP, once it is superfast. But I did not have time to really test the software, therefore it i would like to hear some opinions from somebody that work with SketchUP :shrug:


well i’ve never read anything bad said about sketchup…always read positive stuff and looks like a great program.

just so you guys are aware.
Maxon - cinema4d guys are working on implementing RPC so watch out for news on that…very shortly i would imagine…as i saw some vids on a promotional cd in the uk recently.

they have also just released version 2 of there vectorworks plugin…for transition between c4d and vectorworks.

then there is also sketch and toon for fancy stylistic npr archvis renders and plans.

and lastly they also have a plugin for transfer between archCAD

i do know that some of the c4d forum guys also use sketchup so i can’t see any issues getting stuff from that into c4d also. just remember if you want GI you need the advanced render module…so i’d be tempted to get the XL package if you were interested and already had something like archcad or vectorworks in your organisation…if not then i guess your net could be cast wider as youre more flexible.
just something to think about…hope this helps.


I’m pretty sure that the piece of software you’re looking for would be Autodesk Architectural Desktop 2005. From what I understand, it allows you to build your architectural models from a blueprint like in AutoCAD, and meanwhile it automatically generates much of your building in 3D behind the scenes. Then you would bring it into Max or Viz when you’re done, to render.


I’m surprised Architectural Desktop wasn’t mentioned earlier in this thread.

I too have been looking at different visualization techniques for our firm lately and I’m mainly looking at doing a combo of Architectural Desktop + 3DS Max or Sketchup + Maya or Max.

What I like about Arch. Desktop is that it seems to go very hand-in-hand with Max. Both are made by Autodesk (kind of), and so integration seems like it would be smoother.

I have been playing around with Sketchup lately as well, and there’s definately some things the bigger packages (Max, Maya, etc.) could learn from this little one. That being said, it’s a little hard from being so used to working in Maya & XSI to going to what so far seems to be a much more primitive package such as Sketchup.

I agree though, an Arch forum on CGTalk would be great.


IMHO if you start in 3DS Max you should continue because it is the right choise.
You can import the cad models and all the stuff (texturing,lighting…) in Max.3DS Max is one of prefered tools in arch world.Also if you have extra budget you can buy rendering plugin for max like VRay or FinalRender which will add more realsm to your work:
Personaly,I prefer FinalRender because it is fast renderer and has special rendering engine for flicker-free animatons called Hyper-GI.
Forget Lightscape because it is very very very slow.
Goood luck


Actually I have no experience in MAX at all, unfortunately. I’ve only used Maya & XSI. But yeah, Max’s compatability with other Autodesk products is making me consider heavily, and the renders I’ve seen done with Brazil… drool