Blender Archviz Professionals: gimme some tips!

Sorry it this is the wrong section.

I’m playing with the idea of going freelance and doing 3D Architectural Visualizations.

I’m not quitting my day job just yet, but I would like to make a living relying completely on my 3D skills.

Actually games and animation is more my thing. But that’s hard to come by, where I live.

I figured that Architectural Stuff is something thats needed no matter where you are as opposed to games or animation, which usually means that your SOL if there is no games company or other 3D company where you live.

I would really appreciate some tips on how to get started, some of the stuff you have had to deal with, and what to watch out for.

I’m gonna list a number of questions, but feel free to add any worthwile relevant information, regardless of the questions.

  1. How do you aquire clients?
    Do you actively seek them out, or do they come to you via your Website/advertisements/Word Of Mouth ?

  2. If you actively seek clients out. How do you go about doing so? (I don’t wanna come off as too aggressive) Do you simply mail them a sample of your work?

  3. Meetings with clients.
    Since your freelance, you probably do your work wherever your Computer is located.
    Do you have clients come by to your place, do you meet them in a restaurant or cafe, or do you go to their office?

  4. Do you only deal with local clients or also distant ones?
    How do you manage such clients? Do you drive to them, or spend a night at a hotel (depending on the distance)
    Or is it rarely necessary, since everything is done via phone, internet and email?

  5. How do you determine your prices?
    Obviously, pricing is very dependant on your location, and the amount of work and the size of the client.
    However, as a freelancer, its not guaranteed that you will have a steady flow of jobs and income. Your pricing needs to anticipate that. Is there a certain rule of thumb you go by?

  6. Do you bill clients per hour, or for a set fee for the project? Are there any major advantages/disadvantages for either?

  7. How do you financially deal with dry spells? (When you haven’t had a client for a while)
    Do you try to keep plenty of savings in your bank account? Do you use credit cards?
    Do you try to hold on to the earnings from your last job, until the next job arrives?

  8. Are you able to make a living doing JUST 3D Architectural Visualizations?
    Do you have a backup plan, when you need to make ends meet?

  9. When it comes to interior architectural renderings, there’s usually a lot of furniture and decorations involved.
    Do you design and model them in your spare time and sort of build a private “IKEA” catalog for use with projects, or do your clients always require you to do completely original stuff?

  10. When you need models of furniture and interior decorations. Do you model those yourself? Do you purchase pre-made models off the internet, do you just use 2D clipart wherever possible?

  11. If you model your own furniture. Do you copy/adapt existing designs? e.g. Do you just look at a furniture catalog and model a few pieces from there? Or do you completely design your own stuff.

  12. Whats your strategy for dealing with rendering times (Animations / Single Image for Printing) ?
    Do you simply use a commercial renderfarm and pass the costs on to the client? Do you try to invest into your own renderfarm?
    What are some of the problems you face with either approach?

  13. Deadlines.
    Do you tell your client how long a project is gonna take, or do they always tell you by when they need it? How do you deal with unrealistic clients? e.g. Clients who don’t accept that a certain level of quality requires a certain amount of time.

  14. Quality vs. Deadline
    Do you feel you often have to sacrifice quality to meet a deadline?

  15. Payday
    I’ve worked for a small 3D company before, and there the norm was that once a job was done, you had to wait up to 3 months before your recieved payment.
    Is this normal? (I work as an admin now)
    Is this something you have to deal with? If yes, whats your strategy for politely but firmly demanding your money? Do you deal with collection agencies? Do you watermark all your images and withhold the final product until payment? Do you require an advance?

  16. Realism vs. Style
    Do your clients prefer photoreal work, or is it acceptable as long as it looks good?

  17. Do you charge more for internal or external scenes? Which do you find requires more work?

Thats all I can think of for now. Will post more if I think of any.

  1. word of mouth, word of mouth and word of mouth. well, it starts off by snagging the attention of a couple people and making them happy which means theyll be thinking of you when their buddies call and ask if they know anyone to do renderings. i started by doing renderings for final reviews in school. some of the critics were working architects with their own firms, which meant getting a call a few weeks later to see if i could do some rendering for them. after that, its a matter of keeping them happy and not passing up jobs.

  2. email firms, drop off your portfolio at their offices, go into their offices with your portfolio and business cards and ask to talk with them, etc etc. national televison ad.

  3. always meet at their office. they will always want changes and will feel more comfortable talking to you from the safety of their own lair. most stuff can be handled by email, but often its much easier to meet in person and go in to their place where they can pull up the latest drawings and consult with other project members if need be. free coffee too.

  4. mostly local clients. remote clients are handled by email unless they happen to be in town during your contract. it would be hard to fly to kuwait every week for a meeting.

  5. start low when youre starting out, hook enough clients to get good experience, then raise your rates when you feel that youre ready (i.e. when you think your work starts to compete with some of the crazy shit thats out there). do NOT undercut yourself though. believe it or not, sometimes you will get more business if you RAISE your prices (perceived value and all that).

  6. depends on client/project.

  7. jack of all trades. save money. do other work (design work, bread n butter stuff like construction drawings for other people, work the streets, etc)

  8. nope and nope.

  9. if its custom stuff, you model it specifically for the project and just charge em for it. then you stick it in your library for future stuff.

  10. no purchasing yet. model my own, download free stuff. dont rely so much on 2d clipart as that is much more difficult to integrate into your scene than an object that is part of your scene (real trees as opposed to composited trees).

  11. this and that. whatever looks pretty and fits with everything else unless otherwise specified. the idea is to get the project out the door as fast as possible so you can get paid and so the client is happy.

  12. you tell the client that thats the way it is and theyre welcome to find someone who will do the same quality in a shorter amount of time. you arent anyones bitch. a contract is an agreement between two parties, not between a boss and a bitch. usually theyre pretty good about it and will not hesitate to bug you when they start to need it. agree on a timeline beforehand and stick to it. if youre late, youre fired. end of story.

  13. cut corners as much as possible without sacrificing quality, but over time you will learn all sorts of tricks to get er done.

  14. honesty trust and respect go a long way, especially in cities where most of the firms (and the people in them) know eachother (i.e. word gets around if a firm fucks someone, or vice versa). that said, put together a contract before the contract and charge interest on unpaid invoices afterwards. cover your ass, make sure you know how to contact a contract lawyer. 3 months is ridiculous, were talking more like 2 to 3 weeks.

  15. totally depends on the client. some people want SketchUp looking shit, other people want to see the dust bunnies in the corners. charge accordingly.

  16. depends depends depends. sometimes you get a daytime shot of a box store on a prairie, sometimes you get a transit station within the downtown core in the middle of a rainy night. sometimes you get minimalist rooms with a bed and a window, sometimes you get massive corporate lobbies with escalators and elevators. its part of the fun.

at no point you should treat a visualization like a technical drawing that you are doing just to get done. the most inspiring arch. viz renderings have more drama and sex appeal than a lot of fantasy renderings. its all about expressing the essence and potential of a space through lighting composing and materials.

good luck.