Blender for architecture. Tutorials?

Hello everyone!
I’ll start with the introduction (those who find it boring can skip to the next part of the post)

— Introduction —
This is my first post on this forum. Although I’ve been watching Blender development process for a few years already, it’s only been a few days since I finally decided to dive in deeper into this amazing tool and I can tell you one thing: I AM SWITCHING ENTIRELY TO BLENDER!
I’m an architect and through my experience I’ve worked at a rather deep level with AutoCAD, ArchiCAD, 3D Max and Cinema 4D. My main need of a 3D app is for architectural visualisation. I think the time has come when Blender+Yafray can produce professional quality results if used properly. I love the interface, I find it very inspiring and best of all, I love two words which accompany this incredible product “OPEN SOURCE”. I’m already getting to know my way around the interface, which I think looks great but is rather unintuitive for someone coming from Cinema 4D.

— My question —
I was just wondering whether there are any architecture-related modelling / rendering Blender (or Yafray) tutorials that could help me get started. I won’t need many functions (such as animation capabilities and more complex modelling) for now, just some help with the logic of placing lights / texturing and boolean operations.
Any ideas?
I think this is a niche (architectural visualisation) and when I learn to do it properly, I’ll write some tutorials to attract more architects to Blender (because I know that many of my colleagues would switch to Blender if only they were shown what you can achieve and how you can do it).

Thank you very much! And I’m glad Blender has such a nice and intelligent community.

Hi there

I like yourself are from an architectural background, I use AutoCAD daily and like you have watched Blender over the years. I’ve picked it up and put it down from release 1.8 each time disapointed with the lack of accurate means of producing architectural models as I would with AutoCAD. Even simple things that you take for granted like intelligent snapping to a vertice, an edge or face like AutoCAD or 3D Max are still no where to be seen in Blender, I was looking for them way back with 1.8. There must be a lot of Architectural CAD trained / interested people who have done the same, installed Blender, tried it and walked away.

DXF import in 2.37 seems a lot better to get AutoCAD based floor plans, elevations into Blender to extrude and work up but I’m still struggling with simple things like trying to extrude a simple cant brick profile round three sides of a building without it appearing inside out, upside down and squashed, if I want it along a curve it works just fine. Blender really seems to like ‘organic’ modelling, where accuracy is unimportant and what is incorrectly referred to as ‘rigid’ ‘restrictive’ features of CAD like accuracy are frowned upon. I can draw totally freehand and inaccurately with CAD just as easy. If Blender had adopted a few more CAD principles along with the other wonderful things it can do then I think the architectural community and the architectural side of Blender would have been a lot stronger for it.

I’ve searched high and low for Architectural tutorials but failed to find much and nothing that relates to using CAD and Blender together or producing anything architectural that comes close to 3D Max. I guess the reason why, is that Blender just isn’t set up for the type of 3D architectural visualisation that we see daily. Before anyone flames me I’d like to say I think that’s a real shame because I really like Blender and the community here at elysiun. I also get the feeling that discussion about CAD and Blender hits a raw nerve with many, who I must say I think have outdated ideas or no real experience or the wrong impression about what CAD is.

I’ve watched the guy’s here in the office with Max tracing over CAD 2D elevations so quickly to rough out their 3D models with the speed of intelligent snapping that makes Blender look pedestrian and as painful as extracting teeth. Theres no manually moving a cursor around the screen to a certain vertice before you can move an object to that point.

I think it would be a great idea to get a Blender website up that concentrated on producing Architectural work like you see produced with Max, with tutorials on anything from modelling windows to whole developments.

There you go rant over, I really hope you get further than me and that Blender fulfills what your looking for, it would be great to see architects and designers working with Blender but incomparison to the software you’ve listed Blender just don’t cut it yet for architectural work, in my opinion.

Thanks yellow! You are absolutely right. Reading through each of your words I was just nodding my head all the time. I agree 100%.
It is true that the main pitfall of Blender as an architectural tool is its lack of accuracy. However, a lot of visualisation work I’ve done in Cinema 4D was carried out with minimal modelling tools (extrude, boolean operations - you can basically model anything with these two functions!), and using it mainly for texturing and final rendering. Therefore I thought that maybe Blender as an interface for Yafray could be (at least a partial) substitute for that.
I think that it is now already possible to achieve some high quality renderings, as I’ve seen some brilliant interior (radiosity) and exterior examples done with Blender+Yafray. Probably the other (very important) problem is learning curve and ease of use. For professional architectural work that’s always framed by very tight deadlines, you can afford to use something slower when you know there is something that does the job faster. However, I can see Blender very useful for the conceptual modelling stage as well as for producing final renderings. It may also be attractive to students who are always keen on trying something new as long as it is presented attractively and eye-catching results are shown.

Just like you, I know lots and lots of architects who installed each new Blender release, tried it and walked away rather upset.

I think it is high time to start changing this trend. Architecture-oriented users should help developers improve the CAD-friendliness of Blender. I think that a dedicated website would be a good start. I have interest in starting something like that as soon as I have what to say :slight_smile: For the moment I still have to learn a lot.

Anyway, if someone points to any architecture-related modelling/rendering tutorials, I’ll be very thankful for that.

and welcome to the wonderful world of blender

I’m not architect, I’m a cleaner ( )
but I love architecture
Just give me some ideas, topics, directions and i’ll try to make some
architecture-related modelling / rendering tutorials

here’s some screenshots of what maybe it’ll be a game level ( radiosity light)


I totaly agree with you guys - Blender as a great potentiel

All the variables are there byt totally not user friendly

There should be a way to access new windows which would be user friendly

This way advanced user can use blender as it is now or go to the user friendly windows wich might be limited in complexity but do the job very fast and simply - I thnk it is possible but it seems that the will is not there yet

I hope it will change soon it wold make Blender becomes #1 in the world



Thanks a lot - you have some really great examples.
I (and many of us) would really appreciate your effort if you could take your time and compile a simple Blender/Yafray tutorial describing functions vital to architectural applications.

I am really thinking a lot now about starting a website for Blender users working with architecture. It could host various architecture-related tutorials, tips, material/shader library, useful links, other relevant stuff. I will try to find some time to turn this idea into reality.

I will now sit down to write some notes of what functions are vital to the whole process… I’ll post my ideas here.

In the meanwhile, these are two amazing Yafray renderings which made me really impressed and interested in Blender:



Hi Vytis, OTO and RJ2005

Many thanks for your positive comments to my post. I’m more comfortable with what I said now.

I’ve looked back at some of the architectural work done by elysiun members that I can remember to try and be a bit more positive. Here’s some links.

Hello OTO, architecture’s a big subject to encompass with Blender, so many angles to approach it. I like your ‘maybe a game’ screen shots because it brings to mind another union of Blender and Architecture, giving a designer / client the freedom to move round a building design as if in a game, instead of what is the normal approach, an animated ‘fly by’ movie or VRML. Thanks for your offer to join in, I really want to take you up on that.

Vytis quote:

However, a lot of visualisation work I’ve done in Cinema 4D was carried out with minimal modelling tools (extrude, boolean operations - you can basically model anything with these two functions!), and using it mainly for texturing and final rendering. Therefore I thought that maybe Blender as an interface for Yafray could be (at least a partial) substitute for that

I’m sure Blender can except for the boolean’s I think. When I implied Blender is not ready for architectural modelling I feel that was inaccurate and harsh based on the work done by members here at elysiun. There’s so many approaches to using Blender as a tool for architectural work. From my perspective I’m personally looking at development of 2D drawings in CAD format into 3D models, renders and animations for client, marketing and sales rather than as a design tool. (I’m a architectural technologist rather than an architect) but of course like OTO I love architecture. I look forward to seeing Blender adopted for architectural work whatever approach is taken.

Regarding the website maybe a thread at elysiun with links to architectural tutorials or if the more seasoned elysiun members who may agree / disagree with what we feel about Blender might like to offer to make some mini tutorials on aspects of modelling architectural features. Or perhaps in PDF form which I can host online somewhere. Or finding an already established forum with an architecture section to meet in. Saving resources, I’m unsure as to which approach.

Bye for now.

I have already began building up window’s with my old VB6 .
By putting titles - conrols and Blender’s variable together

to give an idea how to make Blender more user frendly

I can sent to anybody a picture of those window’s if need be
but give me an FTP adress where i can upload those pictures and i’ll be please to share those with anybody
it may give some idea’s to start with

Mind you this have nothing to do with CAD features yet
but it’s a beginning.

By the way someone should be taking and passing this info to the designer of Blender’s because if it makes Blender easier to use more people would use it because it would be more user friendly and people would tend to stay with Blender instead of looking at it and dropping it because it is too complex to use ?


So, I’ve analysed the process and here are some essential aspects we need to understand in Blender in order to produce basic architectural 3D material:


  1. Importing DXF plan (at least as reference)
  2. Drawing polyline / spline, editing points (inserting new, adjusting, deleting)
  3. Extruding polyline
  4. Boolean operations (subtracting, unifying extruded objects)
  5. Some basics - scaling/resizing, rotating in 3D, snapping
  6. Managing objects - is there a way to organize / group / see them as a list?


  1. (Adding, adjusting, moving) lights, cameras
  2. Creating and applying materials (glass, glowing surfaces?)
  3. Using radiosity (enabling it, suggested settings)
  4. Engine - Blender internal vs Yafray?

OTO, if you could touch these topics in a tutorial, that would be invaluable to many of us. There are of course many possibilities and each user has specific needs, but this could work as a quickstart guide for architects.

The more I use Blender, the more I love it. It seems very powerful. If only it was friendlier… I agree with you RJ2005 - it needs to be simplified. Overcrowded with functions does not make a tool attractive. If you have images, I could host them on my website. You could just email them to me at: dropget at gmail dot com.

For example, this took me only 5 minutes to make in Cinema 4D:

A tutorial on making something similarly simple (not going into details how to model window frames etc) would be a great starting point to continue with our own creations.

Thank you very much, indeed!

I’ve used Lightwave and AutoCAD for architectural renderings in the past and I really don’t see much difference with using Blender + Yafray and AutoCAD. Its really easy to create a similar scene to the one above in Blender too… I also like that in Blender you can precalculate the radiosity solution to a separate mesh and then use that to render a walkthrough or adjust your lighting further. Here’s a project I’m working on right now… Pure Blender rendering with one light, AO and no radiosity (obviously unfinished).

Be sure to try out YafRay’s Sky Dome.
If you need help setting that up let me know.

Cool! Thanks for the tip, JDA! I’ve just started playing with Sky Dome, works quite nice. Although it took quite some googling time till I figured out how to setup the sky. Anyway, all looks fine and more or less ‘under control’, except for a one thing:

I want to set some objects in the scene to emit light (without using lamps) - for example fix some wall lights, or add some glowing interior objects. In the material window, I set Emit to 0.6 or 1.0, but still the amount of light it outputs is very very small and you can hardly see any light reflected on other objects. Is there a way to increase this? In Cinema 4D you can adjust luminance intensity by entering something like 200% or 500%. Can we go over the limit here? I don’t want to increase the light source area, just increase its intensity/power. Any ideas?

Great render, ookami77! Now I see that I need to understand how AO works in Blender as well. Seems to produce very good results.

So after quick experimenting with Yafray and SkyDome GI, I achieved something that looks similar to results with Cinema 4D. However, Cinema renders faster and produces a slightly clearer image (less noise). But still I think that for an open-source application, this is AMAZING! I’m completely sold on Blender+Yafray now. SWITCHING, I said SWITCHING… :slight_smile:

One more thing:
I’m giving up on searching for this solution…
In the screenshot from the main page of there is a panel on the left that lists all objects in a kind of hierarchical way… Where can I find it? I couldn’t find anything like this in the manual and seems I’ve clicked everywhere I could have thought of.
So where is it and what is it used for? For organising objects?
Thanks and excuse me for a question unrelated to the original post.

window type : “Outliner”

Brilliant! Thanks! I really missed such window.
Why the heck is everything organised so unintuitively in Blender?! Like you can only make it into a comfortable environment by a hundred of clicks all around the place. To show this outliner, I had to:

  1. Split the window
  2. Select window type Outliner
  3. Click View
  4. Click Show Outliner
    I understand that many users don’t use this function, and hundreds of clicks make it more customizable, but still all major 3D apps enable such tools by default. And for a good reason.

I will try my best to write a tutorial for a complete newbie specializing in architecture switching from another program. Please excuse me for any stupid future questions.

I am really grateful to everyone here for all you help. I couldn’t have started without this forum. THANK YOU GUYS.

you always have ctrl-ukey
, “save default settings”

but as with any cave
, the shadows that drop dead in front of you remain alive
and enter your skin

" i even got used to the sun

So set up blender exactly as you like it.

Hit Ctrl-U. You’ll never have to do it again.

+Caution Rant+
I’m really cheesed of with people criticising the interface. I find it to be extremely intuitive. Everything is right where you need it and is clearly labeled. Not hidden behind hundreds of unclear icons and menus. I can’t stand the UI of pretty much anything else now. Too many clicks to get things done.
+Rant over+

Sorry about that. Point is, Blender is different, same as Max is different to Maya is different to XSI. You can’t expect it to adapt to how you want it to be you have to adapt to it. You’ve seen the excellent things that can be done using Blender, and I’m sure that the people who’ve done them are more then happy with the workflow.

Just £0.02.

Can you spell out the E-Mail adress

I was unable to use it

is it www:/dropget at gm dot com
or www:/dropget

One aspect i did not mention was that the most difficult part and very powerful feature of blender is the Texture aspect of objects

There has to be a way to simplified it but some features may be lost.
But i think that a reasonable compromie can be found and eaier to use then the full advanced ways of Blender -

Something usefull and fast for the general user of Blender -

When you have 8 superposing layers that can influence the outcome it is not easy to foresee it in advance

I’m still thinking about it


I gave you an email address.
that is:
dropget at gmail dot com
If you email your files here, I will put them on my webserver. Is that ok?

I do not want to start an offtopic discusion, but i don´t agree with Yellow. Blender don´t lack of tools for precise modelling, maybe you´ll have to make a few more steps, but you can do ANYTHING you want.

but I’m still struggling with simple things like trying to extrude a simple cant brick profile round three sides of a building without it appearing inside out, upside down and squashed

I think you are trying to get it the wrong way. Blender won´t have “fool-proof” tools to make those things in one step.

I´m an industrial design student and i do all my renders on Blender. In my case, i have to model very precise models, and, they´re even more organic than buildings, so it´s not that easy.
It´s a matter of practice, maybe if you start modelling more organic objects, you will learn more tools and how to use them. Then architectural modeling becomes waaaaaay easy if you learn to modeling any kind of model, not just buildings…
For makig architectural modelling, you need very precise tools if you want to feel comfortable, but Blender won´t be that way, it´s intended to be compatible with any kind of work.

By the way, in you have very nice architectural renders

and see them all here