Outsourcing arch-vis work Archive

How much should you charge for a 3d rendering?



“How much do you charge for an interior rendering?”, “How much should I charge for a drive-bye exterior animation? “How much would you charge for the attached rendering?” I see this questions, (and plenty other variations on the same subject) on almost every forum I know. Furthermore, it is common practice for new freelancers or small studios to write bogus emails to others, introducing themselves as architects, just to find out what other rates are.


Although for some people it may become annoying to stumble upon this issue so often, the curiosity is understandable (up to a point). However, there are some other factors to be taken into consideration when establishing a pricing policy besides the competition’s rates.


1)     Monthly expenses

The first factor in establishing your pricing policy is represented by your monthly expenses. This should include everything from the internet bill, electricity and other utilities, employees (if you have any), to food, cloths, beer, etc. A good place to start is to make sure that if you are working at around 30-40% of your capacity you will have all this covered. That means, that if you have the capacity to do 10 renderings a month, than 3-4 renderings should cover all your monthly expenses.



2)     The Investments

The investments that you have made in hardware equipment, software, etc.,  are also a factor to    be taken into consideration. How much time do you want to allow for the return of investment? 6 months? A year? If you want your investment to be fully covered in less time, it automatically means that you need to charge more, and vice versa.


      3) Your desired standard of life

Are you a “big spender”? Do you plan to buy something expensive (like a car or a house) in the future with the money earned from this business? These are questions that you need to ask yourself, in order to know how much profit you need to make and therefore determine your prices.


4)     The quality of your work

Everybody wants to fish where the big fishes are, but to do that you need proper skills and proper tools. You need to be realistic about this, and not aim for your Ferrari yet. If somebody else provides the same level of quality work at far less price, it’s more likely that he will get the job and not you.


      5) From what countries are your clients?

All the points above are probably enough to set your pricing if you work on the local market.


However, if you are working “online”, there is still another very important factor to have in mind, and that is the geo-location of your targeted clients.


This is where finding out how much other people from other countries charge for a rendering, proves useful. You need to compare the usual rates that are applied in that specific country with your “preliminary” pricing scheme that you have established so far. If your rates are considered low for that area, than you may have a winner on your hands.

That doesn’t mean that you should be thinking of charging as much as other architectural illustrators from that part of the world… otherwise the hassle of working with a freelancer or company from overseas won’t worth. Furthermore, (from my experience, at least) most clients that look for rendering services abroad, are freelancers, or visualization studios owners that outsource their workloads, so needless to say that they won’t make any profit if you charge as much as them.

However, if you charge to low, you won’t have any credibility in front of important potential clients. Even if there is also market for cheap renderings, clients that agree to pay 200 usd for one cg image, are not professionals and in most cases they don’t know themselves what they need in the end, so most probably you will end up working a lot more for 200 usd that you would have for 500 euros.

Assigning an achitectural visualization project to a freelancer -Part II

The correct way to do it
Although this may seem like “common sense” to most of you, from my experience I have discovered that there are actually very few clients that actually provide all the information needed to do a project, in a structured and complete manner.

Bellow I will try to lay out the guidelines of what would make an ideal info package (in my opinion, of course) in order to do an architectural visualization project from start to finish. Some of them

Camera view
This is probably one of the things that most clients skip when sending info to a freelancer. As I have mentioned in a previous article (How to ask for a quote), this part is most probably one of the most important. The reason for this is simple and obvious; in case of an exterior rendering for example, you don’t need to have the entire building modeled and mapped, but only the part that will be visible in the required view. Same thing goes for interior renderings.

I am not saying that the camera position should be pointed with 100% accuracy; I am saying that you should indicate it (on a cad file or a drawing, for example) to make sure that your partner will know what needs to be modeled. This way, the project will be finished sooner, and with a lower budget.

Basic modeling

a) For exteriors

-Exterior elevations, and floor plan(s).
If the building changes it’s shape a long it’s height (some floors have larger surfaces than others, or different perimeter shapes), than it is necessary to deliver all the floor plans. If not, just the ground plan should be enough.

These are not always needed. However, if the building has some “special” elements, like an interior courtyard, and you need to show that in the rendering, than they are an absolute “must”.

b) For interiors
Usually, the basic modeling for interior renderings is easier to do, and require less information. A floor plan, and 1-2 elevations would do be enough in most cases. Sections are needed only if the space has some particularities (like extrusions, moldings, etc).


1) Photo reference
The first thing that I need to say here is that most of the time, only written indications regarding the materials is NOT enough. You need to provide as much photo reference as you can (remember that saying about a picture and 1000 words?). Why bother explaining textually all the properties of a material (shininess, color, transparency, reflectivity, etc.) when you can show a picture or two?
If you could provide correct and tileble textures it would be great for both you and for the one that’s doing the job than do so (this also depends on how you and your partner initially agreed upon, in the quoting phase)

2) Scale
Many seem not to take into consideration this step. Let’s assume that you have provided a texture of the brick, or a scan of a fabric material. It is very important that you indicate the REAL-life dimension of that sample, This way you won’t end up with 1m long bricks in the renderings. You might say that that could be corrected along the way, during the preliminary phases of the development of the project (which I will cover in a future article), but keep in mind that this won’t take you more than 10-20 minutes, while waiting for a revised rendering (for which you will still have to write comments) can take a lot more.

3) Which material goes where?
Obviously, for every material reference that you provide, you must be very specific regarding where it should be placed. This can be easily done, just by naming the file accordingly (ex. Living-chair-no1-seating.jpg)

Furniture, lighting fixtures and entourage elements
This can be a little tricky also. Besides photo reference and indication regarding placement, you will also have to provide the dimensions for each object, no matter if it’s a piece of furniture, a lighting fixture or a vase.

Last but not least, don’t forget to specify the time of the day that the final rendering will need to show. I know that this may seem like common sense, but I have met a guy that didn’t mention that he wanted a night rendering until he has seen what was supposed to be the last preview before hitting the high res rendering.

Final conclusion
This may seem like a lot of work to do, and most probably you don’t have to much time on your hands, but keep in mind that if you don’t do this at the beginning, you will eventually have make a lot of corrections during the preliminary deadlines, so not only you will have to write all of this at some point, but also, the it will take more time for the project to be completed.

If you are the one doing the work, make sure you ask for all the info that I have written above, before starting; it will make things more productive for both you and your client.

Good luck!

Assigning an achitectural visualization project to a freelancer -Part I

When assigning a project it is crucial that you send all the necessary information to your partner, but at the same time, you don’t need to “crowd” your partner with tons of files that he may not actually need. I always “fight” with most of my clients about this, and from what I have heard, I am not the only one.

The wrong way to do it

A few months ago, we have been assigned with a project consisting of 7 interior renderings (a bathroom, a powder room, a kitchen, a living, a kitchen, a bedroom and a playroom)

As for information, we have received around 70 cad files, including all the building floor plans, from basement to the roof top, exterior elevations of the building, and tons of structural details. As you can see, most of these were not needed.

Regarding the furniture and the materials, we have received a bunch of images as reference, but without much indication regarding the precise placement of each one.

Needless to say that we lost a lot of time going through each file, in order to extract the info that we needed and make a list with what we had so far and what more we needed in order to do the job. And I forgot to mention that we also had some troubles identifying the correct interiors that we needed to do from those floor plans (since there were several types of bathrooms, living-rooms and bedrooms, and when we were initially approached for quoting on the project, we were given only hand sketches).

It may not seem like it, but this took a lot of time and several emails between us, our client and his client. Therefore, the starting of the project was delayed with about 2 weeks which inevitably brought to a deadline extension.

In conclusion, this was not a productive way to do it… I wasn’t happy because I have lost a lot of time analyzing unnecessary files, making lists, giving calls (activities that I could not ask to be paid for), my client was not happy because he was in the middle of it and his reputation in front of his client was shaking, and finally, his client wasn’t happy because he couldn’t receive the final renderings when he initially expected.

In the second part of this article I will try to cover all the details concerning the RIGHT WAY to assign a project.

How to ask for a quote

Before assigning a project to a freelancer or a studio from over seas, it is obvious that you need to know how much you will be charged for it. You may have more contacts that you are considering to work with, and the estimated price may be an important factor in deciding who will your partner on that specific project.

Therefore, even if you don’t need to send out all the information that would be needed to complete a project, you still need to make sure that what you send will be enough for the freelancer/studio to estimate as accurately as possible how much time will he need to complete the job and how much he will charge you.

So what info do you need to reveal?

1) Information regarding the geometry and indication regarding the camera view
Things like dwg or pdf files for the shape of the exterior/interior everybody seem to send when asking for a quote. However, this should always be accompanied by some indication regarding the camera position from where the rendering will be taken.
Personally, I find it hard to understand why most people don’t send this, since it matters a hell of a lot. If only 2 elevations of a building or 2 walls of an interior should be visible in the final rendering(s), it means a lot less time is required to produce it.

2) Materials
If you are able to provide the “ready to use” textures, you need to mention it. Otherwise, the other part will assume that they need to prepare them (make tileable textures from multiple photo references) which will imply more time and higher costs.

Also, if some “special” or “unusual” types of materials will be required (ex. some kind of crystal, falling water, etc) you need to mention it too. This kind of stuff usually takes more time, and you need to be aware of that from the beginning.

3) Furniture and entourage elements
With regards to this point, you need to clarify from the beginning if the models that will be used to “fill up” the space could be taken from some 3d models collection (and if so, which one), or if it will be some custom modeling involved (in this case, you may want to show some photo reference of what will need to be modeled, in order to receive an accurate estimate).

4) Time of the day
If this is not mentioned, it normally implies that the rendering will be taken and midday (which usually is the easiest and most common way to do it). Dusk and night renderings, on the other hand are more difficult to do, require more attention, more time and higher costs.

5) Rendering size
This should be mentioned, especially if your requests are a little bit out of the ordinary. I don’t know if it is a “standard” or not, but 99% of the renderings that I have produced so far, were rendered at a size of an A4, 300 dpi. However, there are times, when I am asked to render huge sizes, such as 2 meters wide, at 150 dpi. I can assure you that no one likes to be taken by surprise with this kind of demand just before hitting the final rendering ;)