In the architecture visualization world we always seek to achieve a result close to reality to provide our customers the feeling of seeing the finished project.

But generally we are limited to still images and videos of these environments. What if we could enter the rooms, open the doors, walk on it, turn on and off lights, change the decor and still maintain photorealism?

Example of a interior walkthrough

Example of exterior navigation

That’s where Unreal Engine 4 enters. UE4 was recently launched in March 2014 by Epic Games as a powerful tool for creating games. However, it is an application that can be very effective for architectural visualization. It still has some graphic limitations compared to conventional renders as V-Ray and Corona, but that does not prevent you from getting incredibly realistic results in real time.

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The Blueprint system for interactive archviz

In addition to the powerful graphics render, UE4 has a visual scripting system (called Blueprints) where you can create multiple interactions without writing a line of code.

With the Blueprints system, you can perform actions such as lighting on/ off switch, open and close doors, change object’s color and material, replace models in real time, change the time of the day, create defined camera tours and much more: the limit is your imagination. It is also possible to work with particles to create extremely realistic effects like fire, smoke and water. Resuming: it’s a games creation software that can work perfectly for architecture and allows you to give life to your project with the possibility to navigate and interact with it in real time; and you can still do all this with a graphic quality comparabled with other 3D renders.

Indirect Lighting in UE4

Indirect lighting is another strong point of UE4. The engine has an improved lighting system where you can reach a similar workflow to V- Ray using a skylight to simulate the lighting coming from the sky and a directional light to simulate the sun. Sometimes it is also recommended to use spotlights (which work in a similar way of V-Ray light planes) at some points to get better lighting.

What do you need to start?

First of all you need a good computer to run UE4 software. The recommended hardware by Epic Games is a Quad-Core processor 2.5Ghz or faster, 8GB of RAM and at least a GeForce GTX470 or AMD Radeon 6870HD Series.

The second thing you need is an Unreal Engine 4 subscription. You can sign up and find more details in their website.

The workflow to create an architectural project inside UE4 is based on modeling and texturing assets in a 3D software (3dsMax, May or other), import in UE4 and then set the scene. So, you will need a prepared model or a 3D software to create your model.

With this setup you are ready to start. Other applications may be needed for your project and i will talk about them later.

You can continue reading this article in a beginners tutorial that we wrote to Evermotion. Check it out!

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