CONTACT US: [email protected] | PHONE: +44 020 3488 3437

2D vs 3D: Key Differences Between 2D and 3D Architectural Design

Table of Contents

Comparing 2D and 3D Architectural graphics is like comparing different kinds of drawings. As technology improves, more people use these drawings to show what buildings will look like. 2D and 3D drawings make cool pictures and papers that help people understand buildings.

However, the problem arises when both these models produce different results. These are times when architects must be aware of choosing which model for their projects. Although the choice entirely depends on you and your project requirements. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you escape the dilemma of choosing the best for your business. 

 Most often, you must have heard experts recommending architects switch from 2D to 3D. However, this gives rise to a vital question: How? 

Well, it all begins with a comprehensive differentiation. Compiling all the chief differences between both models, today, you will learn the key points on why to choose a particular model for your business. 

How Are 2D Models Different From 3D Models? 

What is the difference between 2D and 3D? Generally, we can look into a 2D rendering from one angle only, and one downside is that architects cannot rotate their representation. However, when it comes to 3D renderings, architects can look into a particular focal point from every angle. 

If we speak briefly about the key differences, it differs in 3 fields: perspective, change, and creation. Usually, making amendments to both the renderings differs from one another. While changing a 2D design seems easy, 3D architectural design changes call for complicated features and elements that are difficult to alter. 

Moving forward, the creation procedure of the two models differs on a particular note. At the same time, 2D renderings call for architects to hold an in-depth knowledge of geometry, while 3D calls for pure mathematics. 

There are a variety of fields upon which 2D and 3D renderings can be differentiated. However, we will look into these factors later in the guide. Without much introduction, let’s delve into what makes 2D architectural renderings different from 3D ones. 

What Are 2D and 3D Architectural Renderings?

Over time, the best thing about Rendering is that it has evolved significantly. While 2D is considered old-school, 3D Architectural Renderings currently rule the industry. Let’s find out the crucial features of 2D and 3D renderings. 

2D Rendering 

Simply put, a 2D architectural rendering displays a two-dimensional view of a 3D (three-dimensional) structure. Some of its features include:

 2D is based on perpendicular and symmetrical lines. With symmetry, one can acquire 2D renderings. 

  • As the name suggests, 2D is true to its name. Each element is restricted to a two-dimensional plane shape only. 
  • 2D techniques comprise elements of landscaping and colour. However, it can also be achieved with 3D modelling. 
  • 2d architectural drawings are based on a direct straight-on shot. 
  • 2D renders do not contain any particular side or perspective because they only involve the length and width dimensions. (x and y-axis)
Residential House Rendering Row

3D Rendering 

Ideally, a 3D architectural rendering displays a 3D volumetric representation of an interior/ and exterior design. Usually, there are two kinds of 3D rendering processes. While the first type is just an upgrade of the 2D, the second type is a brilliant creation of new and fresh 3D drawings with perfect perspective and remarkable camera angles. Here’s a list of features that 3D renderings offer: 

  • It offers a more comprehensive display of the subject. 
  • It focuses on the detailing more. Technically, it covers each pixel in an image. 
  • 3D renderings provide sharp and top-notch perspectives at high-quality
  • The straight shot of the picture is modelled from a PC without the need for a direct view or representation of the image. 
  • The final image that it displays is highly satisfying. It throws more light and shades that give a natural look. 
  • While using the 3D technique, the outfit is analysed to be perfect and dramatic with a life-like resemblance. 

Generally speaking, 2D images use a flat surface perspective regarding projection. On the other hand, 3D uses vanishing points that make it look phenomenally realistic. Many firms today still follow the 2D approach and produce a large volume of traditional drawings for presentations. However, looking at the growth rate of 3D renderings in terms of presentation and marketing, we wonder if 2D will stay for long. 

Architecure rendering
3d rendering examples

Key Differences Between 2D And 3D Architectural Renderings

There are several key differences between the 2D and 3D models. While deciding which approach you should use for presentations, here are some factors that can make a massive difference. Below are the chief differences between 2D and 3D Architectural Renderings. 

Speed And Time

Speaking of 2D drawings, it takes less time than its counterpart because 2D requires a few processes and materials and involves a few steps to create a design. The 2D approach takes less time to generate a design in simple terms. The 2D approach takes less time to create a design in simple terms. On a rough note, individuals can expect 3-5 days from the rendering service provider to create a 2D-floor plan design. However, this estimate depends on the workflow.

3D rendering calls for more material development and takes considerable time to build, construct, and create designs in layers, even using computer software. 3D models take quite a long, long time to get ready, and this is because the designs should be based on robust geometry. Initially, the creation involves several steps. The designer should first build a wireframe of the design, apply materials, textures, and colour to the frame, and complete the rest of the work in a couple of weeks as per the project’s complexity. 

Complexity level

As it is known, 2D images are generally less complicated than 3D ones because they are unrealistic and, hence, do not require precise detailing. 2D drawings display primary layout information similar to scale and room dimensions. Simple features like the staircases, window placement, etc., are the most crucial elements in each view.

On the contrary, 3D Architectural Renderings involve a thorough and challenging task. It includes the most minor details of the project, and it displays everything in accurate proportions. Note that these are not flat. Hence, you should know each of the elements and features of your design before opting for this rendering. 


2D images are feasible and less expensive than 3D ones because estimating costs depends on various factors. Because of the simple designs and low production time, 2D images are less costly and feature tiny detailing and material usage. On a separate note, some professional rendering services charge flat-rate pricing for 2D drawings, while some charge hourly.

3D architectural renderings are typically costlier than 2D ones. This is because they involve more effort, time, and materials. Moreover, delivering the service within the promised timeframe requires a higher charge. However, keeping aside the cost factor, 3D images enable you to present to clients how their project will look under realistic conditions during the day. Hence, this type of rendering is worth the extra pennies. If 3D helps you seal the deal with your client, why not? 


When it comes to quality, we all know the winner here. 2D rendering could be more realistic. This is because it does not offer any natural lighting conditions. Hence, it can not be used as captivating documentation. Overall, this documentation represents more of an artistic impression than a perfect realistic representation. 

On the other hand, 3D architectural renderings exactly represent how your project should appear once built. It consists of all the original dimensions. Hence, they are ideal for documentation in terms of project presentation, provided they are prepared well. The intensity of realistic views in 3D renderings is purely based on the level of detail offered by your service provider, and it varies from one service provider to another. 

Regarding quality, three main points of difference showcase how 3D renderings differ from 2D renderings. Let’s have a look. 


Distinct perspectives among 2D and 3D renderings are one of the primary differences between the two renderings. The differentiation is generally based on the flexible perspective and gap in the project design aspect. As stated above, 3D renderings are all about brilliant camera angles with mathematics and geometry at their core. However, no such 2D renderings available in the market today permit you to play with different camera angles. 

To begin with, 2D renderings have zero connection with maths and are all about symmetry and shapes. Determining accurate angles similar to 3D renderings is not 2D’s cup of tea or as easy as one might think. The worst part is you cannot make any amendments later, and they are viewable from one angle only. To be more precise, whether you make a digital rendering or a physical rendering, you cannot rotate, toss, or turn the 2D plane to glance into the design from different sides.

However, with 3D rendering, you can change perspectives. Be it a physical model or a computer program, you can alter the 3D image to look around from distinct vires with the same focal point. Bear in mind the camera angle does not involve the direction of your camera, and designs include pouring emotions and portraying spaciousness with excellent 3D rendering. Hence, interior and exterior designs should be examined precisely for the right angle. 

 For exterior designs, you must look at the architectural components besides the sky’s lighting. Moreover, the interior comprises several considerations, like which area of the room should be put in the centre or how the room would look royal and spacious. 

Before image kings cross camera v3 greycard

The Creation Process 

Creating 3D and 2D renderings has its own different set of principles. In opposition to 2D renderings, it has a head start. The process of 3D renderings involves robust image control that enables you to allot changes without drawing in many complexities. 

To create a 2D rendering, you would need a good grip over geometry, and this is because 2D models make use of shapes, symmetries, and lines. However, to create a 3D rendering, you will need proper mathematics.  

Although these processes overpower each other considerably, both have certain similar features. The lighting feature and a few other aspects of 2D design are much more straightforward. This is because a specific type of 3D rendering is built upon the 2D rendering tech. However, the other type is a proper and accurate 3D that differs from 2D in vast terms.  

Such differences involve higher perspectives of 3D rendering with efficient camera angles. You will achieve the following results after implementing 3D rendering in the creation process. 

  • The 3D rendering will have a broader look to the viewer 
  • The details of 3D models generally cover every pixel involved in the image 
  • 3D renderings throw more emphasis on the small details 
  • Shadows and lighting in the 3D models appear to be more natural 
  • Top-notch depth and perspectives are possible with 3D renderings only 
  • The final result of 3D renderings is more realistic, dramatic, and practical

 Hence, even in cases where 2D and 3D rendering models’ creation processes overlap, the final results will showcase considerable differences when you complete the project. 

Note: For 3D renderings, users need to select the top rendering tool available in the market to make the rendering process simple and efficient. 


Now, each rendering offers its strengths, advantages, weaknesses, and benefits. Both need expert designers to provide a project catering to the client’s requirements. 

However, changing becomes significantly different and challenging in both of the renderings. A vast difference lies in the ease of making these renderings. Speaking of 2D images, they can be modified just as fine with minimal hassle and headache. However, the process gets tricky regarding its counterpart, 3D renderings. For 2D renders, designers can use less complicated tools to modify changes. 

It is generally easier to modify your designs while using 2D rendering. On the other hand, a 3D rendering is far more complex than one can imagine, and it consists of various elements that need modifications. Changing a component in 2D rendering gets easier because a similar change in 3D rendering requires you to make other changes.  

Technically, 3D rendering is highly complex. The biggest problem is you cannot change a single element in a 3D render. This is because each of the components in 3D rendering is interlinked. And hence, changing one or the other will require you to change the entire lot. 3D rendering requires more mathematics, and hence, it requires a technically advanced program. 

On the contrary, 2D images are all about geometry. It is safe to state that 2D rendering is quite simple. Eventually, you can easily alter one rendering element without affecting the rest. 

But, it would be biased to state that 3D renderings are better than 2D renderings here. Both serve different purposes and, hence, are equally significant. 

After image Kings Cross Visuals Camera-03 Glass


Over time, rendering has become a big part of our lives. Initially, 2D artists mostly handled 3D rendering. Now, it’s a big deal in architecture and many other fields.

In simple terms, 2D and 3D images are crucial for architectural rendering. They help create detailed designs before construction. They’re both critical for making realistic representations of structures.

Did you find this blog useful? Share it!

Got a 3D project in mind?

We would love to help! Send us your project brief and we'll come back to you with a quote.

Contact Us

Related Posts

Subscribe to XO3D Newsletter
Receive the latest
3D Marketing Tips

Get all the latest 3D marketing tips, industry news, and exclusive discounts straight to your inbox each week.