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Architectural design software every architect should learn

Updated: Mar 10, 2020

Drawing is the primary method for architects to share their ideas with clients. The way of drawing and presentation changed over the year and it is still evolving every day. Now, designers and architects use the most relevant software to make presentations. These architecture software will fulfill the different needs of an architect to achieve the best solution. Sometimes choosing the right kind of software will help them to save time, reduce cost and act as a support system.

Lets, take a look at the top 10 and some of the other architect software available in the market that will increase your efficiency and boost your workflow.


Revit is a BIM (Building Information Modeling) software for architects, interior designers, plumbing engineers. Revit produces a project output including modeling, rendering, and 2D or 3D construction. You can use actual building components such as walls, roofs, beams and many more.


Landscape Design:

If you want realistic design Revit has your back. This software allows you to do little things to make your design appealing to your client.

Energy Efficient Design:

Revit features various analytical features. You can use those analytical tools to make a design sustainable and environment-friendly.


Heavy highlight on Structural Design:

The Revit package doesn’t offer general software tools such as command and meshes. Other software designs can create a more flashed out model than Revit. Apart from its huge popularity, it can be a drawback.

Editing perspective:

For interior designers, Revit can be difficult. It has a default isometric perspective and it doesn’t allow to make changes automatically.

System requirements:

Operating system: Microsoft Windows 10 64 bit

CPU Type: single or multicore Intel, Xeon or I series processor, AMD equivalent with SSE2 technology.

Memory: 8 GB RAM

You can go for a monthly subscription at $280 or a yearly subscription of $2250.

Photo: Revit

Download here

Rhino 3D:

Rhino 3D is an essential and most popular tool for architectural design. Most of the CAD-based software is expert in straight-line design but Rhino was made especially for curve lines. Rhino’s structure is based on NURBS, that’s why it allows making your software even more accurate.

however, as a single platform, this software is not that good.


NURBS modeling:

Rhino 3D uses NURBS modeling to create a mathematical presentation of the 3D design to create the most relevant and realistic appearance.

Powerful Plug-In:

The plugin feature of Rhino 3D with Grasshopper makes this software better than any other. This is an extremely powerful tool for designing any shapes.


Difficulty while use:

If you want to create anything with virtual clay, this software can create distraction.

Higher accuracy:

Due to it’s higher accuracy format, this software is not good for realtime rendering and animation.

System requirements:


NVIDIA or AMD graphics processor is needed.



Rhino 3D doesn’t provide any free trial. It’s pricing starts at $995.

Photo: Rhino

Download link here


Adobe Photoshop is a raster graphic design and high-quality photo editing app. It was developed and published by adobe in 1988. Photoshop is important when it comes to creating rendering on a particular section, plan or elevation. It can be used for image processing adding texture, landscape, sky, people and other components, cause it is the most reliable high-quality image producing software.


Editing and Fixing:

Fixing and editing of pictures, color correction and clear up impurities is the best feature in photoshop. It can make your design and clan and high quality possible.

Easy to import:

Importing videos and pictures is really easy and organized as well.


Not for beginners:

It has a lot of advantage but without any training, this software can be hard to understand for beginners.


This software is very expensive and the free trial offers minimum and basic features.

System requirements:


Intel or AMD processor with 64-bit support, 2 GHz or faster processor.

Operating System:

Microsoft Windows 7- 10 updated version

Mac OS 10


4 GB of RAm

The annual Plan for photoshop is $599.88 per year.

Photo: Photoshop

Download link here


SketchUp is a 3D modeling computer program with a huge range of drawing applications such as architectural, interior and so on. In SketchUp people can make 3D designs very easily and quickly. The user base of SketchUp is providing a wide range of pre-constructed portions and parts to make designing easy and time-saving.

However, it is not preferred for creating a whole building.

The easiest way to get this software is a free trial. But this trial part comes with limited features as well.


Simple Interface:

The UI is really simple and easy to understand.


Software is compatible with low-end computers.


Complex modeling:

When it comes to complex modeling it can be a little hard to use this software.

Crash issues:

It is proved that it can crash while rendering.

System Required:


1 GHz processor.

500 MB free hard-disk space.



The one-time charge for an individual is $99 and for team $9 per contributor.

Photo: SketchUp

Download the SketchUp app here


Grasshopper is an algorithmic modeling plugin. Grasshopper has plenty of tools to make a parametric design to improve efficiency and automate menial tasks. Grasshopper is open-source software and it is closely linked with rhino 3D.


Fast processing:

This particular is easy to learn and works well beginners and the processing power is fast.

Automation process:

It can easily draw 100 and 1000s of lines in a second with its automation feature. This feature makes this software really helpful.


Collaboration issues:

This software does not work well when it collaborates with other software.

Not for advanced users:

Advanced users can find this software less powerful.

System Required:

Operating System:

Windows 7- Windows 10


4 GB of RAM

Monthly charges for grasshopper is $ 26. A yearly subscription is available as well.

Photo: Grasshopper

Download grasshopper here

3Ds Max:

3Ds Max is the most popular software in the 3D market and it is developed by Autodesk. It creates visual effects and flying through animation to assist a project. You can’t build a design from scratch in 3Ds Max. it can be used in Microsoft windows. It has modeling capability and a flexible plugin architecture.


Developing 3D models:

Developing structural, architectural and mechanical animation services is very good in this software. Features like crowd generation will create a marvelous architectural design for your project.

Realistic design:

If you want to make your design more realistic, 3Ds Max will do that for you.


Poor align tools:

The align tools are not good to render element paths.

Not good for UV mapping:

Achieving UV mapping is difficult you need a separate modifier for that.

Rich Features:

System Required:

Operating System:

Microsoft Windows 7, Windows 8, 8.1 and 10


64 bit Intel, AMD Multicore processor SSE4.2



3Ds Max offers monthly and yearly subscription both at $195 and $1,545 respectively.

Photo: 3DS Max

Download 3Ds Max here


Lumion is a 3D rendering software that can bring life to your design. This software is specially made for architects. If you have a3D design for your presentation Lumion can make it lively. You can highlight and furnish your interior as well as exterior.


Easy to use:

It has a very basic user interface and to use this software you need technical knowledge.


With this software, you can create a great presentation opportunities. The client will love the output which you create using Lumion. It can give the effects of seeing every angle of the model.


No Cntrl+Z:

Lumion comes with very few undo options. Making a mistake will be a mistake while creating any model.

Poor Interface:

The interface is poor and childish, sometimes you need to click things more than once to get things done.

System Required:

NVIDIA or AMD graphics card



Lumion comes in two versions. One is $1654 with limited rendering effects and another one is $3309 with all rendering effects.

Photo: Lumion

Get Lumion here

Auto CAD:

Students and professionals are using AutoCAD for decades since 1982. Anyways Revit is replacing AutoCAD rapidly. This software produces drawings and 3D modeling. To save time it provides pre-built walls, doors, etc.



This software offers you the basic exposure to create maximum value using simplified tools, thus you save a lot of time.


This software has a huge set and a variety of designs and tools to create your dream project.



Auto CAD is expensive, even the basic package is also expensive and requires expensive training process.

High-quality computer hardware:

To run Auto CAD on your computer you need high-quality hardware which can expensive as well.

System Required:

Operating System:

Microsoft Windows 7 and 8.1 with update and Microsoft Windows 10.


3+ GHz processor



Like other software, AutoCAD also offers two types of subscriptions. One is monthly at $200 and another one is $1610 which is yearly.

Photo: Autodesk

Get AutoCAD here


Adobe Illustrator is a Vector Graphics Editor developed by Adobe Inc. Illustrator allows the architect to create a high-quality digital presentation of their work. The power of illustrator is it can transform an idea into a design. Illustrator is the best way to view the idea in the real world.

Adobe illustrator is only available via subscription.


User Interface:

The flexibility of customizing the overall workplace, custom viewing and the option of enabling the space-saving features will allow you to work in most comfortable way possible.

Manageable file size:

Compare to other software like this, ADobe Illustrator can make file size relatively small. By this feature sharing file will be really easy.


Pricing limitations:

This software is expensive. For individual use, it can be cost-effective but if you want to use a business edition it can cost a lot.

Space issues:

For using Adobe Illustrator you need a high-resolution display and it will take up a lot of space.

System required:

Hardware Requirements:

Intel Pentium 4, AMD Athlon 64 processor.


1 GB of RAM

The monthly charge is $19.99 with an annual commitment. It also offers free trial for a month.

Photo: Adobe

Get Illustrator here


If you want to make large presentation sheets InDesign can help you to create a layout. You can create presentable forms including images and texts from objects. It can help you to create a great resume for you. You can control font style and size and productivity as well.


Effective tools:

You can use the blur effect to make your design artistic or if there is any censorship issues, in that case, it can create a satisfactory design.

Easy to convert images:

Converting images into pdf format is very easy and you can print it as well.


Can only create layouts:

You can only create layouts or can create formats for magazines or books. So, if you want to create any detailed design, that will be stressful.

Difficulty while editing:

Any kind of editing can be stressful in InDesign.

System required:


Intel Pentium 4, AMD Athlon 64 processor.

Operating System:

Microsofts Windows 7 or 10


Minimum 4 GB RAM

If you want to subscribe for full-year you have to $19.99 per month but for only one month the charge will be $29.99.

Photo: Adobe

Get InDesign here


V-Ray is known for its cleanest texture, darkest dark, brightest white with the most accurate presentation of your work to your clients. You want to take your clients into that space where you gave life to your idea, then InDesign is the best option to give that realistic visualization.



Vray is one of the fastest architect software among many of them. Vray can divert any low-quality images and make them more realistic.

Coordination with other software:

Vray can be a tricky program to become a master with. But once you achieve that, you can work with Rhino, 3Ds Max, SketchUp seamlessly.


UI trouble:

VRay for Maya may Fail sometime to lead the design automatically.

Rendering issues:

For Mac OS X users rendering is not proper which creates a limitation among Mac users.

System required:

Hardware Requirments:

AMD 64 processor with SSE2 technology, Intel Pentium 4 (64 bit)



You can buy V-Ray online or you can find reseller as well.

Photo: V-Ray

Get VRay here


TurboCAD Delux, FreeCAD, CATIA and Solidworks are powerful yet appropriate for beginners.

Each of the software can help the architect to create their value and vision into a presentation. So, which is effective for you depend on your need.

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