Traditional architectural illustration and perspectives were the only service available for high quality artwork, and finding a good illustrator was like finding gold. The industry, like today’s 3D version, had its good/bad people and often missed deadlines. Architectural illustrations were hard to alter, were often hit and miss and usually inaccurate, although this was not always the fault of the illustrator. CGI (computer-generated imagery) came about in the early 1990s. Steve Bell, of Arch form 3D, was an early adopter of the technology. At first, CGI took significantly longer to prepare an architectural image than illustrations created by hand. Computers were slow and the results, regardless of the operator’s skill, were somewhat plastic and stale. However, the technology improved, and in the mid 1990s, they were able to combine 3D and hand painted artwork to achieve more flexibility, accuracy and realism.
The 3D illustrating field gathered momentum, with it now proven that 3D was a viable alternative to not only traditional illustration but to real photography. Larger projects came about and the technology grew. Traditional architectural illustration was now taking the back seat. Today many printed publications refuse to accept anything other than high quality 3D illustrations and renderings and the 3D architectural rendering and illustration field has blossomed into a competitive, fast moving industry. Radical advances in technology are now further between as the artwork approaches “Photo-Perfect”. Hand painted architectural illustrations are in serious decline, with the more experienced artists finding it difficult to make the transition to CGI.