Autodesk Impression 3

For the Architecture, and Landscape Architecture crowd out there, we love renderings.  We use them all the time for communicating design ideas, and for marketing proposals to win new work.  Now days we see a lot of photorealistic renderings which show every detail, every aspect of the design.  Many of these are extremely well done, and beautiful.  I myself greatly appreciate the effort and artistry that goes into creating them.

However, as an architect myself, I find that I don't always need the photo-realistic renderings.  Nor do I want it at the beginning of the schematic design phase.  I don't want things looking perfect.  I don't want to give away all the answers with a "perfect" rendering. In fact I have often experienced clients getting upset a bit when the final built project doesn't look exactly like the rendering used a year earlier.  Sometimes they can hinder the project. 

I just want to be able to print out  an elevation, or a perspective view and throw some color on there.  You know, maybe something to represent a stone veneer, or a certain type of finish material.  Put in a little bit of green for landscape, and maybe insert a bit of entourage.  Something soft, something meant to evoke the idea of the design, but not the total solution.  I think there is a place for renderings like this, and I frankly miss this artistic side of the business that we all did while in architecture school.

It's been out for awhile now, (since 2009 in fact) but Autodesk Impression 3, may be a rendering solution you might be interested in if you haven't heard about it.  It is available for download by Autodesk Subscription customers at the subscription download website.  It is found under extensions.  This simple and easy to learn piece of software emulates a hand drawn look.  It comes with multiple presets such as watercolor, colored pencils, marker, and airbrush techniques.   It allows the designer to create compelling, presentation-ready graphics directly from DWG and DWF files.

Here are a few things that are included in Impression 3
  • Adaptive Gradients
  • Layer Enhancements-Drop down list with layer tools added to the Layers palette toolbar
  • Style Books-This is where you can select the style you want to render in.  Watercolor, colored pencil, marker, etc.
  • Style Library Wizard-Create you own custom style
  • Blocks-Create a new block from a selection, and insert blocks such as trees, people, furniture, etc.  These come in a plan view, and elevation view.
I've used Autodesk Impression for a bit now and it has found a place in my business workflow.  I think I've been able to capture an individual style that I can incorporate into my project design which sets me apart from the competition.  Autodesk's goal, when creating this piece of software was to take a several day "hand rendering" process and reduce it to around 30 mins to an hour.  It really is fun, and I suggest you give it a try and see if you like it.

Impression 3 is the latest version of the software, and like I said, it came out in 2009.  If you're using later versions of AutoCAD, you'll have to save back to 2010.  I'm not sure of the future development of this software.  I think they have a good thing going here, and personally would love to see this product mature.  

Here is a link to the Autodesk Impression website where you can find out more info:

Here is a link to the subscription center, where you can download the software: