The Crucial Choice of Image Perspective

Architectural visualization of Hengli Suzhou for Foster + Partners. An image of a entrance to a office building with plants and a pond infront in daylight from street view.

Eager to bond with your audience? The image perspective is an essential aspect of architectural visualization, as it can greatly affect the emotional impact. So whatever perspective you choose: choose wisely. In this post, Visual Artist Victor Larsson explains why — and how.

Unlike real-life photography, architectural visualization allows you to craft your dream world — with every angle, person and lighting source designed according to your wishes. You can even change the sun’s orbit if you like. However, the choices will affect the interpretation of your project. And equivalent to photography: the choice of image perspective means a great deal because it defines the balance of the scene.

While one view might highlight the strengths of the design, another will give a sense of the building’s scale and context. From a poor image perspective, your building might feel unbalanced, misleading, unattractive or — even worse — leave the audience feeling nothing at all.

Moreover, since you can only pick one perspective per image, you’ll need to start by assigning each image a single, clear purpose. This purpose will be your and your rendering team’s guiding star throughout the image creation process.

So what are the top image perspectives? Which benefits and drawbacks are there? And how do you know what view fits your specific needs? Let’s pick the brain of one of the world’s most experienced masters in architectural visualization, Victor Larsson:

“With the right camera view, you can bring out the beauty and majesty of your building in a way that speaks to the heart of your audience.”

Victor Larsson, Design Director at TMRW

1. Eye-level view

The eye-level view takes the perspective of an average-tall person, preferably 160–170 cm above ground. Naturally, this is the easiest view for your audience to understand and relate to.

Architectural visualization of Franklin Park Park for Studios, green city park a summer day
Architectural visualization of Hyperloop for BIG, a corner view in evening light.
Architectural visualization of Boston Harbor for KPF, a civiv area at the bottom of a tower in day light from a street view.
Architectural visualization of Raha for HKS. An image of the exterior of a building at the beach in the shape of an egg in daylight with people at the beach from a boat view.

Eye-level view pros:

The eye-level view puts the audience in the subject’s shoes, allowing them to fully experience the scene as if they were there in person. By showing close-ups of people, including facial expressions and subtle interactions, you get to load the scene with the perfect set of emotions. And include details like art, fashion and particular design elements your audience will relate to.

The eye-level perspective also gives you the best chance to show the materiality and types of plants, which help tie the scene and site together.

Eye-level view cons:

When you need to show aspects of the project that are not viewable from an eye-level view, this one obviously won’t do the trick for you. Like in real life, this perspective is hampered by obstructions such as walls and furniture, which can block essential parts of the scene from view. Neither will it communicate the project as a whole, its form or size in relation to its surroundings.

”With the camera view placed slightly over people’s heads, they will appear somewhat powerless or unimportant in relation to the receiver. Moreover, a lower camera view will have a contrary effect.”

Victor Larsson, Design Director at TMRW
Architectural visualization of Beverly Hills for Foster & Partners a luxery living area with a waterfall with a pool from an outdoor perspective day light.

“At TMRW, we tend to opt for the eye-level perspective since it allows viewers to relate to and understand the scene easily.”

2. Semi-aerial view

The perspective of someone standing on a cliff or balcony facing the subject. 

Architectural visualization of The Perennial for Cielo Property Group. A image of several skyscrapes from a semi aerial view in daylight.
Architectural visualization of 400 Channelside​​​​​​​ for Gensler, exterior of office building in dusk
Architectural visualization of Tower 5C for Gensler, an office tower during golden hour from a aerial view.
Architectural visualization of Cold Storage for Studio 111, an office and residential tower during day light from a semi aerial view.

Semi-aerial view pros:

Oh, what a view! When you want your audience to have that feeling of standing on a balcony with heart-pumping city views, the semi-aerial is your way to go. This perspective is also perfect when you need to include or highlight a specific element that’s not viewable from an eye-level or aerial view. Or when you want to show detail and context in the same image.

Moreover: To make the composition more appealing, the semi-aerial view benefits from having other elements, like additional buildings or trees, popping up in the foreground.

Semi-aerial view cons:

Despite its strengths, the semi-aerial is less natural to your audience than the eye-level perspective. And this will make the scene harder to relate to. Furthermore, if the view from the balcony isn’t as impressive as you would like it to be, the semi-aerial easily comes out flat and describing instead of emotionally captivating.

”With the imagined camera placed over or below the characters figuring in the image, the audience might experience an uncomfortable feeling of being excluded from the group, especially if the distance between camera and people is long.”

Victor Larsson, Design Director at TMRW

3. Aerial view

An aerial perspective provides a bird’s-eye view that shows how a project relates to its surroundings, particularly valuable to investors, local politicians and others who need to see the big picture.

Architectural visualization of JFK Airport for Gensler. A image of a airport from aerial view in daylight.
Architectural visualization of Royal Caribbean for HOK, an office building during night light from a semi aerial view.
Architectural visualization of Gatwaytower for Gensler a supertal building in day light form an aerial view.

Aerial view pros:

The aerial view is perfect when you must describe every aspect of a complex development and masterplan, where dimensions, distances and relations between different buildings become visible. It’s also the only perspective where you can include large areas of vegetation, watercourses, mountains or surrounding neighborhoods. 

Aerial view cons:

The further away from your audience’s day-to-day reality we get, the colder the engagement will be. Therefore, you should choose the aerial perspective when you need to describe the width of a project — not to make people bond with it emotionally. You should also mind that the building’s particular design will decide if it becomes the hero of the image or melts together with the surroundings.

”A low angle shot can make a building look imposing and grand, while a close-up can reveal intricate details and textures.”

Victor Larsson, Design Director at TMRW

To sum it up:

When planning your marketing renders, make sure to decide on the purpose of each image first. This will help you and your rendering team pick the perfect angle to convey that purpose. And even though the eye-level perspective is the most relatable, the bird’s eye views can be unbeatable to show off specific features or create a sense of scale.

Because, in our world, you get to play God as much as you like. Just make sure you know what you’re doing, for whom, and even more importantly — why.

Good ideas deserve outstanding visualizations