We often get asked ‘What’s the difference between CGIs and Photo-montages?’ by potential customers. Well let’s start by explaining, for those that don’t already know, exactly what CGI is. CGI stands for Computer Generated Imagery, which simply means images that are generated using computer software. These images are lifelike 3D architectural renderings and are usually in the form of interior visualisations, exterior visualisations or 3D floor plans. Interior and exterior visualisations usually start life as a 2D sketch which are then transformed into visually appealing CGI photo-real 3D images. 3D floor plans provide a clear overview of an interior space, identifying the key elements of a design. Please see below an example of a CGI visualisation.


CGI is perfect for marketing properties off plan because it creates photo-realistic images that are an extremely powerful tool when selling to potential customers. As such, they are frequently used by architects and developers in their sales presentations because they are able to, relatively inexpensively, communicate a variety of construction possibilities to potential buyers. In essence, the images make the designers plans come to life.

So how is Photo-montage different?

Architectural photo-montage takes the sort of computer generated images discussed above and mixes them with traditional photography. This is done by montaging a computer generated image into a photograph. For example, photographs of surroundings such as buildings, landscape, objects and people can be added into a 3D still image to create the illusion that all elements are part of the same scene. This technique involves building a model of the project, correctly applying actual materials and then making sure lighting matches the conditions of the original photo. Care is also taken to ensure that the camera location and view angle is matched with the source photograph. The image of the model is then merged into the photograph. See below an example of a photo-montage which clearly show the difference to a standard CGI visualisation.


These types of images are again ideal for use in marketing materials so that potential buyers can visualise the end project. They are also extremely helpful with planning permission applications because they enable the officials making the decision to visualise the proposal in its existing context. Another benefit of photo-montages is that they can be tailored to add emphasis to a particular feature of the proposal. A photo-montage can sometimes be a more cost effective alternative because the environment already exists and therefore the surrounding location doesn’t need landscaping or building.

Archilime are architectural visualisation experts and have in-house photographers that are able to attend site to deal with any project specifications required. If you would like to discuss this article or any of our services in greater detail then please feel free to get in touch via email info@archilime.com or give us a call on 01364 654 267.