Used to be an architecture student. Now I am here to inspire you, between work hours.
I’ve first started with AutoCAD Architecture. First only 2D, but that turned out to be too much of a “long walk” process. Then went to AutoCAD 3D, it was nice, but I was never satisfied with the renderings. And I didn’t know how to use 3ds Max. Then I’ve discovered ArchiCAD and it turned out great. Fast work, fast renders, but you don’t have the freedom. I am convinced that Revit is based on ArchiCAD. And if you are using Revit, you know of the problem of creating curved surfaces and sort of sci architecture.
Then I’ve tried Revit and it was nice, but I’ve figured out that is more for a big team collaboration.
But then I’ve met Rhino. And it’s great. It has many plugins that ease your work, like Grasshopper, Armadillo, T-Splines etc. For creating floorplans, sections, elevations, I use the VisualARQ plug in. It add architectural futures, like walls, columns, beams, slabs, roofs, much like Revit. I get the stuff I need and then transfer them in AutoCAD to do some “makeup” on them, before plotting.
On the rendering engines - It supports Vray 1.5 (2.0 will come with Rhino5), Brazil (great quality, as Vray) and many more.
For construction details and some other line based drawings, I still use AutoCAD.
I’ve used 3ds Max + AutoCAD Architecture at one point, but It was time consuming.
And always use Photoshop for some other form of representation, or to add your final touches on your presentation.
My opinion on AutoCAD is that it’s great, but it will be relapsed by the BIM software like Revit, ArchiCAD and many others.