With the spectacular advancement of 3D technology, we have seen a significant surge in 3D rendering and its applications in various industries. This wide usage is primarily because of the versatility and flexibility 3D rendering offers and the kind of ultra-realistic outcomes they generate.

Whether for showcasing a 3D product model in all its details, capturing the interior or exterior of real estate, creating characters for video games, or performing medical imaging - 3D renders are everywhere. The technology can tackle any kind of visual challenge, visualizing existing structures or models, or envisioning an entirely new concept.

Another unique competitive advantage of 3D rendering lies in estimating accurate distance information in 3D space, allowing precise measurements, especially for industrial equipment production or architectural constructions.

3D product rendering is also a great way to maintain brand consistency; one can reapply or reuse a particular brand’s exact color scheme in each new visualization. As well as facilitate clear communication about the product with visually enticing 3D visualizations.

The list doesn’t end here. 3D rendering is also a proven, cost-effective way of identifying design errors and getting them fixed before it is too late. Another great thing about 3D renders is no extra costs or investments in actual furniture, props, travel, professional photo shoot, and the like are involved.

What is 3D Rendering?

3D rendering is the process of generating a 2D image from a 3D model with photorealistic image output or non-photorealistic output. The process requires a specialized software program that can take in the data of a three-dimensional model and then use it to produce a 2D image. This information is usually about the color, texture, lighting, or material of an object depicted in the three-dimensional model or scene.

How many types of 3D renderings are there?

There are two main types of 3D renderings - realistic and non-realistic.

  • Realistic 3D rendering

    These renders are usually done for elements found in the real world. In this type of rendering, the models are developed using the right texture, shadows, and lighting, just as it is in the real-life environment. As a result, the rendered images look hyper-natural. Such as the architectural interior of a building or a rendered image of furniture or a car.

  • Non-realistic 3D rendering

    In this type, the developer creates an object they have no prior idea about, like information on the height, texture, or any other parameters. It is like creating a thing out of thin air, converting unusual art forms into life-like objects. This type is mainly seen in comics, animated movies, video games, etc., where the imagination of the concept designer knows no bounds.

How to render a 3D model? The detailed breakdown of the steps involved

The 3D rendering steps may differ based on the software used, the person executing the process, as well as the desired objectives.

However, no matter the alterations in the sequence of the steps, a 3D rendering process always has two distinct phases - the pre-rendering phase, which includes conceptualizing, developing, and prepping the 3D model. And the rendering process itself, which includes the actual rendering procedure, transforming the model into a 2D representation.

Let’s break down the pre-rendering phase for you

  1. Conceptualization

    This is the initial conceptualization phase, where the visions and goals are discussed. These metrics mainly depend upon the brand for which the rendering project is being done, its brand values, target audience, target market, and user behavior. The client and the creative director both sit and discuss the visions together. This helps in envisioning the final deliverable.

  2. Analysis and design

    Once the concept is approved, the project analysis begins. This includes determining the parameters, viz, environment, camera angles, texture, lighting, etc., that the end model must have.

  3. 3D modeling

    Then comes the 3D modeling part, wherein the modeler creates a three-dimensional digital representation of the object. The process essentially involves manipulating vertices or points to form a 3D polygon mesh. Once the 3D artist and the client are satisfied with the model, the next crucial process of rendering can be commenced.

The rendering phase

This stage is immensely vital in bringing the 3D object to life. It includes the addition of the following.

  1. Materials and texture

    The 3D designer needs to manipulate the material settings of the object to give it a realistically rendered appearance. The material can be glossy plastic, a leathery finish, a woven, or a matte surface. Considering the material, the texture elements are added. Accurately depicting the object’s material is highly important to bring realism.

    Useful resource :How to Create 3D Textures Using Simple Tips

  2. Lighting

    The success and quality of any 3D render depend mainly on the proper lighting and shadows. Evenly balanced shadows and reflections give depth to 3D models, making them appear natural to the human eyes. Understanding the physics of light and shadow is the key to mastering this stage and making the models look highly realistic.

  3. Additional details

    Once the texturing and lighting are done, the 3D artist adds some more details, like digital sculpting, to make the model’s form as lifelike as possible.

  4. Feedback and refining

    Here, the creative director considers the inputs of the client and checks for any further refinement required before making the final delivery. The 3D artist then makes those fine-tunings and processes for the delivery.

  5. The final delivery

    Once the iterations are made, this is the last step of the 3D rendering process. The client receives the final image in a specific format and resolution depending on its application, whether the image will be utilized in a game, for print purposes, or on the web, in a film or a video, etc.

What kind of computer or hardware do you need for a perfect 3D rendering?

Often beginners wonder what is needed to accomplish a 3D rendering perfectly and what hardware specifications they need to meet to generate a perfectly rendered image. Well, no matter what software you are leveraging or what is the end application, specific hardware metrics must be considered for effective rendering quality.

You would need a powerful CPU, ideally a 4.0 GHz base and Core i5 or higher, but in some cases, you may use a relatively average one as long as the other components you use are duly optimized for the task.

Ensure you have 8GB or 32GB RAM that stores the information for the render. The RAM configuration is highly imperative for 360-degree and VR applications, especially for architectural renders.

The third most important element to consider is the GPU or the graphics card. The higher the GPU’s version, the better the rendering quality, ideally 6GB or more. Without an integrated GPU within a system, the rendering won’t make any desired effect. The current industry standard GPU is the NVIDIA GTX series, preferably an NVIDIA GTX 1060. A higher version or an equivalent from another brand can also suffice.

Then comes the software on which the rendering will be done. Whichever software you use, Unity, Blender, 3DS Max, KeyShot, Maya - it must competently provide:

  • Accurate materials and real-world lighting
  • Shading
  • Texture-mapping
  • Real-time scene exploration

- And other high-end effects.

And lastly, high-speed Internet is mandatory for the seamless running of the applications, as well as for storing the files securely over a cloud.

Also, you may speed up your computer by regularly scanning for malware, removing them if detected, clearing out caches, lowering the usage of multiple programs or applications simultaneously, etc.

The 5 tried and tested tips to speed up a 3D rendering workflow

Missing deadlines is a major factor of ill-reputation for 3D artists. Given the level of technicalities and precision are concerned, the rendering workflow’s speed is bound to get slow. The following five proven tips can drastically speed up a rendering process, thus boosting the productivity and efficiency of the renderer.

  1. Never delete the old project files

    Renders keep on creating textures, materials, render presets, objects, etc., for their projects. You never know which of these materials or objects you developed two years back can be well utilized in your newer projects.

    So, always keep the old files stored with you that you may repurpose, thus quickening your work. Keep the files stored in an external hard disc or on the cloud.

  2. Utilize 2D or 3D CAD files

    A handy tip for all 3D team leaders and 3D artists. Try to get CAD files from your clients; this will speed -up your workflow to a great extent. The trick behind this tip is that 3D CAD files, namely Revit, Solid Works, AutoCAD, etc., generate 3D objects that could be directly imported into rendering software. There is no need to create the objects from scratch.

    Also, spline files generated for 3D modelling in Illustrator or 2D AutoCAD drawings can as well be imported into the rendering programs. This means the rendering artist doesn’t need to recreate the splines. This trick is a great way to make your 3D rendering process way faster.

  3. Do the renders during weekends, holidays, or at night times

    This is not a technical tip but, indeed, a practical life hack. 3D artists can utilize the night times, holidays if any, or weekends to render the projects, which will save much of their time. Usually, rendering takes many hours, and especially for movie scenes (non-real-time renders), it can take more than a day.

    So it’s best to avail yourself of the night hours when you can start the render and go to sleep, or the weekends when you can start the rendering process on Friday night, and by Sunday morning, your file is ready!

  4. Use simplified object displaying

    This is a very small but super helpful script usually found in 3DS Max. The “display as object” option shows all the objects in a scene as simplified boxes, except the selected ones. This enhances the display performance as the 3D application use less CPU and GPU resource.

    Use this tactic to view objects in the viewports in lesser complexity, thus having fewer delays in performing rotations or other manipulations on the selected objects.

  5. Partner with a third-party team for faster turnarounds

    A practical tip for all 3D artists and team leaders offering 3D rendering services. If you find your team overburdened with tight deadlines and multiple projects, get in touch with a third-party agency with professional rendering artists. Offshore some of your projects to these professionals and let them take care of the rest.

    Useful resource :List of Best 3D Rendering Services Companies to Consider in 2023

After all, 3D rendering is a time-consuming process that cannot be done in haste, or else quality issues might arise. Hence, it’s better to partner with a team with faster turnaround, access to cutting-edge technologies, and excellent customer support.

What are the benefits of 3D rendering?

3D-rendered images are highly beneficial in communicating complex visual information, product highlights, facilitating quick resolutions, and, lastly, generating maximum audience engagement. When done in the proper manner, 3D rendering has the following amazing benefits across a vast range of industries.

  • High-quality visuals allow clients to get an accurate glimpse of the end product, increasing the chance of more sales.
  • Multiple viewpoints display, evenly balanced lighting, and shadow in an image.
  • Mathematically correct representations of indoor and outdoor spaces can be generated by 3D architectural renderings, especially for the real estate sector.
  • Accurate and super quick virtual representation of an abstract idea or a concept with precise detailing, visual elements, and realistic lighting.
  • Faster design and conceptual changes in real-time without significant production costs.
  • Rendered images show the product or the object from multiple angles, including top views. This is super helpful for architects, design engineers, as well as clients.
  • Compared to hiring photo studios, using 3D visualization services can end up being a lower expense for projects.
  • The costs of professional photo shoots is much higher considering the travel expense, refreshments, arrangement of actual furniture items and other props, lights and other equipment, etc. Whereas, a 3D rendering service provider offers high-end service at a fraction of that cost.
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Sushmita Roy   linkedin   instagram   twitter

A seasoned 3D professional with a creative focused, and a knack for diverse 3D designs, software and the technology. She's associated with ThePro3DStudio for long enough to prove her mettle and make every 3D projects successful. When she’s not busy working for a new project, she shares valuable insights from her own experience.