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3D Interior Design Visualization - Achieving Perfection

Following a few basic rules of thumb will elevate your 3D interior design visualizations from acceptable to extraordinary.

All kinds of different clients exist in the interior design world. There are those who have style and understand good design when they see it. Then, there are those who don’t. And while each comes with their positives and negatives in how they affect the design process and ultimately the end product, one thing remains constant across the board.

Good visualization makes them happy.

If you show up to a progress meeting with a stack of crinkled up trace paper filled with sharpie squiggles and half-ripped scotch tape, things are starting off on the wrong foot. You could have the cure for cancer on those pages, if your work isn’t presented in a professional, easy to understand manner your client will immediately label you as unqualified to do the job. That’s why for every conceptual interior you show them, you must always strive for perfection. Let’s take a look at a few areas that will elevate your visualizations to the top shelf.

Start with Your Eyes

In order to create the most believable, realistic interior renders, you’ll need to start with real life. Study inspiration and scour Pinterest for ideas based in reality that you want your composition, material palette, lighting, etc. to manifest themselves in your work. Print these things out and pin them up all around your workspace, in your refrigerator, in front of your toilet - places where you might need a bit of a reminder of where your work is going. The goal here is to familiarize yourself with architectural photography so you have some inherent basis for comparison when creating your own visualizations. Especially with interior work, the more polished and ‘finished’ your drawings appear, the more confident your client will be in your ability as a designer.

As you start to develop your drawings for final production, check your progress back with the inspiration precedents you initially drew from. You can even create a checklist of things to tweak and modify in order to make each rendering pass more realistic and a better representation of the design intent.

Focus on the Human Experience

When laying the groundwork for your visualizations it’s common to fall victim to what I like to call “static render-itis.” Remember all those pretty pictures I just told you to pin all over your office and home? Yeah, forget about those for a second. They probably all have something in common that can make your renderings feel flat, static, and uninteresting. THERE ARE NO PEOPLE IN THEM!

At the end of the day, you are presenting your client with something that will be used and occupied by people. There’s no better way to convince your clients with the merit of your design if you can show them how the newly minted space will be used on a regular basis. Fill your interior renderings and visualizations with interesting looking people doing interesting looking things. Your figures must look contextually natural and fit with the theme and quality of space you are designing, but feel free to be creative. And don’t wait until the 11th hour to start thinking about the human experience - it is a component that should be considered in the very early representations of your renderings so the don’t feel like they were half-baked or tacked on.

Many artists and renders focus on making their work look pristine and untouched, but the reality is the space will only look like this for approximately 5 seconds before it becomes occupied and lived in. I’m not suggesting you add a heap of dirty underwear into the corner of your beautiful master suite rendering, but giving the space character and presence goes a long way to making it believable.

Light Makes the World Go (and look) ‘Round

Perhaps the most difficult and more important component of a 3D interior rendering to get right is the lighting. If shadows, highlights, and reflections are off in anyway, it immediately attracts the eye and jars the viewer away from your attempt at a realistic portrayal. Go back to my first point about studying real life images and scenery. Focus on how light shapes and forms whether it be natural or artificial. Interior lighting is, I’m sure, a large component of the design, so showcasing it can be a critical strength to the validity of your imagery.

Define your light sources early on, and work hard to make them believable. Programs such as VRay and Maxwell have very complex and well-integrated lighting algorithms that you’ll want to familiarize yourself with intimately. Experiment and refine, judging your results against photographs in order to yield the best end product.

This especially rings true if you are adding elements such as entourage or figures in post-production programs such as Photoshop or After Effects. If your work gets sloppy at this point in the drawing, all your painstaking work on the front end will be futile. Chose images of people that were shot with identical lighting conditions as can be found in your rendering. You might have to do a bit of touch up to get it right, but the work will pay off in the end result.

The Simpler, The Better

If you’re looking for one sure-fire way to keep your interior 3D renderings as close to perfection as possible, keep it simple. Narrow your focus to one or two key elements about the design you’d like to highlight and make them pop. This could be a spectacular view, a specific spatial function (cooking, living, dining, etc.) or even a particular piece of art the clients have chosen as a center piece. Whatever the thing is, make sure every single pixel in the image is reinforcing what it is about.

Now, this isn’t always easy. In fact, it’s probably the most difficult challenge any visual designer or artist faces. Too often we try to cram as much information about the end product into a single image and it results in murky, disjointed mess that ends up showing your client one thing: you are as disorganized and unclear as the rendering you’ve presented to them. So, rather than trying to do everything, do one or two things really well. These are your talking points and your bread and butter. The design is built upon a single conceptual north star, so make sure the 3D rendering work builds to that apex as well.

. . . . . . .

Creating a perfect interior visualization is more than just knowing how to use a computer. You have to capture the same energy and vitality the design was predicated on. Artists and designers must work carefully together to ensure a unified product is presented that accurately portrays both fantasy and reality.

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