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3D Rendering and Photo Realism: 10 Best Practices and Tips

Making your 3D renders more realistic is easy when you know how to do it. With these best practices, tips, and easy techniques, we hope to shed some light on how to make the most of your 3D rendering work and make it appear realistic and believable.

In 3D rendering, photorealism is one of the most important goals without any doubt. The problem is that sometimes, it’s extremely hard to achieve it, especially if you're new to 3D rendering or still a beginner.

Well, with good workflow techniques and modern, advanced tools, it has become much easier to get that necessary photorealism that everyone is after.

You need photorealism to create artwork that is outstandingly and believably realistic, and you can achieve such an effect by using graphics media.

This is one of the main principles of photorealistic rendering. It includes reproducing tri-dimensional models using photorealistic 3D rendering techniques to make them resemble real-life models.

This is an outstandingly effective form of art that is mostly used in architecture, as it has the capability to wow the audience with incredibly lifelike visualizations that allow clients to view their projects in real life before they are actually built.

Here are some effective tips and techniques that will help you achieve that photorealistic effect with ease.

1. Bevel application

Natural objects are around rather than sharply edged. To recreate such a realistic touch, you can use beveling while managing your 3D renders.

Bevel application greatly helps with managing the right light solution with success. The main result is a reproduction of real-life objects that appears natural.

There are effective tools that will help you significantly improve photorealism in your 3D renders and design. Beveling allows you to emphasize the details by making your 3D renders look more natural, just like in the physical world.

2. Photometric lighting

Most 3D artists, as well as architects, miss out on using photometric lighting, but this is wrong, as it can help mimic natural lighting in a much more realistic way. This is especially true for architectural visualization. To achieve that photometric lighting effect, you need IES light profiles.

These profiles allow you to digitally quantify the most important data regarding photometric lighting, such as light fall-off, luminance, and shape. Instead of wasting time on trying to recreate natural light, you can use IES profiles and save a lot of time, while getting a much better result.

3. Blurred background effects make things much easier

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to increase the level of photorealism of your 3D renders is by applying the effect of depth of field. This effect blurs the background surrounding the object, allowing it to come to the foreground.

Depth effects also allow you to improve rendering composition by leaps and bounds, thus making it similar to real-life photography. This effect is exceptional at saving time, and it's also a great way to take control of your 3D model in terms of post-production.

4. Chromatic aberration aka color fringing

Don't let the name fool you – this isn't as hard or complicated as it sounds. This is perhaps one of the easiest ways to make your renders look incredibly lifelike.

It's also called color fringing. This phenomenon occurs in when all color specters aren't rendered at the exact same point of convergence.

The result is a subtle blue or red outline along the high contrast edges. The most important thing with chromatic aberration is not to overdo it, as it can detract rather than add realism to your 3D rendering work. Try it out, but be subtle with it.

5. Specular maps

Considered to be one of the most common practices by most 3D rendering artist, a specular map is a must, especially if you're new to 3D photorealistic rendering. This practice pinpoints the exact parts of your 3D model that need high glossiness or specularity, as well as which parts to diffuse.

This is a great and quite an easy way to increase realism and make your model more faithful to its physical counterpart. You should use a specular map even on the objects that have natural, uniform glossiness, such as polished metal or glazed ceramics, as it allows you to bring out any surface irregularities from dents, dings, and scratches.

6. Textures increase photorealism

Nothing makes your 3D rendering look more real than a fine texture. In fact, it's absolutely safe to say that textures help convey the exact meaning of your 3D rendering, as well as its scope and nature.

Defining and highlighting the textures of the materials you use – such as wood, metal, or leather – will make your 3D renders easily recognizable.

This helps your audience visualize your 3D rendering work in a more personalized way. Textures also allow you to include effects and reflection to really make things pop. This is what impresses the audience and wows your viewers.

7. Natural effect

Natural effects help you increase photorealism. There are many great natural effects like cracks that give your 3D rendering that natural feel. This is what adds a human touch to the whole thing, and most professional rendering artists give special attention to natural effects.

8. Asymmetry is more relevant than you think

Forget about the standard and traditional concepts of symmetry. 3D rendering professionals appreciate the relevance of asymmetry as everything in real-life is asymmetric, including our bodies.

Experimenting with asymmetry is the best way to add that exceptional and extraordinary natural appeal to your 3D renders. Adjust the asymmetry and observe the results until you reach a perfect shot.

You will notice how this amazingly effective photorealistic rendering practice makes your 3D renders look more realistic.

9. Final renders are the best moment to improve photorealism

The final render is a stage where you make the last adjustments. Adjust objects, manage contrasts, and colors to discover if any of these rendering models don't fit your final renders.

Managing all these details and adding final touches help you significantly increase realism and add the much-needed finesse that will make your work look truly impressive.

10. Don't forget to rectify the common mistakes

During your 3D rendering process, mistakes happen. Make sure you pay special attention to rectifying the following mistakes:

● Indecorous establishment of light

● Proportion irregularities and errors

● Texture errors

● Irregularities in managing photographic images

By paying attention to these common mistakes, it's possible to make a significant transformation in your 3D renderings and make them look more natural and convincing to the eye.

There's no doubt that photorealistic 3D renderings are becoming highly applicable in many industries, most notably, the architecture industry.

3D professionals and architects are required to provide highly realistic and believable 3D render for their audiences, as this has become the easiest, most affordable, and time-efficient way to confirm on the design before it enters the construction stage.

With photorealism becoming essential to 3D rendering, mastering various 3D rendering techniques is the best way to get ahead of the competition.

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