3D Rendering and Lighting in SelfCAD: Everything You Need to Know
3D Rendering and Lighting in SelfCAD: Everything You Need to Know

3D rendering is basically the process of converting 3D models into high definition 2D images on a computer, and tuning information in it.

3D rendering is all around us. Whether you are watching action movies, animated videos, car commercials, flipping through a magazine, or scrolling through social media, you'll see images created by the 3D rendering process.

3D rendering is a creative process that is similar to photography. But in photography, images are captured by camera while in 3D rendering you have to create 3D models in the computer before it can be rendered.

Before the 3D rendering process, the first step is the actual design of the model which is done through 3D modeling. 3D modeling is a crucial step towards actualizing the overall result. It involves the use of a digital model for the 3D representation of the object to be rendered.

Basically, it is representing the surface of the image with a mathematical expression. To do this, 3D artists require the knowledge and use of a 3D modeling software to help produce the design as required. There are also other processes that take place before the final result is actualized.

Besides rendering and lighting which we’re going to look at shortly, the following processes also take place during the 3D modeling stage:

  • Texturing: The software in this stage maps the surface textures of the 3D model. The information about the color and light variations within the model is gathered, which sends a signal to the human brain about the existence of different textures. The texture is a significant factor in the 3D rendering of the photorealistic image.
  • Refining: Once the rendering process is completed, the next step is for the artist to do a little editing to fine-tune the appearance of the image. For example, one might decide to mix things up in the editing process. The point is for them to polish the image so that it meets the expectations of the client. Once the refining process is done, the designer can now go ahead and apply rendering and lighting.

3D rendering allows you to set up other parameters to improve the quality of the picture and final design. With the help of the 3D rendering software, you can customize settings such as color, lighting, and shadows to make it as realistic as possible.

There are various 3D rendering programs available that you can use for creating 3D renders. SelfCAD is one of them and that’s the one we’re going to have a look at in this article. If you've not heard, SelfCAD is a 3D modeling, slicing, and rendering software that runs both online and offline. You can use it right on your browser or download it.

SelfCAD is one of the easy to use 3D modeling software available. You can get started just within a few weeks of learning. What sets SelfCAD apart from other programs is that users can model, sculpt, slice, animate, and even render 3D designs all under a single program without having to install or download any other additional software. So you don’t need to design a 3D model in one software and switch to another later in order to render or animate.

Other important advantages that sets SelfCAD apart from other programs includes:

  • SelfCAD is an affordable software that you can get for just $15, which is a very affordable price when compared to many premium softwares.
  • SelfCAD provides beginner friendly and step by step tutorials that help beginners to start their career in 3D modeling and rendering with much ease. With it’s interactive tutorials, you don’t need to watch a lot of video tutorials which are usually tiresome, as the step by step interactive tutorials will easily guide you through the software and you will be able to design simple to complex models easily.
  • The SelfCAD Rendering engine is quite powerful, which is why it requires you to download the extension. It allows you to generate designs with excellent lighting, reflections, and shadows.

How Does the 3D Rendering Engine Of SelfCAD Works?

After you have finished with 3D modeling and are ready to render, select the render tool found in the upper right corner of the tool bar. Once you click, you will be prompted to download the rendering engine. Once you download and install, you will be able to see the image shown below.

You can then go back to the SelfCAD interface and start rendering your image. There are several settings that you can apply to ensure you produce a realistic render of your design. These settings are explained in details below:

Material: This setting allows you to select the material of your render. You can either choose Matte, Metal, Glass, Car Paint, or Mirror. You can also choose the color of the material to use using the color picker.

Opacity: This allows you to adjust the clarity of your render.

Emission Color: This is used for specifying the color emitted by your render. You can choose the color, intensity, as well as emission theta. There is also an option to restore the settings to their default state.

The above are settings you can apply before the 3D rendering process begins. There are also post processing settings like brightness, Gamma correction, White Correction as well as Vignetting.

Once you are done setting, you can then start 3D rendering by clicking on Start rendering. When you do that, the rendering process will begin.

Once the rendering is done, you can either choose to save your image or discard the results if you don’t like it.

Lighting in SelfCAD

Lighting in 3D modeling is where light is simulated in a computer generated environment. Sometimes, after you have finished 3D designing your model, the final product won’t look that good and might require that some lighting be applied before rendering.

A correct sequence of lighting techniques can significantly improve the value of the computer generated scene. That's why 3D designers always use lighting to make the object clear and appealing.

Different lightning techniques are available, such as:

  • Directional light
  • Point or Omnidirectional light
  • Area light
  • Spotlight

These are the different types of light that a 3D designer can use to make the image more attractive.

In SelfCAD, lighting options are found just below the rendering options. In the material option, there is a drop down where you can find Scene lights as well as world lighting. You can then set your lighting to your desire in this section. The image below shows the design before and after lighting has been applied.

Advantages of Rendering and Lighting

3D rendering and lighting offers many benefits. Some of them includes:

1.     3D rendering gives you a perfect and complete control over indoor and outdoor lighting and you don't have to wait for the sun in order to take a perfect picture of your architecture or any other structure in the right lighting.

2.     Architects, marketers, and builders can use 3D rendering and lighting to explore variants of the unfinished projects or future designs without having to invest in props, photographers, or even interior designers. This is also important because if there is any structure or section generated through rendering which needs lighting correction, you don’t need to start all over again. You can easily perform the modification in the 3D software.

3.     3D rendering and lighting is useful in marketing and branding. You can produce different marketing materials easily without spending a lot. Also, it helps you maintain your brands’ feel and look on all your marketing materials. You can reuse the available color scheme  without necessarily having to take any photograph.

4.     With 3D rendering, you can get precise measurements and stunning accuracy than you can get from photography. 3D renders will not only give you the general dimensions of your design but also sophisticated measurements.

5.     3D rendering and lighting also ensures there is clear communication. Your clients can easily understand your project. 3D rendering also gives employees, stakeholders, and customers a 3D visualization of a complex project, breaking it down into an understandable manner.

6.     It’s also Cost effective. 3D rendering cuts the cost of traveling and even for photography. The clients don’t have to meet with the designers in order to discuss the details nor do they have to hire photographers or interior designers to help in preparing the designs.

7.     There is better interaction with the clients. Designers can easily interact with their clients. The pros and cons of the design can be discussed beforehand which will ensure that the design delivered is as per the expectations of the client. Additionally,  if the client wants to know the process the designers followed to come up with the design, the step by step process can easily be recorded using the interactive tutorial of SelfCAD. Once the instructions are generated, they can easily be shared for anyone to access and follow.

8.     Easy to share. 3D renders can be shared with just the click of a button. Gone are the days when sharing projects was tedious and time consuming. With 3D rendering and lighting, you don’t need to arrange for a meeting in order to discuss the project.