How Knowledge of Materials Improves 3D Renders
How Knowledge of Materials Improves 3D Renders

How many times have you watched an image or a video, and you couldn’t figure out whether it is true or 3D animated?

Every human being has their unique perception, and it changes based on the images, experiences, stories from the environment. While telling a story to someone or presenting your ideas, you should know that not everyone can get the picture exactly how you imagined it.

Some people can easily create a three-dimensional picture in their minds and understand your idea exactly. Still, others may not have that ability, and they need you to give them a precise visual representation.

Clients are always diverse, with different requirements and ideas. When it comes to architectural, or exterior, and interior design projects, it often happens that clients know what they want from their space but can’t picture it in their heads.

That’s where rendering skills come in.

A 3D design is all about giving your clients a perfect perspective on a project. In architecture, in particular, 3D is one of the most important tools. To present the project trustfully, artists are in front of a large task – to create the most realistic visualization. By using 3D design and rendering software, they manipulate the perception of the viewer.

Let’s go over some basics first.

Understanding how 3D rendering works

Using a 3D design, you present your idea in an image or animation where the client can see his idea through your eyes. You represent a 3D perspective of a particular space. Using various computer programs, you draw the form and present it in a sketch or a realistic picture.

A 3D artist will usually go through these steps:

  • Creating/modeling a scene by using software
  • Setting up different materials on the model (wood, glass, concrete, etc.)
  • Setting the lighting, reflections, and shadows
  • Computing the model (rendering)

For example, once you have a chair sketch drawn, you will need to deal with the details. You have to give that chair a life, so you will choose the material for it. Is it a wooden, or metal one, or maybe both?

Now it’s time for 3D rendering. Using 3D rendering software, you will select and arrange materials for your object. By adding more and more characteristics to the material, rendering will make it look as realistic as possible.

Today, applying 3D rendering within numerous industries and art is almost inevitable, like in movies, commercials, music, architecture, medicine, sport, engineering, video games, etc. Artists can give life to almost all the client’s ideas, realistically show a complete interior design of the house, full property plan, or even take people on virtual tours through other worlds and dimensions.

Rendering is most often applied in architectural plans, floor plan engineering, interior design, product visualization, virtual tours.

Computing programs in which 3D artists most commonly work are:

  • Autodesk TinkerCad
  • Vectary
  • Mesh Mixer
  • SketchUp Free

Why do you need to know the materials?

When it comes to rendering, it’s all about the materials you use to show a realistic picture or animation. It means that your primary responsibility is to learn all the intricate details about how different materials look and behave.

Maybe you have some architectural knowledge, so you are familiar with this topic, but most 3D artists are not interior designers or architects. Still, they took the time to learn about all the elements used in the design industry.

In addition to knowing what kind of materials there are and how to represent them, you have to learn what they are used for. One type of wood is good for tables and another for stairs. Which materials can be combined and which cannot go together is just one of the things you will need to think about.

Artists must be familiar with the exact characteristics of the materials. How resilient they are, how flexible they are, how long they can last, how they behave outside in the elements, and so on. Do they shrink at high temperatures, get damaged, or do they prefer the cold? The job of a 3D artist involves many components.

The right materials give a better feel!

In addition to understanding the material itself, the next task is processing the material. You need to understand the intricacies of this process if you want to give the client a realistic picture of the project. When you know the material well, its texture, thickness, strength, you will know what it is best used for.

However, even that is not enough. A 3D artist has to know the material down to the smallest detail. When we talk about processing, it’s essential to know how each material behaves. For example, whether a particular type of wood retains its luster or whether we have to varnish it to make one piece of furniture look exactly the way we imagined it or the way the client wants it.

Imagine designing a frame for a large stylized wall mirror. In the rendering program, you chose the right metal component that fits perfectly into the space, drew a model, and determined the thickness of the frame. You go to a real mirror designer with your 3D image, and the first thing you hear is: “This thickness of metal frame can’t handle the weight of a mirror this big; it will warp and break.”

Components of the material, such as gloss, thickness, reflection, flatness, are essential in the processing stage to bring the material to a perfect form that will fit the design and use of different objects.

We cannot overstate the importance of understanding the processing of the material – if you overdo the processing or do not process enough, it can look unrealistic or too plastic. Therefore, you need to know to what extent you will retain the main components of the material and how much to reduce.

Staying realistic in virtual reality

Staying in virtual reality for too long can cause your projects and designs to become unnatural and everything in your images to start looking artificial. That’s why you should pay attention to details. The more detailed the virtual space, the more it starts to look convincing and livable.

To achieve a completely natural look, we must by no means ignore the fact that nature is imperfect. Sometimes an overly perfect image will simply look off to the client. Sometimes artists design such a perfect settlement, houses, gardens, parks, or the interior of a house. In this case, the client has the impression of sterility and sees a bland home he wouldn’t want to live in.

That’s why you need to consider the atmosphere you want to present, the small imperfections that most realistically represent a certain environment, and give it character.

No one likes to live in a sterile environment. We all often add small objects of significance, images, memories that complement our living space to feel comfortable and cozy. When presenting a project, it’s essential to show the client a familiar scenario they have already imagined in their head and then strive to realize it.

For example, artists often use small tricks by adding details that will remind clients of something from their lives, something they will identify with. A fruit bowl, an umbrella perched on a stand, or a flower pot can greatly contribute to the natural look and feel, even in an imaginary house.

The importance of depth in 3D design

The most significant difference between a 2D image and a 3D image is precisely the depth. A 3D image has a depth that is best achieved through playing with light, shading, manipulation of reflection. That’s why 3D artists must be able to sketch, draw, and cast shadows.

Since certain settings in the space are presented with a specific time of day in mind, natural light coming from the windows is usually used. Given the time of day and the sun’s position, an artist needs to know which shadow falls on different objects and in which way.

You must always keep that in mind.

For example, you can’t show a room with roof windows and shade the objects on only one side or put shadows where they wouldn’t naturally fall.

When it comes to materials, depth is achieved by light and leaving specific characteristics such as material texture, roughness, cracks, and unevenness. Therefore, the material has a realistic natural look, and the viewer gets a perfect idea of what the material is about, as if they could almost touch that surface.

Establishing an atmosphere

It’s not enough to just make a perfect model of the space by strictly following all the steps of rendering. A building or interior should have a soul. As much as the artist tries to present everything as realistically as possible, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the space exudes a pleasant ambiance.

The artist must show the atmosphere in a room for what it truly is. Also, keep in mind what time of day or time of year you are simulating. Is the sun strong enough to show the space in its full glory, or is it raining outside, and everything is in a darker tone?

The client likes to see certain scenes to connect with the space. The light cannot be grayish while the green canopy of trees sways through the window in the picture. If you are presenting an atmosphere of a sunset in the house, it’s worth emphasizing the spatial details that fit into such a scene as the play of light on objects or reflections on houseplants.

Immerse the clients in the project

To show the clients the full scope of a design, the artist must evoke a pleasant feeling and encourage them to identify with the space you’ve presented. That way, they will connect with the image and want to be in it. If there are details that architects and interior designers haven’t thought about or just haven’t quite figured out how to showcase them to clients, we’re here to help with that through our 3D design and rendering skills.

Involving the client in the project and the process is an integral part of the artist’s job. You will better understand the clients, their wishes, and their needs if you can communicate efficiently.

Often their desires and ideas are hampered by yours. It’s up to the artists to act professionally and explain, educate, and show why they cannot apply some solutions or materials in a particular case.

Maybe the client likes a particular material and would like his home to be full of furniture made out of it but doesn’t realize that it would be stylistically or physically impossible to combine such furniture with other components they’ve asked for. Sometimes the client won’t understand why the fireplace can’t feature a colorful brick they saw somewhere because you are limited to firebricks for such applications.

Shortly, when an artist understands the materials, the clients will also learn to temper their expectations, which will help them better understand the whole project.

How fun can 3D rendering be?

It can be as much fun as you want – the possibilities are endless. Through 3D rendering, you can play, create people, characters, games, spaces, animations, simulations, structures. You can create your own virtual world.

The trends in this area are going crazy, and you can always learn something new. Just as art has so many directions, 3D rendering is simply expanding and intertwining with more and more industries every day.


Visualization is the most important tool when working on a landscaping project, interior design, or a complete architectural plan. The best way to present your idea is through a well-designed and professionally rendered 3D image.

The better you understand the materials used in these industries, the more realistic the environment will look. Therefore, more realistic visualization means a better understanding between the artist and the client, which is why you should consider getting professional 3D rendering services.