How to Design and Render a Simple Storage Shed
How to Design and Render a Simple Storage Shed

Practical yet undervalued, a garden shed offers incredible potential - and not only as a storage unit. In terms of form, it creates a lovely countryside ambiance. Even the simplest storage shed guarantees stability, endurance, and versatility when it comes to function.

Being easy to build, it also makes for a perfect DIY project for beginners.

It goes without saying that these compact little units come in many shapes and forms, some more complex than others. But even the most intricate storage shed is still not too complicated.

Now, your approach to designing and rendering a storage shed presumably falls under one of two categories - you’re either a DIY enthusiast who’s eager to do it all from scratch, or you’re a trying 3D artist looking to amaze a potential client. Either way, you’re here to learn.

So without further ado, here’s how to make your first 3D shed out of pure imagination:

Phase 1: Visualize

We’ll skip to the practical steps shortly, but not before reminding you that every creation requires ideation. To make something from nothing, you need to clear your head and make space for phase number one. It consists of the following steps:

  1. Dream Up and Visualize
  2. Take a Moment to Do Some Research

Whether you’re designing a shed for yourself or were commissioned by somebody else, you still need to start from the same place - your own imagination.

What does a great storage shed look like? What purpose does it serve? What function does it perform? How big should it be? Think about these questions for a moment and try to visualize a finished design with as many details as you can.

It’s always good to have a basic idea of what you’re looking towards before moving on to step number two, research. You’ll be too susceptible to other artists’ visions without your architectural foundation. Ideally, you want to make something original.

Do you need research even if you know what you want to design?

Researching other people’s work will help you differentiate practical from pretentious. First-time designers tend to go over the top with their visions, and research will help you avoid that.

Phase 2: Design

As soon as you have any kind of starting point, you can start penning down your ideas. During this phase, you will test them against what’s applicable in reality.

The following steps may differ depending on whether you’re making a shed for your own needs or are trying to meet somebody else’s:

  1. Decide What Kind of Storage Space You Need
  2. Find a Perfect Spot in Your Garden
  3. Make Sure You Have the Right Measurements
  4. Choose the Best Fit for Your Needs & Space
  5. Pick Your Style & Make It Beautiful

Architects meet all kinds of clients. Some of them are proverbially difficult to negotiate with; others are less so. Be it as it may, this phase will require actual data - precise measurements, information about the environment, and definitive decisions on both form and function.

That being said, if you’re designing a shed for a client, you need to get straightforward questions to these answers. This is where your vision and research can come in handy - in case your client doesn’t really know what they want; it’s your job to help them decide.

Here’s a short guide to help you - or your client - go through phase number two:

1.    Decide What Kind of Storage Space You Need

A good storage shed can provide shelter to anything from BBQ tools to pets. Ultimately, its primary function - the reason you need a shed in the first place - will determine the size and form of the unit.

2.    Find a Perfect Spot in Your Backyard

Next up, make sure you have enough room for your storage shed.

Most backyard sheds are big enough to fit a lawnmower and an average collection of gardening tools. Add a building toolbox and a box of old souvenirs, and the place already looks messy and crammed. So a good rule of thumb here is to go slightly bigger.

This is why finding a perfect location for a shed is so important. With smart positioning and design, you can make additional room and accommodate your future needs without compromising the overall look of your garden.

3.    Make Sure You Have the Right Measurements

Taking precise measurements for your 3D model requires on-site work. Once you have a perfect spot, try visualizing some of the items you’re going to store in the shed the way you’re planning to organize them. Your minimum shed size is that, plus the area you need to move around.

The popular 8×6 shed size is a safe bet if you have a tiny backyard. It makes for a solid outdoor closet that’s just a little bigger than an average phone booth.

Other common shed sizes are 10x12, which is still considered small, a medium 10x16, or a larger 12x20 variant. These “standard” dimensions are the easiest to build, but that certainly doesn’t mean that you should choose them over custom designs simply because it's more convenient.

4.    Choose the Best Fit for Your Needs & Space

Let’s take a break for a moment to return back to the start.

If designing a shed is a project, and it is, then your ultimate project goal is to make the best possible shed for your needs, considering the space and the environment, of course.

Should you choose the more straightforward solution and go for an out-of-the-box plan that looks similar to what you’ve pictured initially? Why not? If a ready-made plan buys you some time, you can download it here. You can always customize it later on during the rendering phase.

5.    Pick Your Style & Make It Pop

Finally, you can allow yourself to have some fun with decisions like paint color and exterior decor. In case you’ve envisioned a particular style, such as colonial, gambrel, or gable, for instance, you need to plan around that from the beginning.

Once again, here’s where research can help you out. From mini-greenhouses to A-frame bunkhouses, garden sheds truly come in all shapes and sizes - a lot of them too unique and unusual to dream up without any experience. Then you can also work with a siding contractor to help you choose the right kind of material and colour for a garden shed.

If you're looking for more inspiration and ideas, consider exploring under deck shed ideas to make the most of the available space.

Phase 3: Render

You should already have a finished architectural drawing or at least a hand-drawn concept by phase three. In practice, this means that your storage shed plan should be all done and ready to be rendered into a realistic, computer-generated image.

Can you skip this phase if you’re designing a shed for yourself?

If you have some experience building from simple architectural plans, then you don’t necessarily need a nice-looking 3D image. However, that still doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one. 3D visualizations are like photographs, only better - they show a glimpse of the future.

In other words, rendering your storage shed will show your vision with utmost clarity. Using a computer program allows you to add details that you could never draw by hand. That way, you’ll be able to see your completed project with all of its potential flaws and fix them beforehand.

1.    Get Comfortable with Your Rendering Tool

In case this is your first time rendering architectural plans, make sure to spend some time choosing the right rendering tool.

State-of-the-art rendering programs require lots of technical knowledge and experience, so start from scratch. Rendering tools for amateurs allow you to learn at your own pace. These programs are written for non-professionals and are therefore easy to use.

Do a quick research and pick the best one for your needs and experience level. Take a moment to grasp how it works before you start adding elements.

2.    Transform Your Vision into a 3D Model

The way you do this cornerstone step - using measurements to draw the main object for rendering - depends on the complexity of the tool and the model.

But if you have a client to impress, it goes without saying that you should approach this first step with utmost care and precision. If you’re using a certain rendering tool for the first time, make sure you know the ins and outs of its different features and performances.

As long as you put in serious effort and take time to hone your skills, you can master 3D rendering without an official education. Enthusiast or self-taught student, it makes no real difference. In-depth online classes and rendering blogs are available for both.

3.    Spend Enough Time on Realistic Details

Convincing 3D visualizations require careful detailing for one principle reason. Their purpose is not solely artistic, but mainly practical - meaning, 3D renders must show the main object as realistically as possible, which implies showing it as part of its immediate surroundings.

The main object, your shed, and all the details around it should complement each other perfectly.

Your focus should therefore be on two things - how different items are stored inside the shed and the way it is positioned in relation to the house and the backyard.

For detailing, feel free to add a few flower pots along the foundation or show a gardening shovel leaning on one of the walls. The end goal of this is to display both the functional and aesthetic potential of your main object, whether to impress a client or to convince your spouse.

4.    Double-Check as You Scale the Elements

While preparing their 3D models for rendering, professional 3D artists use technical drawings accompanied by construction documents. You might be needing them, too, even though you’re just a DIY designer since most countries require a permit for building a shed.

This means you’ll probably have more than a piece of hand-drawn paper to work with. That’s good because it guarantees a level of precision that most DIY plans don’t.

If you want it to be realistic, a render must be accurate. If you’re working with measurements that building inspectors approved, all you need to worry about is how you scale the elements. But if you rely on your math for rendering, make sure to double-check the numbers.

5.    Pay Attention to Composition & Perspective

When it comes to rendering, your backyard shed is no less important than The Burj Khalifa. All architectural objects deserve the same artistic treatment, especially in terms of composition and perspective. To do right by both, you need to set the scene carefully.

This is a perfect moment to set up horizontal and vertical axes. They will help you fine-tune your main object against its environment and backdrop, but not only that. Axes will also allow you to precisely manipulate the scene, highlighting the shed as its leading star.

6.    Make It Stand Out by Using the Right Light

Choosing the right light for a 3D render is notoriously tricky simply because it doesn’t seem to be of structural importance for the main object. This is a widespread mistake; and a big one. Without proper lighting, a render cannot look realistic enough.

So what is a good measure? The answer is - natural lighting.

Photographing materials in various weather conditions a couple of times a day and during the night will help you understand how natural lighting affects color and creates reflections and shadows. Apply this to your render, and choose what feels logical.

7.    Apply the Right Textures

Adding textures to your future shed is a given. You’ve already picked the materials you want, so making them look realistic in relation to lighting is easy enough.

But before you click the render button, make sure you’ve hit the right mark with surrounding elements as well. Does the grass around your shed look natural, too? What about that shovel?

Another thing you must pay attention to is resolution: the higher it is, the more details it shows.


Make no mistake. Rendering is not any easier than it seems. Depending on your idea and project scope, it may take months to master the basics. And if you’re nowhere near the end by then, that only means that you’re taking it as seriously as you should.

With all this in mind, consider the payoff - one phase at a time, you’ll get to learn a practical skill that you’ll eventually be proud of. Plus, let’s not forget the crown achievement - a sturdy, functional, and beautiful-looking storage shed that you’ve designed yourself.

Good luck!