If you’re new to 3D rendering, you may be struggling to get all the details right in your renders. Don’t worry, because learning 3D rendering takes time. You’ll go through different stages of trial and error before you master the art and start creating spectacular 3D renders.
To help you get there faster, we’ve created this quick guide to getting the most detail out of your rendering. You’ll find here the basic recipe for becoming an excellent 3D artist that everyone wants to hire.
Let’s start with the basics.
In simplest terms, 3D rendering is the process of creating 2D images from 3D models. It’s the process of using 3D computer graphics to make 3D models and convert them into photorealistic or non-photorealistic 2D images.
Almost every 3D artist aims to achieve photorealism in 3D rendering, that is, to make renders look realistic. When you create a photorealistic render, it seems as if you shot the picture in the real world.
That’s especially important in architectural visualization, as it can showcase what buildings will look like before their construction even begins. The same goes for interior design, print media publications, marketing materials, and other applications that require photorealism.
And you can achieve all that with 3D rendering software.
The best part? You don’t have to choose only one. Most of the available tools are compatible with one another, so you can integrate them to make the most of your rendering process.
As an aspiring 3D artist, you should use multiple 3D rendering tools, and not only until you’ve become a pro. They’ll help you perfect your skills, but they’ll also complement one another and help you create brilliant renders.
Although every 3D rendering project is different, the rendering process includes the same steps. Here’s what those are.
The first step in rendering is utilizing 3D modeling software to make a 3D model. Your 3D model is the foundation of your render that should include as many details as possible.
The best way to do it is to start with large structures, blocks, layers, and other elements, before delving deeper into smaller details. You’ll stay organized, ensure you don’t miss anything, and prepare a perfect sketch for your 3D modeling software.
If you want to include multiple identical elements, such as plants or trees, add them to the model as components. That way, if you need to adjust them later, you can edit only one and simultaneously update all of them.
During the modeling stage, pay a lot of attention to the composition and angles. Play with different fields of view (FOV) to choose the right for a professional effect that perfectly highlights all the features.
Another essential step is to bevel the sharp edges of various objects, especially if you’re making an architectural render. Beveling will make the objects look natural.
The materials and textures you choose can make or break your 3D renders. They are the key to making photorealistic renders.
So, take the time to explore your software’s library to pick the right materials and textures for all the necessary objects. A great practice is to add custom materials and textures to your library, so you can seamlessly upload what you need.
Make sure you adjust their color, transparency, opacity, finishes, reflection, refraction, displacement, and other vital characteristics.
Lighting is another key factor for making 3D renders look realistic. Lighting and shadows add depth and realism and influence the warmth, color shades, and reflections of materials and textures.
Learning to get it right takes some time, but it’s not as complicated as it may seem at first.
It’s all about understanding the balance between light and dark, regardless of whether you want to showcase natural or artificial light or whether you’re making a day or night scene.
Make sure you use IES photometric files or IES light profiles. They’re ideal for achieving the real-world brightness and fall-off of light, especially natural light.
Now it’s time to carefully inspect all the elements to make sure you’ve gotten all the details right and haven’t missed anything important.
Check for overlapping surfaces and flying blocks or objects, ensure the camera position is the right for the model, and evaluate the materials, textures, colors, shades, artificial light strength, and all the other elements.
Once you’re sure that everything is just how you want it to be, hit the “Render” button, and watch your 3D rendering software work its magic.
Luckily, there’s always post-production if you need to correct a mistake or add some touch-ups that will increase your render’s value.
But sometimes, your work won’t require post-production at all, especially if you utilize the right software.
For instance, Lumion is one of many that feature ready-to-use scenes with all the landscape, sun, sky, plant, and other background settings.
But there’s one crucial thing to remember when creating photorealistic 3D renders, especially related to architecture and interior design - the world is full of imperfections.
Making every single detail perfect may not create a natural-looking result. It may look impeccable, but it may not be very realistic.
Including irregularities in the paving or some bumps in the grass will create that much-needed natural appeal. It will make your clients do a double-take to make sure your 3D renders aren’t photographs!
Now that you know the basics of your rendering process, it’s time to dig deeper into other essential stuff.
Your client’s vision is the most critical factor to keep at the forefront of your mind. After all, it’s their idea you’re going to bring to life.
You’ll get a full insight into your client’s vision during your initial consultation. Be sure to ask for some reference images, plans, sketches, or anything else that might help you get a clear picture of what they need.
Before starting the rendering process, make sure you understand the client’s business, target audience, and the purpose of the project. Thoroughly discuss all the details to ensure crystal-clear communication and prevent any potential errors. That way, you’ll meet all their requirements and realize their vision seamlessly.
It’s essential to stay in touch before delivering the final result. It’s not uncommon for clients to require some last-minute tweaks or refinements. Regularly ask for their feedback to ensure you’re on the same page.
While your client’s vision should be your guiding light, you need to have a laser-like focus on your mission. After all, you’re the artist in that relationship who knows how to do the job.
So, follow their vision, but with your twist, because that’s what will leave them in awe.
And that’s your number one mission - to create an outstanding 3D render that will wow your client and exceed their wildest expectations. It’s to get the most detail out of the process to captivate your client, help them achieve their goals, and keep them coming back for more.
The key is to always go the extra mile to make each render better than the last. Think of every project as the most paramount one for your career because it is. It helps you build your portfolio, attract more clients, and pave your road to becoming the best 3D artist worldwide.
Don’t rush any of your projects, especially if you’re just starting. Take the time to ensure everything works perfectly, even if you spend an entire day in the refining phase to double-check all the details.
Every client will respect the time you take because it means you’re thorough, meticulous, professional, and want to get the most out of your renderings.
If you’re a beginner, time is your greatest ally. Use every minute of it to hone your skills until you’re genuinely mesmerized by what you’ve achieved.
Even as a professional, you need to understand that 3D rendering is all about innovation. There’s always something new to learn and add to your skillset. There’s always room for going forward and standing out in the competitive market.
We’ve mentioned textures above, but they’re so important that they deserve their own spot in this guide.
3D texturing is adding a 2D image onto a 3D model. It’s an art that requires some time to master.
It includes adding all the colors, material finishes (e.g., glossy or matte), transparency, refraction, opacity, and many other characteristics of various objects’ materials.
It also includes adding bump, normal, or displacement maps to showcase the objects’ bumps or roughness. They can help you add more depth to a 3D model, and you can even combine them in some cases.
When working on your textures, spend some time experimenting with seamless textures. They’re necessary for perfectly arranging repeating patterns in a tiled format (e.g., brick walls), both vertically and horizontally.
You wouldn’t want to have visible repetitions that would make you look careless, disinterested, or unprofessional. So, practice that well before engaging in a project.
Real-time ray tracing is a brilliant technique that experts in the entertainment industry have been using for decades to simulate realistic lighting and shadows.
More specifically, it’s a rendering technique for simulating the behavior of natural and artificial light to create realistic lighting in 3D renders. You can use it to create lifelike reflections, refractions, shadows, scattering, ambient occlusion, and translucence.
This technique achieves that by calculating and adjusting the color of pixels according to the path that rays of light would take if they were cast from the camera’s point of view.
It’s a technique for next-generation 3D renders that scream photorealism. Use it and make your clients fall in love with your work.
VR is one of the most innovative technologies that you can use to captivate your clients on a whole new level.
Instead of looking at your 3D image, they can immerse in a VR environment to get the feel of the space you’re creating. Thanks to real-time rendering combined with VR, they can get a whole new look and feel of all the materials, textures, colors, lighting, shadows, and other effects in your render.
VR can be especially beneficial in architectural rendering, as it can help the stakeholders experience and envision all the possibilities of a space and make informed decisions.
AR blends the virtual world with the physical environment, helping you project a 3D model onto a physical site.
It plays a significant role in interior design and building refurbishment, as it merges virtual data with real-environment objects. With AR, you can display all the materials, textures, and even shadows to the real environment and adjust them in real-time, helping clients see how your 3D model interacts with the site.
With SAR (Spatial Augmented Reality), you can even remove the real environment elements to leave only your 3D model and make it more realistic.
The colors you use will set the style and tone of your 3D render. Depending on your client’s requirements, you can use certain colors to create a warm ambiance, a noir look, or something bold and dramatic.
Lighting and colors are closely related, as various objects appear different when illuminated. For instance, a glossy surface will reflect more light and lose some of its color’s intensity, as opposed to a matte surface that will preserve its color appearance.
So, lighting, textures, materials, and shadows play a big role when adjusting the colors. Practice makes perfect, so take the time to experiment with various colors and hues in different scenes.
It takes time to master the art of 3D rendering, but every minute you spend practicing will pay off more than you can imagine.
So, work on your artistic expression and keep bringing ideas to life in a way that will make your clients believe your 3D renders are real. Take advantage of game-changing technologies, such as VR and AR, because that’s when the real magic happens.