3D visualizations have immense potential. When executed correctly, you can use them to perfect architectural projects, improve interior design, create better marketing content, develop games, movies, etc.
The only issue is that getting started with 3D visualization can be overwhelming. Mastering even the most straightforward 3D rendering software can take months, years, even – especially when you have no idea what the process of visualization should look like.
The order of operations is crucial in 3D visualizations, so take a look at how your process should go.
Before you can create photorealistic 3D visualizations and immersive designs, you need to focus on your 3D models – it’s the first step to perfecting your work. Without a great 3D model, no matter how hard you try, your finished 3D renders will leave much to be desired.
What exactly is a 3D model? In a nutshell, it’s the skeleton of your design, the basic outline of the object you’re trying to visualize in the 3D environment. As a technical illustration, it requires the utmost precision – every line, angle, and curve needs to be exactly right.
You’ll start by drawing a basic shape such as a sphere, plane, or polygon. From there, you can use an array of tools to add depth to your design and create its outline. The result is a grid- or mesh-like 3D object.
Only once you’re confident that the 3D model has accurate dimensions with precise divots and bumps in all the right places should you move on to creating your render.
Since 3D modeling requires a meticulous approach, it’s best to start with basic objects – boxes, balls, pyramids, etc. Move on to somewhat simpler pieces of furniture such as chairs and bookshelves, for example, then start creating more complicated designs as you get the hang of it.
You’ll rarely create 3D visualizations of objects in isolation. After all, the main benefit of using 3D rendering is that it allows you to develop immersive 3D environments that mirror the real world and present the object in question in context.
If you’re designing furniture, you’ll have to make it a part of a larger interior. If you’re creating an architectural 3D render, you might have to go so far as to create a whole neighborhood around it. You might have to make an entire in-game world if you’re building a game character.
Therefore, the next step is building the environment and setting the scene.
The good news is that you’ll have access to your software’s library. Most 3D rendering software has vast libraries you can use to give context to your designs. What’s more, you’ll have access to plenty of open-source libraries where artists share some of their designs for free.
As you become more skilled, you can start building your own custom scenery, but it’s still a good idea to keep using your software’s library as much as you can for background objects. There’s no reason to spend hours designing a 3D representation of a tree just so it can stand in the background of your architectural design.
Textures and materials are what will start adding realism to your designs. Once again, your job will be made significantly easier if you have good 3D rendering software – it will boast an array of textures and materials you can play around with.
Of course, you can always create your own. The easiest way to do so is by taking a photo of a texture you like, ensuring that the lighting is uniform, and bringing the image to Photoshop. There, you can crop the image to make sure that any pattern lines up perfectly when offset (you can blend any visible seams with a healing tool).
Regardless of the textures and materials you choose, you can seamlessly set the opacity and glossiness and add normal maps, bump maps, and displacement maps to perfect the design.
Lighting can make or break your 3D visualizations. Improper lighting can make your designs look unnatural, awkward, and wrong. Depending on the object you’re creating in your 3D rendering software, its unique characteristics, and essential features, different types of lighting will impact your design differently.
You’ll want to make sure that you spend as much time as possible creating the perfect lighting for the design in question. Of course, that also means perfecting your shadows. Shadows add depth and dimension and make your designs look more realistic.
Different camera angles can help you highlight different aspects of your design. You’ll need to consider them carefully as they’ll set the mood for the design and impact how your clients perceive it.
In architectural and interior design visualizations, you’ll generally have to choose between four different angles:
Eye-level shots are the most natural, allowing you to provide an abundance of information on the space you’ve created in a single shot.
Low-angle shots are more dramatic, allowing you to emphasize the height of the building and its most important aspect – the entrance.
High-angle shots are perfect for emphasizing the layout of your design, while straight-on shots allow you to keep the space calm and clean.
Once you’ve created the 3D model, added the textures, perfected the lighting, and chosen your camera angle, it’s time to add effects. They allow you to alter and enhance your designs and set just the right mood that evokes an emotional response in your clients.
The effects can help you make photorealistic designs by adding a brand new dimension to them.
The most common effects include lens effect, blur, fog, rain, snow, mirror effect, and more. Depending on your 3D visualization project, you might even have to use all of them to create a realistic render.
Finally, you can finish your design by using different rendering settings. Most commonly, artists will change the overall mood of their designs by setting the scene at a specific time of day or adding weather elements.
Sunny exteriors, for example, make your design brighter and more energizing. Cloudy exteriors are thought-provoking and intimate. Night renders allow you to play around with artificial lighting, while sunset renders help you highlight the colors and textures in unique ways.
Play around with different rendering settings to find out what works best for your specific design.
Mastering the 3D visualization process takes some trial and error, but it’s not nearly as overwhelming as it first appears. Break down the process into simpler steps and add only one element at a time.