Step by Step Guide for Creating Realistic 3D Renders
Step by Step Guide for Creating Realistic 3D Renders

Creating photorealistic 3D renders has become the newest art form and the most effective way to represent an idea to other people. It’s gained many different uses since its inception, most notably in the world of gaming, animation in general, and architecture.

How can you go about making your 3D render look as realistic as possible with any given set of tools? Well, it includes many hours of work invested into it, as well as a lot of experience in the field, both to make it look better and to cut those hours a bit shorter going forward.

However, the most important thing is to at all times have the vision of the final product in your mind and keep heading in that direction.

What Is 3D Rendering?

To understand how you can make a realistic 3D render and how you can get started with it, you must first know what 3D rendering is.

Representing your sketch in 2 dimensions and making it seem as 3-dimensional and realistic as possible using lighting, shadows, textures, and color is the definition of what a 3D render is. While a very basic explanation, it captures everything you need to know before moving on to more intricate things.

The uses for this kind of technology are many, and we’ll discuss them in a moment, but for now, you must know that to turn this into a career, you’ll need to put in a lot of hours into mastering this new platform.

It’s a whole new realm for designers and architects worldwide that gives them a wide-ranging set of tools they can use to best represent their ideas and designs to the general public.

Basics of 3D Rendering & How to Start

To create a realistic and attractive 3D render, you’ll need to follow three simple steps, which should define both your thought process and the workflow. Those steps are creating a 3D model, manipulating it to create the desired scene, and refining it with all the necessary details to showcase the atmosphere you had in mind when first creating a sketch and starting with a project.

As for the first step, creating your 3D model, it’s essentially just aligning geometric shapes to create the outline of your final product. With 3D model manipulation, you add all the things you need to finish a rough draft of the object, like basic textures and surroundings.

And finally, in the refining stage, you add artificial lighting, detailed textures and colors, and anything else that will help the final rendition feel realistic.

Know the Use of Your 3D Rendering Project

The main uses of 3D rendering today are in the film industry, video games industry, and design and architecture. With movies and video games, 3D renders will be needed to create realistic-looking environments, which you could picture the character on screen actually interacting with.

That is, of course, necessary for any video game that isn’t an 8-bit 2D scroller. For movies that have the access and a need for a substantial special effects budget, 3D renders of environments are a must-have, but that is still reserved for huge productions.

However, for designers and architects, 3D rendering can be their bread and butter and a selling point for their project. By creating an image that shows the client exactly what your vision is and how it would look in the real world, they cut down on a lot of the back-and-forth with them and have a very defined draft that can then be discussed and modified.

Find the Right Rendering Software & Master It

To truly become a master in what you do, you need the right set of tools, and you need to know that set of tools like the back of your hand. That goes for any profession, but it’s especially important for someone who deals in 3D rendering.

You need to find the software that supports your vision and gives you the options to make it a reality. So, you need the program you’ll be working in to have integrated tools for everything you want to achieve.

Going further, it’s not enough to just get yourself the software and start working. You need to familiarize yourself with it to the point where you stop thinking about the technical side of things. That way, you can focus all your attention on creating the most valid solution and getting the best-looking final product.

Steps to Making a Realistic Render

When you have the basic knowledge of what a 3D render is, and when you’ve gotten comfortable with the software, you’ll be using all you need is practice. Create simple 3D renders of something you’re interested in first, and practice until you’re satisfied with how it looks, and then some more.

When you have enough experience, and you believe that you could handle a project all by yourself and on a deadline, it’s time to start promoting your work and making connections with potential clients.

To make the entire process a bit easier to perceive, we’ve put together six simple steps that you can follow to establish your working routine and walk away with a good project and a satisfied client.

1. Talk With Your Client About Their Needs

Of course, the first step is to talk to your client about what they want you to do. Always be open to suggestions, and try to work with their ideas as much as you can.

However, that might not always be possible, and in those situations, you have to address that right away. What you don’t want to do is shoot down their ideas – you should explain why something like that is not possible and offer up an alternative solution to the issue at hand.

Thinking of ideas like those on the spot takes some experience in the field, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to compromise with your client to get something that is both realistically possible to create and fits into their vision of what they set out to find.

It’s never a bad idea to take notes or even simple sketches during these conversations, as you’ll later have insight into your thought process at that moment, and you’ll be able to incorporate everything you and the client agreed on into your final product.

2. Analyze the Project & Make a Plan

Once you have all the notes you need and you’ve reached an agreement with the client, you need to make a game plan. First, you need to sit down and think about how you’ll realize the project.

It will include making multiple sketches that will serve as a good outlet for both good and bad ideas. You need to get the bad ones out of your system and see how you can work to put the good ones together.

With the final sketch that encompasses everything you want to include, you have to move on to the next stage – planning out your process of making it in your program. Before you even open the software up, think about specifics of how you’ll make the initial 3D model be as close to your vision as possible.

3. Start Modeling

As we’ve already mentioned, you first need to create a 3D outline of the object and work on it until it’s no longer rough, and you can see how it will come together into a beautiful rendition.

Then you slowly start adding basic textures and surroundings until you have a complete rough draft of the final product. These are the steps that make up the base of your render, and you should feel free to spend time manipulating it until you’re satisfied with your work.

When you figure out exactly where everything is supposed to be, you can start adding some more substantial textures that will help your render feel based on the real world. Getting detailed textures just right is a large part of your job – when you have them in place, the object gets dimension, and you finally see the first draft of how your project will look like when it’s finished.

4. Work on Lights and Shadows

Everything after that is adding finesse. You need to determine where the artificial light source will be located and if that spot will accentuate the advantages of your model. You’ll need to play with shadows for that, as well as with the filters, colors, and reflections.

All that helps make the already realistic model feel like you’re looking at a photograph, and if done properly, it becomes hard to discern between the two.

Details like those that make the render photorealistic are what the client will notice and appreciate. Try and make your render as close to a real-world version of your object but still present it in a way that’s attractive. When you master that golden ratio, there’s no doubt that both you and your client will be satisfied with what you’ve created.

5. Render the Project Properly

When you’re satisfied with your creation and ready to present it to the client, it’s time to render it. You need to learn what rendering technique works well with your software and your ideas, and after that, it all comes down to time.

Yes, rendering can be a lengthy process, especially if you’ve been working on a large project, so you should account that into the work hours you’ve allocated to this endeavor.

The more complicated your project is, the more time it will take to render, so keep that in mind when you’re working on a deadline, and be sure that you’ll have enough time to render the project. You should also inspect it to make sure that everything is as you’ve imagined it and make any final tweaks to your design if you feel they’re necessary.

6. Refine Until Perfect

Be prepared to make some adjustments to your project after you send it off to your client. They might have comments, requirements, or simple requests about the render and its details.

You’ll have to refine it to the point where the client is satisfied and be ready to change something you thought was an amazing idea, simply because the client thinks it could have been done better. After all, the customer is always right, and you should do your best to fulfill their requests, as long as they are plausible.

It may be a hole-in-one or a back and forth between you and the client, but no matter what the case is, the project needs to be perfected and refined until both parties are satisfied with the results. Like in any line of work where you communicate with customers, remember to keep your cool and acknowledge their suggestions.


Realistic 3D renders have found their way into many industries, where they’ve become irreplaceable, and as time goes on and the technology improves, it’s certain that it will become a key part of many more.

With the video game industry growing as fast as it is, and more and more movies using special effects, it’s certain that people will need a lot more 3D renders, and they’ll have to be more detailed and realistic, as the public’s expectations grow with every improvement.

Realistic 3D renders have also become a very important part of architecture, interior design, and real estate, as they translate very well into showcasing what the project will look like when it’s finished.

There’s no doubt that even more uses for realistic 3D renderings will emerge in the future – the technology and the possibilities are being improved at break-neck speed, and if you want to follow them, you have to always be learning and adapting yourself.