3D Rendering & Understanding The Basics
3D rendering is a wonderful technology that managed to embed into our lives in many ways possible. Remember the last game you just played or the latest movie you just watched? Well, they were all made possible with 3D rendering Services.
Art has evolved throughout mankind’s history. We started with primitive cave drawings and artists like Leonardo Da Vinci and Michael Angelo rocked our world with their renaissance paintings that stood the test of time. Today, we can finally create digital art with the technology introduced only over three decades ago. Formal training not necessarily required because as long as you have the time and patience to learn how to harness the power of 3D rendering software, you can create art. Arm this with imagination and you can manipulate images and explore the endless possibilities 3D rendering could offer.
What is 3D Rendering?
3D rendering is a relatively new technology where a computer is used to calculate and depict light reflections on surfaces on 3D models to create photorealistic images for marketing, film and advertising use.
Fun fact: all the creative kitchen or bedroom setups you see on IKEA or any furniture catalogues aren’t real at all. They are 3D rendered images that look so convincing, you’ll have a hard time believing that they were computer generated.
Technical drawings have been around centuries and since time immemorial. They have been a critical component for creating the framework of a construction project, product design, and even in manufacturing process flows. Today, nothing’s changed and they are still considered an integral part of 3D rendering. It’s used in building the image structure and the 3D rendering adding finishing touches such as lighting and textures, bringing the image to life.
3D rendering is an important aspect in many industries, with the technology being more prominent in the architectural and movie industries. But regardless of the application, 3D rendering software programs are flexible to meet whatever you need it for.
3D Rendering in Architecture
If you’ve been in the architecture and construction industry, you may remember the good ol’ days when you had to painstakingly build scale models for clients. It used to be the best way to present projects and help customers visualise, but thankfully those days are long gone because today, computers made it possible to build virtual walls and structures in a blink of an eye.
Architectural visualisation is the most effective way of communicating and selling ideas to clients and stakeholders nowadays. It makes it easier for them to visualise the end product and give them the ‘feels’ even before the project’s started. We have progressed so much with 3D modelling and rendering, that it’s made the impossible achievable in terms of home and building designs and structures.
We all know how construction projects can get messy. From strict capital requirements to stakeholders clashing against each other, it’s a stress people would like to avoid as much as possible. From engineers to planners, architects and supplementary non-specialists, they all have a different outtake of the project and own approach on how to achieve the final outcome. But thanks to 3D rendering technology, conflicts and miscommunication can be avoided as much as possible.
The Rendering & Architectural Visualisation Process Explained
3D rendering gives the artist the ability to produce realistic images of any construction projects complete with architectural scenes, fixtures, and lighting. With this, clients can better visualise the proposed design and make an informed decision whether to push through with it or not. You don’t even have to build a physical model (which we all know costs time and money), and designs are easily manipulated so any disagreements can be quickly resolved and explored by both the client and the artist.
3D Rendering is an amazing marketing tool to have, but even though it makes life easier for artists and architects, the magic just doesn’t happen overnight. It takes days or weeks before you can transform a technical drawing to a photo realistic image.
Step 1: Technical Brief
Just like any other project, the artist needs instructions of what he needs to do and work on. Remember how we talked about technical drawings being a critical component for any 3D modelling or 3D rendering project? Well, this is where it comes in.
Relaying information verbally doesn’t work in the architectural vision process and it’s always best to provide visual references to guarantee results that are up to your standards. Even a basic sketch will do or a few photos for inspiration, as long as the artist will have something to work with.
Step 2: 3D Modelling
Before you can render and achieve photo-realistic images, you’ll need a 3D model first. Just like in real life, 3D rendering is impossible without a shell or structure that the artist can work on.
This is the process where the architectural plans are converted to geometrical plans, and virtual reality walls, doors, windows, and furniture are built and placed. Once this is complete, the artist can render this ‘skeletal structure’ which is just a black and white image with no textures.
Step 3: 3D Rendering and Texturing
This is where the true magic begins. 3D images are created from the 3D model created in Step 2. This is the step where the interior design feature is born. Detailed furniture are added, and surfaces and textures are applied to the 3D model to achieve a photo-realistic look. Camera angles and lightings are also set up in a way that best presents the rendered image.
There is no set process duration for this step as it’s highly dependent on the complexity of the project and the image quality the client wants to achieve.
Step 4: Post-Production
Shadows, lighting, texture and other effects are edited through videos and graphic processors in this step to achieve the photorealistic look that the client and the artist are after. Photos of trees, cars, and even pedestrians are added to the still 3D rendered shot to give it busy scenery feel.
Step 5: Delivery
The final product is delivered to the customer. The artist’s feeling accomplished and the client’s satisfied with the output. Happy days for everyone!
Ending the Confusion: 3D Modelling vs 3D Rendering
It’s easy to see why some people often mix-up 3D modelling and 3D rendering, which is especially true for non-technical people. Just remember that the two are different stages in the 3D visualisation process and it will be easier to tell them apart. While 3D modelling is the process of creating the wireframe or shell of the design, 3D rendering is the subsequent process of converting that 3D model into a high-quality and photo realistic image, video or animation. In short, 3D rendering gives life to any 3D models and shows what they look like in the real world.
To make it easier to remember, we’ve created a simple table on their purposes below:
How to tell them apart?
1. The end results are different
Think of it as creating a box. 3D modelling is the process of making the box itself, while 3D rendering is the art of presenting it in a way to make it look real. Basically, the former is the geometric representation of an object and the shell or wireframe that an artist works on and the latter is adding the effects, background and lighting to complete its look.
2. 3D rendering is impossible without a 3D model
3D models are the skeletal structures for the object being rendered. Without it, creating photo realistic images is impossible. 3D rendering follows 3D modelling when creating CGIs and it’s the step in the visualisation process where the scene and the model are set up in 3D space. Lighting and textures are customised and cameras are set up to present the model the way the artist wants to. More often than not, the results are indistinguishable from photos and it’s hard to tell the 3D model from real ones apart.
3. Different tools are used
The software and the techniques used to create 3D models and render images are also different. 3D models are delivered as CAD files, while 3D renders use more specific and specialised programs to do.
4. 3D models can be reused
As mentioned before, 3D models are the shell for any 3D rendering project. They can be used to render different settings, lightings and backgrounds. It’s also the perfect tool to have when rendering lifestyle images, which can be very handy if you’re designing and releasing catalogues regularly. Designers love it because it allows them to explore a variety of designs and colour options, with just one default 3D model.
5. Different applications
3D models are used in different applications, besides architectural visualisation. A perfect example would be CNC machines, which use 3D models to create computer-generated metal designs. 3D renderings on the other hand, are mostly used for marketing materials and presentation, and creating visual effects for animations, games and films.
3D Modelling Software
Creating designs with a reliable 3D modelling software makes a huge difference in a graphic designer’s life. It allows them to create illustrations and mockups, expand their portfolio, and make it compelling to their clients.
There are just so many 3D modelling software to choose from out there, it can be overwhelming especially if you’re just starting to learn. As long as you know what you want to get out of it, it will be easier to narrow down your list and choose the most suitable one for your needs.
Below are three of the most popular 3D modelling software:
1. 3DS Max
3DS Max is your all around software because you can create 3D models with it, and do animation and rendering after, making it the perfect tool for design visualisation and game programming.
This software is one of Autodesk’s products and is part of their engineering, construction, and architecture collection. It’s one of the most useful software when it comes to designing buildings, and planning infrastructure and construction. It’s also popular with professionals in the film industries, game designer and visual effects artists, because it’s easy to use and the features are just amazing.
Sketchup (formerly known as Google Sketchup) is one of the popular choices when it comes to different drawing applications such as interior design, engineering, video game, film, and architecture.
It’s easy to use and palettes are customisable, which many graphic designers love. It also has built-in features like texturing, lighting effects, animations, and layer managers. There’s also a free version via Freeware and is great if you’re still getting the hang of 3D modelling.
Where does 3D Rendering go from here?
We’ve progressed so much the past few years and we see 3D rendering evolving and transforming Virtual Reality that we know of today. Remember the days when VR was only seen in sci-fi movies? Well, with today’s technology, it’s been integrated with gaming and architecture, and we see it progressing into something bigger.
Designers and architects make the most out of VR technology by using it to create 3D representations of their projects and immerse their clients into an almost realistic experience. While interactive 3D presentations are great, putting on a device and allowing your sense to experience realistic sounds and imagery is the true game-changer.
Architectural and 3D rendering in Sydney, animation and VR trajectories are constantly changing and there’s no saying what’s there to come in the next decade or so. For now, let’s enjoy the endless possibilities offered by this technology and cross the bridge when we get there.