3D rendering is rapidly becoming an essential part of how we do business. Using 3D models in place of other design methods such as 2D sketches and physical mock-ups is faster, more efficient, and increasingly more cost-effective. It makes changing things as simple as a few clicks of a button.
3D rendering services can be found working in almost every industry, making it one of the most versatile options in the market. The next time you see advertising on a billboard or purchase a new product from the store, take a closer look. 3D rendering was probably part of its production.
What Is 3D Rendering?
Even if you’re not familiar with the term 3D rendering, you have probably seen it in action. 3D rendering is used to make animated movies such as Toy Story, realistic dragons in otherwise real movies, and the characters in most video games.
While you may not have seen the 3D works directly, there’s also a good chance that 3D rendering was involved in the interior design of that furnished apartment you rented, or in the gorgeous architecture of a modern building. Even the new coffeemaker you bought at the store may have started out as a 3D model, testing out appearances and parts long before it became a physical object that brings piping hot coffee to the world.
3D rendering at its core is the process of creating a 3D image by using computer software that produces the necessary data. Computers usually use a series of lines or a mesh to depict the image, and detail is added until it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish between the 3D render and a photograph of a real object.
How 3D Rendering Got Its Start
3D rendering got its beginning with the help of three people. Their names were Ivan Sutherland, Ed Catmull, and Martin Newell. All of these people helped to shape the process of rendering we know today and had a big impact on the world. Each of them played a very different but no less important part in the creation of 3D rendering as we know it today.
- Ivan Sutherland
Ivan Sutherland is the creator of Sketchpad, the first software specifically designed to create 3D objects. He created the program for his Ph.D. thesis and received the Turing Award and Kyoto Prize for it. His efforts changed how people interacted with computers and made everything we have done with 3D rendering since possible.
- Ed Catmull
While Ivan Sutherland may have created 3D objects, Ed Catmull refined this, bringing 3D rendering itself into the world. He discovered how to perform texture mapping, bicubic patches, and created algorithms for spatial anti-aliasing as well as refining subdivision surfaces. He also discovered z-buffering on his own, although a different computer scientist beat him to being the first by less than a year.
If all that was not enough, he was the first to animate and render a 3D model – his left hand – and the animation was later used in the 1976 movie, Futureworld. Today, he is still active in the industry as the president of both Disney and Pixar.
- Martin Newell
Another pioneer in rendering is Martin Newell. He is the creator of the “Utah Teapot,” which is a 3D render that features several difficult details such as appearing solid, cylindrical, and partially convex. Today, a teapot is used as a rendering exercise for new artists, because it features all the necessary challenges to help you get started without being too complicated.
Together, these three men are responsible for much of the amazing work we see today in 3D rendering and have helped to shape the future of the industry.
How 3D Renders are Created
3D rendering isn’t as simple as filling out a form and waiting for a product. It takes a great deal of talent and effort to go from a mere idea to a finished product. Here is the process in a nutshell:
- Concept Phase
The process starts with a client submitting their idea to the artist. The artist will ask for as many details as possible in order to help them understand what the customer wants, including as many visual references as possible. Visual references could include photos, drawings, mood boards, or any number of other items to help them get an idea of what it is they are creating. When they have enough details to know what to create, they will move onto the next phase.
- 3D Modeling Phase
Before 3D rendering can occur, there needs to be a 3D model as a base. This 3D model is a rough combination of geometric shapes, without any special details.
- 3D Rendering
With computer assistance, the artist will add in the details that make a 3D render come alive. Shadows, lighting, and texture all play a part in the process.
- Delivering the Finished Product
The 3D rendering will be shown to the client. If any changes need to be made, the product will go back for quick fixes, and the process will continue until the client is happy. When every detail is perfect, the project is complete.
If you’re interested in using 3D rendering in your own business, here are several different 3D rendering services and how you can use them for your own benefit.
These renders are becoming very popular in offices across the country. Architects can use 3D rendering software at almost every stage of planning, helping them to spot potential problems early, make changes easier, and make buildings safer and more pleasant to be in.
Some software is even cloud-based, which can help speed up the design process for a team by allowing quick communication and keeping all team members updated on any changes automatically.
Just like buildings can be designed with a 3D model, so can interior design. 3D renders can help your clients visualize how their space will look in ways that a simple 2D sketch and some swatches of cloth simply can’t. Not everyone has the ability to take a description made by someone else and then imagine it in a real area. A 3D render makes this possible by letting them tour their new décor up close and personal.
3D rendering is particularly good because if the client doesn’t like what they see and wants changes, the freelance interior designer can make changes easily.
3D renderings are a cheap and efficient way to explore the concept of a new product without having to go to the expense of making it. While mock-ups will still be a necessary part of getting a product ready for manufacturing, having a 3D render can be essential in helping to sell the idea to investors as well as smooth out any problems before money and materials are wasted on a mock-up.
Just a few years ago, medical devices were limited in what they could do. A person who needed a new prosthesis would be fitted for a mass-produced limb, and that limb would then be custom fit to the person’s body. There were limits to how well the skin tone might match, or even if it would look like a limb at all. At best, the person with the new limb could hope for a comfortable fit, and not much more.
Today, new medical device design is improving all the time. 3D rendering can add details to a limb so it exactly matches the patient, and the whole thing can be 3D printed specially for the patient. These new capabilities are especially important for facial prosthesis, helping patients to have more confidence in their appearance.
Types of Rendering
- Real-Time Rendering
Think back to the last video game you played with a 3D character. As you played and interacted with the screen, the character appeared to move and jump around the screen as if they were a real person. They reacted so quickly to the things you asked the character to do, such as walk around or jump up and down, that the animation appeared to be happening in real time. Real-time rendering is produced through a three-part process, the application stage, the geometry stage, and the rasterizing stage. These are the parts of the process the computer needs to go through in order to display the 3D objects that have been created. The results are breathtaking, and some of the most modern architectural agencies have started using them to show their clients a sample of their building using real-time rendering. Imagine being given a game controller and being allowed to wander freely through a future business office before the foundation has even been put in place. This is the most lifelike form of rendering, but it isn’t the only option.
- Offline Pre-Rendering
Some types of rendering are too slow to be real time. These renders are not interactive but are often much better looking than real-time renders because they can handle much more complex geometry. This can mean hours by frame to render, but the result is much more spectacular in terms of appearance.
Different Techniques of Rendering
Z-buffering is the other word for depth buffering. Z-buffering is used to help the computer determine whether an object will be visible in a scene, or whether it will be out of view.
- Ray casting
Ray casting is easiest to understand by thinking of a ray of sunlight. The light continues onward until it hits an object, at which point it is either reflected, refracted, or absorbed. Ray casting uses this concept to trace the path from the eye to the nearest object.
Radiosity creates 3D images by taking a detailed look at light reflection and making that the main focus of the 3D rendering. It’s especially useful on objects that naturally reflect light a lot.
Offline renders will typically use a combination of several different rendering techniques in order to make the highest quality image. Intuitive software can help combine these rendering techniques for a 3D render that is truly beautiful.
How These Renders Can Be Used
We’ve already talked about the different industries that 3D rendering can be used for, but it’s also interesting to take a look at what ways it can be applied. Just like 3D rendering can be used in different ways, such as for the medical industry or for construction, it can also give the end user very different experiences. Here are just a few:
Flythroughs and Walkthroughs
These allow the customer to either walk through the interior of the building as if they were actually there, and 3D flythroughs offer the same but include the exterior of the building. These add a degree of polish to your presentation and can make the experience of viewing samples more enjoyable for the customer. Since the customer is often putting down thousands or millions on a project, this simple change can reap big dividends for technically savvy offices.
Augmented Reality and 360 Viewing
Even more advanced than flythroughs and walkthroughs is using immersive technology such as augmented reality to make the experience even more real. Augmented reality and 360 viewing allow customers to view a potential project as if they are really there, using special headsets and renders specifically designed for this style of viewing.
Renders can be put together to do small animated clips, such as moving through a house, rotating a product so it can be seen from all angles, or demonstrating the use of new potential technologies. Animations can be a great way to help secure funding for new products as well as giving customers a clear view of where their money is going.
3D renders can also help troubleshoot problems in your product well before you get to the manufacturing stage. It’s better to learn with the 3D render that the battery access panel might be difficult to open, or that it simply doesn’t look as attractive as you imagined it. With thousands or even millions on the line every time you mass produce a product, taking the time to look at the product through 3D rendering before you create it can save you from disaster.
These are the main uses for 3D rendering. Nearly every industry has a way to use these services in order to help them be successful and get a jump on the competition.
Understanding the Difference between 3D Modeling Services and 3D Rendering Services
3D modeling and 3D rendering are not the same thing. This is a detail many clients don’t quite understand until they start looking for appropriate services. In order to understand the difference, it is helpful to take a look at what both are in a nutshell.
All renders stem from 3D models. You can’t have a 3D render without a 3D model. These 3D models are like a rough draft of the render, with the model being represented as flat geometric shapes. They are put together at different angles to create a rough representation of the shape desired in 3D dimensional shape.
Once the 3D model is complete, it is ready for rendering. Artists take this rough shape and begin adding details to it, such as texture to make the objects look fuzzy or sleek, depending on the surface. Light sources will be added to give it depth and shadow. Different surfaces will be applied, and other adjustments made, until the 3D model looks like the finished piece instead of the rough draft it was.
The process of adding these details is the actual rendering. It takes a talented artist to be able to make all these changes, as well as a detailed understanding of several different programs in order to make the render come alive.
If you’re looking for 3D rendering help with a project, regardless of what industry you’re in, Cad Crowd can help. We have a network of freelance CAD designers and 3D modeling experts who not only create expert renders, but models too. If you’re interested in getting a free quote, contact us today!