What is 3D rendering? (and why use it)

In 1960, William Fetter needed to simulate the space required in a cockpit. For this, he created the representation of a pilot, becoming the first person to create a 3D model of a human creature. Three years later, Ivan Sutherland, known today as the Father of Computer Graphics, developed Sketchpad, the first 3D modeling software.

In the 1970s, researcher Martin Newell created a 3D test model that became a standard rendering. Called the “Utah Teapot”, the teapot (also named Newell Teapot) has become iconic in the field.

Since then, there have been many advances in the field of computer graphics. Today we can see images so perfect that they make us wonder if what we’re looking at is an actual photo of the object or if its an image created on a computer.

What is 3D rendering?

3D rendering is the process involved in generating a three-dimensional image using computer software. For this, data from an engineering file (CAD file) or specifications of a physical product are used.

The rendering process takes place within a software that calculates light, color, shadows, and texture to create precise and highly detailed photorealistic 3D images. Therefore, a 3D rendered image is perfect, which is why it can be difficult (and sometimes impossible) to distinguish its difference from a photograph.

Since its beginning in 1960, until today, several rendering techniques have been developed. However, the objective remains the same: to create an image with as much realism as possible.

To make things a little bit clearer, as we mentioned in this article, the technique is mainly used in architectural projects, video games, animated films, simulators, special effects, design visualization, and advertising and marketing materials (as in images and videos). It is also widely used for the visualization and study of prototypes.

As you can see, 3D modeling and rendering is highly flexible, which means that you can create a 3D rendering of just about anything.

How does the 3D rendering process work?

Now that you know what 3D rendering is, we need to understand how the process works. Since everything is very technical, we will try to explain it in a simple and summarized way.

To start, the 3D artist needs to understand the project, know what the client expects, and what his goals are. Once that’s defined, the artist uses sketches and reference images provided by the client as a starting point.

With the reference images and the necessary data, the next stage is 3D modeling, a stage in which the artist uses specialized software to create a digital model. The artist then applies different features to the models to make them as realistic as possible. It is at this stage that he defines, for example, whether something in the image will be matte or shiny, how rough the surfaces will be, among other parameters.

The lighting configuration in a 3D scene is also important, and it must replicate the lighting of the real world. This process is very similar to that of a photographer who needs to check the lighting before shooting. The difference is that the 3D artist has to configure lighting parameters in a virtual environment.

Finally, the computer program generates the image (similar to the moment when a photographer takes a photo in the physical world).

What are the benefits of 3D rendering?

Now that you know what 3D rendering is and how the process works, you must be asking yourself “why render?”.

In other InSights articles that we’ve published, we talked about the advantages of rendering, that included the ability to:

  • Have access to everything from sophisticated objects to exotic locations, perfect landscaping and scenes
  • Not having to depend on having the physical product at hand to make marketing materials
  • Show your product where you want and the way you want, that is, on top of a mountain, in another country, at the bottom of the sea or in different colors and styles
  • Create the impossible, be it specific settings or even other objects
  • Change your mind or adjust the lighting without having to set up another photoshoot;
  • Generate more engagement
  • Publish the material in almost any type of media you can think of (product packaging, catalogs, print ads, fairs, videos, billboards, etc.).

In addition to what was mentioned another great benefit is that 3D rendering eliminates the need to spend time and money on photo shoots and everything involved in a photoshoot (i.e building a set or renting a studio).

Do you still have questions about 3D renderings?

If you’d like to learn more, here are to articles that you’ll enjoy:

‘Till next time!

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