A PHOTOREALISTIC RENDERING WORTHY OF THIS NAME IS A BALANCE OF LIGHT, MATERIALS, PERSPECTIVE, AND COMPOSITION.
Rendering in a contemporary, classic, deco style
Contemporary style in photorealistic rendering
The contemporary style is perhaps, among the styles of furniture, the one that can best represent the results of a good photorealistic rendering. And it could not be otherwise if you think of the contiguity of contemporary style with minimalism. Its main objective is the functionality of the furnishing elements, together with sober and clean lines. A style based on the transparency of the glass and the brightness of the white. All this, eliminating the superfluous, thus following the canons of decluttering, to embrace essentiality without delay.
Alongside white, the contemporary furnishing style can accommodate contrasts, letting the white of the walls of a living room be balanced in an important, but not the intrusive way, by the black of a steel or wooden frame, to give a little depth. Or embellishing the kitchen with the solid wood of the table.
3D modeling and classic style
3D modeling can follow the dictates of the classic style. Clear and more than recognizable dictates. The wood does not require coloring, it is left in its naturalness. Wall colors should be neutral and heating systems should not be visible or, even worse, stand out to the eye. Better to hide them in furniture or walls. The technology, or appliances, should not be exhibited, it is limited to having only the indispensable.
The classic style of furniture is not rigid at all and can include other styles, such as rustic, liberty, and baroque. What matters in this style is the beauty which, unlike what happens in the contemporary style, is placed in the foreground concerning functionality. The classic coverings for the floors are represented by parquet, ceramic and terracotta, stone, marble, and granite. The furnishings include the use of stone and glass, solid wood, and wrought iron.
The colors of the classic style can still become more important and warm: camel, antique pink, ivory, caramel, and powder blue. Up to and including grays and blacks.
Deco style and CG-Imagery
The images created in computer graphics blend with the deco style. Art deco has a very specific date and place of birth: Paris, 1925. One of style, not just of furniture, born during the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes.
Also born as a continuation of the Art Noveau, the deco style abandons the expressive excesses of its predecessor and embraces more geometric lines. The floral patterns of the Art Noveau are now stylized, Egyptian, pre-Columbian, and Chinese cultures are a reference, and the furnishings become anomalies. Geometry and bold are two essential words for this style.
The woods favored by the déco imaginary are precious, they enhance the elements of the furniture carved from mahogany, rosewood, and ebony, to name just a few. The tables are often covered in leather and have straight and simple legs. Sometimes they are veneered in marble as if to confer a domestic monumentality.
Photorealistic rendering can be all of this: modern, classic, and or déco. The same environment can go through decades of furnishing styles, and interior design, before being displayed on the client’s screen.
Photorealistic rendering or home staging?
Home staging, what is it?
Home staging, let’s start with a definition: it is the ability to make a living or working place that has not yet been lived alive and lived. The art, we could say, of giving life to something not yet animated. And what is the goal of home staging? Make the buyer feel at home … who has not yet purchased the property. With this practice, the home stager, and the company he works for, stage what will happen once the property has owners, with their specific identities and tastes.
A staging then. But a professional staging that belongs in full to real estate marketing. A staging, to close this definition properly, through which empty spaces can be evaluated by the buyer not only in their potential but already as if they were inhabited.
Home staging and photorealistic render
And what do photorealistic rendering and home staging have in common? Much. Certainly a good series of objectives, among which the presentation and enhancement of an interior stand out. Home staging then shares the interest and enhancement of details with 3D rendering: fabrics, carpets, pillows and quilts, paintings and chandeliers, and lighting (and lighting technology).
These two professionals were born a few years apart from each other – home staging was invented by Barb Schwarz in the early 70s of the last century, rendering dates back to the 60s, thanks to the SketchPad software created in 1963. by Ivan Sutherland, at MIT – so it took them little time to see their paths cross and walk an important stretch of road together. Setting up residential and professional interiors just as if the client were on a stage. A stage on which a day of life, personal or work, was staged for him: this is the point of union between the renderer and the home stager.
Home staging, as well as photorealistic rendering, also designs sets of interiors for activities open to the public such as bars, restaurants, professional studios, and offices.
Advantages of home staging
Combined with 3D rendering, home staging seems to amplify specificity and benefits. Since in the vast majority of cases the first glance at a property is given online, home staging seems to be almost obliged to turn to render. For several reasons:
- Photomontage It is precise with rendering that environments can be integrated with furniture and furnishing accessories thanks to photoing insertion, with which it is no longer necessary to set up a move, moreover temporary. It will be sufficient to rely on the most popular software libraries for 3D modeling. Preparing a property for sale will appear less complex;
- Targeting & Buyer Personas Home staging and 3D rendering allow, with a work of synergy, to diversify the presentation for multiple buyer personas, or to customers different from each other in terms of spending capacity and intended use of the proposed property. With the same rooms and square footage, the property set can be adapted to market demands with greater agility;
- Estate Agents They are perhaps among the biggest beneficiaries, after the buyers of the combination of home staging and photorealistic renderings. With a truly negligible increase in the final cost of sale (this is a 5% increase compared to property without staging), but with a net gain in performance and time, real estate agencies have long understood how investment in home staging and rendering is an almost obligatory step;
- Buyer Last but not least! Anyone who has the intention, and possibility, to buy a property has to do is surf the net, intercept the properties for sale and start their Virtual Tour. Thanks to the good offices of photorealistic rendering, a CG Imagery professional can create panoramic photographs, which the potential buyer will “visit” from their screen.
Photorealistic rendering and interior design
3D modeling and interior design
Interior design, or interior design, is currently one of the main and most fruitful fields of application of photorealistic architectural rendering. And it is not difficult to understand why: cost reduction, speed in the execution of a furniture project conceived by the professional or imagined by the client’s creativity, and the possibility of testing multiple furnishing solutions in materials, shapes, and lighting solutions. Photographic rendering is a real set within reach of the screen. On this set the renderer projects solutions for the renovation of an apartment, illustrating to the customer how to enhance the living room or the corridor that gives access to the sleeping area of the house.
The initial project does not matter: plan in two dimensions or, in many cases now, a 3D model as a starting point, a renderer who knows how to work can offer his client a design solution that enhances the presentation of a product (a bed or a sofa) or a service area (the meeting room of the new office or the waiting room of a notary’s office).
Interior architecture and furnishings
Interior architecture, a more technical term that defines interior design, is based on two qualities that a renderer must possess: listening skills and technical skills. In this post, it is interesting to deepen the first aspect. The choice of the general atmosphere of an environment to be designed, the colors on which to spread the light, the fabrics that surround the decor, and the furniture themselves. It is thanks to these elements that 3D modeling acquires shapes and depth; it is thanks to the sensitivity of the renderer that the photorealistic rendering will give the inhabitant of the space the experience designed by the client.
In conclusion, photorealistic rendering and interior design meet in the optimization of spaces, in the choice of furniture in the most suitable colors and style (from classic to contemporary, passing through rustic chic). Through photorealistic rendering, the interior architecture ensures that a narrow space gains height through the insertion of a staircase in the furniture. Another way to optimize space is to place the bed on top of a walk-in closet. On the contrary, finally, large spaces can be scanned by inserting a walk-in closet as a divider.
From Computer-Generated Imagery to Virtual Tour
It is now a short step from a single room to the entire apartment. And if a renderer proves capable of developing aloft, he must certainly be able to design an entire housing structure or solutions for work environments. And here we come from a computer-generated image to the real Virtual Tour. The Virtual Tour is a possibility that the real estate sector is investigating and applying in an increasingly decisive and profitable way. This virtual tour is based on a 360-degree panoramic photograph, using which the client can explore the places designed by the designer.
The enrichment of the observer’s experience through a high level of interactivity, a longer period than an analog visit, with the possibility of integrating graphic elements such as subtitles, animated information sheets in post-production, creating one or more itineraries interior of the designed place. These are the main advantages of the Virtual Tour. Advantages followed by others are equally important: the client and the end customer can evaluate the spaces at any time of the day, dwelling for as long as they deem necessary on details that would otherwise escape attention: the reflections of the mahogany of a wall unit on the wall of your video library, the porosity of the terracotta vase that houses a white lily.
As you have already seen from the previous contributions in this blog, photorealistic rendering benefits from considerable flexibility and has potential that is just waiting to be developed.
Photorealistic rendering services
What is rendering service,?
A rendering service is the graphic rendering of a project, design, or product, often not yet realized. To take care of the realization of the service is a professional, who responds to the name of the renderer. A rendering service consists of several steps that can be summarized as follows: a draft, in the form of a hand drawing or plan, modeling, to create a preview for the customer, and finally the final version in high resolution, usually between 2K and 4k, thanks to the use of a dedicated render engine.
A photorealistic rendering service does not exhaust its purpose by replacing photography, analog or digital, it doesn’t matter. A 3D rendering can be adopted to operate photo insertions: a building already built, for example, a railway station, can be integrated with a garden, and the engineering firms who want to present their project, to eventually win the tender, thanks to photo insertion they can illustrate their project with immediacy and communicative effectiveness.
What is photorealistic rendering for
A 3D rendering service, which in any case has a significant share of photorealism, fulfills various professional and more broadly communicative objectives. First of all, it allows you to save time and money in the presentation of a project or product and, in the case of the latter, it ensures that the designer is not forced to commission expensive prototypes.
A private client, therefore a person who does not work in the real estate sector or design, can also have the furnishing solutions (colors, style of furniture, curtains, furnishing accessories) under his eyes and evaluate in total serenity the choice that the more he feels it suits his personality. Without forgetting how offices, shops, bars, and more generally any place aimed at the public, which needed an important and sometimes demolishing redesign, see valid support in photorealistic 3D rendering.
Thanks to texture mapping, the renderer is then able to achieve an extremely refined level of detail: the surfaces of interiors and furnishings, down to the individual elements that make up the furniture itself, will enjoy the ability to arouse an immersive experience. From here to the virtual tour, the step is short.
Render: meaning of a digital practice
3D rendering has a very specific, unique technical meaning. It is the creation of an extremely realistic image based on a three-dimensional model elaborated on a computer. Computer-Generated Imagery is a tool that allows you to visit a museum that has not yet been built or a monument. Through a photo insertion, a client gains significant margins of advantage to illustrate the final idea of the agreed project to his client.
On a broader level, 3D rendering has even broader fields of application. Just think of the communication and marketing potential represented by 3D animations applied to augmented reality or virtual reality. From a photographic or filming set to the screen of your computer or mobile phone, the step is now very short.
Design and architecture with 3D rendering
3D rendering for architecture and design
In the last decade, 3D rendering has established itself as one of the most effective standards in multiple sectors: architecture and design at the forefront. Design, for an architect, and more generally for a design professional, takes advantage of some distinctive traits that typically belong to photorealistic rendering.
Starting from a real photo, it is possible to perform a photo insertion, to further specify the contours of a project. Especially in cases where the rendering is used to evaluate choices of environmental impact. A construction company, to give a second example, has the possibility of illustrating the potential of a project to customers, to make the properties more attractive to the market.
The real estate sector, as just exemplified, certainly benefits from photorealistic rendering, but we cannot forget residential architecture, and specifically private, commercial, and public architecture. Architects and designers are now the first to know how essential the work of a renderer is in producing photorealistic images, should they want to win a tender.
Photorealism at the service of design
Together with the architect, o the designer is a second profession that should take into account the advantages of photorealistic rendering. First of all, because the distance between professional and client is shortened, and secondly because the experience, the use of a rendered image is immersive, if not emotional.
Which designers are we referring to? A two specific. To the interior designer, who, thanks to rendering, finally has the opportunity to present a more immediate, flexible project and in any case susceptible to further specifications by the end customer. But let’s now specify the figure of the product designer, who sees a vertical reduction in the costs of presenting the project to his client and, if the design of several products or an entire line is at stake, here is the construction of a catalog business takes place with greater speed and precision.
Modeling and interior design
3D modeling and design, in this last step we specifically mean interior design, could also be considered close relatives. If not for reasons of affection, certainly for reasons of expense: a lighting setup has significantly reduced costs if made by the radiosity algorithm, compared to a real set of lights.
Not to mention the style of the furniture. Going from classic to modern, from shabby chic to deco will be a less complex choice to manage. More freedom, more satisfaction. If you want a concrete example of the versatility of photorealistic rendering, write the keywords “deco style” on Google and try to distinguish photographs and rendered images in the search results. The photorealistic rendering contributes to a significant qualitative increase of the three-dimensional image: details and details of the interiors gain in details and details.
Loft, kitchen, home staging, or even just for study purposes, rendering seems to have no limits in its fields of application. The most recent chronicle is a demonstration of this. Following the necessary contraction of activities and public meetings, the real estate sector has found valid support in rendering. The practice of the virtual tour allows the customer to digitally visit the building, the property, and the apartment that he would like to buy without necessarily having to move from his home.
Thanks to 3D solutions, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will become a must-have for those who want to buy and sell housing and professional solutions with as much ease as possible.
How photorealistic renderings are made
The realization of photorealistic rendering
To create renderings that have the characteristics of a photograph, and that reflect the features of a self-respecting photorealistic rendering, it is necessary first of all to start from a valid 3D modeling. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a simple hand-drawn drawing, a photo or a 3D drawing, or a plant. The fundamental aspect is that the professional compares with the client to have a more complete and accurate picture of the project that he has to carry out.
Of course, as we will see in the next paragraph, a good renderer does not have to aim for perfection, instead, he needs to faithfully reproduce surfaces, incidences of light, and objects that inhabit the places modeled. The professional also needs to understand in which context the photorealistic rendering should be developed and, above all, which emotion should be dominant.
Still, in terms of production, the renderer must take care of other aspects of the composition he is called upon to create: the scene in its entirety, the materials present within the scene and the most suitable perspective. Photographic or plant model, context, composition, light, surfaces, and emotions; all these elements converge in a preview, which the renderer submits to the client.
When the client has approved the work, or when the professional adopts the shooting adjustments requested by the client, the image can be returned to the computer for the final rendering: a high definition image. The image passes through post-production and is then passed through an image editor. The yield has been optimized.
But a renderer knows that a great job trying to overcome reality can be risky. So here are some tricks to get a photorealistic rendering worthy of the name.
Tricks for a state of the art rendering
- Modeling It is important to repeat this first step because without good modeling the final render will have a long and bumpy road, it will suffer several stops before reaching the milestone of delivery to the customer and high resolution. Therefore, starting from a drawing, a photo, or a plant, the model that will be created must already include furniture and furnishing accessories inside.
- Texture An Italian translation of the word texture would sound like a surface. The texture is therefore the surface, even better the set of surfaces that make up the rendered image. The care of the texture is a value that establishes the quality of a renderer’s work. 2K, up to 4K, represents in this sense an indispensable standard. The texture is not given once and for all. For a rendering to be photorealistic the 3D software must receive information on the shape of the objects present in the composition. This activity, which is called texture mapping, makes the texture adapt to the object.
- Light In the beginning, in rendering, it is light. This variable more than any other determines the photorealism that every renderer should strive for. Without light, there is no photorealism. Without photorealism, it would be difficult to arouse emotions. Furthermore, the rendered image would be devoid of visual storytelling, one of the main reasons why rendering should be taken into consideration. Sunlight or artificial light, a good rendering engine has an algorithm called radiosity, or global illumination, which takes the time to calculate how and where light the will bounce off surfaces.
Photorealism for interiors, products, and, advertising
In the image you can see at the beginning of the paragraph, you will find an evident example of what I have tried to tell you so far. A photorealistic rendering of interiors that I created following each step was described moment by moment.
To achieve realistic renderings, you need very accurate modeling, develop textures and materials, real light, and a truthful composition that makes you understand immediately and impact what you want to visualize. We will now explain all these points in detail.
Modeling is the first fundamental point when you want to create a 3D scene. It is the most complex part as you have to create the 3d model piece by piece as if it were a lego. The more details we add to a model, the more truthful the scene will be. Modeling is the process by which the renderer creates the 3d model through sketches, or a plan or elevation. This is the most laborious and time-consuming process and of course, it depends on what needs to be done. If it is a building, a hotel, or a kitchen, times change considerably. I think that in addition to creating the scene, the 3d model must be filled with a whole series of objects as if it were the reality we are creating. For example, if we model a bathroom and make only the wrapping but for example, we do not put the bathroom fixtures or the mirror or the towels, we do not give the feeling that it is a bathroom. Because a good rendering starts from good modeling of objects and furnishings.
Textures and materials
Another element that dominates the success of a good photorealistic rendering is the care of the materials. Regarding this area, we could talk for hours as it is a long and laborious subject. Let’s start by saying a fundamental rule: the textures must be of high quality and with a high resolution (2k or even better 4K).
This is because once applied to the 3D model, the texture will not be repeated and therefore the photo (texture) will be perfectly spread on the 3D object.
To “spread” the texture perfectly, you must first do the texture mapping. Texture mapping is nothing more than informing the 3d software what kind of object is a cube, a cylinder, etc. according to the type of object, the texture will be uniform to the object itself as if it were skin.
On the other hand, as regards the materials, we generally say that there are 2 large families:
1. Shaders: which are parametric materials
2. Traditional materials. As far as traditional materials are concerned, we can say that to represent glass, for example, we need to indicate transparency, reflection, the IOR Code (refractive index), and specular. Below you can see an example.
The materials, thinking about it for a second, are the elements that we acquire to represent reality. The more precise and accurate they are, the more real the rendering will be like a photograph.
The Light: The form that gives expression to the rendering
To make a good render or an excellent render it is light. The more the light is faithful to reality, the more the rendering will be truthful and will convey emotions.
For example: what makes the image authentic is precisely the right combination of different 3D rendering techniques for interiors.
First of all, the most striking element is the sunlight, which passes through the window, “hitting” and filters the light inside the bathroom. This feature is the focal point of the image, which draws the visitor’s attention. To do this now all rendering engines have an algorithm called global illumination or radiosity. This algorithm calculates the direct and indirect light bounces within the 3d scene. This algorithm is very laborious in terms of processing but in terms of rendering, it is very powerful and truthful. It is slow as it calculates the rebounds of the single sources that will hit the surfaces of the scene. The light can be either solar or artificial.
The latter lose their saturation as the sunlight defines them, thus creating an authentic and original touch, giving greater realism to the image.
To create photorealistic renderings you have to imagine taking a real photo to create a realistic render.
Now, with these considerations in mind, take a look at the image below and how the lights, materials, and focal points contribute to making this rendering beautiful to look at.
Do you want to create a beautiful interior? Pay attention to the Light.
The human eye in combination with the brain can separate the near authenticity from the real, through tiny visual inaccuracies. The eye can adapt to any light shade: it does not matter whether it is the light yellow color of incandescent bulbs or the dull green of fluorescent ones. When the lighting of the scene changes, the human eye reacts and notices the difference. He observes the following two images, made with a different lighting strategy, trying to understand which of the two is closest to reality.
Often the difference between a well-lit room and a substandard room is between night and day. This is because, without good lighting, the image loses depth and the atmospheric qualities that the light provides.
For this reason, lighting is one of the most important things that can be learned.
Through a smart lighting strategy, the colors in your render will appear fresh and clean. The shadows will come from more natural directions and will disperse organically, without the need to adjust the white balance or exposure in post-production.
To get lighting like this, the first thing to remember is that good lighting depends on the shadows and vice versa. For example, without shadows, it is almost impossible to determine the geometry of a scene because they too form the light and draw attention to it.
The tonal range is another important factor and refers to the distance between “pure” white and pure black. A rendering worthy of the name will have a uniform range between points of light and shadow.
When your 3D rendered model shows a somewhat flat and two-dimensional scene, the problem may be the range of shades between the points of light and shadow.
Tips on how to brighten your photorealistic rendering
Obtaining realistic lighting is often the major goal of many architects and designers. The problem with photorealism is that sometimes it’s not very interesting; for this, a good rendering must, first of all, show a place where the viewer would like to go.
Rendering of an interior design
Three-point lighting is particularly effective when focusing on an object. Interior scenes, which do not have a specific object, can still benefit from this technique. Instead of using light beams, which produce a direct beam of light, it is right to consider other lighting modes as well:
- The sun: it is soft and non-directional lighting, which allows the light to fall evenly over the entire scene.
- Zone lights: these are lights emitted from a large area, which can be represented by a light bulb or fluorescent lights, which enter through a window.
- Linear lights: they are lights that make the lighting uniform.
- OmniLights: is the light emitted in all directions from a single source. It is useful for fill lighting.
In addition, it is also possible to achieve a relaxing and romantic atmosphere in a living room, using a combination of spotlights and area lights and since shadows play an important role in realism, it is right to make sure to modify this parameter too.
Interior rendering of a city apartment
Some useful tips on lighting for interior scenes are:
- Use of natural colors for the materials, so that the light reflections are more precise and consistent with the surfaces. For this, it is useful that they are not too saturated or too close to white or black.
- Division of the interior scene into different areas with different qualities of light, for captivating lighting.
- In determining the lighting settings, it is necessary to consider the isolation of a single (or more) light, to know exactly how it contributes to the lighting and shadows present in the scene.
Through a controlled use of light and materials, it is possible to develop an elegant environment, which gives the interior scene its geometry and liveliness.
Enhance renderings with materials and details
The materials, textures, and objects in your scene are just as important as the lighting. If you aim for a photorealistic effect, you need to enhance the quality and realism of your materials, such as floors, walls, and ceilings. In general, you need to look for material or texture that is so realistic that you imagine it as such.
The following rendering is effective as it uses the right materials and the right textures, which are reproduced realistically, creating an impactful scene.
While high-quality textures and materials are essential, to create a great rendering, you also need to consider how the materials interact with each other and with the lighting effects. Balance is everything.
Having a library of high-quality materials available when building your render makes it easier and faster to create effective details. There is a large library of materials in 3ds Max, all of which are editable for sheen, reflections, and more. The update to 3ds max 2019 includes the addition of new materials and HD textures to the library.
High-quality materials are essential but must give the idea of being positioned in a “real” space. Paying attention to detail helps to promote realism and reduce the impression of creating a flat, computer-generated image.
For example, the imperfections of cushions, rugs, curtains, and blankets help to create a “lived”, “alive” look; thanks to the natural creases and ripples. One of the best ways to achieve photorealism in your renderings is to analyze real photographs, to notice these small details.
One of the reasons why this bedroom looks realistic and authentic is the size of the objects placed in the room. The scaling effect is often overlooked in 3D renderings, but it is important to determine the actual size of an object, in proportion to the surrounding space.
The photographic approach for the right photorealistic rendering
In addition to the light and the materials used, it is the perspective and the viewing angle used that increase or decrease the feeling that you have inside a space.
The position and angle of one’s point of view underline some elements within a scene. This emphasis also allows you to control the mood of a scene.
Another good tip is to simplify a scene. Very often an impactful and effective rendering is visibly simple.
For example, if you remove the depth of field, to use the focus on the flower, the result is decidedly different, as well as impactful.
The lines of your rendering are also crucial: by using a two-point perspective, it is possible to create a more realistic representation of 3D shapes on a 2D surface.
The example above shows a two-point perspective rendering. The same image, below, shows the effect without the two-point perspective.
The lines are incredibly effective, to create the right effect, which you also want to achieve thanks to the use of a focal point. The following rendering shows the impact that lines can have on an effective rendering:
The composition of your rendering does not have to be complicated: the image of the living room below demonstrates how simplicity is everything.
Also, don’t forget that what works for one rendering isn’t necessarily right for another. The key points that will influence the perception of those who observe a scene are certainly the angle of the camera, the focal point, and the position of the shot.
To achieve realistic rendering you need to think faithfully about reality and have a lot of patience and dedication. The realistic renderings once you understand the techniques at the beginning can be complicated but little by little you gain confidence and succeed very well.
A rendering is not necessarily defined as “beautiful” based on the 3D model. The beauty of a rendering is given, for the most part, by the attention to detail, the style, how the various elements combine, and the correct use of the effects. It is the sense of 3D space on a 2D image, captured effectively and precisely, that distinguishes a successful rendering from a less captivating one.
How to recognize a photorealistic rendering
Rendering, a definition
How can you recognize a photorealistic rendering? It is good to start from a definition to have clear and univocal outlines of what you are talking about. When you have before your eyes a three-dimensional image, obtained from a two-dimensional source using dedicated software, you are faced with a rendering. And if the image obtained by the rendering engine is particularly realistic in detail, light, and natural imperfections, the rendering can be defined as photorealistic.
Features of photorealistic rendering
Now we need to be clearer and more precise. The following is a list that illustrates and delves into the four distinctive characteristics of photorealistic rendering. The renderer’s work is not exhaustive, but certainly essential:
- The point of view of the observer. A point of view that can also be defined as a vanishing point, using which the two-dimensional source of the 3D rendering acquires depth, breadth, and breath.
- The needle of the balance, one could say, expresses the first impact of the environment;
- Lighting technology This is the discipline that the rendering professional adopts to calibrate and spread natural and artificial light on the environment. Lights are so important that they are divided into two categories: primary and secondary. The primaries can be the sun, a light bulb, or a spotlight and we will talk about distant, punctual, and directional lights respectively. You are dealing with secondary lights when you observe surfaces that reflect primary lights;
- Material Perhaps one of the most delicate aspects to manage for a renderer. It is the material that welcomes and reflects the light and takes care, so to speak, of carrying out the most difficult task of a photorealistic rendering: the rendering of surfaces. But the material cannot perform its task if it does not receive the right texture from the renderer. Materials have three main aspects that are technically defined as channels: diffusion, which indicates the material’s ability to diffuse light and color, and reflection, which allows light and environment to reflect. Finally, the roughness, with which the surface of the material expresses a certain, and very natural, irregularity;
- Texture It can be called photography. A photograph that is applied to the surfaces of materials, furniture, and accessories, reproduces the natural look of the materials themselves. Thanks to the texture, the materials acquire a further degree of reality.
How does a good photorealistic rendering stand out?
And how is it possible then to distinguish a good 3D rendering from a valid photorealistic rendering? As often happens, the sum of the details can make a difference. And the first detail you can see is the vividness of the edges. That shouldn’t be excessive. A good renderer knows that it takes very little to make the edges obtained from the 3D model smooth; blunt, therefore more likely. In jargon, the bevel of the corners is obtained with the Bevel effect.
A second photorealistic aspect is obtained by choosing a valid texture for the surfaces, and at the same time enriching the surface itself with Bump Map and Specular Map, producing roughness and light reflection effects. The light itself, then, contributes to the photorealism of the rendering. Think of the natural, atmospheric light, that blue that pervades our field of vision on a sunny day. How can it be integrated into the composition? Thanks to the HDRI (High Dynamic Range Imaging) map.
The monitor of your pc, or the screen of your smartphone, will open up to an extremely realistic image. Solo, made in computer graphics.
The best photorealistic rendering programs
Definition of rendering
Before describing the best photorealistic rendering programs, it is appropriate to start by defining the types and techniques of photorealistic 3D rendering, giving an unambiguous definition of the term rendering. The rendering indicates the rendering of a highly realistic image thanks to the use of computer graphics. A synonym for 3D rendering is Computer-Generated Imagery. Now that you know what this term means, let’s try to figure out how many rendering types exist.
Types of photorealistic rendering
There are currently four types of rendering, or rather the main rendering techniques. Let’s see them one by one:
- 3D modeling Or 3D rendering proper. Intuitively, it consists of producing a neutral, aseptic model in three dimensions. The texture of the materials is then applied to the surface of the model. The technique that allows this application is called surfacing;
- Radiosity With this technique the renderer applies gentler shadows on the surfaces and serves to enhance the photorealism of the composition. Radiosity is used in conjunction with Raytracing;
- Raytracing With which lights and colors are combined, and which in turn can be of two types. Static raytracing, when it concerns motionless images. Dynamic raytracing when you need to return moving images;
Rasterization This process refers to the conversion of an image in two dimensions, and made in vector graphics, into a raster or bitmap image. More simply, an image made of pixels.
Here is now a brief, and in any case not exhaustive, review of the main rendering software.
- TinkerCAD It can be considered the simplest software around. If you are a beginner and want to try your hand at 3D modeling, your choice should fall on TinkerCAD. It is open-source software, therefore it is free, and can be used directly from your browser;
- Blender Represents a valid open-source alternative if you cannot or do not want to invest in proprietary software. With Blender modeled in 3D but not only. You will also be able to create advanced animations and renderings. You have to add how, unlike TinkerCAD, Blender doesn’t stand out for usability. You will have to invest some time if you want this valid software to be your main professional choice;
- 3ds Max 3D vector graphics software. Previously known under the trade name of 3D Studio Max, and made by Autodesk, it is used when the professional is in an Autocad work environment. One of the most important aspects of 3ds Max is the power of the render engine, which significantly reduces the time needed to create the rendered image. It is currently among the most used. It allows you to build 3D modeling for projects, animations, and video games;
- Lumion is Useful for the construction sector and in architecture since it gives its best in the visualization of BIM and CAD projects. It also guarantees high-quality 3D video and virtual reality panoramas. It is characterized by a relatively easy and intuitive to use interface. It is important to underline that Lumion does not create 3D models, but makes up for this lack thanks to its full compatibility with all other 3D modeling software such as Revit, Archicad, SketchUp Pro, Autocad;
- V-ray for Rhino This is a render engine made by Chaos Group. Speed of execution in the calculation, photorealism of extreme quality. It gives you enormous freedom of choice due to its large libraries. V-ray for Rhino is used in interior design, in architecture, in addition to the supervision of special effects and product designing;
- SketchUp Pro Not excessively dissimilar in usability and features from all the other software you are reading in this review, it turns out to be the most used resource. It stands out for its truly remarkable real-time visualization of projects, as well as providing for the possibility of organizing the presentation, in an integrated way with the software, of the project;
- Maxon Cinema 4D, produced in Germany, is the software I have chosen for 3D modeling, rendering and animation. With this software, I manage the lights of my photorealistic renderings, so I can create and apply textures. Maxon Cinema 4D is also used for animations, but I am interested in its ability to integrate and use some plug-ins. Among which I have chosen Corona Render, with which I close this list;
- Corona Renderer is a rendering engine. In simpler terms: a software that translates the incoming information into a graphic representation, or rather a digital image. Corona Renderer has an extremely practical set of default values. So I can work with speed and precision. And if I want to manage the lights of the scene to my liking, trying solutions far from each other, passing from a night light to a solar one, here is Corona Renderer demonstrates all its versatility.
HOW MUCH DOES A PHOTOREALISTIC RENDER COST?
WHEN IT IS NECESSARY
There are many situations in which photorealistic rendering is used: when the object is not available because it is still in the production phase and you need to have a preview image of it or to anticipate the final vision, when there are some transport or logistics difficulties, when you want to view product variants with different materials and finishes, avoiding all of them, when the desired setting is difficult to reach or photograph. The photorealistic rendering allows you to obtain a realistic representation of the object or context, very similar to photography, not only from an aesthetic point of view but also from a technical one. In many cases, rendering guarantees the customer a considerable saving of time and money. Of course, it is necessary to evaluate well on a case-by-case basis what is more convenient (whether a photograph or a render, when both are possible) and be guided in the choice by a professional.
IN WHICH SECTORS IT HELPS
A very popular render is photorealistic product rendering. Generally, companies in the furniture sector or the industrial sector need it when they do not yet have an object or for various reasons, it cannot be photographed. The render, if photorealistic, offers a realistic view of the product allowing companies to preview its effect on the reference market. Interior or furniture rendering is required above all by companies that produce coatings, furnishing accessories, or accessories of various types, to recreate closed environments that do not exist, exist in part, or are difficult or expensive to photograph. Even in the architecture sector, rendering offers numerous advantages: with the rendering of exteriors, it is possible to represent non-existing buildings and insert a product in a virtual architectural context.
BASED ON WHAT THE PRICE OF A RENDER CHANGES
The price of the render can vary greatly depending on the sector, the type of work required, the client’s needs, the more or less detailed starting project, the product itself, and the specific situation (the time required to produce a render is very different. depending on whether the product or environment exists or exists in part or whether they have to be created from scratch). Precisely for this reason, it is almost impossible to set a price standard for a Photorealistic CGI rendering: there are many variables to consider. What can be said is that the cost must be quantified according to the complexity of the work. But on what exactly does it vary?
First of all, it varies according to the starting material: you can start from a paper drawing, a dimensioned drawing, or a 3D file created with specific programs. Of course, the time to render varies accordingly and the price also fluctuates.
The cost varies according to the project which can be accurate or just sketchy. The more detailed the project is, the more you avoid inconveniences along the way that can raise the price. The client and the professional must establish everything at the outset in a clear and as definitive way as possible. This, in addition to avoiding disagreements during construction, allows you to identify any difficulties or problems in advance and resolve them in time.
The price of a photorealistic render goes up significantly if you make changes in progress. This increase varies according to their relevance and the moment of the work in which they are carried out. Changing general settings, such as the point of view or the source of the light, is very complex and takes a lot of time. If you are asked to do it with the rendering now completed, when the high-definition image has already been processed, you risk throwing away much of the work. To avoid this, it is essential to dedicate the necessary time to the initial project and make all the fundamental decisions as soon as possible.
The price also varies according to the client’s requests: how complex is the object to represent, how many details are required, and what type of setting is desired. Some materials, such as fabrics and clothes, require a lot more work than others. People are also very complex to reproduce in a render and generally they avoid doing it: rather they insert themselves in post-production by combining renders and photos.
The advice is to always contact a capable professional. Only he, with the project in hand, knows how to properly evaluate the work, the contents, the environment, and the composition required, and can draw up a quote as precisely as possible.
HOW MUCH IT ALLOWS TO SAVE A PHOTOREALISTIC RENDERING
Before asking how much photorealistic render costs, it is worth asking if it is indispensable and, if it is, how much it saves. There are many situations in which it allows significant savings. Here are the main ones.
When you avoid producing a prototype. In the industrial sector, for example, the finished product is often not available, but one needs to include it in a catalog or show it to customers. Producing a single copy before sending it into production involves considerable costs: creating it virtually with a render, on the other hand, allows you to avoid high costs and to probe the market reaction before proceeding. Incorrect production would have very high costs.
When it avoids producing variants. In the furniture sector, rendering allows you to represent numerous versions of a product without having to produce them all. In the case of a kitchen, for example, the customer can see it in the catalog and imagine it in a realistic and detailed way before buying it. Producing many variants would involve very high costs (and risks) for the company.
When you avoid transport and travel. When you have to photograph large or bulky objects that are difficult to transport on the photographic set, or when you need environments that are difficult to reach with the crew and photographic equipment, the photorealistic rendering of the product is the most practical and economical solution: transport costs, travel expenses, and staff travel.
When he avoids creating complex settings in the studio. Reconstructing particular contexts in the studio requires careful organization, the purchase or rental of particular materials, many hours of work for assembly and subsequent disassembly, the prediction of possible setbacks … The render, on the other hand, allows for perfectly organized desk work. and without unexpected events.
These are just a few cases, but photorealistic rendering saves time and money in many situations. Of course, everything depends on the work in question, but it is often cheaper to do everything virtually than to create a photoshoot and then maybe dedicate time to post-production, both in the case of interior rendering post-production and in post-production. of exterior rendering.
The actual need to render or not must be carefully evaluated from time to time. It may happen that a designer does not have the real need for a photorealistic render and that a 3D drawing or a just sketched render is sufficient. In this case, the cost of a photorealistic rendering would not be justified. The choice also depends a lot on the expected result.