3D rendering has existed for the last few decades. However, the technology has undergone enormous advances, creating images and animations that almost look like the real thing. Today, 3D rendering is used in a number of industries, including construction, architecture, real estate, advertising/marketing, entertainment, and gaming.
3D rendering basics
Modern graphic design programs allow artists and designers to use a new kind of canvas. 3D rendering is the next step evolution of computer technology. So what is 3D rendering in simple terms?
3D rendering (and its first cousin 3D animation) is a 2-dimensional representation of objects based on a computer wireframe model. Color, lighting, texture, shadows, and material are added to the wireframe to create lifelike images.
Perhaps the most widely known use of 3D technology is associated with movies and television. The Toy Story movies are a great example.
3D rendering is also used for live-action films. If you think your favorite actors from the Marvel movies are actually fighting those battles with intergalactic bad guys, think again. A lot of the “action” is created using 3D animation.
The magic behind 3D rendering
In order to create 3D renderings, you need two types of computer software: modelers and renderers.
There are 3 steps needed to create a 3D image. Let’s break them down.
The rendering starts with 3D modeling. This is not the type of model you probably imagine. In reality, a series of flat geometric shapes are connected together to form polygons.
Did you ever take a basic drawing class? You might remember that most objects (like people) can be formed using shapes like circles, triangles, rectangles, and squares.
Special software programs are then used to manipulate the 3D model. In the end, a rough version of the final products is created. The object will look like a RAW wireframe scene or object.
If you were drawing a person, this is when you blend the corners and edges of the shapes to create something closer to your final product. It’s still a rough sketch, but you can tell it’s a human being now.
The RAW wireframe is then refined and finished using color, texture, shading, artificial light sources, and filters.
In the drawing process, this is when you would define the facial features, hair, limbs, and clothes your subject is wearing.
Uses of 3D rendering and animation
The applications for 3D rendering and animation are nearly endless. Multiple industries now use the technology for a variety of projects, from movies to architectural renderings.
These days you would be hard-pressed to find a big-budget movie that doesn’t use 3D rendering and animation in some way. It can be used to create special effects and even render whole environments, from earthly locales to the vast reaches of space.
Probably the most familiar technology to you is Computer Graphic Imaging or CGI.
Architecture and Design
Architects used to create hand-drawn blueprints. Today, the same architectural renderings are done on a computer. 3D technology allows the architect to add texture, depth, and motion.
Clients can even view a “fly-by” that provides an illustrated, animated view of a project from all angles.
Presenting dynamic visuals is one of the most important aspects of success in real estate. Pictures and 360° video tours are helpful, but 3D renderings present a more realistic image. Potential buyers can virtually walk through a house or commercial space, without having to see the property in person.
With our global economy, a broker might have buyers in other countries looking for investment properties. Perhaps a family is moving across the country and they can’t fly back and forth to do physical walk-throughs. A 3D tour can be posted online to attract buyers and investors.
As with architecture and construction, 3D renderings can also be used in the design phase for agents/brokers or house flippers who renovate older homes for profit.
Being able to see a redesigned space in the most realistic sense is the beauty of 3D rendering. While interior designers used to only have tools like drawings and swatches, now you can use software to show clients exactly what a room will look like.
A schematic design is created, which is then used to plan how a particular space will be used, decide the layout of furniture, and develop the color palettes. When the designs are approved, a floor plan will be completed and finishes added, along with details like furniture, fabric, and equipment.
The other side of architecture is construction. The same blueprints created with 3D technology. The blueprints can then be shared with a construction company, foreman, and crew.
The beauty of 3D rendering is that it speeds up the design process and provides a realistic view of what the finished product will look like.
It’s also easier to spot problems and make changes to the rendering. 3D animation can allow clients to visualize a project and even go on a virtual walkthrough before the first nail is hammered.
Advertising and Marketing
Products can now be rendered and depicted in a more realistic and dynamic way. 3D rendering can be used to create images of cars, product packaging, prototypes, medical products and machines, and more.
The images can be used for print and digital ad campaigns, commercials, and as a way to sell a product before it exists in order to attract investors or raise capital.
Today’s video games are more sophisticated and realistic than ever. From building civilizations and saving alien planets to high-octane sports and racing games, most games use 3D technology.
You can render anything from individual objects like cars or people (or aliens) to props and background scenery.
3D Rendering and the Future of…Everything
3D rendering plays an important role in a variety of industries. No doubt we will see even more uses and advances in the future.