3D rendering software is capable of generating a photo-realistic image based on input data. The data needs to be rendered because raw input data is too technical for laymen to interpret or even perceive. Meaning an un-rendered 3-dimensional model is unrealistic.
The purpose of 3D rendering is to output a visually perceivable object or structure from a complex series of digital input data. A render allows you to extrapolate the complex information into a graphic that can be observed and understood.
However, before you’re able to render, you need a 3-dimensional object. Luckily, 3D modeling allows for seemingly limitless creativity. You can essentially draw anything that comes to mind, even if it doesn’t exist in nature.
The Purpose of 3D Rendering
A render that’s created by a 3D rendering service will feature an entire scene that’s composed of multiple 3-dimensional objects as apposed to a singular model. The main goal of a 3D render is to allow the observer to view the 3D objects in a picture or video format. The static photographs are taken from specific viewing angles to allow for all the objects to be included in the scene.
The scene is comprised of a focal point and complimentary models. The focal point is the main object that’s being rendered or displayed: a building or structure. Complimentary models help to accentuate the model and allow the model to feel more realistic: flora and fauna, clouds, ambient lighting, people, animals, buildings, etc.
Lastly, perspective is important. The perspective deals with the comparison of sizes between objects in the scene, distance between objects and their interaction with the focal point.
Rendering is Time Consuming
The most time-consuming part of the 3D process is rendering. A renderer will attempt to simulate what the human eye sees by manipulating the raw input data in the form of polygons and vertices.
As the software works to render the object it begins to calculate and express the data in the form of images that accurately bear resemblance to the world around us. As the render progresses the elements are combined; structural, geographical, and textural data.
The time it takes to render is heavily dependent on how complex the objects and scenes are. The rendering software is essentially taking a photograph of every pixel that comprises the image. Meaning a larger image like a billboard would take longer to complete. Even a computer with the best hardware can take hours if not days to render.
The Basics of the Rendering Process
To reiterate, you can’t start rendering without having a 3-dimensional model. A 3D model is essentially a composition of polygons and shapes that form the backbone of the objects.
Apart from the polygonal methods, modelers also use curve modeling and digital sculpting. These methods are then manipulated through the use of 3D Computer Aided Design (CAD) software.
A 3-dimensional object is created using computer aided design software. At this stage you’re still attempting to build the structure of the object.
Scenes that involve moving objects need to be prepared before they can be rendered. The skeletal structure that makes up the object can be manipulated to control its movement.
Texturing is applied to the objects to make them appear more lifelike. Textures can be best described as the outer layers of a structure. However a more technical definition would say that textures are an array of color pixels that form the image.
Textures can be rough or smooth, shiny or matt, colorful or colorless, and can even feature deliberate imperfections.
In the rendering you have control over ambient light sources. For instance in the spotlight architectural render style you can use lighting to highlight certain aspects of the structure or object. Lighting can have a big impact on viewing experience.
At this stage, you’re still left with an output that’s unrealistic. The rendering process will calculate all the input data that’s accumulated in the stages above in order to “flatten” the model and transform it into a 2D image.
When the process is completed you’ll be able to see if your chosen textures, lighting, and animation works in unison. A scene with a smaller number of objects or characters may only take a few minutes to render. Where-as larger projects can take hours or days to complete.
When working with clients, you need to provide progress updates. At the refinement stage the render will be of “lower quality” which simply means less input data and a faster render. Often times this process is used to flush out specific changes like textures.
These now rendered 3D models can be exported into more user friendly file formats like static photographs, videos, or interactive tours.