3D Visualization Rendering: What Makes a Good 3D?
Image by Faraday 3D
In our previous article we described the basic principles that can help you find out how honestly and meticulously the designer has treated your 3D Visualization Rendering. If you look once again at the designs shown there, you will see for yourself: they are indistinguishable from real photographs.
Creating such designs is a true challenge and requires a lot of time and money. This is why most 3D works represent the “golden mean” suitable for the client: best value for money and shorter time frames than would be needed for an absolutely flawless 3D visualization.
This does not mean that the work is of poor quality. It’s just that there are details that bespeak the use of a computer.
Devil in the details
As you may remember, little things have a strong impact on the overall perception of 3D rendering. There are some details that you won’t miss when you first look at a good—but not perfect - work:
- A flawlessly rendered building set in a rainy atmosphere might be clean whereas it should have traces of the rain;
- The grass surrounding a house is acidly green, although it does not keep the viewer from wanting to sit down on the lawn;
- Sometimes a nicely rendered house has windows involving patterns, e.g., the same curtains or interiors;
- Little things are missing, as when there are no drivers in cars, or when they all look alike;
- There are repetitive patterns in such objects like grass, window curtains, etc;
- Proportions are off;
- You can tell that materials or reflections need more detailing.
To justify our words, let’s have a look at five real 3D renderings and try to give them a fair rating:
3D Visualization Rendering: Synthetic Autumn Evening
The work has its strengths:
- The atmosphere is well-maintained: there are overcast clouds and no shadows;
- The pavement is well-designed, with puddles and fallen leaves;
- You can see that the designer paid attention to greenery — it isn’t a caustic green but a rather natural tint.
But if you look closely, you can also see the flaws:
- Windows of the building are pale and lifeless: a pattern was used here. If we take a closer look, we’ll see that objects reflected in them are not distorted, as glass imperfections would make them in real life;
- Car headlights are not realistic;
- Buildings have an underdeveloped texture, which is too uniform and clean. Any given patch of the wall is a copy of another;
- Despite the rainy day, the building is dry, with no raindrops on the window panes;
- There are no drivers inside the cars;
- The rain is unnatural. And given that a red line requires the photographer to use long exposure, it is unlikely that the rain would look exactly the same way as shown. The same holds for the walking man.
All these factors cause visual discomfort and a feeling of artificiality.
3D Visualization Rendering: Winter Mood
- The snow is very detailed, made of a lot of particles with no patterns used, and feels real.
- There is a faint haze, just as there would be in reality, hanging in the freezing air;
- Note that there's also snow on the trees, which adds to realism;
- You can see spots over the building—that’s how buildings look in the real world! Sterile buildings do not belong there.
- The same curtains were used for all the windows, making the image lifeless and revealing its rendered nature;
- Bushes and trees in front of the house are all the same.
All of these minor shortcomings suggest that the designer decided to save time. If they had been corrected, it would have made it really hard to distinguish the rendering from a real photograph.
If we compare it with the previous 3D rendering, we can see that this work is more realistic. Given that it has fewer flaws, it becomes clear why it has a certain natural quality to it.
3D Visualization Rendering: A Fairy Tale Come True
This work has several important pros:
- The lighting is well made, showing all the shadows and emphasizing the right objects;
- The image nicely conveys the atmosphere of an animation film through well-chosen colors and shades.
However, we can identify some shortcomings as well:
- There's something wrong with the proportions and dimensions of the curb. This is not immediately visible, but when you look at the picture for the first time, you feel it subconsciously. A truly fine 3D design avoids dissonance—you can keep watching it forever;
- The grass is so monotonous that the eye easily catches the pattern;
- The same holds for bushes: it is one image used multiple times;
- A critical flaw is that leaves and grass do not deflect the light as they would in real life. Look at the following image to tell the difference:
Compare it with the one in question, and you will see that the latter’s grass and plants are not elaborated enough. This makes them look artificial—as if made of plastic.
But, then again, everything depends on the designer’s intention. If the rendering is intended for a commercial playground project, it should be refined, but if it's just a scene from a cartoon, then it’s fairly adequate.
3D Visualization Rendering: In the Afternoon
There are many strong points worth mentioning:
- The steps, grass, and ground are rendered perfectly! There is a variety of plants, uneven terrain, leaves lying erratically on the steps, just as it happens in real life. The steps have a bit of dirt—as if someone has already ascended them;
- Asphalt has leaves and puddles on it;
- Curbs are stained in a very realistic manner;
- There is a natural glow from the sun.
But such a wonderful start is spoiled by several shortcomings:
- Materials of the trees and the car are not elaborated;
- The car itself is absurdly sized;
- There is some unnatural glow over the treetops on the left;
- To top it all, the asphalt is inexplicably blurred.
3D Visualization Rendering: A House at Sunset
- In creating the autumn atmosphere, we have carefully elaborated the sky and lighting. The picture does not project coolness but conveys the last cozy warmth of September. This gives the 3D a strong overall impression;
- We added a bit of haze to recreate the air of this time of year;
- There is a hatch on the road, a small detail contributing to the realism;
- There are fallen leaves on the asphalt, each of its own shape and color, lying in a different position, as if just ripped off with the wind.
But there are a few weak points:
- The cars are a little whitish and not elaborated;
- The moving car is not blurred as it should be;
- The glare on the left is slightly exaggerated;
- Windows of the building look dark and empty;
- The street lacks life. On the other hand, it is almost evening, so it can be reasonably imagined that people just went home.
In a Nutshell: A Good 3D Looks Almost Like a Photograph
A good 3D rendering is one that triggers positive emotions in you and encourages you to take the actions it was intended for.
At the same time, what distinguishes a merely good 3D visualization from a high-end one is that even a quick glance at the former makes it clear that it's not a photograph—though you still love the result.
Each company has its own goal for ordering a 3D visualization, which may include:
- Selling a building
- Renting out a luxury apartment
- Demonstrating its competence in building
- Creating professional exteriors
A good 3D should be perfect at solving each of these tasks: when looking at such images customers should see a realistic picture and be more likely to choose your services in pursuing their goals and dreams.
As an example of a video from this category, which has really good quality, but not as photo-realistic as it was in a previous article made by ICube studio:
But there's another question: can a 3D rendered image be of such low quality that it will scare away prospective customers? We will see in our next article…