Photorealistic Rendering to Help You Sell your Projects
A few years ago, getting a photorealistic rendering required advanced knowledge about how the render engine worked, so that the final result could be close to reality.
Today, rendering programs are much more user-friendly so what makes a difference between an average visualization and a high-end 3d rendering lies on its ability to tell a story, create a connection with the viewer and inspire.
What is a Photorealistic Rendering?
Photorealistic rendering is a type of 3D rendering where the final result is very difficult to distinguish from reality, from a photograph.
These types of images are particularly useful in the field of architecture and interior design (to show how a project will look like before it is built), real estate marketing (to create an emotional connection between the client and the property even before construction begins), furniture catalogues (to show pieces of furniture in real environments without the need to physically set them up), product design and prototypes, as well as in many other areas.
Have you ever checked the Swedish firm Ikea's catalogue? Did you know that most of the images in the catalogue are not photographs, but have been made in 3D? This is a great example of what photorealistic renderings are, and in this article, we are going to cover all you need to know about them.
How to Make Photorealistic Renderings?
There are many different techniques to make a photorealistic rendering and each company has its own working methodology. These are the phases we go through in Render4tomorrow to achieve a photorealistic 3D visualization.
Creation of the 3D model.
We create high-poly props and assets to build a highly detailed 3d model. This results in a heavy 3d file to deal with, but we always try to get the final result without relying on post-production.
Creating “full 3d renderings” allows us to obtain images where it is very difficult to distinguish the real from the virtual.
There any many programs to build a great 3d model. Some of the most popular 3d modeling software are Sketchup, Blender, Revit, Archicad, Vectorworks, Autocad or 3ds Max.
Once the 3d model is ready, it’s time to set up the lighting. This phase is particularly important as it will determine the mood and general atmosphere of the image.
We follow the indications given by the client, who will provide us with some references before starting the work in order to have a good idea about the final result we want to obtain.
Sometimes we use a basic illumination setup composed of a sky (for global illumination) and the sun (for direct illumination). On other occasions, we use HDRI lighting to create particular moods, such as a cloudy, rainy, autumn, snowy day, etc. This type of lighting gives us many nuances in our materials, creating unique and unforgettable high-end visualizations.
Some of these are CPU based rendering engines and some are GPU based. If you want to know what’s the difference between them and which one would suit you best, we will cover this topic in our next article.
Adding materials to the 3D model:
Once we have our 3d model ready, it’s time to continue adding textures and realistic shaders (or materials).
We craft PBR materials (Physically-Based Rendering materials) by using realistic textures and shaders. Some of them are made in house by our team and others come from libraries, both free and paid.
In Render4tomorrow, we all share the same passion for photography, which helps us to understand better how each material behaves in real life so we can recreate within the 3d software.
Just as in real life, it is important that we add imperfections to our materials. We do this by adding dirt maps to our materials, humidity, signs of aging, discolorations, variations in reflections, etc. In our opinion, 99% of the images out there do not look photorealistic because they are simply “too perfect”.
Rendering the image in high-resolution.
Now it’s time to press the render button and wait for the rendering engine to finish processing the image in high resolution.
We would make the final adjustments in post-production, such as adding the background or the people cutouts. It is at this stage where we make every minor tweak to the image (e.g. last adjustments to hue, saturation, contrast, etc.).
Who are photorealistic renderings for?
Depending on what you need your 3d renderings for, you may not need a realistic result. We find achieving photorealism especially useful in the following cases:
To help developers and real estate agencies sell their projects.
The data shows that developers and realtors using content marketing (blogs, social networks, etc.) manage to connect better with their audiences, raising their brand reputation and increasing the number of sales.
There are several ways of enhancing your real estate marketing strategy in order to stand out from your competitors, and photorealistic rendering is one of them.
Photo-realistic renderings allow developers to make potential clients feel an emotional connection with the property before it is built. However, if the quality of these images is average, you may not get the expected result. That's why maximizing the quality of the images is key.
Realtors can even test the market before starting construction which may lead them to make decisions accordingly, sometimes helping them sell their projects in record time.
To help architects and designers win competitions.
If you have spent (or plan to spend) a lot of time working hard to submit a project for an architectural competition, our advice is to give the utmost importance to the visual quality of your proposal.
Imagine the jury standing in front of a large number of project boards. Which one do you think will be of immediate interest? Before submitting your project, make sure that your project boards have a great impact on whoever sees it and stand out from the rest of competitors.
There are times where you only need to have a rough idea of how a space would look like once it’s built. For example, when we are in the design phase. In this case, it would be enough to build a basic 3D model and place some cameras on it to make decision-making easier.
This is one of the advantages of designing using BIM software such as Archicad, Revit or Vectorworks. We can see in real-time how our space looks in 3D while we draw in 2D. Although we cannot get a photorealistic result in real-time, you will find many advantages in this way of working.
Realistic Visualizations to Grow your Architecture Business
How many projects you have done for architectural competitions you are not including in your portfolio or within the project section on your site? Would you have included these projects if you had compelling images of them?
Even if you haven't won the competition, these 3d visuals will have helped your potential clients see the capacity your office has to design their future project. And, without a doubt, an exceptional portfolio will put you ahead of your competitors.
For this reason, we always try to make our clients see that they should not take the outsourcing of images as an expense, but as an investment so that their office’s project list becomes more and more extensive, attracting the attention of potential clients.
Using High-End Visualizations on Your Social Networks
There's no doubt about it: visual content is king on social networks. We are exposed to so much information that only eye-catching images will stand out from the crowd, and here’s where photorealistic renderings make a huge difference.
How many times a day do you scroll down on the Internet for inspiration for your projects? Do you know how much time do people spend on social media every day? According to a study carried out by Broadbandsearch, on average we spend 144 minutes a day on social networks.
Is your architecture office already present in these channels? If not, stop reading now and go create a business profile on Facebook and Instagram. If it helps, we recently wrote an article about how you can use Instagram as an architect.
You are just one step away from turning your dull images into eye-catching visualizations that your current and potential customers will love.