5 Tips for Creating Exceptional Renderings

Emily Suzuki Emily Suzuki December 28, 2020

4 min read

Dirt bike rendering created with Fusion 360.

Designers and engineers may already know that rapid prototyping is crucial to getting products to market. Creating 3D renders helps bring projects to life and allows teams to produce numerous iterations in relatively short order. However, creating detailed renderings isn’t always simple. Creative challenges present roadblocks, and workflow limitations can stunt productivity. 

Teams must consider how renderings can enhance their physical designs. Beginners and even experienced professionals can improve their processes. Follow these five tips to create even better renderings:

1. Incorporate Intelligent Lighting and Shadows


One of the quickest ways to elevate a rendering is to inject some photorealism by incorporating the fundamentals of light and considering shadows and reflective surfaces. Professional photography studios and movie studios both add intrigue and realism to every shot by tinkering with lighting. On the rendering side, this helps a product appear more striking, adds depth, and injects a dose of realism. You want a rendering to reflect its physical counterpart as closely as possible — blurring the line between concept and reality.

Shadows and reflectivity are some of the main considerations when creating a realistic render. Shadows follow a similar convention as lighting. We achieve shadow mapping and other forms of shading with X-Y-Z matrices. We can essentially see how light sources from various angles interact with our designs in a 3D (realistic) environment. These settings are subject to plenty of customization. 

2. Choose Accurate Colors


It’s certainly smart to create your renders as true to life as possible. What your customers see on the shelves or hold in their hands should reflect your renderings and vice versa. We’ve touched on the importance of shadows and lighting previously. Getting an accurate sense of your final product’s appearance in different lighting conditions rests with proper tone matching. Consistency is key. 

Naturally, our renderings can encompass more than just physical products — take the world of video game design, for example. The in-game environment drives player immersion and draws them in. You can use color to striking effect when emulating earthly features such as sunsets, grassy fields, rocky cliffs, or breaking waves. We know how these elements of nature should look from firsthand experience, and gamers will have similar expectations. If you intend to mimic the real world graphically, familiar hues will strongly resonate with your audience. 

3. Consider Your File Sizes and Formats


Renderings are graphically rich files, which can consume plenty of disk or online drive space. Still, formats take up less space than their video counterparts. Full, uncompressed video renders can measure tens of gigabytes in size. The trick is choosing the right file format for your media type. 

If disk space is no issue, it may be best to export your projects in an uncompressed (lossless) format — think TIFF, RAW, and to some extent, PNG. These preserve original quality while making future edits easier. You will, however, need to compromise when space is an issue. When you achieve the right balance, JPG is a suitable option for static renders. For videos, exporting using the H.264 codec is a great way to slash file sizes while maintaining quality.  

4. Keep Ergonomics and Spacing in Mind


In addition to products, buildings and public spaces are examples of designs that can be rendered. Designing spacial renderings requires a high degree of care — especially for builders. Public gathering places must be functional above all else. They need to be navigable, human-centric, and visually appealing. Detailed renders allow us to tackle designs from all angles. Once a design is finalized, a virtual tour can provide a first-person sense of how accommodating the final space is. 

5. Embrace Cloud-Based Rendering Software


Many companies haven’t yet joined the digital revolution, but yours doesn’t have to be one of them. More employees are working remotely than ever before, which means strictly-local solutions may prove detrimental to team productivity. Even the best offline rendering software fails to connect engineers from afar. Good design relies on brainstorming, quick iterations, and fluidity, so letting your teammates push global changes from afar will help everyone stay up to date. 

Cloud rendering isn’t just centered on collaboration, however. 3D renderings can be computationally taxing on your system. Textures, colors, shadows, and lighting effects demand system resources. We can complete these renderings locally, but those processes are time-consuming. Thankfully, smarter cloud solutions allow us to schedule renderings in the cloud. Offloading those tasks saves valuable time, allowing you to tackle your next big project as soon as possible. 

Creating a rendering is an easy task with the integration of cloud-based software like Autodesk’s Fusion 360. The integrated CAD, CAM, and CAE program gives you the tools you need to innovate and design for yourself. Whether you’re crafting renderings of spaces or products, look to Fusion 360 to improve your development process.


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