The massive rise in online commerce has paved the way for more products to come to the forefront. eCommerce store owners and marketers leave no stone unturned to cut through the noise and make their products stand out.
As a result, besides 2D imageries and graphics, 3D product design and rendering have also solidified their stance in the Internet market.
Today we shall learn what 3D product rendering is, how it is developed, what usages and applications the methodology has across industries, and lastly, the pricing aspect. So, let’s begin!
What is 3D product rendering?
Product 3D rendering is the digital process of generating photorealistic or non-photorealistic images from a 3D model with the help of a specialized 3D software program. The final outcome is known as a “3D render”.
One of the best benefits of 3D product renders is allowing customers to better understand the product, its features and possible functionalities, and how it will look within a natural living environment. This feature alone helps potential buyers make a more informed purchase decision, thus reducing the rate of product returns for the seller, especially for furniture makers.
Useful Article: How to boost furniture sales with 3D rendering?
Steps to create a 3D product render
The 3D product rendering process, albeit it appears to be complex, is actually a string of fairly straightforward steps that a 3D renderer must follow. The beauty of the entire thing is all the files and data can be shared over emails, and no physical prototype is to be built.
Let’s take a tour of the steps involved:
Develop a 3D model
Create a three-dimensional digital model of the product with mathematical accuracy using a 3D modeling software. The model must exactly resemble the product, keeping all the physical aspects intact. It must also highlight the product’s key features with the utmost clarity. The more accurate the model is, the more flawless the render will be.
Select an appropriate background/backdrop
This is a vital stage in the rendering process. Look for a relevant and aesthetically appropriate background for the product. While choosing the background, ensure it doesn’t make the product out of focus. Opt for something contrasting that accentuates the product and conveys its realism.
However, if one is doing a white space rendering*, they may skip this step. This step is only applicable to contextual product visualization.
*What is white space rendering, and how is it different from contextual rendering?
Most eCommerce platforms, such as Amazon, Target, IKEA, etc., prefer product photos with clean, white backgrounds, as such non-distracting backdrops do not take away the focus from the product and do not distract the buyers. Such visualizations are called white space renders.
And contextual renders are those that have a custom background tailored to the marketing goals, adding more value and aesthetic quotient to the product.
Create a perfect balance of light and shadow
The 3D scene must be brightly and adequately illuminated resembling a real-life setting. This stage is more about the creative eyes of the rendering artist, as light and shadow play a major role in depicting the true nature of the product.
To mimic the bright beams of sunlight, the light source must be adjusted accordingly. To bring a soft glow resembling dusk, the light must be positioned at a wide angle. This aspect is more applicable during ‘archviz’, or architectural visualization process. Experienced and skilled 3D artists are the best people for these tasks.
Adding the textures to the model
As the name suggests, this step involves the application of computer-generated textures to the 3D product model to bring it to life. Adding realistic textures makes the product look realistic, resulting in an ultra-realistic rendered image.
The textures can have smaller imperfections to mimic natural textures, such as wood, mosaic, marble, leather, cotton, rocky, velvety, and much more. Also, other realistic texture effects, like bumps, scratches, and dents, can be simulated as required.
High-end 3D modeling applications leveraged by expert professional agencies have a wide range of real-life textures, which make the final outcome so real.
Adding the color shades
Now comes the best part- coloring the 3D object. Though we are mentioning it separately, this step can be done along with the texturing step (discussed above), wherein texture maps can be used to project the respective colors to the object. The colors must be such that doesn’t interfere with the lighting but complement it.
Setting the camera angle
This is the penultimate stage that creates the optimal view of the product. The camera can be placed in multiple angles to take close shots, wide-angled shots, panoramic views, aerial shots, side profile views, etc. The more key feature details are depicted through the product, the more the product can make a difference.
The final rendering
This is the final stage in the 3D product modeling process. Here, the renderer digitally converts the 3D models into ultra-realistic 2D images through a 3d rendering software. Most 3D modeling software also offers high-end rendering, so one doesn’t have to utilize multiple programs for the rendering operation.
Depending upon the project’s scope and expected quality, the rendering sequence can take longer or less time. For better and faster rendering, professional 3D service providers often leverage multiple computers, called ‘render farms’. ‘Render farms’ are also availed by big animation studios for rendering animated movies on a large scale.
Once the rendering is done, you can export and download the files in web-ready formats such as JPG or PNG. For printing purposes, maintain a high DPI (Dots Per Inches) setting to get high-resolution 3D rendered product photos.
This is the post-rendering process that may or may not be required depending on the client’s objectives. Once the images are converted into raster formats, viz., JPG, PNG, PSD, BMP, TIFF, etc., special visual effects can be added to increase the product’s appeal. A 3D artist can also use Photoshop to add creative backgrounds to the rendered file.
What aspects must 3D renderers consider before rendering a product?
A few key factors must be considered for an accurate, flawless, and, most importantly, realistic product rendering. They are as follows:
The 3D object’s shading
For realistic color depths, alignment, and textures, proper shading algorithms are required. Shadings determine how the product will appear under varying lighting intensities and angles.
Intensity of the shadow
A product’s appearance when a light source is blocked or moved depends upon the correct shadow applied to the 3D object. This includes the shadows cast by the model itself within the 3D scene, as well as those cast over the object externally.
The UV mapping process must depict the physical intricacies of the actual product through its digital version. UV maps are flat surface representations wrapped around textures, creating the texture mapping sequence. These texture maps vary from smooth metallic surfaces to more intricate fabric textures.
Reflection, refraction, and diffraction of the light
Reflection on a product is one key aspect that breathes life into an otherwise electronic image. The more realistic the reflections are, the more realistic the product will look.
Refraction is also a vital detail that rendering professionals pay heed to. It is the bending of light beams when an object is looked through water or glass. This strengthens the illusion of the object being within a 3D environment.
Diffraction is also a similar effect where the light rays bend and spread mostly around obstacles. Both these are excellent factors to add realism to a digitally developed object.
The optimum translucency level
It is important to include a certain level of translucency within the 3D model to resemble matte or diffused light. A balanced translucency level can make the product more photorealistic, just like in the real world.
How are 3D product renders used?
Honestly, this approach to showcase a product has a lot of benefits than one can ever imagine; products can be shown in multiple angles, color variations, with close-up shots, amidst any type of setting, and much more.
3D-rendered product images have multiple usages – these can be used in eCommerce product listings, website homepages or landing pages, eMagazines, billboards, social media platforms, marketing collateral like flyers, catalogs, brochures, product videos, TVCs, etc., as well as for AR viewing, and so on.
The following industries leverage high-end product 3D rendering to create prototypes, boost their sales and attract new customers.
- Product designing
- Real estate and architecture
- Fashion and apparel
- Media & entertainment
As can be seen, 3D visualization is an indispensable marketing and promotional tool for eCommerce marketers who strive to make their products stand out in the crowd. Besides, with 3D models and prototypes, potential design faults can also be detected at an early stage, before mass-scale production.
If you have reached this far, you should now have a fundamental idea about 3D product rendering and what it is all about. Whether you are an aspiring 3D artist or a marketer who wants to promote your product, keep this blog bookmarked.
Also, as mentioned, find the right agency that offers professional and photorealistic 3D product rendering services at a nominal rate. It is safe to say that outsourcing to a third-party rendering agency is a cheaper alternative to hiring professional photographers and arranging for shooting locations, logistics, and actual props.