How to Create High Quality 3D Photorealistic Renderings

photorealistic renderings

In the realm of architecture, interior design, and real estate, the power of photorealistic renderings cannot be overstated. These stunning visualizations bring projects to life, enabling clients, investors, and stakeholders to envision spaces before they are even built. The art of creating high-quality 3D photorealistic renderings has transformed the way professionals showcase their ideas and market their properties. In this blog post, we will explore the essential techniques and best practices to help you master the art of crafting breathtaking realistic renderings that captivate your audience and bring your visions to life.



What is a Photorealistic Rendering?

Photorealistic rendering is the technique of creating a digital image that replicates the appearance of a real-life object or environment with a high level of realism. This is generally accomplished by utilizing advanced computer graphics software, which can replicate the physics of light and materials to generate an image that is nearly identical to a photograph.

To produce a photo realistic rendering, the steps consist of creating a 3D model of the object or environment to be rendered, and subsequently applying textures, lighting, and other effects to achieve a realistic image. Although the process requires a specific skillset, and can be computationally demanding and time-consuming, the final result can be used for a variety of purposes in many fields such as architecture, interior design, product design, real estate and video game production.



How to Create a Photorealistic Rendering?

high quality 3d rendering

Photorealistic renderings are created using specialized software that can simulate real world lighting, textures and materials to generate a highly realistic image. Please see a below a breakdown on the steps followed to achieve this:

  1. Modeling: The first step in creating a photorealistic rendering is 3d modeling. This involves creating a 3D model of the environment that is to be rendered, as well the objects that will be shown within that environment. In order to create a 3d modeling suitable for photorealistic rendering, software such as Autodesk Maya or 3Ds Max is used by either importing CAD drawings, or a 3d model created with other software such as Revit or Sketchup.
  2. Texturing: After generating the 3D model, the following step involves adding textures to the object’s surfaces to imitate real-world materials. This is generated through the use of mathematical algorithms within the software. Please see here to get a better understanding of what texturing is.
  3. Lighting: The arrangement of rendering lighting is a significant step following the texturing phase. It involves strategically placing virtual lights within the scene, adjusting their intensity, color, and direction to achieve the desired lighting effect. With advanced photorealistic rendering software, the behavior of light in the physical world, including reflections, refractions, and shadows, can be faithfully replicated. This stage is of utmost importance as it heavily influences the level of photorealism achieved in the final image.
  4. Rendering: After the 3D model has been textured and lit, the next step is to generate the final image through a process called rendering. This involves utilizing specialized software to calculate the color, intensity, and position of each pixel in the image based on the 3D model, textures, and lighting. For complex scenes with numerous objects and lighting effects, this procedure can be computationally intensive and time-consuming, and takes even longer in the case of animations.
  5. Post-processing: After being rendered, an image can be further enhanced and refined using software such as photoshop, where post-processing techniques such as color correction, image filtering add a nice touch to the image. 



What’s the Difference Between Photorealistic and Non-Photorealistic Rendering?

In simple terms, the primary distinction between photorealistic and non-photorealistic rendering is the level of realism intended, which can be either intentional or unintentional. In intentional non-photorealistic rendering, there is a deliberate deviation from realism to achieve an artistic or stylized effect, which is commonly used in areas such as video gaming and illustration. This isn’t as common in architecture and real estate, but is something that is sometimes requested by our clients, usually for more conceptual projects. 

However, in numerous instances, high levels of photorealism are the preferred outcome but aren’t achieved due to software limitations or the artist’s skill level, as this requires a high skill set and lots of experience. With this in mind, if you’re looking for someone to create photorealistic 3d rendering for you. It pays to do your research and select someone with a proven portfolio and experience. 

Despite their differences, photorealistic and non-photorealistic rendering both involve the use of advanced computer graphics software and techniques to create digital images and the choice between the two approaches is determined by the specific requirements of the project and the desired outcome.



Which Software is Best for Realistic Rendering?

Photorealistic 3d rendering 1

There are several software options available for realistic rendering, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Here are some of the most popular software options:

  1. 3Ds Studio Max: This is the most commonly used software by 3d Studios, and is a top choice when it comes to realistic rendering. It can be more complex and difficult to use than other types of software, but produces top quality results. Can also be used as a 3d modeling software.
  2. Lumion: This is a popular option in the field of architecture and is known for producing quick results. This is one of the best options when it comes to photorealism but isn’t quite on the level of 3ds Max.
  3. V-Ray: V-Ray is a powerful and widely used rendering engine that can be used with a variety of software such as 3ds Max. It offers a range of advanced features, including global illumination, physical camera models, and realistic material simulations. This is often used by 3d studios alongside 3ds Max to achieve high quality results.
  4. Corona Renderer: Corona Renderer is a high-performance rendering engine that is known for its ease of use and faster rendering times. It offers advanced lighting and shading features, as well as a range of materials and textures. Like V-Ray, this is often used with 3ds Max to achieve high levels of photorealism.
  5. Blender Cycles: Blender Cycles is a powerful rendering engine that is part of Blender, a 3d modeling software. It’s widely used in the animation and visual effects industries.

Ultimately, the choice of software for realistic rendering will depend on a variety of factors, including the specific requirements of the project, the level of experience of the user, and the budget available. It is important to research and evaluate the different options before making a decision.


For a more complete guide on different software types, we have written a couple of useful guides:



Tips for Creating Realistic Renderings

Photo realistic rendering

Creating photorealistic renderings is no walk in the park, and there are many different factors you need to consider if you want to create high quality images. 


Tips for 3D Artists to Enhance Photorealistic Renderings

Creating photorealistic renderings requires careful attention to detail, especially when it comes to lighting. If the lighting is not done well, the quality of the image can drop significantly. To achieve realism, it is important to recreate lighting that matches the real world. This can be accomplished by adjusting the positions, temperatures, shapes, and shadows carefully.


Another useful tip is to consider surface imperfections when creating objects or surfaces in 3D. While it may be tempting to make them look brand new or perfectly clean, it is important to remember that all surfaces have some level of dirt, dust, and scratches, even if they are difficult to see. While deliberately making an object or space look dirtier will not necessarily make the image look better, showing some imperfections can increase overall photorealism.

Additionally, it is crucial to ensure that objects are scaled correctly in the 3D rendering, and that they match their real-life counterparts. The same goes for materials and textures.

Camera angles are also a critical factor in creating a photorealistic rendering. Just like with real-life photography, selecting the right angle can make a significant difference. It is important to experiment with different angles and pay attention to factors such as focal length and composition techniques like the rule of thirds. By carefully considering these technical aspects, 3D artists can elevate their renderings to a new level of realism.

For more detailed advice on maximizing quality when it comes to 3d rendering, check out our post on 3d rendering tips.


Other Tips

  • Use Photos – Blending 3D renderings with real estate drone photography is a popular technique for creating photorealistic images, especially with exterior and aerial renderings. By combining a 3D model with a photo of the surrounding area, you can enhance the realism of the image as opposed to recreating everything in 3d. That being said, to achieve the desired result, it is crucial to use a high-quality photo and ensure that the weather conditions are favorable. Hiring a professional photographer may be necessary to achieve the desired result and using your iphone just doesn’t quite cut it. 
  • Choose the Right Software – Choosing the right software is also crucial for achieving good levels of photorealism. While there are many types of software available, not all of them are designed with photorealism in mind. For example, software like Revit and SketchUp are geared more towards 3D modeling for architects and engineers and have limited rendering capabilities. As a general rule, 3ds Max, Lumion, and Maya tend to produce the highest quality results.
  • Get the Right Equipment – Just how having the right software is key, having the right hardware is also an important factor, meaning that if you have the wrong computer you’re going to struggle to make progress with 3d rendering. This is due to the fact that 3d rendering requires a solid CPU,  GPU and RAM, and many computers and laptops that are popular for day to day use, aren’t that well suited for 3d rendering. If you’re looking for information on what equipment to get, read our post on the best laptops for 3d modeling and rendering. 




Photorealistic rendering

To sum things up, there’s no doubt that mastering the art of creating high-quality 3D photorealistic renderings is a highly sought-after skill in various fields such as real estate, architecture, interior design, graphic design and video gaming. The demand for photorealistic renderings continues to grow as businesses recognize their power to captivate audiences and convey ideas with utmost realism. However, it’s important to acknowledge that becoming proficient in photorealistic renderings requires a significant amount of time and dedication to truly excel and remain competitive in these fields. By incorporating a few helpful tips and techniques discussed in this blog post, the process can become more manageable and rewarding. Additionally, utilizing appropriate software and equipment tailored for photorealistic renderings is crucial in ensuring the best possible results, setting you apart as a skilled practitioner in the realm of visualizations.




Contact NoTriangle Studio, a leading 3D company specialized in cutting-edge 3D architectural visualization, today if you’re ready to start your 3D rendering project.


Eddie 4


Author – Eddie, an experienced Sales & Marketing professional, joined NoTriangle in 2018 and has been an invaluable asset to the company’s growth. With his expertise in real estate marketing and as a communication specialist in the 3D Industry, Eddie has a keen interest in sharing his knowledge through writing, offering valuable insights and practical advice to readers.

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