What is 3D Rendering Software? (and Why Every Design Team Needs It)

by | Sep 20, 2023 | 0 comments

In the world of design and creativity, visuals hold everything together. 3D rendering software is the gateway to bringing ideas to life. Even more, it’s what makes up the software that brings capabilities to make the design process more efficient, make design teams more organized, and provide assets to help companies communicate their products better with customers. It’s critical for design teams to have 3D rendering software that is able to complement their design process. But first, let’s take a step back to think about what 3D rendering entails which should give you more insight about 3D rendering software and a concise list of what to consider when determining your need for creating 3D renderings.

What is 3D Rendering?

3D rendering is the transformative step of turning 3D models into rich photorealistic images, engaging product animations, content to support product information management, or interactive 3D content for web, mixed reality, and more. It’s the pinnacle of your creative process. It allows complete exploration of materials and texture variations and the study of light under different conditions and environments to drive design direction, aid engineering and manufacturing, plus provide sales and marketing with assets to reach a wider audience. With 3D rendering software, you produce visuals that challenge the boundary between reality and art. The distinction? It’s all down to your artistic touch.

How Does 3D Rendering Work?

3D Rendering is the final step of the 3D visualization process. The 3D visualization process includes import of 3D model assets, application of materials and textures to the 3D model, adjusting the lighting and environment settings, setting up cameras for different views, and adding animations or variations if needed. Once this is done, the 3D rendering is generated as the final output from the 3D rendering software.

Benefits of Using 3D Rendering in Design

Using 3D rendering software for design, specifically, provides advantages you may not have considered before. It allows you to communicate early concepts, make design decisions, present production-ready design details and create marketing and sales visuals. The scene in 3D rendering software, where you work, also adds the benefits of serving as a ‘Digital Twin’ of the product that can be used across and within product design teams.

Product visualized with 3D Rendering Software

Why Design Teams Need 3D Rendering to Improve Their Projects

Having a ‘Digital Twin’ is just the first benefit to a design team. While it serves as a single source of truth for everything related to the product, there are capabilities 3D rendering software provides that aid the team in communication, decision-making, and collaboration. A good rendering software will make it possible for teams to set up a central location for all 3D assets, so everyone is using the same templates and materials. It will provide features to improve workflow like advanced tools for working with materials, lighting, and geometry. Teams can use network rendering features to take advantage of their combined computing power to produce final renderings and animations. A team’s 3D rendering software should also fit seamlessly into the design process with their 3D modeling software.

How Does 3D Modeling Differ from 3D Rendering?

3D modeling is the process of creating geometry and 3D rendering is the result of adding materials to the surface of that geometry, and lighting that interacts with the material properties. It’s not unlike the physical practice of building a model car, adding the pieces together (3D modeling) with the final result of adding the paint and label details (3D rendering). 3D modeling software and 3D rendering software is often a different application and each may approach geometry and lighting in different ways. The best 3D rendering software will work with and integrate with the majority of the most common 3D modeling software with features that complement their process.

Choosing the Right 3D Rendering Software

Features

The best approach to choosing features in 3D rendering software is to first look at the broad differentiators, then drill down into the specific capabilities. Each feature should improve the product development process. Each should meet the needs of the individual or team but also have applications to aid more aspects of the company’s visualization needs. Here are some general differentiators to consider:

Ease of Use

Whether implementing 3D rendering software for the first time or switching to a new rendering software, you want software that provides a fast learning curve, dedicated and/or online customer support, and training options. The software should be intuitive and complement your process so you can focus more on the design and less on the software. Second only to Ease of use, is speed.

Speed

As a 3D professional, you depend on software and hardware working well together. You should be able to work quickly within the software and produce results quickly. For 3D rendering software, you should be able to see changes to materials and lighting as you make them in real-time. The software should be able to utilize both the CPU and the GPU to provide you the option to create renderings fast. After that, you want to consider how it integrates within your company and with your other software.

Integration

Your rendering software must mesh seamlessly with other software, promoting smooth transitions throughout your project’s life cycle. This may include having plugins available for your existing software and platforms or direct import/export of certain file formats. Lay out the project and, instead of plugging the rendering software into different spots, spread it across the entire process and think how each stage may gain support from the 3D rendering software.

3D rendering software can transform your career, team, and company. It spans the product development process to elevate design teams and offer unparalleled project clarity. 3D renderings breathes life into concepts, help communicate design functionality, streamline decision-making, and fostering customer trust. Dive into the world of 3D rendering to amplify your designs and bring your visions to vivid reality.

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Written By Karim Merchant

Karim is an industrial design professional and Creative Specialist at KeyShot. Karim leads the KeyShot Quick Tips and other learning series on YouTube; you can also find Quick Tips on the KeyShot website.

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