What is 3D rendering? Everything You Need to Know

What is 3D rendering? Everything You Need to Know

The beauty of living in the 21st century is experiencing the pace at which technology is radically transforming various sectors. 

Some technologies such as 3D rendering seemed like an impossibility a few decades ago.  But they’re now at the heart of visualizing innovations in many business spheres.

The application of 3D rendering is primarily used by companies to help customers and investors see their products and ideas in near real-life form with the help of 3D visualization. 

With 3D rendering, what was once an expensive endeavor in visualizing creative concepts without going through the expensive process of real-life prototyping. This process is now accessible, inexpensive, and much faster. 

In this piece, we’ll dive into the world of 3D rendering. What is it? How does it work? And it’s application in various fields.

Related: Best Free Floor Plan Software

What is 3D rendering?

3D rendering is defined as the automatic process of creating a 3D image using computer software. 

The idea of 3D rendering is not new and has been in existence as far back as four decades ago. At the time, however, though the concept was there, it had not evolved to the extent that it has today. 

Today, through advanced technology such as better computing power and high-resolution printing, the technology is applied in various creative spaces where it can help further visualize a designer’s concepts. 

How Does it Work?

Well, one might wonder why they need a computer or software to render an image when they can easily use a camera to obtain a picture of the same object. There’s some correlation between photography, cinematography, and 3D imaging. 

They both involve staging scenes, lighting, and production of images. However, a camera is limited to photographing existing objects, and even then, there’s a huge creative limitation since one can’t manipulate the camera or image enough to create elements that are not there, which they would like to be included in the picture. 

In 3D rendering, it’s possible to select elements that one wants in a rendered image to accentuate the outcome of the image to a client's satisfaction. Such elements include:

  • Creation of a 3D object or model
  • Texturing
  • Adjusting the image to proper lighting
  • Adjustment of effects
  • Selection of successful camera angles

3D rendering software essentially allows a designer to bring their concepts to life within a digital image with excellent detail, and inexpensively compared to real-life prototyping of various scenarios. 

An architect designing a simple or complex building can bring to life the concepts in his design using 3D imagery in order to help a client to see and understand their work.

The client can see how the complete image of the house would look like from all angles; the front, the back even the aerial view. The image can include immaculate details of the home such as the lawn, parking, swimming pool, and garden. 

The same software can also show amazing details of the interior design from the living room and kitchen designs to the floor plans as well as wall colors and general color schemes to consider for the home interior.

Related: What is a site plan?

Who Uses 3D Plans?


Various industries have found 3D rendering technology to be significantly helpful in introducing their products to their clientele. Industries, where 3D has become an indispensable tool, include the following:

  • Architecture
  • Planning for complex surgeries in medicine
  • Creating movies
  • Video and gaming industry

Why 3D Rendering Useful?

3D rendering has revolutionized industries beyond graphic design. Let’s take a look at some key areas where 3D rendering is widely used:

Medical Field

Complex surgeries can now be planned and executed flawlessly. Medical experts use the help of 3D imaging and modeling to allow medical teams to go beyond one-dimension images to better study and visualize a procedure in greater detail. This allows them to prepare better and anticipate challenges that may arise during the process. 

The technology is also beneficial to medical students for their training. Some concepts, such as medical ones may often be a tad too complicated for most laypeople to grasp. But using 3D rendering, patients and doctors can communicate and understand each other more effectively. 

Related: How do I draw a site plan? 

3D Rendering for Architecture/Construction

3d render of a colorful european neighborhood

What can 3D Rendering show a client wanting to build or remodel?

Architectural concepts also represent another area where most people may find it hard to understand architectural plans and blueprints.

3D rendering of concept changes offers the architect a medium in which he can render the images of his designs and concepts to a client or an investor.

The client can see an actual building in exceptional detail even before the building phase begins. 

For instance, a client looking to invest in a high-rise mixed-use building may fail to fully grasp an architect’s proposal with respect to finer details. But with the help of 3D imaging, the architect can bring the high rise building to life with defined features. 

This includes showcasing the exterior of the building and the finishing on the face of the building which are conjured to life with the help of the 3D software.

This enables the client to have a real visual of what the architect has in mind. From there the client can express what he likes and doesn’t like, and the necessary changes can be added or subtracted accordingly. It just makes visualization, especially for the clients, benefit so much easier.

Related: How to get a plot plan for my property?

How is 3D rendering great for a proposal?

Similarly, with 3D imagery, an architect is able to help a client deliver a convincing proposal to would be investors, as the conversation is not just an explanation but consists of an actual image that represents the project in great detail. 

3D presentations can also involve walkthroughs that when combined with VR technology can enable investors to realistically walk through planned spaces and a get a more impactful and realistic feel of what the space entails. 

Visit MySitePlan to see a site plan example!

What was it like before 3D rendering?

3D model of a construction site

Before 3D rendering, the only way one could breathe life into architectural blueprints would be to make a physical model of the project. While it worked and still works today, creating a physical model can be time-consuming, expensive, and a delicate process. 

How has 3D imaging changed the way we create site plans?

With 3D imaging, the aesthetics of every aspect of the building exterior to interior can be rendered with exceptional visualization. It brings the building to life in a way that the client can visualize, understand and can therefore ask pertinent questions. 

There’s also the ability to create different variations in parallel, and even make edits on the spot to rendered pieces. Such clarity of architectural concepts is highly sought after by many clients so that they can be able to make informed business decisions regarding a real estate investment even before an actual project commences.  

This explains why 3D rendering is also referred to as 3D visualization. It brings what would have been an unassuming drawing to life and gives it character.

Related: What you need to know for a demolition plan

Is architectural 3D rendering expensive?

3D rendered image of a city with tall skyscrapers

The cost of 3D rendering is often hinged on the quality of work the 3D rendering company can produce. Some 3D rendering companies may be cheap but their quality of work is often poor and dodgy. 

As a general rule of thumb, the cost of high-quality 3D rendering will often be on the higher side. Factors that affect the cost of rendering, other than high quality work, is how complex the scope of work to be rendered is. 

Here are the aspects that come into consideration when providing a quotation for 3D rendering.

  • Amount of labor needed
  • Modeling 
  • Details supplied by the client such as files, materials and reference
  • Size of the image
  • Texturing
  • Time frame for completion

3D rendering for a mansion or bungalow will cost significantly less than rendering a high rise building or a skyscraper. This is because the scope of work for a high-rise building is far more involved than that of a bungalow.

3D rendering can take some time which is why it’s recommended to start the process earlier in order to allow enough time to bring out good quality results and effect any changes in good time. 

The process can be fairly involving and labor-intensive.  A 3D render for a small house might take as little as a few days, while that of a high-rise building may take up to several weeks depending on the complexity of the task.

Related: Engineer Scale vs. Architectural Scale


The advances of technology have made it possible to visualize objects way before they are even built or created. 

From a creative and practical standpoint, different clients can now see a representation of what their homes would like and not have to imagine that while staring blankly at blueprints. This is a great way to interact with clients, especially in industries where there is a lot of jargon. 

The visual quickly explains the jargon and what an architect is trying to explain. With this technology, one can visualize their end product and ask pertinent questions or raise their concerns based on the image they are conversing about. 

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  • Ryan Crownholm