Tips for creating more realistic 3D designs


Creating the most realistic 3D models showcases your skills as a designer and also makes your working relationship with the client far easier. Asking someone to imagine exactly what a finished product would look like used to be standard practice—it wasn’t possible to create a perfect, lifelike finish. But now clients are more demanding and they know that photorealistic 3D renders are not only possible but expected.

What is rendering?

3D rendering brings your design to life. It is how you pull a 2D sketch out from the page or screen and show off every aspect using various techniques. Working with lighting, shadows, textures and other important elements, you can visualise the finished product and remove any unnecessary guesswork as you hand designs over to clients or those involved in the next stage of the project.

Basics of 3D rendering

Creating a realistic 3D render relies on a few essential points that designers work with time and time again on each and every project. It all begins with putting pen to paper, or cursor to screen in our case, and developing the basic parts of the 3D model. Without this foundation, nothing else is possible. 

With the general idea now available to work with, it needs to be developed to paint an overall picture of how it fits in its desired setting. And once those integral parts are complete, it’s time to let the artistic flair work its magic. After this final step, you’re basically left with exactly how you imagined the design before you started.

Finding the right software

To create realistic rendering, which perfects your designs, it is essential to have the right tools to hand. 3D modelling software comes in various shapes and sizes but all with the same end game. 

It is up to the designer to master the modelling program and learn how to get the very best out of it. And depending on the types of projects that you work on, there will be additional considerations that help you choose your package. Each one comes with its own suite of tools that may suit some professionals better than others. Take your time to try them out and see what works best for you.

Tips for realistic rendering

Creating photorealistic rendering is a skill like any other. Here are a few ideas to help you perfect your skill set and start off on the right footing.

Understanding the project requirements

Designs are commissioned by the client and it is safe to say that every client is very different. Not only do you need to understand what they want but also learn as much about them as possible. Designs bring personality with them and your clients will be keen to leave their own personal stamp on a project even though they haven’t completed the creative process themselves.


With a clear vision of exactly what you are trying to produce, you’re able to begin bringing that vision towards some semblance of reality. No longer is it just a thought in the client’s mind, it will now take on a physical form as you get to work with creating the basic outline and start to smooth over the rough edges. Before moving on to the more intricate techniques, add your basic textures to give the model a lifelike feel. From here, you’re able to start considering exactly which parts need refining.

Adding light and shadow

Light and shadows can come from natural or artificial sources. Regardless of which aspect of the model you are working on, you’ll need to consider exactly how it will look and feel in different lights. Shadows need to be cast in the right place and colours need to reflect the lighting around them.

Rendering techniques 

Let’s take a look at a few techniques that you may want to consider when refining your designs.

Blocking – for animating a design, blocking is a crucial part of developing the scene. This 3D sketch will show the position of various elements and possibly even characters. You can adjust proportions easily without needing to involve too much detailed information.

Detailing – naturally, several parts come together to create your overall design. Detailing will produce the essential information that is needed for specific areas.

Texturing – applying surface properties and colours to a model gives it a look and feel that our brains can compare and understand.

Rendering – shades, lighting, shadows and other real-world elements help to give more depth and perfect the finished product.


And just when you think a design is finished, the client steps in and offers further opinions. This is perfectly natural and they want it to be as close to their vision as is humanly possible. Be prepared to adjust certain aspects of the design while you work with the client on refining those final images.


Making a 3D design as realistic as possible is the aim of the game. And it is essential to bring the original concept to life in as much detail as possible. Pay close attention to every single aspect and use every tool available to you to get the job done.


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