Basics - Rendering the 3D Model
by Evan H. Shu, FAIA
Professional golfers like to say that "they drive for show, and they putt for dough." Similarly, some would say that for most architects, rendering packages are for show and CAD drafting is for dough. But that statement is far less true today than it was five years ago, and certainly far less true than ten years ago.
As rendering and modeling tools are getting easier to use and much more powerful, it becomes more important to both understand and use rendering software; such images are now being used more in all facets of design and production.
Here are some general principles that apply to any rendering package you may work with. They are vital as a basic springboard to any future advanced rendering.
The 3D Model
The first and most important step to a good rendering is a good 3D model. We're not talking about those quick "2-1/2 D" models but the true 3D models, with slabs and voids, which many beginners seem to avoid.
Most experts say that "less is more" when it comes to a 3D model. In other words, have a good concept of what views you are trying to produce and build the model to produce those views as efficiently as possible. For example, if you are doing only exterior views, don't bother with anything interior — except possibly for some major item which you want to be visible through the windows.
Also important is your concept for material separations. Most rendering packages allow you to render based on layers and colors, so two different materials must be either on two separate layers or in two different colors.