How to Evaluate High-Quality Rendering

Evaluating a high-quality rendering can be problematic for people who are not sure what to look out for

Denis Balabaev Vero

by Denis Balabaev

Art Director

Through the implementation of 3D rendering services, designers can give a real-life presentation of a building proposal to their clients, instantly riling their interest with impressive visualization.

A 3-dimensional representation of a building or a space is quite challenging to build and could take anywhere between a couple of days and several weeks, depending on the quality requirement. There are steps to evaluating high quality renderings and differentiating them from poor ones.

What are High-Quality Renderings?

High quality renderings outline all the intricacies of architectural design, this includes light, reflectivity, textures, colors and imperfections. Render quality depends on the model presented by the client as well as how much time is dedicated to prepare it. The designer has to choose the right assets (which is any digital material owned by a company or individual including different graphics, texts, videos, and animations), which will help you to create the perfect highly detailed rendering.

Renderings are not just images or animations, a good architectural rendering will take into account not only the visual aspects, but also the psychological impact on the consumer. All these factors in coalition will create a high-quality rendering that make the consumer feel engaged.

What Makes a Bad Architectural Rendering?

Not all renderings come out well, some of them end up being way below par, and there is a reason why. To create an impressive rendering, a lot of work has to go into the planning and creation of it. The following are a few factors that make an architectural rendering average or below that.

  • Lack of information 

Before starting to work on a rendering, the developer must have as much information about the project as possible, every detail has to be clearly shown to the artists to get the architectural point across. The general rule is that if the directions are not clear enough, then the final result will not be up to a good standard. When presenting a blueprint to an artist, all that is necessary is a good model, location, understanding of the project’s purpose and the vital features that need to be shown in the visuals. It's important to share all the intricate details with the artist, as they should not be having to find solutions for missing information themselves, as the designer will then have to spend too much time correcting the client’s mistakes rather than creating beautiful images.

  • Inexperienced CGI Artists 

Although there are a lot of professional developers, finding one that is an expert in 3D rendering is the best option for your projects. If the developer has a history of working with similar projects and delivering them at a high standard, then they would be a good person to have on board. There is a specific set of skills required to understand, and adapt to, the complex field of rendering. A professional will always have a trained eye to spot the colors that work together best, the shapes, textures and reflections, all that is necessary to make a high-quality rendering.

  • No Attention to Detail 

During the process of creating a high-quality rendering, every little detail should be taken into account by both the artist and client. If the rendering comes appears too digital and lacks emotional significance, it will not have the desired impact on the consumer compared to a rendering that consists of all lifestyle elements, and is accompanied by highly advanced graphics that makes an architectural design seem like reality. The smallest details matter when creating a rendering, such as small shadows, features of materials, imperfections of surfaces, and reflections from the sun.

Steps to Evaluating High-Quality Renderings

Assessing render quality, whether it's high or low, entails using a checklist of features, with many criteria relying on the level of detail presented by the developer.

Example of a high-quality rendering
Competition project Vlijweide, architect KOW Architecten
  • Lighting 

Lighting is so important that when 3D rendering is performed, it is the first thing that artists focus on. Lights and shadows are essential components in producing a high-quality render that stimulates the observer’s emotions. Light needs a lot of care and attention when creating a 3D rendering, as light is what gives the visualization depth, volume and color. An image’s lighting is an important feature, as different lightning at different times of day can have an emotional impact on the observer. This means that the artist should be paying close attention to scene lightning, as flat or unbalanced lighting has a weighty effect on the quality of the final virtual image and hinders the production of necessary emotions for the observer.

  • Composition & Storytelling 

A good CGI-Artist creates realistic renders of buildings, a great one creates realistic graphic paintings of these buildings. The composition of the frame is what distinguishes the renderer from the artist, if you incorporate good lighting and make all the textures as realistic as possible, the picture may still not look spectacular. The artist must carefully select the proportions of the frame and place objects on it, maintaining the balance of elements without violating the concept of the render.

There should always be some action or dramatic effect in the picture. This allows the artist to create an even better, more realistic environment. A realistic render of a residential skyscraper may not evoke the same emotions as one depicting a man walking towards it with a bouquet of flowers. This is a simple example of what storytelling is.

High-quality architectural visualization
Competition project Modular concept, Paes architecture
  • Realistic Materials & Surfaces

Reflection and refraction are hugely common in the real world and can be observed daily. Glass and water are two very common materials which display both properties, as light can pass through them through the process of transmission and reflect light at the same time. These reflective finishes are created through the implementation of meticulous graphic designs that work together with Bump Maps and Lightning to create realistic images and virtual tours of properties.

Every object in the real world has a reflection. Artists can simulate this surface effect by editing material properties, although this requires a certain degree of skills and extensive knowledge about how materials behave in real life. Some objects have matte reflections, and some have glossy ones, and the creation of these surfaces requires an understanding of how reflections, light and materials behave in the real world.

Normal Map vs Displacement Map

All surfaces have some imperfections in the real world. There is no perfectly flat surface; there are always some cracks and bumps. There are 2 ways to create this effect in CGI: Normal map and Displacement. A normal map is a texture that tells light where to cast shadows on a surface, without changing the geometry of a 3D object. But displacement tells the surface where to create geometry changes. So in other words, the artists can create perfect imperfections and make your materials feel more realistic.

Realistic textures are one of the cornerstones of a high-quality rendering. This should include hyper realistic images of building material; such as brick or limestone, and the way all of those materials look and feel. If a building is made out of brick, a quality rendering would be designed to show the roughness of the bricks. If the rendering quality does not show realistic textures, the quality of the visualization plunges, therefore depriving the rendering of its purpose – making it as realistic as possible.

Besides the buildings themselves, the surrounding environment and greenery must have realistic surfaces and materials too; the trees, patches of grass, gardens, and anything else that may surround a building, including every 3D asset that the artist wants to present.

  • Color 

A complete 3D rendering requires an effective use of different colors to bring it together. When it comes to projects, artists need to make sure that the colors used are complementary to the look that they want to achieve and that they are an accurate representation of what’s possible. A strategic use of color can elevate a rendering to become more attractive to clients.

Although some artists think that adding an abundance of different colors will create an impressive visualization, they are usually mistaken. Using as few as 3-4 colors will have a better visual effect than using as many colors as possible, as it helps to focus the clients attention on the building itself, without any colorful distractions.

 visualization for a marketing project
Marketing project Pyeongchang, architect KPF
  • Atmosphere & Emotion 

When it comes to communicating architectural designs, atmosphere plays a fundamental role in sparking emotions and heightening intrigue. It not only conveys a specific time and place for your rendering, but can also amplify the feeling a design gives off while telling a stronger, clearer story about its form and function.

Even though your building design stays the same, a small change in the atmospheric conditions around it can dramatically impact how your audiences will feel when they see your project. Some artists might even argue that it can even change the building itself in unexpected, intangible ways.

Marketing project East Side Office developed by EDGE

The Takeaways

These features are just minute parts of all tools and tricks that artists use to make renders more photorealistic. When all quality-boosting factors are implemented into a 3D rendering, it produces a realistic architectural visualization that attracts consumers and investors to purchase and view the property.

The reason why artists go through all the hard work of implementing reflections, refractions, normal maps, displacement maps, lighting, composition, colors, and storytelling is fundamentally to amplify the beauty of an idea that will one day be brought to life, presented as if it already has been.

While rendering used to be done exclusively by specialists, it is becoming a popular and necessary marketing tool, communicating all the critical information such as depth and scale across several teams and stakeholders. Head over to our blog section to discover even more insights from our experts and unlock new possibilities for your projects.

about the author

Denis Balabaev Vero

"Every project deserves a unique identity. Looking for it is the most exciting journey I can imagine"

Denis Balabaev is the Creative Director here at VERO, managing a team of 15 talented artists. This team is the heart of the company, a place where we create exciting hyper-realistic visualizations for architects and developers all over the... read more

web development

3D architectural visualization

3D architectural rendering

3D interior rendering

3D interior visualization

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