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What is a 3D Render?

Put simply, a 3D render is an image created (or generated) on a computer from three-dimensional models – CGI (Computer Generated Imagery).

Renders are sometimes known by other means; product renders, 3D rendering, product rendering, packaging render, 3D render or product visualisations to name just a few. But, they are all the same thing. The only real difference is the industry that uses the render eg. Building renders are sometimes called 3D renderings or architectural visualisations whereas advertising/marketing companies would call them product or packaging renders.

Unfortunately,  there is also a very popular misconception that Photoshop can make renders when it can’t – Photoshop can make mock-ups or visuals, but not renders. And this sort of misunderstanding is part of the reason why some find the whole 3D rendering process very confusing.

3D rendering used to be only used by large organisations with big budgets and very deep pockets. Hollywood is a great example: big-budget film studios use 3D animations in their blockbuster movies. But today, with the advent of faster (cheaper) computers and better software to create 3D renders, renders have become more widely available without blowing marketing budgets. Finally, with our help,  the ‘little guy’s’ products can now look just as good.

Creating 3D Renders

Here is a very simplified breakdown of the creation process. Hopefully, this will fill in some gaps in relation to some of the jargon we use, but for more frequently asked questions, please feel free to contact us.

Example image as part of the render creation process - Modelling

3D Modelling:

The first step of every job starts with the creation of the object (The Product) that is required in the render (the wireframe). This 3D model can either be made from scratch or from an existing CAD file.

Example image as part of the render creation process - Lighting

Lighting & Scene Creation:

During this stage, artificial or natural light sources are simulated using the 3D computer software. The software generates lighting effects like light refraction and depth to improve the appearance of the render. Lighting can also be added to enhance or perceive the three-dimensionality of the scene through shadows and highlights on the product’s surfaces.

Example image as part of the render creation process - Texturing

Texturing & Materials:

The software is used to create and map textures or materials onto the 3D objects in the scene. Think of this as shrink wrapping a flat material, photo or texture around the surface of the 3D object. Good texturing is key for photorealistic 3d rendered images.

Example image as part of the render creation process - Rendering


This is where the final render is generated. At this stage, the 3D modelling software converts the 3D scene into a high-resolution single image. The subsequent files that come from this stage are similar to the RAW files that are produced by modern-day digital cameras but have way more levels of complexity which inturn allows for more complex corrections and realism.

Example image as part of the render creation process - Final Render

Post Production:

Just like a photographer, the photo that comes off the camera isn’t usually what the photographer shows you. It can have many hours of work applied to it to add the finishing touches and final details – photographers call this stage ‘processing’. And, just like a photographer, this is done to all our renders. Multiple raw render files are brought together to create the final rendered image using our usual weapon of choice, Adobe Photoshop.

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