Rendering is the process of creating realistic images from a 3D model by means of specialised software, often used in architecture, simulations, video games, movies, and of course, product design.
As designers we use photorealistic visualisations to speed up the product development process in many ways. They help us communicate concepts long before they exist in physical form; important product details can easily be presented to clients and customers, such as materials, textures, and surface features, as well as giving context and scale to an otherwise plain looking screen image. Ultimately, they help us make quick and informed design decisions, shortening the product development cycle.
Photorealistic rendering can be used in a 2D/3D mash-up combined with what is sometimes known as, ‘block modeling’ (3D CAD models drawn to represent volume and aesthetic with no technical regard for manufacture) in the early phases of concept development. The ability to work in 2D and 3D simultaneously is very advantageous. This allows us to quickly capture basic geometric and aesthetic design intent; communicated through low fidelity renders to client and customer groups as time efficiently as possible.
IDENTIFY PRODUCT IMPERFECTIONS
The complex HDR (high-dynamic-range) environments and advanced lighting used in rendering software help us identify and refine subtle surface behaviours prior to tooling or manufacture – this can save time and money, as well as frustration down the line.
THOROUGH MATERIAL EXPERIMENTATION
As the design of aesthetic, tactile and mechanical features progress, we can simultaneously test a library of textures, materials, finishes, and colours for detailed decision making; without the larger cost and effort of building an array of prototypes.
COMPELLING PRESENTATIONS FOR INVESTORS AND FEEDBACK GROUPS
For the majority of people it can be hard to truly visualise and understand a concept idea, making photorealistic rendering invaluable for presenting and gathering feedback from clients, consumer groups and potential investors. This enables people to visualise products with much more realism, instantly to scale and in situ. When a concept looks “real”, consumer groups are able to provide meaningful feedback, faster. Investors are more likely to be compelled by the idea; including their logo or brand in the render will really drive the pitch home. The visualisations can also be used to develop marketing strategies and assist in documenting customer feedback as the product iterates.
CREATE GRAPHIC MATERIAL WITH EXISTING 3D CAD
Blender’s rendering and 3D CAD software work seamlessly together to easily export files for photorealistic visualisations. This means that both during, and at the completion of the product development process we already have all the relevant 3D CAD data to consecutively create compelling ancillary graphic material. This might include advertising material for catalogues and websites, 3D product views on e-commerce platforms, assembly instructions, packaging design and visualisations, and help communicate technical detail for presentations and award submissions.