Rendering Joy

Working as a graphic designer in-house was an interesting change for me after freelancing on a magazine remotely for ten years. I love being the art department go-to, make-it-happen pioneer when a new product gets the green light for marketing, and it’s time to enthusiastically display it to the world!

When the glass manufacturer I worked for came out with a new line of shower enclosures, I had the truly delightful task of researching inspiration for new bathroom scenes to showcase our product. I had always loved scrolling through Houzz and browsing the Ikea catalog (whether I had a home improvement project or not), and HGTV is the number one required channel in our lineup!

Our sales and marketing department agreed that, rather than setting up an actual room and installing our product to be photographed, we would hire a photorealistic rendering company to place a 3D image of our product into the ideal scene of our own creation.

Photorealistic rendering is a type of 3D drawing where the result is not easy to distinguish from a photograph. A great example can be commonly seen in the Swedish manufacturer Ikea’s catalog. The clean, perfect rooms draw you in to the possibility of what their products can create in your home. Did you know that most of the images in these sleek catalogs are not photographs of real rooms at all, but have been 3D rendered?

High-end renderings of real estate property have been shown to raise the brand reputation and increase sales, telling a story which inspires potential buyers. Used often today by developers and realtors to connect better with their audiences, furnished property renderings can be particularly useful in creating an emotional connection between the client and a property even before construction begins.

Working from architects’ or engineers’ drawings, some of the programs a rendering company could be using to build 3D models are Blender, Vectorworks, Autocad and 3ds Max. I gave the renderer I hired an inspiration scene on which they could loosely base their new scene, as well as CAD drawings, measurements and finishes for our new shower enclosure components. Once the scene was approved by us, they added lighting to include global illumination from the sky, as well as direct light from the sun and indoor sources. HDRI (High Dynamic Range Image) lighting can also be used to create particular moods as from a cloudy, rainy, autumn or snowy day.

Realistic textures and shades were then created by the renderer or obtained from extensive materials libraries. To imitate real life, slight imperfections were added to the materials for “dirt maps,” signs of aging, discoloration and variations in reflections. A room scene that is “too perfect” would just not seem realistic enough.

Once approved, the room scenes showcasing our new line of showers really made our product stand out as a high end solution, much better than the photographs of past models years ago. I would love to supervise more high end renderings, or use them to create that emotional connection when marketing new homes. 3D renderings truly inspire me as a solution for selling home products as well as properties!

Rendering: Cw Select Zephyr tub and shower enclosure in Antique Bronze, available at Menards.com.

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