3D Rendering Pricing Guide | What Should a Render Cost?

  • Architectural rendering
  • kitchen interior render
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This guide sets out to answer one of our more common questions: What should 3D rendering and architectural visualization services cost?

What are the different 3D Rendering Price Points – Cheapest Architectural Renders to Most Expensive

Bottom of the Barrel – Cheapest 3D Rendering Pricing: $80-$250 per image

With 3D rendering technology available globally, the cost associated with 3D rendering can fluctuate drastically. Many architectural rendering firms in less developed countries are able to produce cheap options to create 3D images by taking advantage of more relaxed regulations and cheaplaborr. Often working with 3D firms overseas can generate a number of problems regarding language barriers, time zone issues, stylistic difference and in general, the final quality tends to be lower. That’s not to say there aren’t amazing 3D artists all over the world, however, many of these firms offering bottom of the barrel pricing focus on high quantity as opposed to high quality. Having architectural images created by a company offering prices from $80-$250 per image should be reserved for when the project’s purpose is simply conceptualizing ideas and designs for a personal project. Many of our clients have previously tried their luck using the low-end pricing option only to realize ‘you get what they pay for’ and have ended up coming to us.

Times when the cheapest pricing is best:

  • When the budget for the project is the only concern, final quality and personal time spent micro managing the project isn’t an issue

Things to watch out for:

  • Misleading portfolio – Did they actually create these images? Do they have 5 or 6 nice renders followed by many very poor renders? (It’s common for companies to hide their more typical project quality examples lower on the page or not to show them at all)
  • Are the quality examples shown with small thumbnails?
  • Will this company respect your timelines?
  • Will they understand your revisions and implement subtle design details?
  • How long have they been in business for?
  • How large is their portfolio?
  • Are there hidden costs associated with their projects?

Low-End 3D Rendering Pricing: $250-$400

This Price range is a step up from the bottom of the barrel pricing bracket as it typically represents a slightly more professional experience. The images are more predictable as the company offering these is more likely to be more established (not always the case). Although these architectural renders are typically serviceable for many applications, they are by no means “works of art”. This sort of render is ideal for homeowners and very small scale projects. Typically, one would not use this quality of image for a sales brochure or for any marketing material.

Times when low end pricing is best:

  • When the budget for the project is the main concern, final quality isn’t of the utmost importance
  • The general purpose of the project is to gain approval from regulatory bodies one may also use for basic style planning
  • When you’re a home owner looking to plan out your DIY renovation and you don’t mind investing your time into ‘hand-holding’ to explain basic design concepts

Things to watch out for:

  • How deep is their portfolio?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • Will language and design style be an issue?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • Do they offer any additional quality beyond the ‘bottom of the barrel’ pricing option or are they simply priced higher

Mid Level 3D Rendering Pricing – Best Value: $400-$1500

This is typically the price range RealSpace3D likes to fall into as a 3D Rendering Company. Mid Level pricing is the most common option for developers, architects, real estate agents, and designers. It tends to offer the best blend of quality and value.  That being said, price alone is not enough to determine whether the quality of the renders will be worth while for your specific applications. It is important to dig deep into a 3d rendering company’s portfolio, request similar images to your upcoming project beyond what is shown on their website.

For the average customer, it can be challenging to differentiate between an “alright” render and a “good” render without having a direct comparison. The best way to judge render quality is to look on a site like rew.ca and take a look at how your direct competitor’s renderings look side by side with the company you’re considering. At the very least you should be able to say that the company you’re considering’s images are on par if not better.

Times when mid level pricing is best:

  • When you’re trying to balance budget and quality
  • The purpose of the render is for sales, design planning, regulatory approval or conceptualization
  • If you’re an architect, developer, real estate agent, designer or home owner

Things to watch out for:

  • Can the company justify their higher price point over a lower end render?
  • Will the company provide images similar to what they advertise?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • Do they meet or exceed your competition’s rendering quality?
  • What is their turnaround time?
  • Are they local, are they available to talk over the phone to explain their services?

High End 3D Rendering Pricing – Most Expensive: $1500-$10,000+

High End 3D rendering pricing is typically reserved for the large, established, corporations where value is important but top tier quality takes priority. These renders are not for your everyday client as most budgets do not allow for the more exuberant pricing, however, when you’re planning on marketing a new highrise development or super mall, branding and perception is massive. Also, a few thousand dollars on a 100 million dollar project is just a drop in the bucket, especially when these images could be responsible for hundreds of presales or they could be the difference between approval and rejection.

One of the common benchmarks used when describing how a client would like their marketing images to look is “I want it to be like the Apple of  _____”  However, what is often not mentioned when referring to Apple’s marketing is the team of experts and countless revisions it took to get to that level, not to mention the high price tag. That being said the money invested in high-quality branding seems to have worked out quite well for Apple.

Times when high end pricing is best:

  • When the ONLY focus is quality
  • The purpose of the render is for sales, design planning, regulatory approval or conceptualization but on a grand scale
  • If you’re an architect, developer, real estate agent, designer but your project needs to turn heads, and be the best by a wide margin
  • When you’re willing to pay to work with the best companies in the industry

Things to watch out for:

  • Can the company reasonably argue that they are one of the best architectural rendering companies in the world?
  • What sets their architectural visualizations apart from a those of a good company?
  • Is the company attempting to take advantage of customers who may be unfamiliar with the industry?
  • Are their renders a massive improvement over a more economical option?
  • Have they worked with some of the top brands in the industry before?
  • Do they offer any guarantees associated with their render quality or turnaround time?

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Pricing Components of a Render

To better understand how rendering projects are priced, you need to understand the costs to the rendering company. There are two major factors in the price of a render: labour, and rendering time. We will address each of these issues separately below.

Labour

In order to create a render a 3D artist needs to:
1. Understand the clients vision.
2. Create the model.
3. Texture the model.
4. Set up the lighting.
5. Set up the camera.
For more detail on these steps, please click here to see our 3D rendering basics guide.

What increases the labour involved?

The labour involved in a 3D render is not as straight forward as one might think. Skilled 3D artists can create what can appear to be an extremely detailed scene in a very short amount of time using the tools at their disposal. On the other hand, seemingly simple scenes might take much longer.

For example, one could create a large and very accurate aerial view of a forest very quickly using public topographical data and a number of automated processes. However, it could take several weeks to model a single piece of equipment, according to exacting standards, such as an electronic device with complex circuit boards and wiring.

In many cases the process can be sped up using items from our library, such as furniture, cars, people, and finishes. The main factors that affect labour are the level of detail and the number of unique elements required.

Rendering Time

Rendering time is the amount of time that it takes a computer to create your image. This is directly related to how realistic the image is, and how much detail you require. However, there are many tricks to create detail without adding much rendering time.

As a consumer, you should not worry too much about rendering time: that is the job of the rendering company! We provide the information below to help you understand why some projects cost more, and take longer, then others.

What increases rendering time?

Depending on the rendering software, the number of light sources can sometimes greatly affect rendering times – thus, exterior scenes can render quite quickly. Another factor is the detail of the scene. The industry term for this is poly-count, which refers to the number of polygons used to model the scene. For more information, you can check out Wikipedia’s 3D modeling page here.

A common element that greatly increases detail, and therefore rendering time, is foreground vegetation, background vegetation is generally optimized with a technique of using billboards or sprites click here to learn more.  Additionally, curved surfaces tend to require much more detail.

Reducing rendering times

The biggest single thing you can do to reduce rendering time is to reduce the number of required revisions by giving detailed plans and specific feedback. Every time you require a revision, some or all of the image needs to be re-rendered. If you require fewer revisions, it will require less rendering time. This may save you money in the long run – at RealSpace, we generally price lower for returning customers, who we know we can work with efficiently.

Hardware and software effects on rendering time

With the constant improvements in computer hardware and the changes in rendering software, rendering time for still images is becoming a very minor factor in price. However, the rendering time for animations is still a very relevant factor in their production cost.

Post Processing on 3D renders

Once a 3D rendering program has created a rendered image the work is typically not completed for the architectural rendering artist. Adjusting color balances, adding special effects or populating the image with an entourage is typically done in the final stages of the rendering process with Photoshop or a free program such as Gimp. Because this stage of the production is not generated by a computer but rather, painstakingly incorporated into the images by hand it is only done once a camera angle and lighting has been established.

residential rendering

Pricing Strategies

Below are two pricing strategies most commonly advertised by 3D rendering companies.

Per-image pricing

With per-image pricing, you are charged a fixed price per rendered image. This type of pricing relies on the fact that most projects require multiple renders. The rendering company probably loses money on the first render, but makes it back on subsequent renders.

Per-image pricing is generally a strategy to productize the service of rendering. It allows the advertiser to offer a dollar value on an ad, or offer “20% off your first render”.  Make sure to read the fine print on these offers, as there may terms such as size restrictions (square footage), or restrictions on the number of revisions.

Times when per-image pricing is best.

At RealSpace we don’t feel that that per-image pricing meets most of our clients’ needs, but the exception to this is if you need only a single render. That way you can take advantage of their lost leader and save yourself some money. Just remember that you get what you pay for: if they know that they are losing money, it may reflect on you and your project. To be safe, make sure they have a satisfaction guarantee.

Per-project / Per-scene pricing

For this type of pricing you generally send a company the details of your project, and they send you back a customized quote based on your needs. We may be biased because this is the way we quote, but for most projects we feel this is best for the client. We believe that all projects are unique and all clients’ needs are unique. In many cases we have found creative ways to get our clients what they need while keeping projects within a given budget.

Ways to Reduce Costs When Dealing With a Custom Quoted Project Without Reducing Quality:

  • Be organized.
  • Include all plans and reference images.
  • List and label as much as you can in your plans, drawings, or sketches.
  • Mark camera locations and angles in your plans, drawings, or sketches.
  • Have everything ready when you ask for a quote. An organized client is generally easier to work with, and you may get a better price because of it.
  • Ask if the company has a library of models that you can use for your project. This can be a big time saver, especially for interior scenes.
  • Know what resolution you need. If your renders are only going to be viewed on a computer screen, you will require much lower resolutions than if you need to have them printed.
  • Find other renders that you like. This makes it much easier to produce a style that you will like and saves time on revisions.Ask what can be done to get the price down. Sometimes there are sacrifices that may not make much difference to you, but make the company’s life much easier.

Picking a Company

There are rendering companies producing fantastic work all over the world, but picking one to trust can be daunting. The number one complaint we hear from customers who have had a bad experience is: “they did not understand what I needed, and I was not happy with the results.” Click here to find out more about selecting a 3d rendering company

  • Here are some questions to ask:
  • Are they professional and respectful of my time?
  • Can I communicate effectively with them?
  • Do they understand my vision and the style I am going for?
  • Is their work good quality?
  • Can I see high-resolution images from their portfolio?

RealSpace 3D Rendering Services

At RealSpace, we pride ourselves on our high quality renders and professional service. Check out our 3D Architectural Rendering Services page for details.

Starting Price List for RealSpace 3D’s Rendering Services

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