3D Rendering Glossary of Terms


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Term Definition
3D Graphics 3D graphics are three dimensional representations of geometric data on an X-Y-Z axis (width, height, depth). The three dimensional representations are typically used to produce 2D graphics through the process of 3D rendering. 3D graphics are central to many professions including film, interior design, and architecture. For example, a 3D artist might use 3D graphics to create architectural models and produce 3D renders and animations for an architect to communicate a home or development. The term 3D graphics is also used to describe 2D graphics that accurately portray a 3D space, regardless of the source or method of production of these graphics. For example, traditionally paper and pencil representations were referred to as 3D graphics.
3D Home Design 3D home design is the process of using 3D modeling software to design a house. This can be beneficial to both the architect and the client, since it can be much easier to visualize then 2D plans. A 3D designed home can allow the architect to walk the client through the home, commonly referred to as animations and fly throughs. As well as, the 3D designed home can be rendered to show the home photo-realistically. See house rendering for our services.
3D Illustration 3D illustration is imagery that portrays 3D models, using common ray tracing and texture-based programs. These images can be called 3D graphics, although technically they are 2D images. 3D illustrations may be produced by hand, or by computer rendering. 3D illustration is useful for accurately describing a three dimensional space, and thus it is often used for architectural illustrations.
3D Interior Design 3D interior design is a subcategory of interior rendering, and is the process of visualizing interior designs using 3D modeling and 3D rendering software. 3D interior design has two major benefits; one, helping the designer see and refine their ideas during the design process; two, allowing the client to see and sign off on the design. Many interior designers have stated using the popular modeling software Google SketchUp. The challenge with SketchUp is realistic rendering. RealSpace offers affordable SketchUp Rendering Services to help designer obtain photo-realistic results from their SketchUp models.
3D Modeling 3D modeling is the process of creating a virtual three-dimensional model using specialized software. This process is analogous to creating a physical model, comparable to the plastic arts such as sculpting, although it only exists digitally. 3D modeling is a learned skill either through formal education or self-taught. A 3D model is a mathematical representation of a 3D object that can be rendered into images or animations using specialized software. 3D models are a collection of points, or vertices, connected by edges into faces. These faces collectively form 3D objects. 3D models also contain specialized vertices that simulate lights and cameras.A 3D model may be used for multiple renders, so often it is very easy to render two versions of an image, which may have different surfaces, different lighting, or be from a different perspective.
3D Render A 3D render (or still) is a 2D image and the final product of the 3D rendering process. Essentially, a 3D render is a still image of a 3D model. Industry uses 3D render and 3D rendering interchangeably. A 3D render can be either photo-realistic or non-photorealistic.
3D Rendering 3D rendering is the 3D graphics process used to convert (or render) a 3D model into a 2D image (also called a 3D render). The entire process is completed by a computer using specialized software and can take anywhere from a few seconds to several days depending on the project. There are many different methods of rendering an image, called algorithms. Some algorithms produce realistic results and some are highly stylized. Examples of these are ray tracing, radiosity, wireframe, or phong shading.
3D Visualization 3D visualization is the process of using 3D modeling and rendering software to create 2D images and/or animations designed to communicate a specific message. Typically this process involves a 3D artist to create the 2D images and/or animations. Visualization is a powerful way to convey complex information in an easily understood format.
3D Flythrough/3D Walkthrough A 3D flythrough, also called 3D walkthrough, is a 3D rendered video or interactive video that shows the chief attributes of a building, product, or other physical items or locations. 3D flythroughs or walkthroughs are similar to 3D virtual tours, but are usually less user-driven. 3D flythroughs or walkthroughs are commonly used for marketing a development prior to completion, or to show off specific attributes of a development or product that are not immediately obvious.
Architectural 3D Architectural 3D is a broad term that usually refers to architectural 3D models or architectural renderings. Architectural 3D models are digital representations of buildings. Architectural rendering is the process of creating 2D images or animations that are generated from an architectural 3D model. Architectural rendering may also refer to the 2D image. Architectural 3D can also mean architectural virtual reality, in which an architectural model may be explored in real-time on a computer.
Architectural 3D Model An architectural 3D model generally refers to the digital 3D model of an architectural development. The digital 3D model is created by a 3D artist for the purpose of 3D rendering as a still image or animation.
Architectural Illustration Architectural illustration is a representations of architectural designs. Often, these representations are architectural renders, but traditionally have been hand drawn. These rendered images are used to present architectural ideas to clients to get signoff, or to showcase homes or developments to potential buyers to generate interest and sales. They help to facilitate communication and understanding. Architectural illustrators are used in every stage of the development process, from architectural design to marketing. Different styles include photo-realistic illustrations, watercolors, and sketches.
Architectural Illustrator An architectural illustrator is an artist who produces representations of architectural designs. Often, these representations are architectural renders, but traditionally have been hand drawn. Architectural illustrations are used to present architectural ideas to clients to get signoff, or to showcase homes or developments to potential buyers to generate interest and sales. They help to facilitate communication and understanding. Architectural illustrations are used in every stage of the development process, from architectural design to marketing. Different styles include photo-realistic illustrations, watercolors, and sketches.
Architectural Modeling Architectural modeling is the process of creating a model of a building, or other architectural structure. These can be virtual 3D models or physical models build out of wood, clay, cardboard, foam, or other materials. Architectural models may be used in designing a structure, marketing and sales for developments, as a show-piece, or to explain complicated and unusual designs. In the case of physical models, the material and the scale of the model are primary considerations. With digital models, the primary considerations are what camera angles will best illustrate the design, and whether rendered images or animations are required.
Architectural Rendering Architectural rendering is the process of converting a 3D architectural model to a 2D image or animation. These are called architectural renders or architectural renderings, and may be photorealistic or stylized. Architectural rendering is primarily used in the design and sale of buildings, because it lets design decisions and sales to be made before the building is actually build. Renderings can help to communicate ideas and speed up negotiations and approval processes. Architectural rendering uses specialized software which converts a digital representation of a 3D building into a 2D image. It does this by virtually constructing the building and simulating the effects of the lights and surfaces in it, from the perspective of a virtual camera. This process is entirely done by the computer, and can take a long time, which adds significantly to the cost of architectural rendering.
Architectural Visualization Architectural visualizations can be stills (2D images) or videos that showcase an architectural design. They are used to design and sell architectural developments, because they can be produced before the building is built. Most architectural visualizations are photorealistic architectural renderings. These are images and animations produced from a virtual 3D model of the building.
Computer Rendering Computer rendering is synonymous with 3D rendering.
Design Visualization Design visualization is a broad term referring to the process of visualizing a design or concept. The term visualization commonly implies 3D visualization, where 3D renderings are used to communicate complicated or unusual aspects of a design to other designers, investors, or other interested parties.
Digital Architecture Digital architecture refers to architectural forms and structures created through digital processes. Digital architecture can be included with physical elements such as 3D printing, or overlaying real video feeds with virtual elements. As well as, digital architecture can be brought together with physical elements such as hand drawings. Bringing together both digital and physical elements can support the communication of architectural projects to clients, investors, and to obtain counsel approval.Purely digital architecture can include architectural rendering, architectural modeling, or virtual architecture.
Floor Plan Rendering Floor plans are top-down, to-scale diagrams or plans of a building or structure. Technically, they are an orthographic projection of the 3D structure, from the perspective of a horizontal plane. Floor plans are often created directly from CAD diagrams using a 2D photo editing software. However, they can also be created in 3D and rendered. 3D floor plans visualized on a slight angle, instead of directly overhead, are becoming quite popular. If you are already having renders made, then rendering floor plans can be a very low-cost option, since the 3D model already exists. Rendered floor plans can look more realistic, like a top-down view of a dollhouse.
Graphic Rendering Graphic rendering is synonymous with 3D rendering, a far more common term.
Graphic Rendering Graphic rendering is synonymous with 3D rendering, a far more common term.
House Rendering House rendering is a sub-category of architectural rendering that focuses primarily on the visualization of the exterior of single-dwelling homes. In the past, rendering was expensive, and primarily reserved for very large developments, but technological developments have made it far more accessible.
Interior Rendering Interior Rendering is a sub-category of architectural rendering focusing on interior spaces. Interior rendering can showcase an interior design, layout, views, and selling features. They can be used by interior designers to get client sign-off or by marketers to sell a developer. On the technical side, interior rendering creates lighting challenges due to the mix of natural and artificial lighting. This can be aided by using the right software, but in general is more difficult than outdoor lighting where a preset physical sun sky model can be used.
Photo-realistic Rendering Photo-realistic rendering is a subcategory of 3D Rendering that focuses on achieving rendering results that replicate reality. Ideally the end results of a photo-realistic render should be almost indistinguishable from a photograph. Ray tracing software and physically unbiased path tracing are essential components to produce these effects. Common applications for photo-realistic rendering are architectural rendering, product rendering, and interior design rendering.
Product Visualization Product visualization is a sub-category of 3D visualization. It refers to the process of visualizing products and packaging of a new or modified product. The key benefit of this service is to help marketers and product designers pitch and refine product ideas. Visualization may be a 3D render or an animation. For example, a product can be shown as a still image, or animated to show how the product is assembled and disassembled.
Real-Time 3D Rendering Real-time 3D rendering is rendering for interactive media. Images must be calculated at a rate of 15-60 images or frames per second. As a result, a real-time rendered image is typically lower quality than a non-real-time image. Real-time rendering is used in virtual reality programs, 3D games, simulators, and other interactive media.
Rendered 360° Panoramas 360° panoramas and spherical panoramas are 2D images where you can see in every direction. Usually viewers can control the camera angle using their mouse, or via on-screen controls. These are often used to show off architectural developments, or other locations. Rendered 360° panoramas are panoramic 2D images generated via 3D rendering. These can often be produced at a similar cost to 2-3 still renders, because the amount of 3D modeling is similar.
Rendered Virtual Tours Virtual tours are a virtual way to view a space, and typically use 360 panorama views, videos, and still images. Some common methods to display virtual tours are Web, PC, and DVD. Virtual tours are commonly used for marketing an architectural development, or a location. The term is sometimes synonymous with flythrough (or walkthrough), but usually flythroughs (or walkthroughs) are more linear and virtual tours are more user-driven. Rendered virtual tours are virtual tours whether the media (images and video) are computer rendered, instead of being photographed or filmed in reality. A computer rendered tour has several advantages: virtual tours can be created of spaces that do not yet exist, the videos and images can be perfectly and seamlessly synchronized, and it can be more economical than taking real footage – particularly in cases which would require complicated lighting setups. In many cases a rendered 360 panorama can be produced for a similar cost than 2-3 renders of the same space, because while the panorama requires more rendering, the 3D modeling work is the same.
Rendering Contemporary Architecture Contemporary architectural rendering is the process of using 3D Modelling and 3D rendering software to visualize contemporary architectural designs. The challenge of rendering contemporary designs is keeping up with current trends in finishes and detailing.
Rendering Contemporary House Rendering contemporary houses is a sub-category of rendering contemporary architecture, and focuses on visualizing the designs of modern single dwelling homes. Rendering contemporary architecture is also a form of house rendering.
Rendering Modern Architecture Modern architecture is the movement towards simplication of form in architecture. This creates unique challenges in both modeling and rendering modern designs. Challenges are created by the asymmetries, by the amount of curvature in some designs, and by the innovative lighting and materials. In modern architecture, “form follows function,” but sometimes that form can be difficult to visualize. That’s why architectural renderings are so popular with modern architects. Seeing your design visualized can help you simplify, remove extraneous detailing, and build better buildings.
Rendering Modern Houses Rendering modern houses is a sub-category of rendering modern architecture. It generally focuses on rendering the exterior of modern house designs. For examples please visit our portfolio or click here to learn about our rendering services.
Virtual Architecture Virtual Architecture is a broad term relating to digital simulations of architecture. Some examples may include 3D models, still-image or video renderings, or virtual reality applications.
Virtual Reality Software Virtual reality software is a computer program with the common application to simulate real-world, through interactive 3D environments. Using computer hardware such as a keyboard and mouse, users can move freely about the environment, and it is rendered in real time on their computers.Virtual reality does not look as good as still renders, because it must be rendered in real time, but it allows users full control of their viewing experience. It may require high-end computers to run well, and is more expensive than static media.