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Online shopping has become ubiquitous, replacing brick-and-mortar retail, and the importance of high-quality visualization of products sold online has become increasingly important. From vehicles to furniture and jewelry, businesses pursue true-to-life images of their products, fueling demand for 3D rendering services. The goal is to showcase their products on the web or in mobile apps and have them look as close to real life as possible.
Rendering is considered to be the final stage of the 3D modeling process. Sometimes after rendering, there’s a need to add visual effects or improve the quality of an image, and this is done in post-production. But in most cases rendering completes the process of building a 3D visualization of a product, game character or anything else.
Rendering requires specialized software to turn a geometric model into a ready-to-use photorealistic image.
3D modeling software, like 3dsMax, Cinema4D and Maya, use mathematical calculations in an automated process to render an image. The quality requirements and complexity of the underlying 3D models to render determine how long it takes to process the calculations and deliver the ready-to-use image. Rendering can take from as little as a second to several days.
There are over 500 programs available for 3D rendering. The choice of software depends on the type of items being modeled (for example, Rhinoceros 3D works best for 3D models of jewelry) and the industry (gaming, retail, film production).
The latest plugins for 3D modeling software allow rendering in real-time, taking only seconds for processing. For example, the Furry Ball plugin for Maya uses a graphics card instead of the processor unit or computer data storage, speeding up the rendering process. Real-time rendering is widespread for modeling in the gaming industry, thanks to plugins like FinalRender, Iray, Shaderlight, Showcase and Rendition.
Another approach, called pre-rendering, is used in domains where the quality of a render is more important than the time component. It uses powerful multicore processors rather than external graphic tools. Pre-rendering is common in animation, visual effects and product design, where obtaining a photorealistic render is the key goal.
So what exactly happens during the time that we wait for the result of a 3D rendering of a product image?
As mentioned above, the rendering process requires a lot of calculations. These calculations are needed to account for how light interacts with the physical model. Physical-object-based rendering is used when a photorealistic image of a 3D model is needed, like for a character in an animation or a diamond ring.
There are several techniques used to render physically-based models. They’re defined by two main approaches: rasterization and ray tracing.
The former allows creating raster images from the vector ones to convert a 3D model’s geometry into a pixel picture. The latter determines the color value of pixels that make up an image by tracing paths of light and simulating how the light interacts with other objects in the environment, resulting in more realistic images.
The ray tracing approach is prevalent for rendering 3D models of products for e-commerce as it renders images that capture reflections, refractions, and scattering of light, resulting in a photorealistic images. You can read more about the pros and cons of both techniques here.
Other popular rendering techniques include radiosity, ray casting and shading. The first two are rarely used in product design. Shading relies on algorithms that emulate how rays of light interact with surfaces in the real world to create reflections, diffraction, refraction and interference on the object.
Brands can leverage the complex technological process of 3D rendering to create a powerful marketing and sales tool. Realistic rendering of products they want to showcase online is essential to stay ahead of the competition in e-commerce.
More and more brands across industries now create 3D catalogs and product configurations to provide engaging and enjoyable online shopping experiences for their customers. Interaction with high-quality 3D rendering product images is an important determiner of customer satisfaction.
For instance, when the cosmetics and skincare brand Guerlain launched a 3D lipstick visualization tool, customers could create their own signature lipstick by changing the size and color of the product and could even engrave their initials on the lipstick case.
Footwear designers are also embracing the trend. Popular brands like Converse, Adidas, Nike and many more created high-quality 3D renderings of their products for customers to interact with.
Fashion brands selling clothes and accessories have used 3D visualization for a while now; virtual fitting rooms have become an integral part of their AR shopping experiences. Zara, Timberland, Gucci, Burberry, Michael Kors, and Chanel have all created solutions featuring 3D visualization of their products, from sunglasses to clothes.
In the case of high-end goods, like jewelry, high-quality rendering is even more important than for clothes because the play of the light is a key element when displaying gemstones. Rolex and Krug-Baumen have made rendered 3D models of watches available. Postindustria developed an AR-powered mobile application to try on diamond rings, offering customers as close-to-real-life rendering of diamonds as possible.
3D renders are a valuable tool in marketing strategy. 3D visualization is a much more engaging and persuasive way to show products to online audiences than traditional 2D images. It allows buyers to view products from every angle, zoom in and out and rotate items in the comfort of their homes. 3D models with realistic rendering lead to higher conversion rates, compared to standard images. They are also more effective in presentations with stakeholders or potential investors; they foster enhanced understanding of a product through interaction.
Postindustria offers a full range of 3D-model services for product design and e-commerce, including 3D rendering services. Contact us and we’ll discuss a custom solution for your product. Innovate today!