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Often in developing promotional material for a property or real estate development you will hear the words ‘digital render’ or ‘rendered image’. But what is a rendered image and how do you know a good provider from a bad one?

In technical terms, rendering is the process of converting 3D wire frame computer models into 2D images with 3D photorealistic effects. In layman’s terms that means taking a basic plan of the structure and turning it into a photo-like version of your property.

Rendering is actually the last process of creating an actual 2D image from the prepared shot or scene. Animators compare this to taking the picture or filming the shot in a real life film after the scene has been setup.

Artists use computer tools to flesh out the image layer by layer, essentially putting the skin over the bones of the image.

Villa Render by Elemental Crafts

With the rendering of real estate images the artist will often start with an AutoCAD plan of the property. This is like the basic wooden frame of the structure, onto which they will build the bricks, install the windows and drywall and paint and furnish the building.

Numerous techniques are used on the render to give it a photorealistic appearance such as lens flares and depth of field. These touches take the final render from a flat dull picture to a spectacular realistic image.

There are two main types of rendering: real time, where the render is done in real time, the aim being to provide as much detail as the eye can process in each second; and Non-real time, where the render is done much slower, using considerable computing power to deliver an image of far super quality.

Kitchen Render by Elemental Crafts

When you are working with a company to produce your rendered images you must ensure they are using non-real time rendering as this is the only way to produce photo-realistic images like those you see in Hollywood animated films and in the best property developments. Real time rendering on the other hand, is used more for video games, where such a high quality of image is not expected.

When searching for a partner to develop rendered images, you should also ensure they have experience in producing both hard surface and soft surface renders. This means they can show examples of building exteriors (hard surfaces) as well as interior furnishings like sofas, drapes or even plants or people (soft surfaces). Renders done using hard surface techniques on items that have soft features, like a tree or a sofa cushion, end up looking hard and fake – something the human eye picks up very quickly.

The best way to tell if the end images are of a photorealistic quality is not to worry too much about the technical process, but to ask to see examples of both exterior and interior renders, and make sure the exteriors are not just the building but also the surrounding environment like grass and trees and water. Just as you know when watching an animated movie that something looks real or fake, so your eye will tell you with examples of real estate renders.