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We’ve all seen them. Those rendered images of properties that look flat, fake and uninspiring, and remind buyers and tenants more of an etch-a-sketch drawing than a quality commercial or professional property development. 3D exterior renders can be such a sales driver it’s a shame to see artwork that turns clients away. But by following a few key concepts you can make sure that your renders are the ones that produce ‘wows’.


The correct lighting breathes life in an image


This is one of the things that the human eye picks up on straight away, even if viewers don’t know it. Structures are almost never a uniform color. Even a steel façade has gradients of gray, depending on the position of the sun and other sources of light bouncing on it. Renders that look uniform in color look fake, rather than photo-realistic. Render art should consider shadow, as well as the refraction and reflection of light.

And don’t use ‘12 noon light’, that sort of light that hits an object straight on. This is often the difference between great and mediocre photography. Professional lighting directors prefer a minimum of three light sources, with one side slightly dominant so that the object being shot appears to have depth. Renders are the same. 3D is not just in the angle of the shot, but in the way the light falls across your property.


Angles help in defining the character of your property


Having said 3D is not just in the angle of the shot, the angle is still important. Rendering a shot from directly in front leaves little area for the shadow and light to play, making the shot flat and dull. Note professional shots of people – their heads are usually angled to the camera even though their eyes are looking straight at it. This gives the face depth and allows the lighting as mentioned above, to do its thing.


Showcasing the environment adds credibility and helps buyers visualize better. Lagoon View – Godrej Gold County by Elemental Crafts

Property is not an island

Don’t just render your property in isolation. This creates the feeling of looking at a model, rather than looking at a building that a client can see themselves in. Include elements from both the natural and built environments, like trees, grass, sidewalks and if appropriate even traffic. And don’t forget people. A picture with no people in it is harder to relate to, so show figures interacting with the space.


A budget friendly render that focuses only on the property yet looks classy

Budget friendly is good, cheap looking is not

It might go without saying, but not all render artists are equal. Some have a better understanding and ability to apply the fundamentals than others. So look at their work before engaging a team to render your project.

And remember that being budget conscious is vital, but producing cheap looking work defeats the purpose of trying to create photo-realistic images that wow clients. As with Hollywood animated films, greater realism comes with greater levels of complexity, both in the art itself and in terms of the technology. Rendering is like layering paint on a great work of art. Each layer adds realism and effect, but also takes longer for the technology to render the final image. This can affect the cost.

In the end you should look for a balance in a team that can apply these fundamentals in a fashion that suits both your budget and your sales objectives.