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Renders vs 3D Elevations

I've spent this rainy weekend playing around with rendering software - up until recently I hadn't encountered any project where providing renderings was necessary and, as it takes more time which ultimately costs more, most clients are happy with coloured three-dimensional elevations.

A recent design brief specified renderings to be supplied and it made me wonder - do people really understand what they are asking for when they request rendered images?

Rendered images require at least one additional software program, however depending on the quality required, most require additional software for rendering plus photo imaging software. These programs vary in price and can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per year for the license to use.

Most traditional CAD drawing programs, which designers and architects use to produce floorplans, elevations and construction drawings will produce 3D elevations with some additional time and effort. To produce a rendering, a designer must first produce a 3D elevation and with a separate software program add lighting and backgrounds and manipulate materials to produce a shiny, matt or rough finish (for example). They then will usually need to run a few draft renders correcting lighting and exposure etc until a near photo realistic image is produced. Of course, this can take quite a lot of additional time to do.

Below is an example of a rendered image (left) and a 3D elevation (right).

So when requesting a quote from a designer you should have a few options to choose from. You can opt to receive only floor plans and 2D elevations, great for people who are familiar with reading plans and can visualise a finished space. You should also have the option of the aforementioned 2D documentation plus coloured 3D elevations (example pictured on the right) or, if you still aren't able to visualise the finished product, you can request rendered images being aware of the additional time requirements.

That being said, I quite enjoy producing renderings. It is like finishing a project minus the actual construction part!

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