Renders: how to get the best out of your supplier

Rendering is a bit of an arcane skill - it’s a niche area of expertise which requires an in-depth understanding of very specific set of software as well as a broad understanding of architecture, interior design, styling, image composition and photography. It takes many years to master, and is crucial for the success for most off-the-plan marketing campaigns.

Renders can actually be thought of as a form of photography - photography in which the rendering artist needs to virtually construct everything that goes into the frame before taking the photo. A basic overview of the production steps required to produce a high quality render are as follows:

Renders are a lot like photography
  • Physical elements are built in the scene, or modeled - facades, walls, doors, fixtures/fittings, tiles, floorboards etc.
  • Textures are applied to the model, giving each surface a material.
  • Additional elements are created and added, such as furniture, styling elements, vegetation and people.
  • A virtual sun is added to the scene to create the lighting condition and time of day.
  • Virtual cameras are placed into the scene with specified f-stops, apertures, focal lengths etc.
  • The scene is rendered.
  • Post-production techniques are applied to the raw render.

The actual rendering is essentially the same as getting a computer to develop the photo of the scene that has been constructed. Much like a polaroid, the image takes some time to develop. Depending on the resolution and complexity of the scene, this can take between 8-40 hours, with final high resolution image files ranging up to 1 gigabyte in size.

High resolution renders can take up to 40 hours to be processed

Working with rendering artists for the first time can be challenging. When working with skilled artists, finding the balance between overly prescriptive direction and giving the studio space to do what they do best is key to a good outcome. I believe keeping the following points in mind helps to ensure render production runs to budget and timelines, and can make the difference between images that really stand out in the market and run-of-the-mill renders.

Brief clearly. A good rendering artist can create just about anything, but to understand what you hope to get out of the project, a clear brief goes a long way to getting everyone on the same page from day one. Things a good brief include are:

  • Project scope, which outlines which spaces you want to render, including specifying which room you want rendered from which apartment.
  • Time of day/lighting conditions for each image. Morning, Dusk, Sunset, etc.
  • Styling direction. This is best communicated through reference images that are similar in style to the style you would like your renders done with. Personally I feel photography (rather than renders) work best for reference images.
  • Communication outcomes. An indication of what key features the render needs to communicate to prospective buyers.
  • Benchmarks. Giving your renderer a list of projects your development is competing with gives them a sense of what they need to do to differentiate your project from the market.
Lighting direction is crucial

Provide Finalised Assets: Where possible, try to provide your renderers with a complete and finalised set of the assets they require to start work. If you can’t because designs are still being finalised, ask your renderers what is essential for starting. Some key assets can be provided a few days later (e.g. the fixtures and fittings schedule or RCP), while some are required right from the start (3D model and drawings). Do not ask your renderers to start rendering your project before the designs are reasonably well resolved. Too many changes to the design of the project after the project has started can quickly make your renders over budget and late for delivery!

Consolidate Feedback: There are usually multiple stakeholders that need to provide feedback on draft renders. Architects, marketing and sales agencies as well as internal stakeholders all want to have input on the final result. Ensue all stakeholders know the scope of the feedback they should be providing - e.g. your architects may love to give creative direction that makes their design look good, but may not be in the best interest of project sales! The key to making sure feedback is communicated effectively is to have all feedback consolidated and communicated through one point of contact. Usually the marketing manager or agency is best placed to do this. Clear and thorough feedback also helps to avoid additional feedback rounds, which can result in extra costs.

Trust: Trusting your supplier is probably the most difficult but important thing to do - assuming you have a competent supplier of course! Giving your renderer the space to make creative decisions on what they do best is key to a strong outcome. Also keep in mind that draft renders usually don’t reflect what the final outcome will look like. Renderers have to wait until the final stage to add polish to the image because prior to this there is a risk that any element in the scene may be changed - time won’t be spent polishing elements that may be removed or altered until the final (approval) stage before renders are delivered.

In a competitive off-the-plan sales market, having renders that stand out from the market and align with your projects vision can make the difference between success and failure.


Bradley Posselt is a director of Collingwood-based LARGE ARTS. LARGE ARTS is a boutique architectural visualisation studio producing exceptional brand-aligned renders for design-focused developers.

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