Why Are 3D Renders Sometimes Expensive?

4 Unseen Reasons That Help Influence the Cost of an Architectural Visualisation Quote

What might appear to be a task mostly processed by computers with the right program, there is often a question on how artists come up with their 3D rendering service cost—More specifically, what makes the project so expensive.

The issue is probably made more perplexing with certain people having the false notion that the task involved in making 3D representations is as simple as a click of a button, as if though automated.

But think about this: If making full image visualisation in 3D is so easy with just having the right tools, how come not everybody can do it for themselves?

Under the Hood of 3D Rendering

Although the task of converting schematics into a complete 3D render may be easy enough from the outset, in reality, there is more to the job than merely pressing buttons on a keyboard for the computer to have it all done for you through a powerful program.

Technically, the presented idea is not about working on a project from scratch but rather about working on a pre-existing template made beforehand by the architect or designer usually in CAD form. But, like much about being an architect, there are elements involved in coming up with a high-quality 3D render that are not inherently known by the lay person. At its core, the process of 3D rendering boils down to these three important steps, mostly esoteric to learned architects of the modern world: modelling, rendering, and post-processing.

In addition to the actual design as seen with landscaping, added aesthetics like lighting, textures and finishes, carefully selected camera angles and furniture placement allow for story creation which are crucial factors that produce a real visual 3D model which, overall, augments the sales campaign.

Depending on the complexity of the project, a typical 3D render project would last around 2 weeks to 6 weeks and may even extend to 8 weeks if the task involved pose a difficulty uncommon to most projects or a lot of changes required by the client.

During this span of time, the project is not only being built from the ground-up, it is done with the constant repetition to go back places just to check the consistency of the overall quality of the image and make necessary adjustments if need be. Additionally, no 3D rendering project is ever complete without the constructive feedback from the clients themselves.

In the end, the quality of the project is all underpinned by the 3D artist’s understanding of the underlying concepts in architecture and his skill to implement it in actual application whilst merging the image with the customers ideas and brief.

But when you think that a 3D-rendered image is paid based solely on the artist’s ability to turn a diagram into a full visual representation according to the aforementioned steps. It is key to note the main variables that go in to creating realistic 3D renders and why they can affect the total pricing of the project:

1: Initial Information and Plans

No 3D rendering project is ever started without a schematic or diagram to which the model is to be based upon. Whether it is a 2D artwork from a traditional architect or building designer or a CAD-format plan or even a BIM made 3d model.

But as a schematic or diagram is a way by which two architects could communicate using a language esoteric to them, part of the starting process involved in 3D artist creating a visual presentation is having ample time for the 3D artist to analyse and understand what the source material is all about as well as where certain materials and what textures should be applied.

While having to transfer the information for the design from one architect to another may seem straight forward, there is the sad reality that the reference material being handed over is, most often than not, confusing the 3D artist.

Why? Commonly the case when the 3d rendering team receive the information, the initial CAD or BIM drawing given may have inconsistencies such as conflicting objects, incorrect details or unidentified materials. This caused the 3d render to contain issues that must be addressed before the client is happy with the final image and hinders the ability for a fast turnaround time.

Case in point, many 3D rendering projects are not usually started with correct 3D design but rather are started off from a 2D unattractive construction drawing. The 3D artist usually needs to use their experience to guess what some of the missing information is but even the most experience can’t get this right every time.

However, this is not to say that all CAD models are faulty to start off a 3D rendering project with. There are also experienced architects and designers who do well-made CAD plans that require little or no further fixing but nonetheless require serious assessment for quality-checking as well as compiling the information so it is easily interpreted.

Tip 1 to reduce cost: Give clear and precise instructions regarding materials to your 3d rendering artist as well as complete cad drawings.

2: 3D Model of Surroundings

When we talk about the culminating visual representation of the whole project, it does not just talk about the building per se. From the backdrop to the actual construction—single- or double-storey townhouse, etc.—no two projects are ever the same as entailed by their own unique dispositions.

While certain visual elements can be easily manipulated to make an appealing graphic using minimal effort, there are others modeling components which need the detail to enhance the realism of the image. For example we could look at how detailed the background models are such as the next door building or even the detail in the kerb and footpath.

Tip 2 to reduce cost: Let the artist know if you want the background modelled correctly, if so provide photographs so it could be a photomontage render or at least used as a visual reference to see what needs to be modelled.

3: Interior Design Details & Realistic Furniture


As any marketing project is not completely 3d rendered with the externals alone, having a complete 3d visual package from the inside-out is what makes a complete marketing campaign.

When we talk about interior design, this relates to the choice of furniture that will be laced in the image which potentially affects the landscape of the internal design.

However, making an interior design in line with the client desires is often a task that can be very difficult for a 3D render artist. If the client is quite particular in the exact furnishes they need this can lead to creation of custom models rather than choosing from a library that the 3D team has collected.

Additionally, realistic 3D furniture models are not cheap and having a large library that can satisfy the majority of client’s needs is a must and these expenses are proportionally passed on to the client.

Tip 3 to reduce cost: Give the 3D team examples of the style of furnishings you want and/or previous renders/photos with furniture you like.

4: Post Production

Building a 3D image from nothing but its schematics is hard enough, especially when delimited to only a certain extent with a specific computer tool. This is what makes an output from a 3D software vary significantly from a respectable quality 3D render used for marketing.

Specifically, there is more vivid quality to be found in the latter resulting from post-processing steps which adds life-like aesthetics, colours and lighting amendments. Although most 3D software will have special effects available in them as unique features, there are certain embellishments that need to be applied directly in post editing software to make the image like.

In reality, the post-processing aspect of creating a 3D visual makes is the ultimate step which, in itself, requires countless of hours to accomplish resulting from the needed adjustments to make the architectural visualisation as appealing as possible.

Tip 4 to reduce cost: Be specific in the style you are after. Send the 3d team examples of previous renders/images that appeal to you.