What comes first 3D Rendering, 3D Modeling or 3D Texturing?

In the 3D computer graphics pipeline, the typical order is:

  1. 3D Modeling
  2. 3D Texturing
  3. 3D Rendering

Here’s a brief explanation of each step:

  1. 3D Modeling: This is the process of creating a 3D representation of an object or scene using specialized software. The artist creates the basic geometry, shapes, and forms of the object or environment.
  2. 3D Texturing: Once the 3D model is created, texturing is applied to give the model more detail, color, and realism. Textures can include properties like diffuse color, roughness, specularity, and bump mapping. UV mapping is a common technique used to wrap 2D textures around 3D models.
  3. 3D Rendering: After the modeling and texturing stages, the scene is rendered. Rendering is the process of generating a final 2D image or animation from the 3D scene. This involves calculating how light interacts with the 3D models and their textures, simulating materials, and applying effects such as shadows, reflections, and refractions.

It’s worth noting that in some 3D workflows, there might be some overlap or back-and-forth between these stages, especially between modeling and texturing. However, the general progression from modeling to texturing to rendering holds true in most cases.

Picture of George Nicola
George Nicola

George is a seasoned interior designer and property marketing strategist with over 13 years of experience. He specializes in transforming properties into visually stunning spaces, helping clients recognize the potential and beauty in each property. With an impressive international client base of exciting projects throughout Europe and America.

3D rendering, 3D modeling, and 3D texturing are terms that are often used in computer graphics and design. While they may sound similar, they are distinct processes that serve different purposes. Using specialized software, 3D modeling involves creating a three-dimensional representation of an object or scene. This process is used to create the basic structure of a 3D image, including its shape, size, and texture.

Once a 3D model is created, it can be enhanced through the process of 3D texturing. This involves adding surface details, colors, and patterns to the model to make it look more realistic. Texturing is a crucial step in the 3D design process, as it can greatly enhance the visual appeal of a model and make it more lifelike.

3D rendering is the process of turning a 3D model into a 2D image or animation. This involves using specialized software to apply lighting, shadows, and other visual effects to the model, creating a realistic and visually engaging final product. Rendering is an essential step in the 3D design process, as it allows designers to showcase their work in a way that is easy to view and understand. For smooth 3d rendering and 3d modeling work with complex 3D objects, a computer should be equipped with at least 16 GB of RAM memory, a 6 GB video card and a minimum 1 TB SSD drive.

What is 3D Modeling?

3D modeling is the process of creating three-dimensional objects using specific software and tools. It is a fundamental aspect of 3D graphics and is used in various industries such as engineering, architecture, video games, and product design. This section will provide an overview of the fundamentals of 3D modeling, modeling techniques and tools, modeling software, and applications in industries.

There are many types of 3D modeling with most prominent being polygonal modeling. 3D object modeling involves creating a digital representation of an object or scene in three dimensions. The process typically starts with creating a model from primitive shapes such as a cube, sphere, or cylinder. The model is then refined by adding detail to create a more complex object.

In 3D modeling, the object is made up of polygons, which are flat shapes with straight sides. The number of polygons used in a model affects its level of detail and complexity. The more polygons used, the more detailed and complex the model becomes. Models done with polygons are often called editable polys, for short, referring to objects being editable in polygonal mode.

Other important elements of 3D modeling include vertices and NURBS (Non-Uniform Rational B-Splines). Vertices are the points where the edges of polygons meet, while NURBS are curves used to create smooth surfaces.

Modeling Techniques and Tools

There are various techniques and tools used in 3D modeling, including subdivision surfaces, sculpting, and parametric modeling. Subdivision surfaces involve dividing a polygon into smaller polygons to create a smoother surface. Sculpting involves shaping a model using digital tools that mimic sculpting in real life. Parametric modeling involves creating a model using mathematical equations and parameters.

Modeling Software

There are numerous software programs available for 3D modeling, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Some of the most popular software programs include Blender, 3ds Max, Maya, and SketchUp. Blender is a free and open-source software that is popular among hobbyists and professionals alike. 3ds Max, Maya, and SketchUp are commercial software programs that are widely used in the industry.

3D modeling software 3Ds Max, viewport showing interior photo with 3D furniture.
3D modeling software 3Ds Max, viewport showing interior photo with 3D furniture.

Applications in Industries

3D modeling is used in various industries, including engineering, architecture, interior design, video games, dental reconstruction, crime scene reconstruction, product design, and many more. In engineering, 3D models are used to design and test products before they are manufactured. In architecture, 3D models are used to create visualizations of buildings and structures. In video games, 3D models are used to create characters, environments, and objects. In product design, 3D models are used to create prototypes and test designs before they are manufactured.

3D modeling is a technical and creative process that requires a combination of skills and tools. It is an essential aspect of 3D graphics and is used in various industries to create realistic and detailed objects and scenes.

What is 3D Rendering?

3D rendering is the process of creating photorealistic images from 3D models using computer software and algorithms. The process begins with the creation of a 3D model, which is then loaded into a rendering software. The software uses lighting and shading algorithms to create realistic images with colors, light, and shadow. The computer then processes the data and generates a 2D image of the 3D model, which is the final output.

architecture render of a residential property by TALLBOX
architecture render of a residential property by TALLBOX

Lighting and Shading

Lighting and shading are critical components of 3D rendering. The lighting algorithm determines how light interacts with the 3D model, while the shading algorithm determines how light and shadow are distributed across the model’s surface. The combination of these two algorithms creates a photorealistic image that mimics real-world lighting conditions

Rendering Software and Hardware

Rendering software such as Chaos Corona and V-Ray are used to create photorealistic images from 3D models. The software uses complex algorithms to simulate light and shadow, and it requires significant computational power to create high-quality images. As a result, rendering on workstations or  laptop for 3D software and 3D animation capable hardware such as RTX GPUs and i9 or Ryzen 9 CPUs are essential for creating high-quality 3D renders.

Real-World Rendering Applications

3D rendering has numerous real-world applications, particularly in architecture, interior design, and real estate. Architects use 3D rendering to create photorealistic images of buildings and structures before construction begins. Interior designers use 3D rendering to create realistic images of rooms and spaces to showcase their design concepts. Real estate agents use 3D rendering to create virtual tours of properties, allowing potential buyers to view a property before visiting it in person.

3D rendering is an essential component of the visualization process, particularly in architecture, interior design, and real estate. With the help of advanced rendering software and hardware, it is possible to create photorealistic images that mimic real-world lighting conditions.

What is 3D Texturing?

Texturing is the process of adding surface detail and color to a 3D model, which is essential for creating a realistic and lifelike aspect. This section will discuss the different aspects of 3D texturing, including texture mapping techniques, texturing tools and software, influence of textures on realism, and texturing in different media.

3Ds Max viewport showing floor texture mapped on floor object with a large un-textured sphere
3Ds Max viewport showing floor texture mapped on floor object with a large un-textured sphere

Texture Mapping Techniques

Texture mapping is the process of applying a 2D image, called a texture map, to the surface of a 3D object. There are different texture mapping techniques available, including planar, cylindrical, spherical, and UV mapping. Planar mapping is used for flat surfaces, while cylindrical and spherical mapping are used for curved surfaces. UV mapping is the most common technique and involves the creation of a 2D mesh that is applied to the 3D model.

Texturing Tools and Software

There are several tools and software available for texturing, including Adobe Photoshop, Mari, and ZBrush. Adobe Photoshop is a popular tool for creating textures, while Mari and ZBrush are used for sculpting and painting textures directly onto the 3D model. These tools allow artists to create detailed textures and materials that can be applied to the 3D model.

Influence of Textures on Realism

Textures play a significant role in creating realism in 3D models. Textures can add detail, color, and patterns to the surface of the 3D object, which can significantly improve the overall appearance of the model. Normal mapping is another technique used to add detail to a 3D model by simulating bumps and grooves on the surface of the model.

A room with a large window and a chair, transformed into a stunning 3D interior design.
A room with a large window and a chair, transformed into a stunning 3D interior design.

Texturing in Different Media

Texturing is used in various media, including games, movies, and animation. In games, textures create realistic environments and characters but must be highly optimized (from 8,000 or 8k pixel resolution down to 4,000 or 2,000 pix) for old computers to process them easily in real time. In movies and animation where rendering happens offline, textures can be larger resolutions to create realistic backgrounds and characters. Texturing is an essential aspect of entertainment media, as it helps to create immersive and realistic experiences for the audience.

When it comes to the size of textures, there is a trade-off between visual quality and performance. Large, high-resolution textures can provide more intricate details and sharper visuals when rendered. However, using larger textures comes with a performance cost.

Texturing and rendering are closely connected in 3D graphics, as textures play a crucial role in how a 3D model appears when rendered. Textures provide visual details, color, and material properties to the surface of 3D models, greatly enhancing their appearance and realism.

  1. Memory Usage: Large textures consume more memory on the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit). Each pixel in a texture requires a certain amount of memory, so higher resolution textures demand more memory resources. If the GPU runs out of memory or has to swap textures in and out of memory frequently, it can lead to performance bottlenecks and slower rendering times.
  2. Texture Filtering: When a textured 3D model is rendered, the texture needs to be sampled and filtered based on the model’s distance and orientation relative to the camera. Larger textures require more computational work for filtering operations like mipmapping, anisotropic filtering, or texture compression. This additional processing overhead can impact rendering performance.
  3. Data Transfer: Larger textures also require more data to be transferred from the CPU to the GPU, or from the storage device to the GPU. This data transfer can introduce latency and affect the overall rendering speed, especially if the textures are frequently updated or streamed.

To strike a balance between visual quality and performance, techniques like texture atlasing, texture compression, and LOD (Level of Detail) systems are often employed. These techniques help optimize texture usage, reduce memory footprint, and improve rendering efficiency while still maintaining an acceptable level of visual fidelity.

Texture atlasing involves packing multiple smaller textures into a single larger texture, reducing the number of texture switches and improving rendering performance. Texture compression techniques like DXT, ETC, or ASTC can significantly reduce the memory footprint of textures while minimizing visual quality loss. LOD systems use different versions of textures with varying resolutions based on the distance of the object from the camera, so that distant objects use lower resolution textures, saving memory and rendering time.

Texturing is a crucial aspect of 3D modeling, as it helps to create realistic and lifelike models. There are different texture mapping techniques available, and several tools and software can be used for texturing. Textures have a significant impact on the realism of 3D models and are used in various media, including games, movies, and animation.

Comparing 3D Modeling, Rendering, and Texturing

3D modeling, rendering, and texturing are three distinct steps in the creation of a 3D object, but they are closely integrated in the 3D production workflow. 3D modeling is the first step in creating a 3D object, where the object is created using 3D modeling software. Once the 3D model is created, it is then textured using textures or photos of real objects and finally the model is rendered to create high-quality photorealistic images.

Texturing is the process of adding color and texture to the 3D model. This can be done by painting the texture directly onto the 3D model or using a texture mapping process. The texture mapping process involves applying a 2D image onto a 3D surface, which gives the object a more realistic look.

Rendering is the process of creating a 2D image from a 3D model. This process involves the use of lighting, shading, and other techniques to create a photorealistic image of the 3D object.

3D rendering of kitchen
3D rendering of kitchen

Time and Effort in 3D Production

The amount of time and effort required for 3D modeling, rendering, and texturing depends on the complexity of the object and the level of detail required. 3D modeling is generally the most time-consuming and effort-intensive step in the 3D production process. Texturing and rendering are less time-consuming but still require a significant amount of effort.

Quality and Detail Considerations

The quality and level of detail in a 3D object depend on the skill of the designer and the software used. 3D modeling software allows for the creation of complex shapes and structures, which can be textured and rendered to create high-quality photorealistic images. The level of detail can be adjusted to create more realistic images, but this also increases the time and effort required.

Interior 3D detail with high quality texture of marble
Interior 3D detail with high quality texture of marble

3D modeling, rendering, and texturing are three distinct steps in the creation of a 3D object that are closely integrated in the 3D production workflow. The amount of time and effort required for each step depends on the complexity of the object and the level of detail required. The quality and level of detail in a 3D object depend on the skill of the designer and the software used.

3D and its Impact on Marketing and Advertising

The rise of 3D modeling, 3D rendering, and 3D texturing has brought a significant change in the marketing and advertising industry. The use of 3D technology has enabled businesses to create visually attractive and realistic product images, which can help in enhancing the overall visual communication and brand recognition.

3D Rendering of a bedroom prepared for marketing campaign
3D Rendering of a bedroom prepared for marketing campaign

Enhancing Visual Communication

3D technology has revolutionized the way businesses present their products to potential customers. With the help of 3D modeling and rendering, businesses can create lifelike images of their products, which can be used in presentations, catalogs, and websites. These images can be used to showcase the product design and features in a more attractive and engaging way, which can help in enhancing the visual communication with the customers.

Brand and Product Visualization

The use of 3D technology can also help businesses in creating a strong brand and product visualization. By creating realistic and attractive 3D images of their products, businesses can showcase their products in a more appealing way, which can help in attracting more customers. These images can be used in various marketing and advertising campaigns, which can help in creating a strong brand identity and recognition.

Attracting Customers with 3D Imagery

The use of 3D technology can also help businesses in attracting more customers. By creating visually attractive and realistic 3D images of their products, businesses can create a more engaging and immersive shopping experience for their customers. This can help in increasing the customer engagement and conversion rates, which can ultimately lead to increased sales and revenue for the business.

The use of 3D modeling, rendering, and texturing has brought a significant change in the marketing and advertising industry. The use of this technology can help businesses in creating visually attractive and realistic product images, which can enhance the overall visual communication and brand recognition. By using 3D technology, businesses can create a more engaging and immersive shopping experience for their customers, which can ultimately lead to increased sales and revenue.

AI future of 3D modeling, 3D texturing and 3D rendering

As technology continues to advance, the world of 3D rendering, modeling, and texturing is constantly evolving. For example the leading render engine company Chaos Group is actively developing a range of AI-powered features through its Chaos Next lab to enhance content creation, optimize rendering workflows, and expand accessibility across its product ecosystem, while aiming to maintain user control and privacy. These AI technologies are expected to be gradually integrated into Chaos products like V-Ray, Corona, Enscape and others.

Here are some of the latest trends and technologies that are shaping the future of 3D.

Advancements in 3D Software

One of the most significant trends in 3D is the development of specialized software for modeling, rendering, and texturing. Many companies are investing in creating more intuitive and efficient software that can handle complex tasks with ease. For example, Autodesk Maya is a popular software used by animators, while Blender is a free and open-source software that offers a wide range of features.

AI and Machine Learning in 3D

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are also making their way into the world of 3D. By using algorithms to analyze data and learn from it, AI can help automate many tasks that would otherwise be time-consuming or difficult. For example, Pix2Pix is an AI-powered tool that can automatically generate textures from 2D images using a function called text to texture similar in the Chaos Next AI lab features.

  1. Chaos Next AI Lab
    Chaos has formed a dedicated AI lab called Chaos Next to explore ways of integrating AI into Chaos products “in a way that is useful and respectful”
    . Chaos Next is developing various AI-powered features and enhancements across the Chaos product portfolio, including V-Ray, Corona, Enscape, Chaos Vantage, Cylindo, and Chaos Cosmos
  2. AI-Enhanced Content Creation
    Several AI technologies in development at Chaos Next aim to streamline content creation workflows:
  • A text-to-PBR-material generator that can create physically-based rendering (PBR) materials from text prompts
  • A ‘smart scene populator’ for intelligently placing 3D objects in scenes
  • Chat-driven material creation in the Chaos Cosmos asset library, allowing users to specify and art direct materials to their exact needs
  • AI-generated instant lifestyle images in Cylindo to showcase products in photorealistic settings
  1. AI-Assisted Rendering Workflows
    Chaos is also working on AI tools to optimize rendering workflows, such as:
  • Technology for optimizing scene lighting
  • AI denoising with NVIDIA DLSS 3.5 in Chaos Vantage to enhance rendering speed and quality
  • Style Transfer to apply new visual styles to rendered images

Expanded Platform Support
Chaos plans to release a V-Ray integration for the open-source 3D software Blender to make its rendering technology more widely accessible. V-Ray will also receive enhancements for better compatibility across various platforms and tools.

  1. Principles and Transparency
    Chaos states it will integrate AI in a way that is “useful and respectful”, allowing users to maintain creative control. The company pledges transparency in its AI processes, algorithms, and user data collection, with a focus on protecting user privacy

As 3D technology becomes more advanced, it is finding new applications in fields such as medical diagnostics and architectural visualizations. For example, 3D printing is being used to create prosthetic limbs and other medical devices, while architects are using 3D models to create more accurate and detailed visualizations of their designs.

The future of 3D is looking bright, with new technologies and applications emerging all the time. As software continues to improve and AI becomes more advanced, we can expect to see even more exciting developments in the years to come.

How to improve 3D workflow?

Improving your 3D workflow involves optimizing various aspects of the 3D pipeline to increase efficiency, productivity, and quality.

Here are some tips to enhance your 3D workflow:

  1. Plan and organize: Before starting a project, take time to plan and organize your work. Break down the project into smaller tasks, set milestones, and prioritize them. Use project management tools or software to keep track of your progress.
  2. Use reference materials: Gather and use reference materials like photographs, concept art, or real-world objects to guide your modeling, texturing, and lighting decisions. Having clear references helps maintain consistency and realism throughout the project.
  3. Modular approach: Adopt a modular approach to 3D modeling by creating reusable assets and components. This allows you to efficiently build and modify scenes by combining and reusing pre-made elements, saving time and effort.
  4. Naming conventions: Establish and follow consistent naming conventions for your 3D assets, layers, and files. Clear and descriptive names make it easier to navigate and manage your project files, especially when collaborating with others.
  5. Iterative refinement: Start with basic, low-poly models and progressively refine them. This iterative approach allows you to quickly block out the overall composition and make design decisions early on, without investing too much time in details prematurely.
  6. Automation and scripts: Utilize automation tools and scripts to streamline repetitive tasks. Many 3D software packages offer built-in scripting capabilities or support third-party scripting languages. Automating tasks like batch exporting, renaming, or applying modifiers can save significant time.
  7. Non-destructive workflow: Adopt non-destructive modeling and editing techniques whenever possible. This involves using modifiers, procedural modeling, and node-based systems that allow you to make changes without permanently altering the underlying geometry. Non-destructive workflows provide flexibility and the ability to iterate quickly.
  8. Version control: Implement a version control system to track changes, manage file versions, and collaborate effectively. Version control systems like Git or Subversion help maintain a history of your project files, enable branching and merging, and facilitate teamwork.
  9. Continuous learning: Stay updated with the latest techniques, tools, and industry trends. Dedicate time to learning new skills, attending workshops or webinars, and participating in 3D communities. Continuous learning helps you adapt to evolving technologies and improve your workflow.
  10. Hardware optimization: Ensure your hardware setup is optimized for 3D work. Invest in a powerful CPU, GPU, and sufficient RAM to handle complex 3D tasks. Consider upgrading your storage to fast SSDs for improved file loading and saving speeds.
  11. Collaboration and feedback: Foster collaboration and seek feedback from peers, supervisors, or clients regularly. Engage in constructive discussions, share ideas, and be open to suggestions. Collaborative workflows help identify areas for improvement and lead to better outcomes.

Remember, workflow improvement is an ongoing process. Regularly assess your workflow, identify bottlenecks, and explore ways to optimize it further. Experiment with different techniques, tools, and approaches to find what works best for you and your team.