Retailers Shifting Towards 3D Renderings for Catalogs and Advertising

3D renderings are those incredibly lifelike images that you don’t realize have taken over digital advertising. Whether you’re watching a commercial, your favorite TV Show, or browsing on social media; you’re likely seeing plenty of 3D renderings.

3D rendering services are becoming more and more available and companies aren’t hesitating to use them. These digital media companies have enticed consumers and manufacturers alike into understanding just how powerful these types of images are. For manufacturers, 3D renderings help save money on photography and allow the easy customization of colors, shapes, and variations.

For consumers, 3D renderings are often “larger than life” in that they are visually more dynamic than photography, can be catered to consumer environments, and are even able to be integrated into augmented reality programs. 3D renderings sound great, but what are they and why have retailers taken so long to make the jump?

What is 3D Rendering?


3D rendering (a.k.a digital rendering) is a method by which a technical artist creates 3D models, applies textures, and simulates real-world lighting in such a way as to produce an image that is nearly indistinguishable from photography. Throughout history, there have been traditional artists capable of this feat though they are few and far between. What’s more, their products—incredible as they are—take many more hours to produce than modern 3D images. As with nearly everything, it comes down to what’s cost-effective!

In a nutshell, 3D renderings involve the following stages of development:

  1. Creating a 3D Model
  2. Applying Textures
  3. Simulating Real-World Lighting Conditions
  4. Using Powerful Computers to Generate Realistic Images

Who Uses 3D Renderings?

kitchen rendering

3D rendering can be used anywhere! You’ll find it in commercials, movies, and especially in advertising. You may see it as motion graphics, still images, or even real-time applications like video games. To be fair, video games and AR/VR applications are a different type of rendering. Where 3D renderings really shine are product catalogs that have many simple designs that come in many colors and/or varieties. Take the IKEA catalog for example; IKEA has thousands of products that are configurable, customizable, and come in a variety of dimensions and colors. To handle this catalog via traditional photography would require sampling all those products. Handling it via 3D rendering is much more simple. In fact, as many as 75% of the renderings in the IKEA catalog are 3D renderings done in 3DS Max + V-Ray!

3D Rendering Services

Where does a company seeking 3D renderings turn? There’s always hiring in-house talent—but that’s expensive. There’s a handful of freelancer-friendly marketplaces such as UpWork and Freelancer, though sometimes it can be a challenge to filter through all the applicants to job posting. Then there’s the mass amount of 3D rendering companies that one might find on Google—who knows what quality you can expect to find there. Rather than offer up a handful of cherry-picked companies let’s go through what attributes any rendering company should possess to attract your business’ payment.

Free estimates

Knowing what you’re getting yourself into prior to being billed is essential. 3D rendering isn’t cheap (at least not quality 3D rendering services) and you should know a ballpark cost going into things.

Project Planning

Any project, in any field, of any size, can benefit from good planning. 3D projects epitomize the need for good project organization and pre-planning before diving in. 3D assets can be re-used, re-purposed, and budgets can be trimmed when one knows the fullest scope of a project going in. Quality 3D rendering companies shouldn’t hesitate to put together a project outline for you that describes the most cost-effective way to proceed. An example; rendering several similar products at once rather than approving designs, revising, and proceeding one at a time.


Some 3D agencies hold assets hostage after creating them. They’ll not hand over the 3D scene files, the textures (sometimes not possible) or the 3D models they create during the process of creating your images. This isn’t wrong but you should know whether or not to expect it. Read any contracts you’re given closely to make sure you know what you’ll be getting.

Multiple Images

The biggest myth in the 3D industry is that it’s acceptable to bill clients on a per-image basis. Creating one 3D renderings often requires many hours of modeling, texturing, and lighting, and may amount in nearly a dozen billable hours. That’s no cheap image. The second image probably involves just adjusting a camera angle and clicking the render button. Maybe a ten-minute endeavor. This ties back into good project planning, and any company that offers you a per-image rate should be an immediate red flag. Look for hourly rates—that’s where you’ll get the best value. Companies offering flexible pricing, per-hour rates, and up-front project costs should be a priority for anyone seeking 3d rendering services.

Looking Forward


3D rendering has taken hold of the visual arts industry for a number of reasons in recent years. Computing power is cheaper than ever, 3D software is as advanced as it’s ever been, and more consumers do online research prior to buying than ever before. 3D technology such as 3D rendering and 3D modeling offer retailers a cost-effective way to maximize their product catalog’s footprint and be much more nimble in their time-to-market cycles. Knowing how to integrate 3D visualizations into your business can help build revenue and expand where you’d otherwise be cost-prohibited.