If you’re learning 3D design and after opening the render settings of your chosen 3D software, you’re intimidated by the number of settings and variations, and having no clue what any of the terminology mean, it’s tempting to just shut everything down or just use the basic settings and click render. This might work for some who are looking for basic results but it won’t be long until you need to acquire some control over your images, which is the main reason why you decided to learn 3D design anyway, but where do you begin?
4. Understanding antialiasing filters
Antialiasing has to do with how the renderer handles the edges between each element in your scene. The default is usually ‘Area’ but you can apply other ones to see which works best for your image. For example the ‘Catmull-Rom’ filter gives your images a very sharp and crisp look whereas ‘Mitchell-Netravali” gives you a softer and more blurred result. Each filter is different and you’ll need to decide which works best for your image.
5. Learning about file types and sizes
The preferred file type for your images will vary depending on the creative field your’e in. the tiff file format is widely used in interiors and architecture, jpegs and png are widely used for the web. Many other artists use the Targa formats. The choice is yours when it comes to file formats but to be safe you should use a format that compresses you image size the least. These are Tiff and Psd. Though great for the web, jpegs and pngs don’t offer the best control when it comes to post processing and retouching, so if in doubt go for uncompressed tiff or psd. If you are rendering an animation, Targa files are a great alternative to Tiffs, which can be quite heavy at times.
6 .Learn camera settings
Camera settings are important. These settings often determine how good your final image will look. Camera settings may look different in various softwares, but the principles are the same. We’ll go over the most important ones.
The focal length of your camera basically determines how much of the subject and its surrounding you want to capture. A wide lens (18mm) will give you more context but will also distort the image. Wide angle shots are usually used for architectural shots. A narrow angle setting will be more focused and detailed. it’s usually used for vignette type images where the subject is small and needs to be the focus point.
The F-stop setting of you camera measures its aperture i.e. how wide the aperture opens up to let light in. A large aperture (smaller number f/2, f/4) will let more light in and make the image look brighter. This is great when your image is looking good but slightly too dark. Instead of increasing the intensity of your lights in the scene (especially if it’s a heavy scene), you can just lower the F/stop setting to get a brighter result.
ISO measures how sensitive the lens of your camera is to the light coming into the camera through the aperture. The more sensitive (higher number) the brighter the image. This can sometimes cause the final image to look grainy. A look that you may or may not want. A lower number won’t be grainy but will be darker. A low iso setting is great when doing outdoor renderings with sunlight. It’s best to keep the ISO setting to a low amount so you end up with less noise in your final image.
Not all software camera settings will have this setting, but if yours does, it’s a great compensator for general colour and mood of an image.
White balance basically deals with colour temperature. Different light sources emit different colour temperatures (such as the sun, a light bulb or fluorescent strips). Colour temperature goes from blue to red (cold to warm). our brains are smart enough to adjust to various light temperatures to give us a more constant result in colours. However the camera isn’t that intuitive. You basically need to specify what type of light source is mainly lighting your scene before it can adjust the temperature for you final image. There usually are five settings dealing with temperature.
Daylight- If you’re scene is outdoors on a sunny day
Cloudy- if your scene is outdoors on a cloudy day
Shade- If you are rendering an image in the shaded environment
Tungsten- This setting is used for indoor rendering where the light temperature is overly warm.
Fluorescent — This setting is used for indoor renderings where the light temperature is overly cold
So this is an overview of the rendering settings you will come across and need to master no matter what 3D software you are using. You don’t necessarily need to understand them straight away, but as you continue to learn 3D design, you will inevitably have to understand them. The best steps that will give you the most noticeable results are the ‘camera settings’ and the ‘indirect illumination’, especially if you do a lot of interior image production. Once you are familiar with those, you can dive deeper into more advanced settings to give you even more control over your outputs.
Soon enough you won’t just be hitting the render button and hope for the best.