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  • Writer's pictureDan Norris

From Sketch To Photorealistic 3D Rendering

Updated: Jun 28, 2021

From Sketch to Photorealistic 3D Rendering

01. Getting Started

In this post, I want to show how I turn a rough project sketch into a 3D model and then produce a photorealistic 3D rendering.

I’ve chosen a joinery project to keep things simple, as interior design projects tend to have a lot more detail, with more textures, materials and pieces of furniture but the same process applies to all types of projects.

I’ve often worked with interior designers and joinery companies who were initially put off from getting renderings done, as they felt that they would need to provide their own set of CAD drawings for me to build from but this really isn’t the case.

To start working on any project, the important information I need is a basic plan sketch (top view) and a couple of elevations (front, side, etc.) Unless there are very specific requirements, most joinery follows certain rules, so the details can be worked out as I go. There’s no need to give exact cupboard door widths, or shelf separations, to fit a particular space, I work those out whilst I’m drawing.

Sketches can be quite rough. I sometimes receive CAD plans but far more often, it’s a set of hand-drawn sketches, like the ones in the images below. In fact, these are the actual sketches given to me by a joinery company and they are completely adequate for what I need to get started on a drawing. They give me a good idea of the design of the unit, a plan view and a couple of sections/elevations for specific parts of the joinery. They include all of the basic dimensions I need. The rest can be worked out as I go.

Along with the sketches, it's ideal if I can have a few photos of the room the joinery is to be built in but it’s not imperative (sometimes just marking on a sketch where windows/doors are can be enough). It gives me an idea of what the room’s style is and what wall/ceiling colours are, along with skirtings, architrave design and flooring. It’s also important to get a feel for where the light is coming from and whether the light is natural, or from interior lights, or a mixture of both.

02. Stages Of Work

To complete a project there are four main stages I go through

  1. Working from a sketch I produce a basic model and a set of flat elevation drawings for review

  2. Once the model is agreed I build a 3D clay rendered model, which allows me to set camera angles and lighting

  3. Realistic textures are added to the model and final rendering is produced

  4. All drawings (scaled with full dimensions and annotations), models and renderings are compiled into a document, ready for your customer to sign off.

03. The Process In Images

1. The initial sketches with dimensions and a few different views

Initial sketches to turn in to 3D Rendering

A 3D model of the furniture piece is built from the sketches

3D model from sketch

2. A clay rendering is produced to understand lighting and setup camera

3D Clay Rendering

3. Materials and textures are added for the final photorealistic rendering

Photorealistic 3D Rendering

4. All drawings (plans, sections, elevations, etc.) and renderings are compiled into a final customer-ready document.

The final document with all drawings and 3D renderings

04. Get In Touch

It’s incredible looking back at the initial sketch to see the journey from sketch to a realistic-looking image. This project took a day and a half to complete. The speed makes the whole process affordable and can keep the project dynamic, so that any changes, alterations or new ideas can be iterated quickly, without a big expense.

Producing high quality drawings for a project not only helps win contracts, as the customer can see exactly what the final result will be but it really lowers the risk of any expensive changes at the end of a project, as the customer has signed the drawings off and there should be no surprises for them when the project is installed.

Contact me to talk about getting sketches of your project turned into a 3D model and realistic rendering.

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