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What is Rendering?

Rendering (image synthesis) – the term of computer graphics which defines the process of generating a photorealistic or non-photorealistic image from a 2D or 3D model by means of a computer program.

During the rendering, a program defines a model by using a scene file containing geometry, texture, lighting and shading information about the object. The resulting images of rendering are called renders.

Two main kinds of rendering (according to the ability of making parallel computations):

  1. multithreaded rendering – computations are performed in one thread synchronously, on several processor cores
  2. single-threaded rendering – computations are performed in one thread synchronously

Types of rendering:

  • Software rendering allows to get the images of the highest quality
  • Hardware rendering renders images to disk with help of PC’s video card and drivers
  • Vector rendering creates wireframes, tonal and line arts, 2D graphics
  • Cloud rendering helps to create photorealistic graphics by using the cloud system

Rendering is one of the major topics of 3D computer graphics as it gives the final result of all graphics creating processes. It is the process that provides the final appearance of the model.

Rendering begins only after the full completion of the wireframe by adding additional texture (bitmap and procedural), lights and positioning to other objects.

Rendering is used in:

  • Architecture
  • Video games
  • Simulators
  • Visual effects in movies
  • Design visualization.

The main tools used in rendering:

  • Shading – helps to vary the color and brightness of surfaces
  • Shadows – the main effect of highlighting and obstructing light
  • Texture-mapping – applies details to surfaces
  • Reflection – adds the effect of a mirror
  • Non-photorealistic rendering – helps to create models in an artistic style, for example, models of pictures and paintings.

The list of tools is far longer and includes many aspects from types of light (fogging, translucency, diffraction) to types of surface (bump-mapping).

Most popular programs for rendering:

  • 3Delight (Windows, macOS, Linux)
  • Arion (Windows)
  • Arnold (Windows, macOS, Linux)
  • Artlantis (Windows, macOS)
  • Corona (Windows).
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