Hi, my name is Ricardo and in this tutorial, I will give you 8 tips on how to improve your interior renderings. My goal is to show some basic tools you can use to step up your visualizations. These tips will be general knowledge, not linked to specific software or plug-ins. It is aimed at beginners but even a more experienced audience could find it useful.
First of all, an idea is never born in a vacuum. Our brain builds new ideas from already existing concepts. With that in mind, when receiving a low detail briefing, or doing a personal project, you might find difficult to get started: which furniture to use, where to place it, or which color scheme to choose.
My advice is to look at other images, renderings, photos, on the internet or magazines, for inspiration and provide your project with the first push.
When you see something you like, just throw it into a folder or fill an empty page document. Next time, when you find yourself in a creative black hole just take a look at your "inspiration board".
Here are some websites where you can find good reference material:
· or simply google it 😊
2- Quality assets
One of the main reasons why some images look much better is due to good quality assets. High-resolution textures and detailed models contribute to a much more realistic and believable scene.
Additionally, perfection doesn´t look real. A slightly scratched wood surface, the wrinkles on a piece of fabric, or worn-out edges on a vase offer a much more interesting look and introduces something much more compelling to the viewer, storytelling (in the next tip I will elaborate on the importance of telling a story with your image).
Even more, small details like beveled edges make a huge difference. Perfect, sharp 90°-degree edges don´t exist in the real world and contribute to the feeling that something doesn’t look quite right. All in all, imperfection makes the image much more credible. But don’t overdo it.
If you need free good quality assets, you can find some at the links below:
Cgtrader.com – a great website with thousands of 3d models. Some cheap, others completely free, and overall good quality.
3dsky.org – They have amazing premium models at very reasonable prices, but also many good quality ones for free which are restricted to 3 per day if you don´t want to spend any money.
designconnected.com – not many free assets but very high quality.
Turbosquid.com – you have to search a bit until you find good free 3d models but they exist.
3 – Storytelling
Adding storytelling to an image is something that makes a world of difference. Storytelling is about applying uncertainty, curiosity, and dynamism into an image and is the best way to improve the viewer´s experience. For example, an open drawer, a worn-out vase, or a misaligned chair makes the scene more believable and offers something to think about and use the imagination.
4 – Composition
The composition can be a relevant tool in achieving a balanced and pleasant image. A good composition consists of guiding the observer's focus to relevant elements in the scene and provide visual balance. This can be done through contrast, colour, or geometric rules based on lines, shapes, or other visual elements that can easily focus the attention, like faces or silhouettes. Of course, these rules can improve your images, but alone they don´t guarantee a good image.
Some of the most common compositing rules used in visual arts are:
Rule of thirds
Is when the image is divided vertically and horizontally into 9 equal parts. The main elements should be positioned along the grid lines or at the intersection to achieve a well balanced image.
For us, digital artists and not mathematicians, we can use this rule in a more relaxed way. The result for the mathematical equation is not a whole number, therefore when applied to pixels, the precision is lost. This means that if an image, for example, has 1000 pixels high, it should have approximately 1618 pixels wide The true algorithmic number is infinite and starts with 1.61803398...., impossible to reproduce when using pixels. To draw it digitally, you need a 1000 X 1000 pixels square (in my example). The remaining squares dimension should be the result of the subtraction of the two before (1000-618=382 and so on). With these squares you can draw a shape similar to the Fibonacci spiral (not the mathematical precise shape) which is the base structure for the golden rule. This spiral which is often found in nature, is associated with harmony and natural beauty. That is why, if you arranged the scene elements along the spiral, with your main subject at the center, you should have the base for an aesthetic pleasant image.
This rule works in the same way as the rule of thirds. It is structured by vertical and horizontal lines but these don´t divide the image equally. They use instead, the Golden rule ratio of 1,618.
This rule divides the image into four triangles. First, draw a diagonal from one corner to another, then two lines from the other corners, touching the first diagonal at 90° angles. It works by filling one of the triangles with the subject or placing elements along the diagonal lines.
The pyramid rule has been used for centuries since classical painting and sculpture. It is the disposition of elements in a pyramidal shape and offers a sense of calmness and stability.
Symmetry and pattern
Symmetry and repetition usually represent balance and order, opposite to randomness and chaos, thus giving the viewer a sense of security.
Rule of odds
The rule of odds is the representation of 3 elements or groups of 3. Three elements alone impose the middle element as the focus point. On the other hand, an image with three chairs on each side of a table introduces symmetry and an odd number which, rather than an even number, will produce a more interesting, and more visually pleasing composition. Probably a feeling based on the mystical and mysterious nature of odd numbers, like 3 or 7.
These are elements that suggest lines guiding the viewer to the main subject of the scene, like a pathway or perspective.
Rule of diagonals
The rule of diagonals is a method used when the perspective lines of the main subject match the diagonal lines of the image.
Line of sight
Line of sight is a strategy used by some artists to help, yet again, guide the viewer to an important area of the image. It consists of having an element, normally a character but it can also an object, facing the main subject.
Faces or figures
Faces or figures are also elements in an image that can pull the viewer's attention. One of the first things that the brain recognizes is faces. Therefore, be careful when placing a portrait in your scene and you don´t want it to be the focus of the composition.
4 – Colour
Colour is another important composition element. It helps the viewer focus on specific areas, balances the image and last but not least, can create a mood.
Colour is divided into saturation and value. Saturation is the intensity of the colour and when applied everywhere it might only work on cartoonish images. Strategically used, will help highlight relevant elements in your scene. Value is related to the brightness and darkness of the colour.
Colour harmonies are used to make an image look more pleasant. Using colour combinations that work well together is one of the most important factors when trying to make an image look aesthetically pleasing.
Here are the most relevant colour harmonies you need to keep in mind:
Uses only one colour and is best for single subjects or very striking atmospheric effects.
Colours that are adjacent in the wheel and offer a very calm and pleasant mood. Also very commonly seen in nature. Blue and green are analogous colours.
are colours that are equally distant on the wheel. It´s hard to make this scheme work, therefore use it carefully.
Colours that are on opposing sides on the wheel. This scheme is very popular because it works very well most of the time. But, for it to work, you will need to use one colour predominantly.
Similar to complementary but with three colours instead of two. The other colours are the two adjacent to one of the opposing complementary. Using more colours gives you more possibilities and creative freedom.
Or double complementary is a scheme best used for background/foreground colour palettes and is composed of two pairs of opposing colours. Careful not to use them in equal amounts.
5 – Camera
With the correct camera framing, you can create much more appealing images. Here are some ideas to keep in mind:
Often the client wishes to capture everything at once in a wide-angle view but if possible, make closer shots and bring some interesting details into attention.
The most common frame aspect ratios are 1:1, 3:2, 4:3, and 16:9. But these are not written in stone. You can also frame your image with a vignette or elements in the foreground, close to the camera.
If your camera is parallel to the ground make sure you have a two-point perspective where all vertical lines remain vertical (more noticed at the corners of the walls, for example).
Be careful with the field of view angle, it can distort the perspective.
6 – Rendering
I could spend endless hours discussing render settings but in this tutorial, I am trying to avoid discussing a particular software. Therefore, I will try to offer you overall advice on what you should be aware of:
Don´t always use the same settings for every project. If you adapt your settings to your scene, you will not just save time, but your images will look much better.
Prevent overexposure by adapting your camera and/or light settings to the overall brightness of your scene. Camera wise, there are three major settings you need to know:
ISO - measures the sensitivity of the camera sensor. A higher ISO value makes your image brighter.
Shutter speed - affects how fast the camera lens opens or closes. A lower value means lower shutter speed and more light entering the lens because it remains open for more time.
Aperture (F-Number) - determines the size of the lens opening. A lower value means a larger opening allowing more light to get through.
Depth of field is a tool that can help your composition considerably by guiding the viewer's eyes to something important. But to save time maybe it is advised to apply it in post-production.
If you have sunlight in your scene try to point it onto your point of interest. And keep in mind that you can never do wrong with soft shadows.
Use render elements to allow you more control in post-production. Some of the most useful are:
AO (Ambient occlusion) - it casts a soft shadow from your indirect light, giving more definition to edges and depth to the scene. It can be applied directly into the rendering but it is wiser to render it separately and in add it in post-production with multiply mode.
Denoiser – can speed up your render times considerably but if it is too strong you will start losing details on your image.
Material ID, object ID or Wirecolor – very useful for selecting specific objects of your scene in post-production. But because it has some issues, you might be better using the cryptomatte render element or similar.
7 – Feedback and criticism
Don´t be afraid of criticism. It makes you aware of your flaws and improves your work. It doesn´t mean that some opinions can´t be questioned, but being receptive to listen, shows your readiness to accept your mistakes and learn from them. It is very hard to be creative without sharing and discussing ideas.
8 – Take a break
You probably already noticed that when you return to your project the next day you have a different and refreshed view of it. Spending many hours straight on a project makes us lose the global perspective and overlook mistakes that can remain unnoticed if you don’t distance yourself for a while.
These are some tips that can considerably improve your images. From getting inspiration, to composition rules and rendering tips, ending at which state of mind you should have when facing criticism, I laid down a general idea of what you should consider when creating interior visualizations. I just touched some of the topics but probably I will make more detailed tutorials in the future.
And don´t forget, a great composition alone will not make a huge difference if your assets are poorly modeled or textured. In the same way, telling a compelling story will not make you win prizes if your colour scheme is not carefully planned.
I hope you found this tutorial useful and if you have any suggestions or ideas please use the comment section below and I will try to reply as fast and much as I can.