Make your renderings on Fusion 360 more life-like.

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Renders from designs

Often, when designing our products, we get obsessed on its dimensions and components to achieve realism. Every screw placement or mechanical feature will be scrutinized over and over again, but yet when we render our final design it looks underwhelming and disappointing to say the least.

This has to do with the fact that the design process, which is more technical is extremely different from the render process, which is more artistic. As a result, the factors that create good renders are not necessarily the factors that create good renders.

Here are some key elements of creating realistic renders in Fusion 360

Lighting and Shadows

One of the quickest and easiest ways to enhance to a rendering is to insert some photorealism by incorporating the photographic principles and considering light sources, shadows and reflective surfaces. This helps a product appear more striking, adds depth, and injects a dose of realism. You want a rendering to reflect its physical counterpart as closely as possible — blurring the line between concept and reality.

Although there is no tool to add external light sources in Fusion 360, you can make use of the emissive material property to create a light source.

You can see a full video tutorial of this workaround in this Autodesk forum post.

Accurate Colors and Materials

It’s certainly smart to create your renders as true to life as possible. What your customers see on the shelves or hold in their hands should reflect your renderings and vice versa. We’ve touched on the importance of shadows and lighting previously. Getting an accurate sense of your final product’s appearance in different lighting conditions rests with proper tone matching. Consistency is key.

Naturally, our renderings can encompass more than just physical products — take the world of video game, for example. The in-game environment drives player immersion and draws them in. You can use color to striking effect when emulating earthly features such as sunsets, grassy fields, rocky cliffs, or breaking waves. We know how these elements of nature should look from firsthand experience, and gamers will have similar expectations. If you intend to mimic the real world graphically, familiar hues will strongly resonate with your audience.

The material choice is also important, as not all metals, plastics or fabrics interact with light in the same way. Thus, simply choosing the material type is not enough. Furthermore, editing the texture map size, orientation, color map and bump depth can avoid making you objects looking like they have “fake” painted-on textures.

Spacing, angles and layout

So as much as light sources affect your final render, equally important is getting the best angle that leverages the lighting environment to show off your design. Also important is choosing the viewport, much like a photographer does with their portraits or landscape photos. Too close and you ruin the realism, too far and the object you’re presenting is not the focus.