How Long Does 3d Rendering Take?

How Long Does 3D Rendering Take?

“How long does 3D rendering take?” is a question we frequently encounter. It’s crucial for clients, especially those on tight deadlines, to understand the nuances of this query. First, are you asking about the duration to complete an entire 3D project, from first contact to final output? Or are you specifically inquiring about the time it takes for a computer to generate an image from a pre-existing digital scene? Both questions are worth exploring, but in this article, we will focus on answering the latter.

The Full Scope of Your Project

To briefly address the first question: Completing a 3D project involves collecting essential plans and specifications, discussing project requirements, digitally crafting the scene, and setting up elements like props, lighting, and cameras. Only then do we proceed to the rendering process, where the software generates the desired image. And that is the topic of this article.

Rendering the Scene

This article delves into the intricacies of producing a digital image that aids in design development or project marketing. In essence, a computer calculates the perspective of a virtual camera within a simulated environment. The time required for this process can range from mere moments to several weeks. While this range is vast, understanding the factors that influence rendering time can provide a more accurate estimate. These determinants fall into four main categories: hardware, software, scene complexity, and desired output quality. While it’s an intricate subject for a single article, we’ll explore these contributing elements in more detail below.


Things to Consider

Hardware Factors in 3D Rendering

The efficiency of hardware is pivotal in 3D rendering. Faster processors (CPUs) and powerful graphics cards (GPUs) can drastically reduce render times. RAM quantity and speed play a role in handling complex scenes without lag. Solid-state drives (SSDs) speed up data access, further improving performance. Upgraded cooling systems prevent overheating, ensuring consistent performance. In essence, more advanced and optimized hardware will render images more swiftly.

While it might seem obvious, it’s worth noting that the typical machine optimized for architectural design and drafting often falls short of the ideal specifications required for efficient rendering.

Software Factors in 3D Rendering

In the realm of 3D rendering, software plays a pivotal role in determining the duration of the rendering process. This isn’t just about the primary 3D modeling application you’re using, but also the plugins and render engines that supplement it. Here’s a brief breakdown:

3D Modeling Applications

Software like Autodesk 3ds Max, Blender, or SketchUp are crucial for creating the foundational geometry and layout of the scene. The complexity of these applications can vary, and certain ones might have optimized pipelines that facilitate quicker rendering times, while others may require additional tweaks.


These are auxiliary tools or software modules that can be added to the primary 3D modeling application. They can introduce new features or streamline specific processes. While some plugins can speed up the rendering process by offering efficient algorithms, others might increase the load on the system by introducing high-quality assets.

Render Engines

This is where the magic happens. Engines like V-Ray, Corona, or Redshift take the digital scene and translate it into a photorealistic image. Different engines use different rendering techniques. For example, a real-time rendering engine might produce quick results suitable for gaming or virtual reality, while a ray-tracing engine might take longer but offer significantly better quality and realism.

Choosing the appropriate software combination is crucial. Some engines are geared towards rapid results, while others emphasize quality. Certain programs excel in creating animations, while others facilitate easy revisions and design options. All these considerations play a role in selecting the ideal software blend. Striking the right balance tailored to a project’s requirements is key. It should be noted that employing advanced software on subpar hardware will extend render time (if it even works); hence, compatibility is vital. Furthermore, top-tier companies maintain a diverse software arsenal to ensure optimal results.

Scene Complexity and its Impact on How Long 3D Rendering Takes

The intricacy of the scene being rendered is a paramount factor when estimating how long 3D rendering takes. Several elements come into play, each adding to the overall complexity:

Amount of Geometry

At its core, every 3D scene is made up of polygons and vertices that form its geometry. The greater the number of polygons, the more intricate and detailed the scene. While this boosts visual quality, it also means that there’s more data for the rendering software to process, consequently increasing the render time.

Number of Props

Every additional item or prop—be it furniture, vegetation, or decor—increases the complexity. Each prop is essentially more geometry, often with its own textures and shaders, demanding additional computational resources.

Integration of Lifelike Elements

Adding lifelike elements, such as people or vehicles, doesn’t just involve the geometric complexity they bring. These elements also come with intricate shaders, textures, and sometimes even subsurface scattering (for realistic human skin), making them particularly resource-intensive to render.

Lighting and Shadows

The more light sources in a scene, the longer it can take to render. Each light source casts shadows, produces reflections, and may cause light bounces. Calculating how these light rays interact with the scene’s geometry and materials can be computationally heavy, especially in scenes aiming for photorealism.

Textures and Materials

High-resolution textures and advanced materials (like those mimicking real-world substances such as marble, water, or translucent materials) can drastically augment render times. They require intricate calculations to display how light interacts with these surfaces.

Special Effects

Elements like fog, smoke, fire, or water, require special algorithms and simulations. Their inherent nature—being dynamic, semi-transparent, or refractive—necessitates more advanced calculations, thus elongating the rendering process.

In summary, as the scene’s intricacy grows, so does the computational demand, which directly influences how long 3D rendering takes. It’s a delicate balance of ensuring the desired visual quality while being mindful of the associated render times.

Output Specifications and their Role in Determining How Long 3D Rendering Takes

Once you’ve crafted your intricate 3D scene, the final render’s specifications can significantly affect how long it’ll take to get your finished product. Here are some of the primary output-related factors:

Image Dimensions

Simply put, the larger the final image or video resolution, the longer it takes to render. A 4K image has many times the number of pixels as a standard HD image, meaning there’s a lot more for the software to calculate. Whether it’s for a website, a billboard, or a brochure can make a significant difference in rendering time.

Acceptable Noise Level

In 3D rendering, ‘noise’ refers to the grainy or speckled appearance that can occur due to the incomplete calculation of the full light paths in a scene. Higher quality renders, where noise is minimal, require more sampling and thus take longer. Deciding on an acceptable noise level can be a trade-off between quality and speed.
Desired Degree of Realism: The closer you want your render to resemble a real-life photograph, the longer it will generally take. Photorealism demands intricate calculations of light bounces, reflections, refractions, and more. Soft shadows, accurate reflections, and detailed textures all add to the rendering time.

Special Effects

Elements like fog, smoke, fire, or water can significantly augment rendering times. Recreating physical techniques such as bokeh (depth of field) and motion blur also impact render time. These effects not only require special algorithms and simulations but also the computational power to ensure they blend seamlessly into the scene, looking as authentic as possible.

In essence, your desired output’s specifications play a pivotal role in determining how long 3D rendering takes. It’s a juggling act between achieving the visual aspirations for the project and the practical constraints of time and resources.



In the quest to answer ‘How Long Does 3D Rendering Take?’, it’s evident that the interplay of hardware capabilities, the nuances of chosen software, intricate scene complexities, and the specific demands of the desired output quality all converge to shape the timeframe of creating that impeccable render. But we haven’t even talked about animation. There’s really no such thing as video. What we perceive as motion is a trick we play on our brains, showing a massive number of still images in rapid succession like a flip book. So, when considering animation time, take the above factors times 24, 30, or even 60 to produce just one second of video content!

A successful rendering project hinges on computers tailored for rendering demands, an extensive choice of software and plugins, a broad prop library with the capability for customization, and the expertise to utilize these resources for optimal output. It’s no wonder many architects choose to outsource this intricate process to specialists.

What’s Next?

As you can see, there are a number of factors that affect how long 3D rendering takes. The best way to learn how long your 3D rendering will take is by getting quotes from professionals. You came to just the right place! If you are interested in how long 3d rendering takes, then get a free quote today!

If you are interested in learning more about 3d rendering or need help with a project, contact us today. We offer a variety of 3d design services, including 3d architectural rendering and 3d product rendering. Let us help you bring your ideas to life!


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