7 Practical Tips for Improving Digital Rendering Realism
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Use high-quality textures
  2. Consider lighting and shadows
  3. Pay attention to detail
  4. Use accurate proportions
  5. Employ depth of field
  6. Apply real-world attributes
  7. Practice consistency

Imagine you're crafting a digital masterpiece—the kind that leaves folks speechless. Your creation is near perfect, but there's something missing. A sense of realism, perhaps? Digital rendering in realism is an art that requires a careful blend of technique and creativity. In this blog, we'll walk you through seven practical tips on how to improve digital rendering in realism. Let's dive in.

Use high-quality textures

Texture—the very fabric of our visual world. It gives an object its unique feel and depth. When it comes to digital rendering, the quality of textures can make or break the realism. So, how can you improve digital rendering in realism by using high-quality textures? Let's find out.

  • Choose the right texture: Imagine you're digitally rendering a wooden table. Using a marble texture won't quite cut it, will it? Picking the right texture, which closely mimics the real-world object, is the first step to enhancing realism.
  • Go for high-resolution textures: Low-resolution textures tend to become blurry or pixelated, especially when zoomed in. This can disrupt the overall realism. High-resolution textures, on the other hand, maintain their clarity and detail, no matter how much you zoom.
  • Apply texture mapping: Texture mapping is a method that wraps textures around your 3D model. It's like gift wrapping a present—the wrapping paper (texture) needs to fit seamlessly around the box (3D model). When done correctly, it can significantly improve the realism of your digital rendering.

So, remember, when you're neck-deep in your next digital rendering project, don't compromise on texture quality. The devil is in the detail, after all. And with high-quality textures, you're well on your way to mastering how to improve digital rendering in realism. Next stop: lighting and shadows. But we'll save that for another day. Stay tuned!

Consider lighting and shadows

Remember the last time you watched a sunrise? The way the light gently washed over the landscape, casting long shadows that slowly shrank as the sun climbed higher? That's the kind of magic you want to recreate in your digital renders. So, how do you improve digital rendering in realism using lighting and shadows? Let's see.

  • Master the three-point lighting system: The three-point lighting system—a classic in both photography and 3D rendering—comprises a key light, fill light, and back light. The key light is your primary light source, the fill light balances out the key light's shadows, and the back light helps separate the object from the background. This technique can help add depth and a three-dimensional feel to your render.
  • Play with shadow hardness: Not all shadows are created equal. Some are sharp and hard, others are soft and diffused. By adjusting shadow hardness, you can create a more realistic interplay between light and objects.
  • Use global illumination: In the real world, light doesn't just hit an object and stop—it bounces around, illuminating other surfaces. Global illumination is a rendering method that mimics this bouncing of light, resulting in a more natural and realistic lighting scenario.

So, before you dive into your next digital rendering project, take a moment to consider your lighting and shadows. By doing so, you'll be one step closer to nailing how to improve digital rendering in realism. But remember, it's not just about the big picture—the tiniest details can also make a big difference. But more on that later. Stay tuned!

Pay attention to detail

Let's play a quick game: imagine a coin. Got it? Now, try to describe it. You'd probably say it's round, metallic, with some sort of design, right? But what about the tiny scratches from years of use, or the slight wear on the edges? That's the level of detail you need to aim for when trying to improve digital rendering in realism. Because in the world of digital rendering, the devil truly is in the details. So how do you go about it?

  • Textures matter: The difference between a shiny new penny and a worn-out dollar bill isn't just the color—it's the texture. Subtle details like scratches, wrinkles, and patina can add a layer of depth and realism to your render that's hard to achieve otherwise.
  • Don't forget reflections: The way objects reflect light is a major part of how we perceive them. The slightly distorted reflection in a glass window, the mirror-like reflection on a polished car—capturing these nuances can significantly boost the realism of your render.
  • Small props can make a big difference: When creating a scene, don't just focus on the main elements. Adding small, often overlooked details like a coffee mug on a desk or a worn-out rug on a floor can make your scene feel more lived-in and real.

So, next time you're working on a digital rendering project, take a moment to appreciate the little things. You'd be surprised how much they can improve the overall realism of your render. Because when it comes to mastering how to improve digital rendering in realism, every tiny detail counts.

Use accurate proportions

Have you ever drawn a picture, took a step back, and thought, "Why does this just not look right?" Chances are the proportions were off. Proportions are the unsung heroes of visual arts, and digital rendering is no exception. To improve digital rendering in realism, you must master the art of accurate proportions.

  • Understand the scale: A skyscraper towering over a cityscape or a small coffee cup sitting on a table—the size of objects in relation to each other can make or break the realism of your render. So, always make sure your scale is accurate.
  • Observe the real world: The best way to understand proportions is to observe the real world. Notice how tall a door is compared to a person, or how wide a car is compared to a road. These observations will serve as a valuable reference when you're rendering.
  • Use guides and grids: Don't shy away from using guides and grids. They can help you maintain proper proportions and alignments, especially when working with complex scenes.

Remember, proportions are more than just measurements. They are about creating a sense of balance and harmony in your scene. And trust me, your audience will notice if something is off, even if they can't quite put their finger on what it is. So take the time to get it right. After all, knowing how to improve digital rendering in realism is all about mastering the basics—and proportions are as basic as it gets.

Employ depth of field

When you are looking to improve digital rendering in realism, using depth of field is a game changer. You see, in real life, our eyes can only focus on one thing at a time. Everything else becomes a little blurry. That's depth of field in action.

  • Focus on your subject: When rendering, decide what the viewer should focus on. This is your subject. Keep it sharp and clear. This replicates how our eyes work and will add a touch of realism to your renders.
  • Blur the background: To create a depth of field effect, blur out the parts of your image that are not the subject. This gives the viewer a sense of depth and distance, making your render feel more like a photograph than a flat image.
  • Control the blur: But don't just blur everything out. Control the amount of blur based on the distance from the subject. Things closer to the subject should be less blurry than things further away. This is a subtle detail, but one that can make a big difference in how realistic your render looks.

Remember, depth of field is not just a cool effect. It's a tool that can guide the viewer's eye and create a sense of depth and space in your render. So, learn to use it wisely. And soon, you'll find your digital renders looking more and more like the real thing.

Apply real-world attributes

One of the key ways to improve digital rendering in realism is to bring in attributes from the real world. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it's easy to overlook the tiny details that make up our everyday reality. Here's how to do it:

  • Use real-world materials: Look around you. See how different materials reflect light? How they have different textures? Use these observations when choosing materials for your render. From the glossiness of a polished wooden table to the roughness of a gravel path, these details add depth and realism to your work.
  • Consider natural elements: The natural world is full of elements that can enhance your render. The way light filters through leaves, the ripple of water, the texture of bark – these all contribute to a sense of realism in your render. So don't shy away from including these natural elements.
  • Think about wear and tear: Nothing in the real world stays pristine for long. Things get worn out, weathered, and aged. Adding signs of wear and tear to your render – like cracks in a wall, rust on a door, or smudges on a window – can give your work a lived-in feel that screams realism.

By applying real-world attributes, you can create digital renders that feel authentic and grounded in reality. The devil, as they say, is in the details. So, pay attention to them, and watch your digital rendering skills go from good to great.

Practice consistency

Our final tip on how to improve digital rendering in realism is to practice consistency. Consistency is key in any creative endeavor, and digital rendering is no exception. Here's why it's so important:

  • Maintains Visual Cohesion: Inconsistent lighting, textures, or proportions can distract the viewer and take away from the overall realism of your render. By maintaining consistency, you ensure that every element of your scene works together to create a believable whole.
  • Builds Viewer Trust: When your renders are consistent, viewers subconsciously trust you more. They know what to expect and can focus on the story or message you're trying to convey, rather than being distracted by inconsistent details.
  • Improves Your Skills: Practicing consistency also helps you to refine your skills. The more you work at maintaining consistency in your renders, the better you'll get at noticing when something is off and fixing it before it affects your final product.

So, if you're looking to take your digital renders to the next level of realism, remember to keep things consistent. It might seem like a small thing, but it can have a big impact on the overall quality of your work. And who knows? With enough practice, you might just find that consistency becomes second nature to you.

If you enjoyed our blog post on improving digital rendering realism and want to take your skills to the next level, don't miss the workshop 'How to Paint 3Dimensionally' by David Shepherd. This workshop will provide you with valuable techniques and tips to enhance the depth and realism of your digital art, helping you create more striking and lifelike images.