2 Ways to Make People Look Natural in 3D Renderings

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For some of our renderings, especially outdoor ones, clients would occasionally ask for them to be populated with people. (The shot above is a courtyard from a student housing property in Reno.) This is a deceptively difficult request - because of effects like the uncanny valley, it’s not easy getting people to look natural in photorealistic renderings. An art team spends quite a bit of time composing the shot - and tweaking the humanoid models as well sometimes - to make the integration as seamless as possible. Here are two approaches to take to make the models look like they belong.

1. Try not to feature 3D people front-and-center

The closer 3D people are towards the camera, the more uncanny they could look. So put them into the shot in a way that makes them blend into the space instead. How do we do that?

Remember: the goal of putting in 3D people is to make a shot look more lively. So, show the kind of activities that could be done in this space. The models should be on the way somewhere, in the midst of a conversation, even relaxing. They could be placed on the sides, or to the back of the shot. All these activities lend energy to the scene but do not need to be the focal point.

2. Use 3D models instead of cut-outs

3D models have the necessary geometry and texture required to be put into a 3D program and be rendered along with the rest of the scene. This is important because the model will be lit correctly: i.e. depending on their placements in the scene and how the light hits them, the shadows on their bodies will be oriented properly. The model looks like it is part of the space, instead of something that is cut and pasted into the finished product.

Our team uses 3D people that are created by scanning real human models, like these. They are put into the scene, tweaked until they look right in the lighting before it is rendered out.

The human body continues to be something that’s tricky to render photo-realistically, especially the skin and hair. We hope these two tips will help you create renderings with more believable 3D people.

Thinking about 3D renderings that feature human models? Drop us a line below.