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10 Reasons Why Your Renders Suck


Andrew Price of writes:*Not* a good render

I've just posted an article on '10 Reasons Why Your Render Sucks'; it's a little bit tongue in cheek, and something I may cop some flak for but I thought it needed to be said ;).
Andrew makes some excellent points, and while you may not agree with all of them, they are well worth thinking about the next time you're about to post your render as a "Finished Project".
Read the full article here


  1. Hmmmm.....sounds hard. If i look on my projekts of the last time i must say: he´s right! For me this are ten points to take a look on, if i start again a "node or partikelplay"!

    Peace ;)

  2. While I agree with all the points of the article, the one about "It's cliche" makes me want to add some more comment.

    If it's cliche *****and badly done***** (underline bold italic), then it makes you want to puke.

    If you do something cliche and add nothing to the mix, put it among the "test renders" stuffs.

    There is nothing wrong in doing something cliche, as long as you manage to add your own personal work on top of that and go beyond the example you are following. No work of art is really original to begin with. We all copy or get inspiration from someone or something.

    You want examples I've got tons !

    - Michelangelo's Pieta. A gazillion artists before him did "Dead Christ after crucifixion". Yet it still stand out as a cornerstone or sculpture.

    - Leonardo da Vinci. A gazillion artists before him try to capture the essence of the "cute chick". Yet with Mona Lisa he managed to do so and more by working on composition and his own version of volumetric rendering (sfumato :p).

    - Phidias. A gaz(ok... I stop...). But many greek artists did statues of the olympian gods or mythological heroes before him. Yet he manage to stand out with the quality of his work and the majesty he managed to instil in his creations.

    There are so many example of artist who did unoriginal work, yet shined in doing it right and marked the spirit of people from their time and later on.

    That's another way to go out of the "I agree (duuuh)" herd. Ask yourself : "What can I do to spice this boring ordinary overdone thing". That's way harder than... let's say...

    Anyone can decide to make something that has no sense (like a mutant duck from mars with a human face that shoot rocket out his @ss and puke beer) and claim it's original.

    But if it's original *****and badly done***** (underline bold italic), then it makes you want to puke anyway.

  3. >> Anyone can decide to make something that has no sense
    >> (like a mutant duck from mars with a human face that
    >> shoot rocket out his @ss and puke beer) and claim it’s original.
    >> But if it’s original *****and badly done***** (underline bold italic),
    >> then it makes you want to puke anyway

    Exactly. Even a mutant duck from mars with a human face that shoots rockets out of his ass and pukes beer along the way could be a joy to look at.

  4. I think people should not criticize this. I agree with micro26 but they are fairly correct opinions but I could summary it pretty easily into a question you have to ask yourself. I think it's the right question. I hope it helps you guys out too because often they forget what they were actually wanting to make.

    Ask yourself:
    What did it look like when I was imagining this?

    Try not to think within constraints. Try to make your render look like your imagined result.
    Look at the character that is in your head, look at how he's posed. Check the image in your head every time and see if you're still making it look like your vision.

    Although this advice might not work for everyone, it will do for many.

    Friendly greetings,


  5. This article isn't useful at all. It's more a list of things the author doesn't like, most of them a matter of opinion, rather than real tips that can be applied to make better renders.

  6. It is a matter of opinion but I do think he points out a few problems in renders that most people agree with. I agree for example with everything in the image that was posted in the article.

  7. I like this article, which is not meant to be taken as a bible. Andrew wants just to express his personal point of view about doing good artworks. Of course it's subjective, obviously, and even if in some parts looks harsh and maybe mean, I think that Andrew wanted to get the reader's attention just by provoking him with his straightforward way to say things. Good job, I agree on most of your points Andrew, but when you talk about cliche or copy some existing stuff, you should try to understand that sometimes people might like to replicate things and put in there their personal contributions/modifications. That doesn't necessarily mean that it'll be a lousy artwork, unless the artist is copying by heart an original artwork like a parrot would repeat its master's words. In that case I agree with you :)

  8. I didn't agree with this at CGTalk, I don't agree with it here. Like aws357 pointed out, when this logic is applied to classic pieces of art it all turns out to be crap in the author's opinion.

    - Monet's Lily Pad paintings did not tell a story.
    - Hirst's "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living" reused sea food.
    - Manet basically copied Monet's style.
    - Munch's "The Scream" was not planned on paper.
    - The Sistine Chapel is not original reusing many religious cliches.
    - Jackson Pollock's paintings were basic tests.
    - Goya's black paintings were terribly lit.
    - Warhol didn't realize that he sucked.
    - The Parthenon certainly was not exciting architecture.
    - The "Mona Lisa" was overly post processed (She was painted over something else).

    Something to mull over the next time you decide to become the stereotypical "I am better than you can ever possibly hope to be" elite artist.

  9. People, people people...

    This isn't about classical art. You're taking the article too far. This is just one guy's suggestions about getting your portfolio to stand out amid the hundreds, no, thousands of digital artists out there.

    And personally, I found it pretty helpful. Thanks, Andrew.

    ~ Jordan

  10. I also like this article. The part about lighting the scene correctly makes a lot of sense. The lighting of the scene can either make the scene or break the scene.

  11. I am displeased to see this elitist tosh posted on Blendernation, especially after the furore it has caused over at CGTalk. It is, pure and simple, an elitist cry for attention. The artist who wrote this article has done a lot of damage to his own rep and the best thing he can do really is ask for the article to be removed from everywhere he has posted it and apologise on said forums.

  12. You will never get anywhere if you are the only one in the world that thinks your render looks ok, and do
    listen to other's opinions or critiques.

    " A fool learns only from experience and nothing else. "

    @kramer3d, even though you didn't post your 10 reasons I personally don't care, unless you are actually good at 3d rendering.

    Thanks Andrew.

    But people that post renders that suck will continue to post renders that suck, and not listen to you.

  13. This is creating quite a stir indeed!

    Certainly, beauty (and, by extension, art) is in the eye of the beholder. You may not agree with one or more of Andrew's comments (yes, perhaps calling them 'rules' was not the best idea), but nevertheless you cannot argue that many pieces of the "art" that you would probably call a "bad render" seem to fall into several of these "categories"...

    Elitist? No (in my opinion, of course), and let's be honest, you've probably thought about several of the points yourself at some point. Andrew has said, behind the article, that he only meant it as tongue in cheek, and while he should probably update the article to reflect that (although doing so now may be seen as a sign that he's buckling under pressure to save his own skin), he never meant it to be taken to heart so seriously. I should point out that he *does* say in the article that these are his *pet peeves*

    Helpful? Maybe it could be moreso, but it has some useful points, such as *where* to find a good lighting guide, rather than just saying you need one.

    Pointless? Maybe, maybe not. All of you who say it is, is because you feel that only those who already know how to correct the problems in the article, don't need it. I beg to differ - there are still those of us who have some technical skill, but cannot get a piece looking "just right", or wonder why people comment that it isn't "awesome". Alternatively you still get highly skilled people turning out render after render of photorealistic... cars. (I'm sorry, but there are *more* than enough car renders on the internet.. in my opinion, of course.)

    I believe people are taking this a little to close to heart (in my opinion, of course), and I feel sorry for Andrew Price for having to cop all the flak.

    My 2c (in my opinion, of course :P).

  14. Lucas da Costa Dantas on

    Hint That ” A fool learns only from experience and nothing else. ”

    Since about 2003,when i started to be at my own drawings,
    i am a fool that learns then only from my own experience.

    Be in mind that theres a war going on.
    theres a unacceptable propaganda
    that tells to follow what is a piece of artwork .

    I say its a crap already, the same copy over and over the same thing.
    ” A fool learns only from experience and nothing else. ”

    That it doesn't mean i do not create different content new from my own art.

    But yeah,basically its the same thing ,unless i ran into the modern art
    and close my eyes and see whats was made at the paper to then
    look how smart new are this anyway.

    The art are based on what a reasonable form takes,
    but new can be anything about :

    Heres the atom, it likes hamburgers,
    but it can't eat them cause the atoms eats only electrons.
    Electrons eats the atom, the other atom says to other atom
    you are what you eat,and i am and electron.why are you not a electron?
    But i thought i was an atom,well it only shows what you don't know.
    and guess what you looks taste.

    The other atom eats the other atom
    that are eat by the electrons
    that the electrons are eat by atoms......

    But what about the hamburger?
    well its are all being eaten ....

    Thanks,hey do not steal my text artwork because i am a fool.Smart ass.

  15. I look at this list like I do a list of tips, and dos and don'ts of writing -- good solid advice. Of course, one can break the "rules" if you like, but it's best to know what they are beforehand, yes?

  16. Overall... yes. I agree.

    Here is my checklist for vfx:


    -First was finding the right bits of reference. ( is your friend...) Sometimes it's good just for sussing out what the finish line is, sometimes it's awesome for generating textures. Not having good reference is like building a dog house without a blue print. It can be done, but with lots of piddling.
    -cheat the audience eye for all cost! takes lots of shortcuts.

    - Bevel all the corners to catch speculars on the edge.
    - Imperfections
    - Only model what you see
    - model to a pixel, not 1/8th of an inch

    - UV unwrap everything
    - Provide high res textures for everything
    - Provide at a MINIMUM color, bump, and specular for every surface
    - dirt is pretty, dirt is detail, dirt is scale
    - Always use SSS for skin
    - Physically correct shaders

    HDR textures
    - 6 exposures, 2 stop intervals (Bracket of 12 stops)

    - Correct light temperatures
    - Proper physical Light fall offs
    - Use area lights
    - Lighting is never uniform, always gradient
    - Always add fill, preferably with GI
    - Variation in color
    - No completely hard shadows
    - Translucent materials have lighter shadows
    - light sources viewed directly should look brighter than any highlights (unless clipped)
    - Sunlight always has a fill behind it on Earth

    - Use high quality AA and texture filtering
    - use motion blur, match shutter angle
    - Render at LEAST 10bit log cineon, if not full HDR or EXR format
    - Render LOTS of passes for compositing
    - Using energy conserving shaders
    - Linear Workflow!!!
    - Render fog/mist as an occluding element, no screening or adding
    - Depth of field with bokeh hi-lights.
    - No GI noise

    - composite fog/mist as an occluding element, no screening or adding
    - Match Depth of field with bokeh hi-lights.
    - Match film grain per channel
    - Match lens distortion
    - Match chromatic aberration
    - Match highlight blooms
    - Match vignetting
    - Match lens flares (always on top)
    - Match blacks and whites to plate
    - Light Wrap (or fresnel shader with proper texture)
    - Check blacks and whites by slamming

    Grading layers (suggestion):
    - 1. Brightness,
    - 2. Curves,
    - 3. Color Balance,
    - 4. Selective Color,
    - 5. Hue/Saturation

    I hope this helps.


  17. "Alternatively you still get highly skilled people turning out render after render of photorealistic… cars. (I’m sorry, but there are *more* than enough car renders on the internet.. in my opinion, of course.)"

    Some people enjoy modeling cars, and creating photorealistic renders. Why not? Blender is often a tool for hobbyists, and ultimately it's all about the sense of accomplishment that the final render gives you. So if someone wants to post their photorealistic car online, who cares? Why does the fact that many have been created before negate the skill required to make one?

  18. @NNSM: True enough, and I know that some people can turn out the most beautiful car renders for sure. Some people enjoy it a lot, but some people (such as myself) don't find it exciting in the least (in my opinion, of course :P). I never said it negates the skill involved (quite the contrary, cars are hardly easy things to model at the intricacy that some people put in, and I really do appreciate that), and I personally would never fault a person for having created such a work (unless it did deserve constructive criticism), but (in my opinion) unless there was something special about the piece, something that makes it unique, I wouldn't be ready to call it a *great* render.

    For an example of this (and I profusely apologize to the artist), I see as a beautiful, well rendered and well designed work, but I wouldn't call it an "awesome" render because it has no character, whereas, though not necessarily the most technically perfect piece (still very good, don't get me wrong), has a lot more character, because it is not the same pristine brand-new look that every other car render has; it tells a story and it's not blatantly cliche.

    Admittedly this is a little reverse-topic, and we're now discussing what I would consider an "awesome" render, rather than why a render "sucks", but I thought I should clarify my position. Of course, these are all *my opinions*, but I hope I've clarified my stance.

  19. The article should have been called "10 reasons why your renders are boring"

    The real reasons why your renders suck are mostly due to inexperience with the program and/or modeling/lighting.

    A technically good render IS a good render, no matter if its a car or a chair that you just reproduced.

    Im personally somewhere in the middle between not reproducing reality and going completely abstract (RoberT anyone).

    Imo 3D at its best is a stylized artistic vision, not reproducing reality.


    Now, your render will SUCK, if you are just a poorly skilled artist, or still in training (like myself)
    There are no rules why it will suck specifically except that your technique is poor (lighting, material, composition, models)

    Your render can be BORING though even if it is created with a high set of skill, that means your imagination is poor.

    Also lets not forget that in some parts of the industry boring is GOOD.
    I myself work in a field where im not allowed to use specularity, bump-mapping or any sort of enhancing filters for my visualizations to not give the wrong impression about the product.

  20. I've been an artist for close to 20 years now and I have to admit that while I don't agree with all the specifics of this article I must applaud Andrew for his candor. The spirit of this article is one of searching for the essence of quality in digital art. are these all true all the time? no but even with his "do it first on paper" rule he uses the word "most" and I have to agree with him. the weakness of creating digital art as opposed to using traditional media is the lack of visceral contact with the finished product (also a major weakness of airbrushed art). the truth is that in my eyes one of the major difficulties with digital art is the lack of desire to mix media when indeed in this day and age it is easier to use such mixing in a digital environment than ever before. in fact it is easier to mix media in a digital environment than any other form and there are more ways of doing this that are physically impossible that it boggles the mind!

    It amazed me that on the blendernation post that mentioned bringing zbrush style materials to blender that no-one mentioned that you could use the technique with photographs of a sphere or painted or drawn pieces of a sphere scanned with a scanner. I used photos of the earth, the moon, the deathstar, an orange with a gausian blur to soften out the surface details and then applied the way that article suggested and it looked fantastic. there is also the possibility of using pencil sketching over a printout of a uv-map being scanned and applied as a texture, likewise photos of leaves, textures pressed into clay, painted color maps, normal maps, specular maps (india ink is good for this), bump maps and especially displacement maps to create a basis if not a final result for a landscape are all techniques I use regularly. in fact you can use a displacement map, apply the displacement and then work another painted displacement over that to create undercuts so it doesn't look like a displacement map! then to add some more realism and naturalness by using pencil or crayon rubbings for a normal map. a really big problem with CGI is its artificial look and it can be corrected by multiple layers of physical media being imported as photographed or scanned maps.

    I honestly feel that this "rule" in particular can be expanded and seen to stem from a reluctance to bring other media into the workflow of a CGI artist. Think about what we used to look at CGI for, we would look in awe at the photo realistic nature of the thing and say "wow, I can't believe this is made with a computer". Think of the first time you saw Jurrasic Park... by using only digital media the art seems to be more amazing than if we don't and the tool seems to be legitimized if it is "as difficult as other media to create such images". But the truth is we have had CGI of such high quality that this is old news. Yes there is still the desire to prove Blender as a capable software package but look at the possibilities of a more visceral workflow; it allows you to touch your work while you work on it making the whole process more real to you as an artist. Painting isn't all visual.

    Finally while this is a good example of a way to make the digital art you create have new life it is also a way of making quality in your art become more possible which is what I think Andrew was trying to convey in the first place. Don't take this article literally, it really just seems to me that he was trying to do what I try to do whenever I meet another "artist" using feces on canvas to shock the audience with his version of originality (not a joke or metaphor, read on). Of course this version of originality is a part of the artist game and it has been my experience that that game has to do with one thing and that's a FEAR of being unable to create quality work. Instead of putting in the hard work that is needed to succeed in art they stop without learning the technique and the work of teaching your muscles how to create a skilled stroke and then use the excuse that what they were trying to create wasn't "that kind of art". In the example of the poop artist I mentioned above he confided in a friend of mine that he only did his crap art because it sold well... he literally smeared crap on a canvas and sold it for $3000. That is what this mentality has given birth to, an art scene that covers their own fear of artistic inadequacy with a communal agreement to applaud crap on a canvas!

    I may not agree with all the particulars of this article but I do hear the underlying message that Andrew is trying to get across and that is that quality counts. Yes there are shortcuts that we think might make our work look better but the truth is that we know it comes down to laziness or fear of not having what it takes... get rid of these and you would be amazed at what you can produce. and if you can amaze yourself then to hell with the drones out there that really don't know what they are talking about, They are probably a bunch of poop smearers anyway.

    Lots of love and mental hugs,
    The Masked Lurker

  21. It's rather ironic actually. For someone (who in his mind) is helping others by giving an example of criticism they'll receive in the world, is given the same treatment from countless message boards for breaking the art critiquing 'rules' and not flattering someone for something he couldn't make, even if it could be better in his mind...

    I think people take opinions too seriously. If what you do works for you- sweet. I thought Andrew did fine at stating these were things he's noticed throughout his experience. If that's to hard for some people to understand then it's their problem, not Andrews. I agree with some 'rules', and not with others- as I'm sure everyone on this board can agree to.

    Heaven forbid we get multiple perspectives.

  22. Come on guys, what is all your problems? As stated by a whole bunch of other people, this is just some guidelines, especially for new users, that are usually a good idea to follow. If you have created artwork that defies these rules and works, that's great! He's probably not addressing you. For a vast majority of people who are beginning, most of these tips are good things to keep in mind because there a TONS of renders out there that do look awful and could be fixed up with just a little work. To top it off, Andrew clearly started his article with a statement of how his portfolio breaks some of these rules too.
    If you're too haughty to take some advise, or distinguish it as for people who aren't up to your skill level, than maybe it's been to long since someone actually told you your renders suck.

  23. what an embarassing fuss:/
    the list is at best extremely fragile,
    if u aspire to be an artist and use such list as your guideline go ahead and waste your intuition...
    might be that u end up as one of the 'cartists' mentioned above...

    what the hell gave people the idea that as soon as something is rendered and appears on the net it has to make sense and should be a display of advanced craftsmanship...
    look at politics, media and the internet they work in mysterious opposite ways.
    ranting about crap renders is like stating that i shouldn't have read through all the mails i received in my spam folder.

    Shouldn't all young girls dress up like a new and better version of Hannah Montana to increase their appeal to the world.
    Will this list enable people to create something fresh and out of the ordinary my guess is, It doesnt.

    Looking into some of the comments on cgtalk about this you'd get the idea that most of the people actually hate cg nowadays and they hope that others will come up with something extraordinary by telling them wich things they exploited by now and are fed with.
    Kinda funny how everybody hates big breasted female warriors now ...wasn't it some cg hotshots that dragged those upon us in the first place. Boils down to the old sex and violence theme in that case, its chewed up well but is the base of the whole industry.

    If I had know this before ...i would have time i will ...maybe!

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