Product Visualisation – How do we do it?

Posted on Monday, April 14th, 2014 by

Product visualisation is just one of the many services we offer at Outlook Digital, but what actually is it?

Product visualisation is the process of using computer software to generate a realistic 3D model of a product, instead of taking photographs. It saves time and money and allows much more flexibility than a traditional photo-shoot. With tight deadlines on print and on-line marketing materials, getting quality product visualisation is vital. That is where Outlook come in, we can bring your product to life with our in-house 3D artists and compositors. I’ll use this example to show the basic process we go through when we produce a product visualisation.


Product Visualisation Final Shot

Reference Material

The first step is gathering as much reference material as possible. Seeing pre-production photographs, CAD drawings and similar products gives us the best start to the process. In this product visualisation, a spanner isn’t particularly complex so a blueprint, some dimensions and a material reference should suffice.

Product Visualisation refmats


Once we have enough information we will begin to model the product in our 3D software. Using the reference material as a guide we can create very accurate models that capture every detail of your product. Thankfully at Outlook we have some very powerful workstations for product visualisation so we can create very detailed objects without much limitation.

Product Visualisation Modellling


The next task is making sure that materials look right. Surfaces like metals, paint, and wood all interact differently with light. Our 3D software allows us a huge amount of flexibility when it comes to materials so we can make it out of anything you want. If your product is made of carbon fibre, we can do that, if it’s made of paper, we’ve got that covered as well. Realistic materials and textures make the difference between something that looks CGI and something that is photo-real, so when we produce product visualisations, we spend quite a lot of time on this stage.

Product Visualisation Materials

Setting the Scene

So now the model is all the right colours, we need to put the product somewhere, we can mimic a real photography studio if needed or we can do things a photography studio simply can’t do, like put things in space or underwater. One of the great things about making a product visualisation with 3D software is you can change almost any aspect of the environment without having to book a different studio or use a submarine/space rocket. Here is the studio scene I will be using.

Product Visualisation Studio


At this point it’s time to make sure the lighting is perfect. We can adjust any property of the lights quickly and the image will update in real-time on our screens. We can reposition them, change their brightness, colour, and size. We can change how they create shadows, and how the light will interact with surfaces.


Once the lighting is perfect we need to render an image. Rendering a final image is our chance to go make a coffee or look at inspiration. Once we start the render the computer uses all its grunt to fire millions of virtual photons into the scene. It then calculates how those photons bounce off objects and how they create shadows, reflections and travel through transparent materials. For more complicated jobs and animations we have a render farm which utilises the power of multiple workstations to help us meet tight deadlines. Usually a product visualisation takes less than an hour to render, although  for a high quality print it can take over 2 days for a single image, and this is where the render farm helps.


During the rendering process information is split into separate images for colour, illumination, shadows, reflections, transparency and the material colour. These passes are combined and can be adjusted individually. When we produce product visualisations, having this information lets us fine tune every  detail so your product looks perfect. Below you can see the gradual result of combining all these images together to create the final product visualisation.

Product Visualisation Light 1 Product Visualisation Light 2 Product Visualisation Light 3 Product Visualisation Light 4 Product Visualisation Bounced Light Product Visualisation AO Product Visualisation Reflections Product Visualisation Depth Product Visualisation Depth of Field Product Visualisation CC Product Visualisation Finished shot

And that ladies and gents is how we can bring your product to life, giving it all the love it deserves whilst allowing a level of freedom that you simply can’t get from a photography studio. To see some real life examples check out our product visualisation show-reel on Youtube

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