The Difference Between A Great 3D Visual and Not So Great

In every type of business, whether it’s a service provider, or an actual product, there’s always a varying degree of standards available.  When I say ‘standards’ I mean quality.

And 3D Visualisation is no different.

This blog post is going to tackle my recent experiences when it comes to managing client expectation.  And more specifically, why my photo-real 3D visuals don’t cost the same as 3D visuals produced, using lesser quality 3D software and processes.  This isn’t always an easy topic to address but I feel it is a supremely important one and deserves a little bit of my time.

Here is what I consider to be a ‘not so great’ 3D visual of a kitchen design.  This 3D visual was most likely created using ‘drag and drop’ functionality, from a software application specifically designed to produce 3D visuals of kitchen design schemes.

Not So Great 3D Visual - Kitchen

The process required to produce this 3D visual includes selecting pre-built cabinets, appliances and fittings.  Which also includes the ability to add (shockingly bad) interior lighting.  This 3D visual is most likely included as a ‘free’ option for customers wishing to purchase a kitchen, or is perhaps used as part of a ‘free’ consultation, to try and influence a sale.  And it probably took 30 mins to produce.

This is a pretty good example of a substandard 3D visual and here’s why.

Not So Great Kitchen 3D Visual - Critique

And here’s a photo-real 3D visual, produced by yours truly, which was constructed using cutting edge 3D software, and to the exacting requirements of the client.  It is a truly bespoke 3D solution, that uses real world dimensions, materials and lighting.  It is a highly accurate and realistic depiction of an Interior Designer’s concept and is given the term ‘photo-real’ due to its ridiculously high level of realism.  It took approx. 3 days to create.

Modern Kitchen 3D Visualisation

Let’s look at these two very different, computer generated images side-by-side (please click to view actual image size).

3D Visualisation Kitchen Design

These varying standards aren’t limited to residential interiors.  Here’s what I consider to be a substandard 3D visual of a wedding reception design.

Not So Great 3D Visual - Wedding

And here’s a photo-real image of a wedding ceremony design created by myself.

Tyn Dwr Large Wedding Ceremony Room 3D Visualisation

Both examples look very different, right?  That’s because of three things:

  • the skill and expertise of the 3D Visualiser;
  • the superior 3D software used, and
  • the time, effort and attention to detail incorporated.

If I’ve done my job correctly, my photo-real 3D visual will prompt an emotional response from the end consumer (my client’s client).  And because I take pride in my work, and care about the level of service I provide, I ask my clients to let me know how their client reacted when presented with the final photo-real 3D visual.  The reactions have included tears, hanging the photo-real 3D visual on a wall (true story!), audible gasps and sheer joy.

Here’s an interesting question: how many times do you think the poorer quality 3D visuals above prompted an emotional response from the end consumer?

The main objective of photo-real 3D Visualisation is to help a Designer accurately communicate his/her design concept to a client, to the extent that the client can imagine standing in the newly designed space.  Which of the above 3D visuals do you think a client could imagine standing in?

It’s precisely for all of the above reasons, why my photo-real 3D visuals aren’t priced in a similar bracket as the ‘not so great’ ones.

However, I have introduced a three tiered pricing system, to ensure that I meet the varying budgets and requirements of my clients, without compromising on quality! Read more about my tiered pricing system here.

If, as a Designer, you want to secure a commission and ensure that your design concept is being conveyed accurately, to fully engage your client, my photo-real 3D visuals will deliver.

Do your designs justice, present your vision for a space or interior using only the highest quality 3D visuals.

I love hearing from my readers and followers.  If you enjoyed this post, or have a point you’d like to raise, please feel free to leave a comment below.


Anita Brown 3D Logo


  1. Brian Shaw says:

    Hi Anita,
    A very interesting post, once again, on the 3D debate. I sense a back story to this latest which you don’t really address! In my own work I try and produce a product to as high a standard and of the best quality that I can achieve. However, these are my standards and my idea of quality. As far as I know, there are no industry standards for this kind of work which makes those concepts entirely subjective. The same is true of the quality of clients! It is always great to deal with a client that will work with you and grasps what you are trying to do for them but there are always the ones who don’t get it and the experience is less than enjoyable. You will have charged the same fee and invested the same amount of time and energy but the outcome is totally different and perhaps, for that reason, you can’t really claim that your work will always deliver.

    Hope that wasn’t too negative! I enjoy reading your blog and your work is to be admired. The Tatler exercise was great and quite a challenge as your are recreating something that already exists rather than something that is still a concept.

    All the best


    Liked by 1 person

    • anitabrown3d says:

      Hi Brian,

      It’s good to hear from you, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this subject. I need to keep some sort of professional stance when writing my blog posts, so going into great detail is out of the question! However, I did address a specific point and that is managing client expectation when it comes to the creation and value (both monetary and benefits to their business) of a photo-real 3D visual.

      Unfortunately, many clients assume, that to produce a 3D visual, the same process is followed, regardless of the software used, or the standard produced.

      And this needs to be addressed i.e. the client needs to be educated regarding this. It’s important to do this, to mange their expectations and keep them informed. It’s only fair, right?!

      You’re right, there is no industry standard when it comes to the quality of 3D visuals produced. But without a doubt, there is a huge difference between the 3D visual I used above (the not so great one) and my photo-real 3D visual. I pointed out why that was. It stands to reason, that if I buy industry specific software and spend a number of years learning to reach a high level of competency, that my 3D visual will be of a much higher standard, than the ‘not so great’ 3D visual. I mean, that’s a given!

      So bearing that in mind, why would my (photo-real) 3D visuals cost the same as the ‘not so great’ 3D visuals? This seems obvious to me.

      You’re going off on a slight tangent by introducing the idea that not all clients will be fully ‘on board’, for whatever reason and for that, I won’t always be able to deliver.

      I can 100% state that my work WILL deliver. This is not a claim. My objective, when creating a 3D visual is to illustrate the Designer’s design concept accurately, in a photo-real 3D visual, based on the information that they provide. And I deliver on this EVERY single time I undertake a commission. If I feel that the draft 3D image is lacking, for whatever reason, I WILL discuss this with my client and revisions WILL be made. And this is because I care and take pride in my work. My clients aren’t just paying for my technical ability. They’re paying for the attention to detail, the passion and commitment I have to my role.

      You’re right, that Ulster Tatler Interiors exercise was indeed a challenge. The wide angle lens used in the original image was a nightmare to get right! But I hope the point I was trying to make came across!

      I hope all is well with you!



      • Brian Shaw says:

        Hi Anita,
        Thank you for your response to my earlier comments, on reflection I could have put things a little differently! I have no doubt that you give 100% to each and every commission and would never be satisfied with ‘oh that will do’.

        You are absolutely right about client expectation. The availability of ‘instant’ 3D images like your ‘not so good examples’ can muddy the waters when it comes to explaining why a decent job cost more. Its that ‘you just have to press a button and the computer does it for you’ scenario.



        Liked by 1 person

        • anitabrown3d says:

          Hey Brian,

          It’s not a problem! Do you find that you’re having to manage client expectations often?



      • Tina Isgro says:

        Hi Anita,
        I really appreciated your article and can totally relate to the value of having and using this skill. It makes all the difference. Recently I registered for a one month trial version for a SketchUp plug-in to add the reflection, realistic lighting etc. I figured “How hard can it be?” I’ve been using the pro version of SketchUp for a few years now. It was no walk in the park. There are several versions to chose from and learning is really going to require a second computer hook up and more time than I had allowed to be able to watch the tutorial on one screen and work it on the other. Needless to say, I still have yet to do this. I was trying to learn it too quickly while under a tight deadline and it just wasn’t happening. I presented, and landed, the job, but the whole time I was really wishing I had the “prettier” presentation.
        I have heard V-Ray is good, but you mentioned Maxwell Render. Have you compared the two, or do you know that one is more smooth/ realistic than the other? Thank you, Tina

        Liked by 1 person

        • anitabrown3d says:

          Hi Tina, welcome! I’m glad you found the post useful! And yes, it takes a lot of time and patience to get to grips with photo-real 3D Visualisation and to be honest, the learning never ends 😦 I’m constantly learning new techniques, or improving my workflow to continually reach high levels of realism.

          I think it’s probably best to trial a few different rendering engines, as sometimes you naturally gravitate to one interface over the others. I did indeed trial V-ray and I didn’t find the layout very user-friendly. I much prefer Maxwell Render, especially because of its superb interface with SketchUp. And when it comes to realistic lighting, you can’t beat Maxwell!

          If ever you need your 3D models transformed into photo-real images, drop me a line. The fee would be less than normal, as the model has already been built 🙂



          • Tina Isgro says:

            Thank you!! 😉 I’ll give that one a try too then. If I just can’t figure it out I’ll be in contact. Take care!

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Brian Shaw says:

    Hi Anita
    Due to my geographical location most of my work is obtained from a jobs website and the way that works mostly precludes any discussion on values with potential clients. In the main, whilst we all want value for money, many of the people posting jobs online want something for nothing and want it yesterday!
    Mostly, I now work with just one client with whom I have built a good relationship and enjoy a good level of trust. They send me a project which I can begin without preamble and when finished let them know the cost.

    Enjoy the sunshine!



    • anitabrown3d says:

      Hi Brian,

      That’s an interesting method of gaining clients but it seems to work for you. Having an ongoing, productive relationship with clients is gold!



  3. Madison says:

    Hi Anita, absolutely love looking at your 3d renders, they’re so captivating!
    I seem to be the only one from my graduate class that is interested in 3D Visuals, I love the way factor it has!
    I’ve used 3dsMax before, and was wondering what software you used for your visuals?

    Liked by 1 person

    • anitabrown3d says:

      Hi Madison,

      Welcome to my blog! I hope you enjoyed your visit 🙂 Thank you for your kind words regarding my 3D visuals. It’s my goal to make them as captivating as possible!

      Females, unfortunately, are few and far between in this industry, so it’s great to hear that you’re interested!

      I use SketchUp to construct the 3D model and then undertake the rendering using Maxwell Render.



  4. Jeremy Bunn says:

    Hi Anita
    I fully accept what you are saying about the comparison between the 2 types of visuals you use to make your point. I assume that your ( excellent, it has to be said ) visualising skills are brought into the design process right at the very end to show the client a realistic impression of what their chosen design will look like. I also advocate the use of simpler visuals ( without the reflections etc ) or hand sketched drawings to be used as part of that design process to give the client many options and ideas, so they have their place too. For the price of your one visual the client could receive many simpler visuals, possibly from different view points with different designs but with just as much information within them. After all the designer presenting the drawings is able to fill in the missing details verbally ( finishes details with samples and product photos ). The visual rarely has to tell the whole story on it’s own. I think visuals should be play their part in relaying critical information and not seen by the client as purely a single design proposal …….it’s just too much of a one design hit with no fluidity or flexibility. Also once the design takes a different turn that visual is virtually redundant.
    When I produce a fully rendered drawing for my clients, it’s usually for marketing purposes ( barn conversions ) whereby it does have to stand alone and tell the full story. But apart from that I use visuals ( backed up by rendered plans, product and finishes boards ) to maximise the design potential of the client’s project which I think is more important than giving just one very polished option …..rather presenting to them the design journey….possibly culminating in a polished visual. But most of my clients get it by this point and a final polished ( with perfect shadows, reflections etc ) visual is often unnecessary.
    Also leaving their imagination a little space also inspires their ideas I find, contributing enormously to the end design….after all it is their project and no one knows best about their requirements than they do.
    But I do agree that the visualiser should do their best to wow the client in terms of quality no matter what the level of detail within the drawing or their budget.


    • anitabrown3d says:

      Hi Jeremy,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. When my client approaches me to create a 3D visual, he/she has already discussed various concepts and options with the client, so they in actual fact, WANT a polished 3D visual. Unless, of course they have budget constraints and opt for a more conceptual style (e.g. my Bronze tier). This blog post was about managing expection and explaining why a quality photo-real image isn’t priced the same as a sub-standard one. You’re kinda going into your design process, which is a different conversation. I have since introduced a new tiered pricing system, to better meet the needs of my clients regarding their available budget and timescales. So there are other options available to my clients, as opposed to just a polished 3D visual!



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