I am looking to replace photography with Photo realistic 3d Renderings.

In almost the same way and reason Ikea did. (http://www.pixatecreative.com/ikea-3d-rendering/). They use 3DStudio Max and V-Ray to create their 3D renders. Would Blender be the cost effective equivalent? Scenes are not important, a simple product shot that would normally be taken in my photography studio. I want results to be equivalent to the image below. End goal

I have time to learn and am quick at picking up new software, but DStudio Max and V-Ray are more problematic - in my head. I would like to learn the basics before I tell the boss I am overhauling all our images and replacing them with these, and this is where cost makes it easier to pitch and blender is a fair bit cheaper.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Son, blender is always the right choice. $\endgroup$
    – ruckus
    Oct 15, 2015 at 3:30

2 Answers 2


At Blender Conference 2015 Piotr Zgodziński gave a talk about this very topic: From photographer to 3d artist, a personal journey - Piotr Zgodziński. worth the 30 minutes.

I will try to answer the question where it can be done so objectively, but a simple yes / no is unrealistic. If you are going to get into 3d modelling and rendering, then it's a matter of learning a few different skills which are often specialized in industry. Whether you have time to learn the important subtleties of each will decide if it's a cost effective venture, because it will be judged by the end result.

It will take approximately the same amount of time regardless of what software package you finally decide to use. At the minimum you'll want a combination of these skills:

  1. Modelling
  2. Texturing / Materials
  3. Lighting / Rendering

You probably intend to specialize on non animated objects and scenes (a chair with lights is a scene) and that means there's a lot that you don't need to learn to get stuff done. There's also a lot you can re-use between scenes that you only need to set up once (like a good virtual lighting stage, or materials) and then tweak depending on the project.

All these things can be outsourced and it's worth considering.


Blender has superb modeling tools, definitely adequate for creating models for product rendering like furniture, fixtures, anything you might find in a home improvement store catalog. At its heart Blender is an Artistic package, not a CAD tool with ultra high precision needed for Civil engineering (and you won't need that for rendering anyway).

Texturing / Materials

  • Texturing: The core of this is UV unwrapping, which conceptually works the same over all 3d software, it's not traditionally an automated process. Making a UV map of your object is what lets you define (using seams) which surfaces are distinct from others.

  • Materials: The core here is the Node system, a modular approach to defining materials and how surfaces respond to light. It's similar for all node based software; you get a collection of nodes with a few parameters and you combine them into larger complex organizations. Just like + - / * % can be combined to describe just about any mathematical concept.

Lighting / Rendering

As a photographer you have an advantage here regarding the so called physically based render engines. Blender's own Cycles render engine is an option, but it's not the only one. We compiled a list of external renderers to choose from. You mentioned Chaos Group's V-Ray renderer, it's on that list too.

At a certain level of proficiency people (consumers) can't really tell if a product is rendered at all, or even if they can then only few people would have an easy time betting on which render engine was used.

Some packages have comprehensive specialized training, Blender is no exception: Search and you will find Free or Paid training.

See our resources page for links intended to help learn Blender.


The short answer is Yes. With Cycles, Blender is fully capable of photorealistic renderings. You will need to get comfortable with the node system, but it is very powerful. I have personally found that my photography knowledge directly translated into Cycles. You can even get configurations to duplicate most common lenses.

The main place Blender can be weak is in creating very advanced, multi-map textures. This will generally require another outside program like photoshop/GIMP, Substance, etc. But this same is true for Maya, Max, and VRAY so it's not really any different.

Someone else may be able to provide more of a breakdown of Blender with Cycles vs Max/Maya with VRAY.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .