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Learn about 3D animation

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What is 3D rendering software?

3D rendering software is the process of generating an image from a model by means of computer software. Rendering is used in architecture, simulators, video games, films and television visual effects and design visualisation. 3D rendering, the last step in an animation process, gives the final appearance to the models and animation with visual effects such as shading(US site), texture-mapping (US site), shadows, reflections and motion blurs. 

Types of 3D rendering

  • Software rendering

    Software rendering produces images of the highest quality, letting you achieve the most sophisticated results. Computation occurs on the CPU, as opposed to hardware rendering, which relies on the machine’s graphics card.

  • Hardware rendering

    Hardware rendering uses the computer’s video card and drivers to render images to disk. It is generally faster than software rendering, but typically produces images of lower quality compared to software rendering.

  • Vector rendering

    Vector rendering lets you create stylised renderings (for example, cartoon, tonal art, line art, hidden line, wireframe) in various bitmap image formats and 2D vector formats.

  • Cloud rendering

    Rendering in the cloud takes advantage of virtually infinite computing power. Quickly create photorealistic and high-resolution images in a fraction of the time required on your desktop.

How is rendering software used?

  • Rendering Arrival

    The team of visual effects artists behind Arrival tackled complex scenes, from full CG shots to anti-gravity sequences and digi-doubles of the actors.

  • Tangram 3Ds on VR and design visualisation

    Tangram 3Ds, a 3D visualisation and digital design studio, specialises in comprehensive design solutions for the AEC, interior design, maritime and property industries.

  • Rising Sun Pictures on Thor: Ragnarok

    Rising Sun Pictures helped shape Thor’s mythical visuals from pre-production to the final cut including creature creation and set design.

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Rendering software resources

Learn more about rendering software with these tutorials, tips and guides.

  • The place to ask and answer rendering questions and share knowledge about using Arnold.

  • Autodesk’s official CG community. Find free tutorials, customer stories, forums and share your work in the AREA gallery.

  • Watch video lessons on rendering and visualisations from expert rendering artists and architects.

  • Beginner-level tutorial to help you to get started with Arnold for Maya, covering the basics of lighting, shading and rendering.

  • Four-part tutorial series exploring the basics of Arnold for 3ds Max including how to illuminate and render an interior architectural scene.

Frequently asked questions

When using Autodesk Arnold rendering software, a minimum of a 64-bit operating system is required. The following computer specifications and 64-bit hardware are recommended:

  • OSX 10.11 or later
  • Windows 7 or later, with the Visual Studio 2015 redistributable
  • Linux with at least glibc 2.12 and libstdc++ 3.4.13 (gcc 4.4.7). This is equivalent to RHEL/CentOS 6
  • CPUs need to support the SSE4.1 instruction set
  • Optix™ denoiser requires an NVidia GPU with CUDA™ Compute Capability 5.0 and above
  • Arnold GPU works on Linux and Windows and requires an NVIDIA GPU of the Turing, Volta, Pascal or Maxwell architecture.

With seamless integration in 3ds Max and Maya, Arnold streamlines the rendering process providing you with high-quality images faster. The intuitive UI and interactivity in Arnold provide you with immediate results, leaving more time for you to iterate on your most complex renders.

Arnold supports a number of open standards including: USD (Universal Scene Description), OSL, MaterialX, OpenVDB and NanoVDB, OpenColorIO and more. By supporting these open standards, Autodesk Arnold 3D rendering software streamlines the production pipeline getting you results faster.

Using Arnold, you can create photorealistic and high-resolution images in less time. Arnold rendering software helps maximise performance on your most complex projects with production-ready tools. It offers the scalability of an open architecture that makes it easy to integrate into your pipeline and adapt to project needs, as well as create customised cameras, light filters, output drivers and shaders.