The History of Rendering in AutoCAD

In the computer graphics world, rendering is the process of illuminating a set of 3D objects with one or more imaginary lights and then creating a more-or-less realistic picture of the results.

A single example of this technique is a still rendering. Multiple frames strung together produce computer animation. The objects you see in movies such as Avatar and How to Tame Your Dragon are created first as 3D models and then rendered frame by frame. This process can require immense amounts of time, even on ultrafast graphics workstations, and a major movie is usually done on rendering farms of — are you ready? — 20,000 to 30,000 computers.

Rendering has steadily improved in speed and usability as computers have become faster and programmers have improved their rendering algorithms. Rendering simple scenes is now practical on a mainstream computer, and a fast computer can create some impressive images in a reasonable amount of time. Rendered images are useful for previewing how models will work in real life, and they can be powerful tools for sales and marketing communications for your company.

AutoCAD is best at creating still renderings. People who do a lot of rendering and want higher-quality, photorealistic results usually use programs other than AutoCAD to render their models. Autodesk 3ds Max, Cinema 4D (Maxon), and AccuRender (Robert McNeel & Associates) are three popular photorealistic rendering programs. Most rendering programs can import 3D models from AutoCAD DWG or FBX files, though some people use specialized 3D modeling programs to do their modeling as well.

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