Types Of Rendering

Rendering is the process used by architects, animators, and video game systems to create a finished image from a wireframe or rough model. It can be done in real-time, or as a pre-render. Render farms are composed of hundreds of computers working together which are used by companies to expedite the rendering process. Rendering can take from seconds to months depending on the work being done.


According to the University of California, one of the first type of rendering engines was “True 3D” and was used in Wolfenstein 3D. In reality it created a 2.5 dimensional image, where 2D images would orient themselves toward the camera. When ray casting was introduced, it allowed 3D images based off of polygons to be created.


Rendering has made it possible to produce photo-realistic models, and life-like video games. This allows for virtual tours of homes, advancements in medicine, and realistic special effects. According to Intel, computers are becoming powerful enough to render photo-realistic models in real time.

Ray tracing

Ray tracing is used when making 3D Models that need to be photo-realistic. It can be time-consuming compared to other methods, since it traces the path of light through pixels. It is able to simulate light, which creates shadows and a sense of depth, and is able to work with round surfaces easily. It has been used since 1979, and remains in wide use today.

Ray casting

Ray casting is much like ray tracing, but does not create shadows and reflections in the same way. According to Daylon Graphics, this dramatically shortens the rendering process, to a point where it can be used in real-time applications such as video games. Instead of computing new tangents of light, it uses texture maps to “fake” shadows and reflections.

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Scanline rendering

Scanline rendering is used to demonstrate a visible surface. It renders row by row, as opposed to pixels or polygons. It is widely used for movie effects, due to its speed and realism. It follows the path of the camera to a pixel and assigns it a color using rasterization. This has the side effect of only being able to “see” one pixel at a time, and therefore cannot create shadows naturally, and has to use other techniques to mimic this effect.


Cloud computing has made it possible for low-end hardware to be used instead of expensive workstations. The model is sent to a rendering farm, where it is rendered by a group of computers working together. This technology is being used by OnLive in the video game industry, where the consumer will not have to purchase consoles, because the rendered image will be sent directly to the T.V.