What is 3D rendering in video game programming?

Video Games

Redacción Tokio | 21/12/2022

If you’re interested in developing a career in video game programming, you should first know the answer to ‘what is 3D rendering’ and how this technique is used in the industry to design and create the environments and scenarios for users to move around.

The term 3D rendering describes a graphic representation created through the means of a computer and whose result is a photorealistic image or one that is not created from a 3-dimensional model.

How is this technique used in the design and programming of video games? Not so fast! Let’s start from the beginning.


What is 3D rendering used for?

As we’ve mentioned above, 3D rendering techniques allow designers to create environments that present a three-dimensional appearance, both so that they’re a close representation of reality or to generate a totally imaginary representation.

3D rendering is used to reproduce a scene that is created based on a set of three-dimensional data stored on a computer. The output image, called 3D rendering, is a representation that shows realistic aspects such as materials, textures, lighting, atmospheres and optical effects such as the refraction of light in all the elements or the distances between them through games based on focus and blur.

Therefore, it allows images to be created without the need for them to exist in reality, either as part of real spaces or as scenarios generated for image design. The resulting images can resemble reality, being more or less faithful to it, or they can ignore reality all together, if the designer is looking for a completely abstract environment.


What is the origin of 3D rendering?

Surely the cinema industry comes to mind when it comes to considering the origins of 3d rendering. This is exactly the case. The creation of 3D images through rendering began as part of cinema, in an attempt to create elements and settings in which the third dimension could be represented.

Animation, within the film sector, was the first industry to use 3D rendering to achieve this effect.

Who and when started 3d rendering? 40 years ago, Edwin Earl Catmull became the first pioneer computer scientist. While his name might not sound familiar to you, his association with “Pixar Animation Studios” will surely be. That’s right: this man was the founder of what today still represents the most important animation company in the world, now in the hands of the Walt Disney Company.

The first 3D rendering is considered to have appeared in one of his films and consists of a hand, a face, and other elements that present effects such as smooth shading (that is, the creation of realistic shadows where light and dark blend and transition smoothly) or wireframes, that is, the sketch of the visual representation of a three-dimensional object.


Types of 3D rendering

There are basically 2 types of 3D rendering, and one of them is the one used in video game programming.

  • Real-time rendering: this type of 3D rendering is used as part of interactive graphics and video games, which require image computation where 3D information constantly changes at a dizzying rate.
  • Pre-rendering (offline rendering): this type of 3D rendering is used in cases where speeds of images is not a priority, such as animation works or those works where photorrealism and complexity are prioritized.


The importance of 3D rendering in video game programming

Once you know the answer to ‘what is 3d rendering’ and its potential results and applications, it will be much easier for you to understand its importance in the world of video game creation.

The first video games only used 2d images

Back then, software and equipment used by programmers presented important limitations that, fortunately, have been overcome in time. This development has allowed us to move from what is considered the first video game in history, Tennis For Two (1958), created on an analog computer connected to an oscilloscope that acted as a monitor in which a few lines of light could be seen moving emulating the movement of a ball from a side to the other; to today’s video games, where image quality is exceptional and can resemble real-life settings.

Throughout this sector’s history, many programmers and designers looked to the film and animation industry to learn about 3D modeling techniques that allow for three-dimensional images to be represented. Over time, the evolution of these industries has made it possible to achieve increasingly realistic images, where the light and shadows, textures and atmospheres can match photographic results.

Would you like to become a master in 3D rendering to create fascinating 3D environments for video games? It is a much simpler process than what you think.

Video game programming is an art you can master, specially if you have access to professionals and specialists in the sector.

How can you do that? At our school, you have the chance to learn through our video game programming course, so if this is your true passion, don’t let another second go by and find out everything you need to know about our training and how it can help you achieve your goal. Dare to take the next step? Get in touch with us!

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