Cleanpix Graphics

3d Rendering Costs - Negotiating A Virtual Minefield

Written by Cleanpix Graphics

Modern apartement interior 3d render

Many of the clients who approach us with initial 3d rendering services enquiries are often puzzled by the massive variation in quoted fees that they may receive for their project from different visualisation studios. For these looking to commission artist's impression images for the first time who are not familiar with the processes involved, the cost structures can be especially bewildering.

It’s certainly true that a substantial disparity in the fees charged exists among numerous creative studios and individuals specialising in 3d visualisation and animation.

In Australia prices can range from as little as AU$300-$400 (approx. US$225-$300) per still image… to as much as AU$5000 (approx. US$3750) or even higher, depending on the complexity of the job.
Adding to the confusion, some artists or studios are willing to offer a menu of set price lists while others will assess every quote request individually.

This leads to the question… ‘WTF is going on?’

Commissioning 3d renders can be compared to buying a brand new car.
An affordable entry level vehicle may cost $20K while a luxury sedan or sports car may set you back in excess of $80K.
Both will do the basic job of getting you from point A to B but the level of refinement, build quality and performance will be vastly different. The projected level of prestige, sophistication and lifestyle that such vehicles may communicate will also vary considerably.

The same can be said of the differences often found in architectural 3d renders.

In order to have a better understanding of the factors that are responsible for the fluctuations in the costs of 3d rendered artwork, it is important to break down the business models and origins of the numerous studios who offer such services.
In Australia these companies can currently be classified under 1 of 3 main categories:

  1. Offshore Studios
  2. Local Outsource Studios
  3. Local In-House Studios

Offshore Studios

Studios and individuals located outside Australia in countries throughout Asia/Pacific, Eastern Europe and Middle East are the most likely to be offering 3d rendering services at the lower end of the price range.

While the prices may be attractive, the drawback is often a lower quality result when it comes to the photorealism of the image, the composition, styling/staging, as well as the level of architectural detail.
Communication with the studio can also be tricky due to language barriers or even the differences in architectural terminology or the design trends in other parts of the world.

Local Outsource Studios

In recent years there has been an increase in the appearance of Australian based studios who outsource the 3d rendering work offshore.
These are essentially 'middle men' companies that are able to provide some local art direction and improved client communication but ultimately have limited control of the artwork creation process since it’s being carried out off-site.
Typically these types of studios may charge AU$800-$1500 (approx. US$600-$1125) per still image, depending on the scope of works.

Local In-House Studios

The best and most consistent quality of work tends to come from studios and artists who are based in Australia and produce all the 3d rendered artwork, start to finish, in-house.
This artwork tends to be more in line with local styling and design trends and there is often more attention to detail paid to architectural features such as showing typical Australian fixtures and fittings, popular furniture styling trends, typical material finishes and native plantings throughout the landscapes.

Interior 3d render close-ups

Above: Close up feature details in locally made 3d artwork that help to raise overall image quality and photorealism

Locally produced artwork also tends to offer a far higher level of customer service experience. Clients and their design consultants can often collaborate directly with the 3d artists creating the visualisations, resulting in a far more refined product tailored to the client's needs.

Consequently due to higher labour and overhead costs in Australia as well as the close client collaboration, locally produced 3d artwork tends to be more expensive, typically priced in the middle to higher end of the cost range.

Final Thoughts...

There are other factors that can result in fairly profound fluctuations of 3d renders costs, even within the separate categories described above. The size and reputation of a 3d visualisation studio can play a part in setting the price. Just like the earlier analogy of purchasing a car, brand name does make a difference.

One other aspect to consider is the tangibility of 3d rendered artwork. Many people will feel like they are parting with thousands of dollars for a handful of JPEG images which may feel like a trivial thing to be paying for. What most people fail to understand is the true amount of man hours that go into creating the 3d models, textures, interior design and landcape layouts etc. For more details describing the technical process that must be undertaken, please see our article on how to create an interior 3d render?

At Cleanpix Graphics we try really hard to combine the best of 2 worlds. All our 3d rendered artwork is created locally in-house to ensure the highest quality and consistency. At the same time, by streamlining the client review process as much as possible and keeping office overhead and operating costs to a bare minimum, we are able to offer prices that are closer to our rival studios who outsource their 3d rendering work offshore.