15 Best 3D Rendering Software Alternatives for 2021

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15 Best 3D Rendering Software Alternatives for 2021

Start Designing Now

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Home » Design Software & Tools » 15 Best 3D Rendering Software Alternatives for 2021

Why is it so important to use a 3D Rendering Software today?

3D rendering which was previously restricted only to high-value projects has now become mainstream for all interior design projects (be it residential or commercial) with the advent of a constellation of modern rendering software and increased demand from millennial buyers and customers. It is the only way a client can see how the design of their future home or office will look. So a high-quality 3D render helps massively with a designer’s pitch – to accurately convey his/her vision for space by unveiling their design in its full, detail-rich context, complete with shadows, lighting, and environment.

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But let’s take a second to go over the basics…

What is 3D Rendering?

3D Rendering is the process of creating 2D and 3D images of a design that illustrates how a proposed space or building will eventually look, even before the real project has begun. A 3D render which was once considered “a-good-to-have” as a part of a client pitch or a presentation, has now become status quo, even an essential requisite for the interior design industry. You’re no longer considered professional enough if you walk into a client meeting with just an album of your past works or swatches of fabrics to sell your design story. So this rise in demand for high-level interior visualization has changed the whole face of how interior design is done today, and exponentially propelled the 3D rendering software market.

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What are the different types of 3D Rendering?

There are typically three types or methods of creating 3D renders – wireframe, surface, and solid. Each method constructs the 3D render in a different way, and the editing methods differ between each type. Therefore, it is always best to stick to any one style of rendering and not combine them.

A wireframe model creates a skeletal description of a 3D object. It doesn’t contain any surfaces – it consists only of points and lines joined together by curves, which cover the shape of the object. Wireframe models can be created by positioning planar objects anywhere in a three-dimensional space. There are some three-dimensional wireframe objects that have continuous line types, meaning the 3D rendering artist needs to draw and position every object separately independently. That is the reason wireframe rendering usually takes the longest time to complete.

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Surface modeling is a more elegant method of creating 3D renders. This process defines both the surfaces and the edges of a three-dimensional object, which can then be rendered into a panorama, 360 degree & virtual reality, and more. Although this is distinct from the wireframe process, it is similar in that it also makes use of a mesh. This mesh is a polygonal mesh with planar faces, which limits the accuracy of the depiction of curvilinear surfaces.

Finally, solid modeling is the fastest and most convenient method for 3D rendering. This process starts by using the elementary geometric shapes in three dimensions – like boxes, cones, cylinders, spheres, wedges, and concentric circles in donut shapes. Each of these shapes can then be added and subtracted from one another to produce more complicated shapes and architecture. Some experts can up their game by dragging a 2D object on a fixed path or make it rotate around a fixed axis. You can also create solids by sweeping a 2D object along a path or revolving it about an axis.

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What is a 3D Rendering Software?

A 3D rendering software is a computer program that converts 3D models or a collection of 3D models that are only viewable in special software into images popularly referred to as 3D renders, 3Ds, or just renders, video files, and walkthroughs. Whether you are an interior designer, architect, or 3D artist, generating 3D renders for client presentations is critically important today and the final step of any design process.

3D Design and 3D modeling go hand in hand. 3D modeling is the process of creating 3D models of objects (inanimate or living) using specialized software. A three-dimensional (3D) model is a geometrical representation of an object or surface in 3D space. It is a collection of points connected by triangles, lines, curved surfaces, etc. Once the modeling is complete, models are typically enhanced by texture mapping and lighting. Such 3D models are then “rendered” using 3D rendering software into image files. Many interior designers and 3D artists go through multiple iterations before they can create a photorealistic rendering of the space that they are designing. So it’s critical to find software that helps you become efficient in this process.

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Challenges commonly faced with Legacy 3D Rendering Software

There are tons of challenges we’ve heard interior designers face with the legacy 3D rendering software available in the market like Sketchup, Revit, 3DS Max and more. But these are the most common ones:

  • Extremely low speeds of rendering
  • Heavy CPU and GPU usage
  • Poorly-defined textures
  • Prohibitively expensive licenses
  • A super complex user interface
  • Extremely time-taking and steep learning curve

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So are you here because you’re looking for alternative rendering softwares for your interior design projects? Do you find softwares like Sketchup, Revit, 3DS Max way too complicated? Do you wish you had software that was simpler, inside of your budget, and gave you a far more gratifying ROI? This article will help to find just that! The best alternatives for 3D Rendering Software.

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Top 15 3D Rendering Software Alternatives in the Market:

How to choose the right 3D Rendering Software for you?

Before we move on sharing the list of the top alternative 3D Rendering Software you can find, it’s key you understand how to make the right decision that best fits your context and does the best job in optimizing visualization for you. Because it’s easy to get lost and confused amongst the slew of options and dizzying choices available in the market. So here are a few decision criteria that you can base your decision upon.

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  • Business Type/Best suited for: What type is your business? And why do you need the 3D rendering software? – This primary question determines everything. If you are a business that needs to do heavy-duty animations, film production, etc then your software and process will be very different from the one used by an interior designer to generate a 3D render of a kitchen or bedroom. So make sure you choose as per your usage, profession and context.
  • Price/License Cost: Rendering softwares come in 2 flavours. There are ones which let you buy monthly subscriptions and can be canceled anytime, and the others which require you to buy a perpetual license. Most softwares are moving to a subscription model and that might be the best type to go for to allow yourself room for change and flexibility. Also, of course, there are the steeper legacy softwares which have been around in the market longer, and some new-age, pocket-friendly options. So choose according to your budget and requirements.
  • Complexity/Learning Curve: The more complex the software the longer it is going to take to master it. The overhead of remembering all those menu options and navigations can surely become overwhelming if you’re looking to quickly pick up the software and get to the job at hand. So choose a software wisely that fits your need and pace and is easy to use and learn.

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  • Online or Installed: Softwares that are installed have a specific system requirement and use your system’s computing power too. More the RAM and GPU, the better and faster the rendering. So bear in mind the steep hardware costs if you’re looking to go for installation-based software. Mind you, such costs keep on increasing with increased usage. In 2021 (especially when remote working is the name of the game), it might be worthwhile to look at online softwares that give you the power of cloud computing and allow you to access and present your work to anyone from anywhere.
  • Compatibility With Other Software: This is an important one to tick off your list. Because if you are looking at changing the way you work and letting go of your modeling software then online tools that are compatible with one another might offer a great solution.
  • Render Quality & Time: Render time is inversely related to your computing power. Higher the configuration of your system the lesser the render time. On a standard 8 GB RAM machine, a 4K render can take up to 45 mins. However, software offering cloud rendering will save you the hassle and bring down render times by over half without needing any higher config machines. Many online softwares like Foyr Neo give you top-quality 4K renders within minutes (at practically a fraction of the time as other legacy software) and the quality is also like a real photograph! So online softwares are definitely the one to look out for in today’s times.

Read also – Best Computer for 3D Rendering

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  • Feature Set: Be it rendering algorithms, user interface, lighting presets and preferences, file formats, composting, or real-time rendering – depending on the type of renders you want to create, some features may be more important than others. Go through product descriptions, trial the product, or take a demo of the product you are interested in before buying. A good rendering software will support a plethora of design, geometry, materials, shades, and lighting, and help you accurately reflect your design concepts and dimensions to the client. Making your design appealing and as photo-realistic as possible is essential in today’s date. So choose a software that will provide the client with a fair idea of what the final outcome will look like.
  • ROI: You know your business best. If the costs, including the value of your time, justifies the benefits aka additional revenue then it’s worth going for it.

15 Best Alternative 3D Rendering Software:

1. Foyr

Foyr Neo is a lightning-fast, 100% online software that has all the makings of an ultimate 3D rendering software. Its rendering speed and quality are literally second to none, and it is a great choice if you’re looking to get ahead quickly while designing, and end up with an outcome that looks like a real photograph! It is super-intuitive and has a zero learning curve – so, great for those who don’t have a lot of time to sit and learn clunky and complex software.

Foyr website

It creates top-quality, 4K photorealistic renders in less than 10 minutes, and jaw-dropping 3D walkthroughs in just a few clicks. And besides having the whole feature set that other softwares boast of, Foyr Neo is also 1/10th the cost of most of the advanced paid software (believe it or not!).

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It has a pre-built catalog loaded with over 60K pre-modeled products that you can browse and choose from to use in your design (instead of having to create anything from scratch), paired with bonus beautiful inspiration rooms to fuel your imagination on days you’re not feeling the most creative! It also has unbelievably easy-to-use 3D rendering controls, together with AI-assisted features like auto docking and dragging and dropping furniture, textures, and colors into your canvas, which enable you to work on your design in a fraction of the time.

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So with a plethora of textures, materials, and designs to choose from, this software was designed for the use of both interior design professionals and beginners. It’s more commonly used among Windows and Mac users for rapidly sketching natural designs directly to 3D.

Laytricia Quote

Interior designers all over the world love Foyr Neo because there is no need for years of software or CAD training to start designing. It’s a simple and intuitive platform with powerful AI-assisted features that let designers do what they love – design, instead of spending time with clunky, complicated software. Start your 14-Day Free Trial Today and experience the best way to create and render your designs!

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Read also – Best Interior Design Software

Here’s another good rendering software with a powerful rendering engine and a large number of designing features. If you are a pro at basic landscape designing, then Octane Render is a good option. The best feature of this rendering software is its rendering engine which is a lot faster and more powerful than the other free rendering software available on the market. If you are a design professional looking for a deep feature set, then surely consider Octane Render. It will let you lay your hands on a large pool of materials and textures, backed by a solid rendering engine.

Octane render

Octane Render Table

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Another popular rendering software particularly suited for architects who need to work with a lot of exteriors, is Lumion 3D. Its easy user interface and set of powerful tools let you create distinctive designs with minimal effort. Apart from that, it is compatible with almost every rendering software available in the market including CAD. This feature is especially useful when you have to deal with juniors or other fellow architects who prefer other software for rendering. So no matter your CAD software, no matter your previous rendering experience, you can import your model(s) into Lumion and, within minutes, begin sculpting and shaping the real-life or conceptual context around your design.


Lumion Table

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Arnold is another great software primarily for gamers that allows for real-time 3D rendering, making it easy to add any changes to ongoing calculations during the rendering. This allows users to achieve desired looks in a more time-oriented fashion and provides excellent control over the compositing stage. Everything about Arnold is easier – whether it’s the straightforward controls or the clean consistent API.

Arnold also supports volumetrics and has a material editor which is node-based, making the process highly intuitive. A number of presets are available for out-of-the-box and additional node solutions. Arnold is great for particle and demolition effects as well. A 30-day trial version is available to download. Mainly built for the demands of feature-length animation and visual effects, it is available as a standalone renderer on Linux, Windows and Mac OS X, with supported plug-ins for Maya, 3DS Max, Houdini, Cinema 4D, and Katana.

Arnold rendering software

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Corona renderer isn’t as popular as the other alternative names on this listing, given that it is quite a new software addition to the architectural rendering enterprise. Despite the fact that Corona lacks some capabilities, such as velocity render, it is one of the quickest rendering software solutions presently available. It’s not as fast as Octane Render or V Ray, however, it does produce fantastic renderings in a reasonable amount of time compared to other similar tools.

Corona rendering software

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Corona Renderer creates very easy animations and excellent mild consequences, software updates and patches are supplied via the improvement crew on a normal foundation, so you don’t need to worry about any potential hiccups. The software program additionally enables complete integration with 3DS Max, so you can very easily rent complicated 3d models without ever thinking about compatibility troubles.

Read also – Best 3D Floor Plan Software

Viz Render is a product of Autodesk. It is a powerful compositing, real-time 3D rendering, and video playout platform that forms the foundation for a range of graphics and video production use cases. It has multiple render pipelines included which can all run simultaneously. The standard pipeline is used for typical live motion graphic elements, the Fusion pipeline supports Physical Based Rendering (PBR) and is optimized for Virtual Sets and Augmented Reality immersive graphics, and the Unreal Engine 4 pipeline can provide an additional level of photo-realistic backgrounds.

It not only offers powerful visualization and a set of diversified and powerful tools, but it also makes learning other Autodesk products easier. This rendering software can be your entry point in the Autodesk ecosystem. This software is free of cost and renders animations in HD, 4K, and beyond.

VIZ Table

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Mental Ray is often viewed to be closely similar to VRAY, yet Mental Ray has managed to carve a niche in the world of rendering software. Makers of the software have attempted to make a powerful rendering engine with versatile tools and features. It has an easy user interface, making it more accessible to new users. Mental Ray is built on NVidia’s CUDA technology and can use both GPU and CPU for rendering.

Mental Ray Table

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Keyshot not only gives a smooth, straightforward user interface, but its toolset also presents an amazing learning curve that makes getting the intricate details a breeze. The program offers ease of use and is generally popular for delivering a real-time rendering engine, which permits clients to consider lighting and materiality as you work on the detailed rendering works. Its real-time 3D rendering displays results instantly and reduces the time to create realistic product visuals. Key Shot is trusted by brands around the world for its speed, ease of use, scientifically accurate materials, and advanced material editing capabilities.

Keyshot rendering software

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Artlantis has amazing lighting features for creating numerous lighting possibilities for both indoor and outdoor scenes like (spot, bulb, directional light, heliodon, sky) as well as effects (atmospheres, turbulence, diffraction, halo, depth of field) and manages transparent materials like the effects of light on curtains. Soft shadows and blurs are easy to set with an interactive cursor. You can also edit a specific object contour, image or scene, and thus manipulate the light rays and soften the general ambiance of scenes and animations.

Furthermore, its built-in render manager helps you in dealing with computing load and evenly distributing on local PCs, which makes rendering extremely fast. You can create both high-resolution still images and high-resolution animation and 360-degree panorama on two versions of this rendering software. The materials inside Artlantis are programmed in order to achieve photorealistic results.

Artlantis rendering software

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Blender definitely tops the list of the most popular rendering software for animation filmmakers and is completely open-source. It is a complete 3D modeling software and comes with every tool needed to design a house, skyscraper, bridge, amusement park, or any other place. It is free of cost and has an active internet help community. Thanks to the new EEVEE engine, the gap between offline and real-time rendering is also being bridged! So you can previsualize cycles shading with great accuracy in real-time, in the viewport, and significantly speed up the shading and texturing process.

Grease pencil, camera, and object tracking, node-based compositor and textures, non-linear editing, python scripting, simulation tools for soft body dynamics, path-tracer render engine, Integration through a variety of plugins, and support for various geometric primitives are only some of its many salient features. The internal render supports rendering still frames, animations, compositing, and sequencer. Blender is compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac OS.

Blender rendering software

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Rhinoceros 3D is a CAD software with a multitude of complex 3D modeling tools, which allow you to create unimaginable shapes with great precision and detail, whether from a drawing, a sketch or even a 3D scan. The software is compatible with most design, drafting, CAM, prototyping, rendering and illustration programs. One of the most popular 3D modeling software for manufacturers, Rhino is based on NURBS (Non-Uniform Rational Basis Splines) geometry.

This surface modeling software is commonly used for architecture, prototyping, engineering, jewelry and industrial, graphic, naval and automotive design. Features include extremely fast 3D graphics, unlimited viewports, shaded, working views, perspective working views, named views, floating views, full-screen display, 3D stereo view modes, draw order support, two‑point perspective, clipping planes, and one-to-one scale to view models at full size.

Rhino rendering software

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Cheetah3D is a lean, fast, and elegant 3D modeling, rendering and animation tool for Mac OS X with an easy learning curve. It offers many tools from powerful polygon editing over advanced subdivision modeling to boolean operations and Bezier spline. Raytracing, Global Illumination, HDRI, Caustics, and much more means Cheetah3D can produce stunning images and movies using advanced techniques.

Cheetah 3D rendering software

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Thea Render is a physically-based global illumination renderer of high quality. It is a unique renderer that is able to render using state-of-the-art techniques in biased photorealistic, unbiased and GPU modes. Thea Render comes with its own standalone application (Studio) with various tools, material editor and advanced staging operations along with integration (plugins) on various popular modeling solutions.

Render times can be improved dramatically by having more computers contributing to rendering static images and animations. This is done transparently by installing and connecting the render node application to the main Thea Render integration. And even better, the render node application is free of charge, so you can use all your spare machines to accelerate render results. The Thea Node application needs to be installed on every machine on your network that will be acting as a render node.

thea rendering software

Thea Render Table

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Another popular software used by most architects is Maxwell Render, which can be used fluently for both pros and beginners. It is a user-friendly, open-supply software that is free for use and distribution. It has a powerful combination of an aesthetic user interface and a powerful rendering toolbox capable of designing anything and everything you want. This is particularly useful for beginners because of its simplicity and user-friendliness.

Network Rendering Post Production, volumetrics Particle Rendering, Compatibility with many hair systems, Multi-light FIRE, and Materials Realistic Camera Model are some of its key features that show its abundance in capabilities, which every designer requires even when creating attractive photorealistic animations and images. This software, unlike Lumion, can be used in almost all industry-standard CAD and 3D programs like 3DS Max and Maya as well as underused programs like Form-Z, Modo, and ArchiCAD. Maxwell is at an experimental stage and can only be used with a CUDA-capable Nvidia graphics card.

Maxwell 3d rendering software

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3Delight is a 3D rendering software designed for maximum compatibility with computer graphic cards. It is mainly used to produce hassle-free film effects. It uses the RenderMan shading language and also integrates into major 3D modeling solutions like Maya. 3Delight has multiple rendering algorithms such as path tracing and REYES giving filmmakers greater flexibility. As one could expect, this 3D rendering software supports physical materials and uses standards such as OpenExr and OpenVDB. It is entirely free for single users. It is available for major operating systems and has excellent integration with other programs.

3delight rendering software

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Why is Foyr Neo the best 3D rendering software for interior designers?

If you’re an interior designer looking for the best alternative 3D rendering software in the market for you today – and are willing to pay an inexpensive subscription, look no further than Foyr Neo.

As introduced earlier in this article, we are the lightning-fast, AI-powered 3D rendering software that sits on the cloud and offers easy floor planning and nimble interior designing for pro designers and beginners alike. Through Neo’s on-cloud 3D rendering service, you can get incredible, photorealistic 4K renders in under 10 minutes without hogging your computer – with lighting, shadows, and Neo’s AI automated functions. And if that wasn’t enough, you can keep designing on other projects while the renders are running in the background! Imagine how much time and money that would save you!

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Sounds too good to be true? You have to experience Foyr’s 3D rendering magic for yourself! Try Foyr Neo FREE for 14 days, with full functionality and no credit card required. If you like it (which we know you will 😉) you can sign up for a subscription plan starting at $49/month. Happy Designing!

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