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Image courtesy of Sina Mehralinia, Mateusz Adamski, Freefolk

Learn about 3D animation

Image courtesy of Enver BK


What is 3D rendering software?

3D rendering software is the process of generating an image from a model by means of computer software. Rendering is used in architecture, simulators, video games, movies and television visual effects and design visualization. 3D rendering, the last step in an animation process, gives the final appearance to the models and animation with visual effects such as shading, texture-mapping, shadows, reflections and motion blurs.

Types of 3D rendering

  • Software rendering

    Software rendering produces images of the highest quality, letting you achieve the most sophisticated results. Computation occurs on the CPU, as opposed to hardware rendering, which relies on the machine’s graphics card.

  • Hardware rendering

    Hardware rendering uses the computer's video card and drivers to render images to disk. It is generally faster than software rendering, but typically produces images of lower quality compared to software rendering.

  • Vector rendering

    Vector rendering lets you create stylized renderings (for example, cartoon, tonal art, line art, hidden line, wireframe) in various bitmap image formats and 2D vector formats.

  • Cloud rendering

    Rendering in the cloud takes advantage of virtually infinite computing power. Quickly create photorealistic and high-resolution images in a fraction of the time required on your desktop.

How is rendering software used?

Rendering Arrival

The team of visual effects artists behind Arrival tackled complex scenes, from full CG shots to anti-gravity sequences and digi-doubles of the actors.

See what our customers are doing

Tangram 3DS on VR and design visualization

Tangram 3DS, a 3D visualization and digital design studio, specializes in comprehensive design solutions for the AEC, interior design, maritime, and real estate industries.

Rising Sun Pictures on Thor: Ragnarok

Rising Sun Pictures helped shape Thor’s mythical visuals from pre-production through to the final cut including creature creation and set design.

Featured 3D rendering software

Media & Entertainment Collection

Get Maya + 3ds Max + Arnold + more

Build a powerful 3D pipeline for complex simulations, effects, and rendering to tackle even the most demanding jobs, now and tomorrow.

Use the power of Arnold to render beautiful images

Explore technical workflows with Arnold, download free assets, and learn about the deep integration with Autodesk Maya and 3ds Max.

Free rendering software

Free software for students and educators

We offer free Autodesk software for students and educators. Use the same 3D rendering software as top professionals around the world.

Free software for nonprofits

Are you a nonprofit or entrepreneur working to create positive impact through design? See if you qualify for our Technology Impact Program.

Rendering software resources

Learn more about rendering software with these tutorials, tips, and guides.

  • The place to ask and answer rendering questions and share knowledge about using Arnold.

  • Autodesk's official CG community. Find free tutorials, customer stories, forums, and share your work in the AREA gallery.

  • Watch video lessons on rendering and visualizations from expert rendering artists and architects.

  • Beginner-level tutorial to help you get started with Arnold for Maya, covering the basics of lighting, shading, and rendering.

  • Four part tutorial series exploring the basics of Arnold for 3ds Max including how to illuminate and render an interior architectural scene.