Keyboard ALT + g to toggle grid overlay

Image courtesy of Sina Mehralinia, Mateusz Adamski, Freefolk

Promo Data: FY21Q4P2 - Fusion (Sean copy)
Countdown days:
Promo Data: Multi-year (FY21)
Promo Data: COVID-19 (new HP)
Promo Data: AECC announcement bars
Learn about 3D animation

Image courtesy of Enver BK


What's 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, films and television visual effects and design visualisation (US site). 3D rendering, the last step in an animation process, gives the final appearance to the models and animation with visual effects (US site) 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 stylised renderings (for example, cartoon, tonal art, line art, hid 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 visualisation

Tangram 3Ds, a 3D visualisation and digital design studio, specialises in comprehensive design solutions for the AEC, interior design, maritime and property industries.

Rising Sun Pictures on Thor: Ragnarok

Rising Sun Pictures helped shape Thor's mythical visuals from pre-production 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.

Workflows for rendering software

  • Interactive Rendering with Maya and Arnold

  • Use Arnold Lights with 3ds Max

  • Alembic support and Arnold Operator nodes allow for advanced pipelines

  • Rendering compelling photographic scenes

  • Maya + Arnold (19:18 min.)

    Learn about interactive rendering workflows with Maya 2018 and Arnold 5 including objects ranging from nParticles, MASH, Arnold Stand-Ins and Curve rendering, to IES lights, atmospherics and more.

  • Arnold + 3ds Max (09.58 min.)

    Learn about the benefits of using Arnold Lights to illuminate a scene in 3ds Max.

  • Arnold (09.21 min.)

    Learn how native Alembic support in Arnold in combination with Operator nodes allow for complex workflows and advanced pipelines.

  • Arnold + Revit + 3ds Max (1.00:20 min.)

    Artists and architects: learn the best practices for animating and rendering Revit models using 3ds Max and the Arnold renderer.

Free 3D rendering software​

FREE 3D RENDERING SOFTWARE​ for students and educators

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

FREE 3D RENDERING SOFTWARE​ for non-profit organisations

Are you a non-profit organisation or entrepreneur working to create positive impact through design? See if you qualify for our Technology Impact Programme.

Free 3D 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 visualisations from expert rendering artists and architects.

  • Beginner-level tutorial to help you to 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.