Is it redunant to show BOTH a 3D rendering & a 2D render?

Hello again,

I am an ID student and am going to start putting together a portfolio to try to nab an internship this summer.

My question is: when considering items to put in my portfolio, especially those that show the end result of a project, is it redundant to include a polished PS rendering of the final product as well as a 3D rendering? Wouldn’t it be redudant if both are pretty much the same, in terms of quality? Or is it better to include maybe PS (or Illustrator) orthos and then a great photorealistic 3D model? I just don’t want to waste my time making photorealistic PS renderings when I could be spending that time on a rendered 3D model. I have also seen some online portfolios in which a “sketchy” marker or Sketchbook Pro rendering is used as a the final result with a 3D model to tie it together. Or is it all just based on personal taste?

Thanks guys


I tend to think of the Photoshop renderings being used for concept sketches (or perhaps refined concept sketches) before you start to build your 3D geometry. Of course, it depends on the project because perhaps you stopped at concepts, which in this case your PS sketches would be final portion of your presentation.

If you do take it beyond the sketch into 3D, I would pretty much bet that what you end up modeling–provided your working with real-world constraints like internal components and manufacturing considerations, your model won’t look identical to what you sketched in your concept. The 3D modeling process is a design process in itself and there are many considerations, new issues to address and compromises to make to get what you envision as a sketch into 3-dimensional reality.

So I guess what I’m saying is that no, your 2D sketches and 3D models aren’t redundant. Of course there are exceptions where the product is simple enough that what you sketch is pretty close to what it will end up being in 3 dimensions. But if you have the time, the 3D modeling process gives you a new opportunity to explore and learn in a way that’s very different that 2D sketching.

Best of luck,


I like to see a concept brought to a relatively high fidelity in a 2d render and then evolve as it gets into 3d as you learn what is going on but with the intent intact.

A 2d render shouldn’t take any more than 4 hours, and is a great gut check moment. 5-6 2d renders of totally different concepts can be generated and presented within a couple of days to then down select to one concept to spend 1-2 weeks modeling and refining to perfection.

For someone coming out of school, it’s really important to show as much skill set as possible. 2D rendering is just as valid as 3D rendering. Where you end up might use one more than the other, but get good at, and show both.

for our studio in particular, showing good 3D is more valuable than 2D rendering above hand sketching.

We have to get to 3D really fast. 3 hours is about right for a quick doodle taken to CAD and HS rendered for a few views. 30min sketch, 2.0 hours of CAD, 30min in HS. 6-8 in 2 days is about full speed. It’s really 3D sketching and designing on the fly. Then there’s weeks and weeks of tweaking and adjusting anyways. We’ve found that it’s a little too easy to lie in 2D. Initial 3D needs to capture gesture and intent.

Totally agree on that. I tell young designers about a project I worked on where a fellow ID did some really compelling concepts sketches with dramatic perspective and a lot of drama… And, not surprisingly, the client fell in love with one of them. But when it came time for me to convert that concept into 3D geometry, the internal components the client had specified didn’t fit into the form they had fallen in love with. I had to push, pull, adjust and tweak the form so much that the end product was quite different from that initial concept rendering… and I had to do a fair amount of selling the client on the new design.

So I don’t show clients anything that I’m not sure will work within their specifications. Backpedaling is never a good thing.


Thanks everyone for the awesome insight. I will now go work on my portfolio. :slight_smile: We are still on winter break, so going to make the most of it.

IMHO, Brett_nyc and Yo are talking about two separate animals…

One is a corp design work-flow, I’m guessing heavy on mobile phone design or regular product categories. These guys would be experts at the general forms of their main products and might not need to go down as many exploratory routes more suited to sketch review rather than 3D forms

The other is a design consultancy where you’re often approaching a new product category every time, and might be asked to explore a wider range of concepts. Speed in showing and selling exciting variations more of an emphasis and an inspirational vision for a product is often the deliverable for clients, not always the detailed finesse of in-house

Another important way to prove form is foam models. Back in the day, I worked with a designer who did all his explorations in white foam at full scale. Something to be said for that I think - a full scale foam model is honest to the actual 3D product in a way sketching or CAD isn’t

For a student, you should be good at all skills, but when you present, you might want to cater to whoever your audience is and how they work

To add to Warren’s point, i think it is actually important to show evolution from 2d to 3d CAD to 3d model. At each stage you should be learning, adjusting, and still designing. Every learning point is an opportunity to design. While it is important that “everything fit” it is also important to explore, and sometimes the best way to get to an unexpected solution is to remove a parameter or two temporarily. It is all in how you work it.

If you already have both, show both. It only shows that you are capable of doing both. If you have a scale paper model, hand sketch, 2d render, 3d render, final prototype; show them all. Sometimes the end result doesn’t matter as much, more of the process and what skills you have to get to the end result. Though having a great end result is definitely always beneficial.

My last workplace had similar incident. A new intern with exceptional sketching and design was asked to design for an ongoing project. The client were impressed with his innovative design. He started working on the 3D and then half way he completed his internship. So I carried on with his work. After the 3D model we prototyped spending about 800$ for a little project only to find out that it wouldn’t work as expected. We tweaked as much of the prototype to make it functional. But we had to change a lot more and redo again.

So we learnt to simultaneously work on prototype and 3D models to support the design. Even sometime, its hard to achieve functional needs in 3D model unless you are an expert to predict. The scale 3D model visualizing in a 2D screen doesn’t match up with the prototype.

So there is always an evolution from 2D-3D to prototypes that can be shown in portfolio’s.