25 tips for natural media effects

Natural media is not something that immediately springs to mind when you think of 3D graphics. With a bit of ingenuity, however, your humble 3D program, more used to churning out photorealistic images, can be pressed into service for creating un-photorealistic renders too. It's also very good for turning the raw subject matter you'd normally transform in Photoshop into seriously good natural media images.

Where 3D usually comes unstuck is in the lighting, but recent technological developments in this area have proved fruitful inproducing naturalistic rendering of scene illumination. Global illumination (AKA radiosity) techniques are available in all of the top 3D applications: Cinema 4D, 3ds max, Maya and Softimage XSI.

Even some of the mid-range programs such as Carrara and Strata Pro offer their own take on radiosity rendering. This will play a key part in getting good natural media renders, particularly when attempting to produce 'painted' images such as still life, landscape and portraits. If you want to create a less traditional look then you don't even need radiosity. The following tips will help you to get the most out of any 3D rendering package when attempting to attain a natural media-style end result