Ten Simple Photoshop Techniques to Enhance your Renders in POST

Aug 12, 2021 at 04:45 am by Warlord720

You’ve labored for hours… maybe even over a period of days or weeks to make the perfect composite. You’ve spent a lot of time lighting and even more time stressing over little details. The kind of details that make a render standout. Now you need to go at least one step further in an application like Photoshop to take that render to the next level.

It’s true that Poser, DAZ Studio, and iClone can all put together and render some great scenes particularly with Iray and other well-heeled renderers. However, they are only the first step in a great render and should be treated as such. Every render should get the Photoshop treatment or image editor of your choice, to enhance and showcase your hard work.

Maybe you aren’t a Photoshop expert or maybe your Photoshop expertise lies elsewhere so this particular type of enhancement has not been on your radar. It should be. While the aforementioned 3D programs stand on their own they do NOT have extensive POST work processes available. POST work in 3D, film, animation, or artist renderings should be an essential part of the process… not just an afterthought.

What is POST? From Studiobinder.com:

Post-Production is the stage after production when the filming is wrapped, and the editing of the visual and audio materials begins. 

This is when all the magic outside of principal photography or 3D composition begins. Being Post-Production means the final product was enhanced by talented artists to bring even more visual excitement and cinematic tone to the project. This can be movies, animation, or artist renders as they can share minimal to extensive POST work before general release.

As stated earlier, POST shouldn’t be viewed as an option. I have to confess that after so many years in 3D and subsequent retirement from full-time work, I’ve fallen out of the habit of enhancing my renders with Photoshop. This is partly due to wanting to showcase the native renders of iClone and partly due to pure, human laziness.

When I was a hungry freelancer starting out in the wasteland of the Texas Panhandle I wasn’t so smug about the process. In fact, I used every POST application I could get my hands on to make my work look as good as possible and bring attention to it which might eventually bring job offers.

Plus, back then, you HAD to use POST techniques as all the standalone applications were so limited they couldn’t produce a great render without a lot of help. The big animation studios had their own proprietary rendering applications that could blow the socks off of anything in the freelance or home market.

Photoshop in POST was how I competed. It was how most of us little guys and gals competed with the big dogs to get our piece of the project.

I won’t bore you with a summary of the following links as the titles are self-explanatory except to say they can, by themselves and together, take a 3D render to another level in terms of visual quality. Some are a few years old but still work. Most are around a minute or so… to match our attention spans and patience. Too many things pulling us too many directions to sit down to half-hour and hour-long tutorials at any given time.

  1. Double Exposure: PiXimperfect -  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-lhr83hEhk
  2. Add Lighting to Anything in Photoshop: Webflippy - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVFmQvT2mmU
  3. HDR Effect: PiXimperfect -  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFe1p627fkk
  4. Composite and Blend Images: Adobe Creative Cloud - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63BlLT3qEto&list=PLCifHGjkZwcEEZDd0UI6jxeCRa3jzhWXq&index=3
  5. How to Make a Parallax Motion Effect: Adobe Creative Cloud - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQ8Wn1OKuyE&list=PLCifHGjkZwcEEZDd0UI6jxeCRa3jzhWXq&index=4
  6. Orange Color Grade: Anthony Lam - (Fall) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrGBL_o9Jcs
  7. Tip to Glow Water: Webflippy - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXiZRe7Jbvw
  8. Fake Shallow Depth of Field: PiXimperfect - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvcGnB--PH8
  9. Add Grunge Texture: PiXimperfect - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJrfEFiyc1E
  10. Turn Day into Night: Dansky - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmbYzkcjQ7E

You will see some familiar faces in this batch and hopefully one or more of these short tips will bring your work to another level. One that stands out enough to be noticed.

M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years.  Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website

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