The Art of Rendering: How to Render Realistic Glass Using Rhino and V-Ray

Learn how to create beautifully realistic glass façades using some simple rendering settings.

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Former OMA and BIG employee Bennett Oh is the creator of Archi Hacks, the popular Youtube channel dedicated to Architecture visualization, portfolio and design tips and tricks for students and professionals.

Picking up from the previous Art of Rendering articles, this article will walk you through creating realistic glass in rendering. The steps include some key insights that are applicable to making other objects look realistic, so make sure to read all the way though!

As per the usual, we’ll be using Rhino as our 3D software of choice, but you can follow along with any program that supports V-Ray as its rendering engine.

You can download assets used here:

1. Here’s an overview of our example scene: a simple pavilion with trees in front of it:

2. Create a single plane as the enclosure of the pavilion. This will represent the glass.

3. As for the thickness of the glass, we’ll be referencing real dimensions from manufacturer’s drawings.

4. Use ‘ExtrudeSrf’ command to add thickness to the plane. In our case, 3/16”.

5. In V-Ray Asset Manager, locate the default glass from the material library. Then drag and drop the item onto our scene materials palette.

6. Make sure that your glazing object is selected, and apply material to selection.

7. Below is the result with a single pane of glass.

8. As you may have noticed, modern window frames usually come in multiple layers of glasses, which creates the subtle double reflection effect. Second glazing is simply a copy of the first, spaced apart by ⅝”.

9. In order to simulate individual panes of glass and mullions between, we’ll scale our window to about 5ft.

10. We’ll array them along the facade with a small gap in between.

11. Final result gets pretty close to real life!

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