7 Simple CGI Steps for a Killer Industrial Design Project

A lot of people hear the acronym “CGI” (computer-generated imagery) and think about Hollywood blockbusters or the latest video game for PS3. This idea isn’t totally inaccurate, but it does imply that CGI is some big, scary and expensive process. It doesn’t have to be! CGI is very technical, which can be nerve-wracking for our potential clients and customers. In today’s blog post, we want to clear up some common misconceptions about CGI by providing a step-by-step guide of TRG Reality’s CGI process.

Let’s pretend you’ve come to TRG Reality for an image to be used for a unique product, and you need this image to be a video game controller for your marketing and advertising needs. This video game controller is just a concept; because it doesn’t actually exist, our photography services aren’t applicable. What you need is CGI. So what happens next? 

1. We'll have a meeting. We'll sit down with you, serve some refreshing beverages and have a detailed discussion about your project. We'll discuss the objectives for the design, what you are trying to accomplish, functionality, style, and whatever other relevant details need to be hammered out up front.

2. TRG Reality will conduct internal "ideation" sketches. We'll get together on our end and come up with some design concepts for your video game controller image. We'll pick the best ones, the ones we feel are best accomplishing what you need, and we'll turn those specific sketches into presentation renderings for you to review.

3. You'll give us feedback. At this point, you’ll tell us what you think, what you like, what you don’t like, and we’ll create another round of sketches based on your feedback. This part of the process will go on, back and forth, until you’re 100% happy with the design direction. 

4. The engineers get involved. At this time, we’ll create a few more variations of the agreed-upon design direction and make sure our engineering team is on board with the design. 

5. 3D Models are created. Now that we have a solid design, we’ll begin building 3D renderings of the video game controller for the next round of client presentations. We’ll give these renderings to you.  

6. We create photo-real renders. Based upon your feedback, we’ll proceed with a final 3D realistic render and bring your unique product to life. You won’t even be able to tell the product doesn’t really exist! 

7. We're done! At this point, we’ve gone through the entire CGI process and you are presented the final product, a computer-generated image (in this case, a video game controller). 

The CGI process doesn’t always follow these exact steps, though; occasionally, a client will ask us to design an image without working through the first four steps listed above. Instead, they want to jump directly to the 3D rendering stage. This can be very difficult, because when we skip the proper “ideation” stages (during which we get to know the client’s needs, wants and objectives), we lose valuable insight and are essentially flying blind. More often than not, the TRG Reality team has to backtrack and rebuild the CAD file multiple times until the client is happy with the design direction. This will not only slow the process down considerably, but it’s also the quickest way to blow your budget. This is why TRG strongly recommends going through the proper steps the first time through to avoid these unnecessary delays and costly revisions with your CGI project. 

That’s CGI in a nutshell! Like I mentioned above, it’s a very technical process that can be overwhelming and frightening for some clients. We pride ourselves on being wholly transparent with our customers, so if you have any questions about CGI, please don’t hesitate to ask. 

Have you ever worked with an agency on an industrial design or CGI project? Did the process go as smoothly as you’d hoped? Do you have any questions about CGI? Let us know in the comments below!