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May 26 2016

Tip: 5 Steps to great renders from Lumion

Your 3D model is ready, you’ve imported it into Lumion and now you want to make it look great. All Lumion’s functionality is invitingly at your fingertips but what next? This blog gives you step-by-step hints of what to do.


Lumion is intuitive and the functionality is easy to apply but what do you want to communicate artistically and how do you achieve that in Lumion? 

Building an artistically compelling still image or animation in Lumion requires a vision of what you want to achieve: What emotions do you want to convey? Are you going for light & colorful, grey & bleak or something else? Should the images look realistic or sketchy? Which parts of the building are you trying to emphasize?

Here are 5 tips, including extra hints, from Alexander of the Lumion team. He plays a leading artistic role in creating Lumion promo videos as well as in programming Lumion. It’s fair to say he has a special flair for making compelling images and animations.

1. Find the best point (or points) of view in your scene

  • Still shots should be balanced by at least one composition rule. There are many rules you can use but the more the better.
  • The camera height should for much of the time during an animation, be set at human eye level. The camera angle shouldn’t be too wide so as to avoid perspective distortion.

2. Set up the lighting

  • Find the best position for the sun to attract maximum attention to the parts of the building that you want to highlight. Use the sun study effect, if you want to accurately simulate the sun location at a particular location, time and date. 
  • Add Interior and mood lighting, even if it is a day shot, this communicates in a subtle way that the building is being used. You can also use volumetric lighting for extra atmosphere.
  • Balance the shadow brightness and coloring depending on situation, in outdoor shadows always a bit more blue.
  • Avoid high contrast in non-important areas otherwise these high contrast areas can sometimes direct attention to the wrong points in your design.

3. Make your materials look good

  • Always enable SpeedRay reflections and put reflection planes on big flat surfaces.
  • Glossiness of the floor and ceiling always should be tweaked after applying materials, more often extra reflectivity is better than less reflectivity.
  • Do not use simple digital colors, like plain green, red, blue, purple, yellow. It looks ugly and it’s always better to find natural, more realistic, “flat” colors.
  • Sometimes it is better to replace diffuse texture with plain color (using top slider in material editor) and also use bumps but without maximal intensity.

4. Adding effects

  • Use color correction, especially the first slider, as it adds dark shadows where necessary.
  • Add a little bit of chromatic aberration and a very tiny value of fish-eye for a small optical imperfection.
  • Add Hyperlight for still images. When doing this use an intensity higher than 100%.
  • To make the picture a bit ‘flat’ like print on paper, use the sharpness effect and put the slider on minimum, sometimes it helps.
  • Depth-of-Field (DOF) is really useful for narrow camera angles, but better to not use it with the wide ones.
  • Always put reflection on water.

5. Extra details - every single shot needs it!

  • Furniture, for interiors and exteriors is very important. Select and add objects from the Lumion object library. Place some in empty spaces.
  • Cars are good for border areas of a picture. Try to avoid having cars in the center of the composition.
  • People are important but try to place them such that they do not dominate the picture. Their faces should not be too visible. Using silhouettes from the library is a good way to achieve neutrality.
  • Trees and plants are very good for picture borders and background.
  • The background is super important, even if it’s blurred, the feeling of a real city or forest adds a lot to the feeling of a real building. For example birds can be a nice detail to make the sky look more natural.
  • Try using blurred clouds (softness slider), or disable cloud completely, clear sky is very good if you need extra attention on the building itself.