Lighting plays a vital role when visualizing your designs in a clear, engaging manner. It helps viewers, such as your clients, experience architecture before it’s built. It helps them understand your design and why it matters.
In the ‘Regency Project’, a collaboration with the talented visualization artist Adam Ingram (Ark Visuals), founder of The Lumion Collective (@TheLumionCollective), you’ll discover Adam’s unique approach to creating a render and telling a story about the design using the new features in Lumion 12.3.
You’ll also explore how the surrounding environment — the weather, lighting and other elements — all work together to give a distinctive feel to buildings and spaces, immersing you into the world of the design. Adam will take you through the project, explaining a few tips and tricks that you can easily incorporate into your own creative process.
Because every project is an opportunity to learn a little bit more. To visualize your project with a little more detail and texture. With the ‘Regency Project’, you’ll learn how to use light to tell a better design story, revealing its beauty and emotion. You’ll learn how to, as Adam called it, “paint with light”.
Check out the video above and keep reading for more information about this project.
Grounding the design in an environment that feels alive
According to Adam, “The task of an architectural visualizer is to personify a subject that fundamentally has no emotion.” To achieve this (giving emotion to digital, inanimate visualizations), Adam employs a three-stage approach, making sure that the design’s story is always driving the project forward.
First, we start with the building.
The Regency Project includes a building that Adam modeled, drawing inspiration from a number of unique design styles, mood boards and multiple real-world buildings. Understanding the design is vital at this stage, and so once Adam imported it into Lumion, the first step was to explore every angle of the model, viewing it from different perspectives and uncovering striking compositions that will show the building in its best light.
By exploring the model in Lumion, Adam was able to find a few interesting angles and compositions early on, which he could then use to tell a story and authentically capture the emotion of the building.
The next step in his process was a little more conceptual. By imagining how the building’s occupants will live in and experience the space, he was able to add a little character to the building.
By texturing the building with Lumion materials and adding exterior objects and other furnishings from the Lumion content library, Adam could start developing a personality that will be evident in the final renders and animation.
The last step was to build the environment around the design. This was the final link between architect and client, visualizer and viewers. According to Adam, it’s what grounds the design to a context that is easy to understand. Whether it’s the rustling of the trees, the hustle of the city or even the wild of a remote setting, these elements help personify the building, adding to how it’s perceived and completing the design story.
Building. Personality. Environment. It was these three key parts that were necessary to prepare the Regency for the next step:
Bringing it to life with light.
Shining a light on the detail, beauty and texture of the design
At its core, the Regency Project is a conceptual demonstration to underscore the impact of lighting in architectural visualizations. Once again, storytelling is at the heart of the creative process.
And to tell a cohesive story about this project, Adam built the entire scene around lighting, focusing on how lights can accentuate the personality of the building.
He calls it ‘painting with light’, and when rendering in Lumion, it’s a useful term to think about when setting up the entire lighting arrangement throughout your scene.
As you begin, gazing at your scene with no lights added, it can feel a touch intimidating. You may find yourself asking, “Where to start?” Fortunately, Adam has a method for this too, and it’s called ‘Zones’.
You can read a comprehensive blog post about creating lighting zones here. In short, this lets you approach your project’s lighting one small area at a time. To set up these zones, Adam considers two angles:
— Practicality: what technical lights do we need to illuminate the building and its environment realistically
— Aesthetics: how can we harness the power of lighting to give personality to spaces
For instance, one of the main zones in the Regency Project was the main entryway and windows. This area required a lot of practical lighting, such as the interior and ceiling lights, to help viewers see better in our low-light setting.
A combination of Lumion’s diverse lighting options, including spotlights, omni lights and area lights, was essential in setting this up.
The next lighting zone was made with ‘guide lights’. These guide the viewer’s eyes to specific design elements. For instance, the shot with the bollard lights serves to move viewers along the footpath.
You can also find ‘guide lights’ in the garden. In addition to illuminating this scene with the same combination of lighting objects mentioned above, Adam added several spotlights and omni lights to guide viewers to the other, equally important side of lighting: shadows.
As Adam explained, “It’s easy to over-light a scene. When lighting an architectural scene, it can be easy to forget that shadows aren’t a bad thing. As visualizers, we want to show as much of the space as we can, and this sometimes translates to illuminating as much as we can. By balancing light and shadow, however, it’s possible to show how your building materials actually play with the light.”
The final and, according to Adam, the most enjoyable zone to work on was the ‘hero lights’. These lights are generally impactful, adding more to the aesthetics of the building and the emotions it conveys.
“They turn the building into the spectacle that we see in the final shot,” Adam described, “creating dramatic effects that set the design elements apart.” You can easily see this hero lighting in action with the extravagant feature lighting that leaks out from the design’s vertical fins.
Adam recommends taking a mixed approach to lighting, combining logic with style as you use the various Lumion light objects to fill your scene with practical lights, guide lights and hero lights.
Telling a captivating story through animation
The scene is set. The hero of the story, the building, is illuminated beautifully. Adam’s final step in producing the Regency Project was to add Lumion effects and render the animation.
Fortunately, achieving that ‘blue hour’ feeling took only a few moments in Lumion. “A big challenge was making sure that the scene wasn’t too dark,” said Adam. “One trick I use is the ‘squint test.’ It’s pretty easy. If you squint and can’t see the main shapes of the building, then the scene is too dark.”
Along with features such as Real Skies and Styles, the Color Correction effect was absolutely critical in these final steps. Especially when testing and modifying individual lights, the Color Correction effect helped Adam to adjust the intensity of each light and highlight its impact on the building materials.
“Pushing the Color Correction sliders around is the best way to learn about this effect,” Adam explained. “It’s just a matter of experimenting with the effect’s gamma correction and high and low limit sliders, which influence the way that light behaves in the scene.”
When putting together the animation, Adam made sure that each composition shows an entirely unique aspect of the building. Because of the role of lighting in this project, he also wanted to ensure that each shot reveals the influential presence of light on the building and its environment.
“This way,” according to Adam, “we can tell the story about the Regency through its sequential illumination, revealing the building one piece at a time before the dramatic outro.”
Get inspired by everything you can render
Adam’s approach to rendering is ever-evolving, but one fundamental element rings true in all his work: believability over realism.
As Adam put it, “It’s our job to embody the emotions that we identify with as humans and apply them to an inherently inhuman subject – architecture. It’s viewing imagery and recognizing all the small details that link up with our own memories. These experiences allow us to relate and empathize with a space on more than a surface level.”
The Regency Project is truly a masterwork in light, materials, detail, environment, animation; the list could go on and on.
We hope you enjoy the Regency video. If you would like to see how Lumion’s lighting features and effects can breathe life into your own designs, download our free, 14-day trial for businesses here.
Many thanks to Adam Ingram. Check out more of his works, and continually improve your rendering skills, on The Lumion Collective website.