In the last step-by-step post, you were able to gain some insight into rendering a beautiful living room. You found some info on lighting, editing materials and adding effects, and there were heaps of cool images and gifs.

For Part 2, we’re remaining indoors with a step-by-step guide showing the rendering process of this stylish conference room.

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So, how did we optimize this render? 

From importing the model to fine-tuning the light and color, we’ve broken it down into 10 easy-to-follow steps:

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So, let’s jump in!

Step 1: Importing Your Design(s) and Preparing Your Scene

Lumion takes the cake when it comes to interoperability, featuring compatibility with major design software such as Revit, SketchUp or 3ds Max, among others. No matter the software you use, you’ll find that it’s super easy to load your design for rendering and visualization in Lumion.

It is important to note that preparing your model for import into Lumion is another subject that we’ll discuss in-depth at a later date. For support with regards to importing and exporting, visit our Knowledge Base of rendering tutorials on the subject.

After successfully loading your model, you may have a render that’s looks something like this:

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Is it dull and disorienting? Sure. But from here, you have a blank canvas that you can start populating with a robust inventory of lighting elements, materials, textures, objects and more.

Step 2: Environmental Lighting With the Sun Effect

The first step in this workflow is to modify the environmental lighting with the sun effect. 

For this conference room, we chose a greyish-blue and yellow color scheme. Of course, we could start by modifying the sun to produce such colors, but there is a particularity about this render. You can see it when the camera is moved outside.

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The background image of the render, showing the city scene, is quite bright when the sun is low in the sky. The sun settings are:

  • Sun height at -0.1
  • Sun heading at -0.4
  • Sun brightness at 0.7
  • Sun disk size at 0

With the sun low and dark, the backdrop itself serves as the scene’s light source, emitting a greyish, white light. Through the combination of the backdrop light and sky’s light, the rendered scene takes on the following look:

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At this point, the conference room looks like it belongs in Antarctica or some other icy landscape. Plus, the lighting from the emissive backdrop has overexposed the couch and the strength of the environmental white light is a little too strong.

Nevertheless, even with the environmental lighting, you can continue building your scene. The next step is to optimize the materials under the environmental light to ensure a high level of detail, depth and relief.

Step 3: Edit the Materials

Editing the material settings is, often, a process of trial-and-error. Due to the impact that environmental (and artificial) lighting has on the appearance of objects, materials and more, you may need to play around with the material settings sliders to find the right balance.

To demonstrate how the material settings affect a chrome material, for example, let’s zoom in on this chair base:

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Achieving that smooth, metallic look meant toggling the color, gloss, reflectivity and relief sliders. Its material settings are as follows:

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The shiny, chrome look of this chair base is, essentially, the result of gray colorization, medium gloss levels and high reflectivity. That’s basically it. In the following gifs, you can see what happens to the chrome material when its sliders are tweaked.

Color Tweak:

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Gloss Toggle:

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Reflectivity Modification:

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Weathering Refinement:

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*Note: The weathering slider is really easy to exaggerate, like in the chair above or the couch below:

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When used in moderation, weathering is one of the most important sliders to consider when modifying material settings. It is used, in some capacity, in about 95 percent of our renders, and not only because it makes things look old, but also because it creates shadows on material surfaces and provides some ambient occlusion.

Step 4: Add Lights for Atmosphere and Realism

In this step, we’re focusing on the scene’s lighting because, without the artificial lights, your scene may look like this:

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The materials look nice, but without light, an essential component giving both mood and depth to a render, the image just looks flat. So, let’s add spotlights!

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At first glance, it seems logical to place a spotlight wherever you have a light object or fixture. However, adding lights everywhere may put extra stress on your computer’s hardware while slowing down rendering speeds. Instead of lighting up every fixture, there’s a little workaround you can apply to your renders.

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As you can see, a set of three light bulbs only has two lighting elements added to it. The resulting light isn’t any different and you still can achieve super-fast rendering.

After lighting the scene, our render is starting to look a little more usable, a little more professional.

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Except that couch is still too over-exposed. The color still looks grey and lifeless.

…Still some work to do…

Step 5: Optimize the Shadows

If you work on the scene’s lighting, then you should also touch-up the shadows. It’s like doing bicep curls: if you work one side, you should probably do the other. And although it’s easy to overlook, you should never neglect your shadows. They are just as important as lights.

In Photo Mode, the scene’s shadow settings are:

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To achieve the greyish-blue and yellow appearance of the render, we found that we could control the color of the shadows by toggling the brightness slider. With the brightness turned down to 0.1, and the Interior/Exterior slider turned all the way up, we could simulate a nice, blue color like this:

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In addition to the color, the omnishadow feature determines the strength of the shadows, especially with regards to corners where shadows seem to congregate.

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Step 6: Add Global Illuminations

The scene is looking pretty blue, and it’s safe to say that the blue is truly overpowering the yellows at this point. To start balancing out the colors, we can turn to the yellow artificial lights and use Global Illumination to expand the impact they have.

Of course, you don’t want to add global illumination to all of your lights; if you do, your computer may likely explode. Therefore, if you use 10 lights, try to restrict your global illumination to three or, maximum, four lights. For this scene, we added three global illumination lights, indicated by the green check marks.

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In the recess of the black wall, the central light was given global illumination to highlight and spread the yellow color. You can see this same effect on the black wall and parts of the ceiling.

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Now we’re getting some balance! Let’s continue…there’s something that needs to be done about the reflections…

Step 7: Add and Correct Reflections

…And that red couch…It is washed out and overexposed, and you can’t see the finer details of its soft and smooth leather material. Take another look.

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Ugh. 

It’s a really nice couch too, I promise. And that glare on the table is a little unsightly too. By using the reflection effect, you can temper the effect that the lights have on your render.

There are a total of five reflections used in this render, including:

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Adding reflection planes can substantially increase rendering time, and so it’s important to add them wisely. Oh, and make sure to turn on your Speedray reflections:

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By turning on the Speedray reflections, any materials with gloss or reflection will produce a more accurate reflection (as opposed to general reflectivity), with little effect on rendering speed.

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After adding the reflection planes and turning speedray on, the render looks increasingly more realistic. Also, the red couch and the table have finally taken on a nicer appearance.

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Step 8: Add Lens Flare

Lens flare is an essential effect for making the image better resemble a photograph, but you can’t just add this effect and walk away. It has numerous sliders affecting various nuances of the flare, including:

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This effect’s sliders may look like a lot, and it’s packed with jargon that seem like another language. “Jack up the ghosting!” says your boss, and you’re none the wiser. To better understand this effect, it’s probably best to play around and see how the lens flare interacts with your scene.

Although playing around with the sliders is great for learning this tool, it’s important to understand how the sliders relate to one another. For instance, the Bloom Amount slider has a major impact on the photographic quality of the actual flare.

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For the conference room, the bloom amount was all the way up (toggled to 1), resulting in the following:

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Step 9: Add Other Effects

Simulating a real-life setting for your render requires an eye for detail and a fair amount of discipline when using the photo and video effects. The other effects used in the conference room render are listed below.

  • Sharpness
  • Analog Color Lab
  • Bloom
  • Vignette
  • Chromatic Aberrations
  • Bleach
  • Noise

See if you can find evidence of these effects in the penultimate render:

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Step 10: Add Lumion Furniture

Sure, you could quit at Step 9, saying that the lights, materials and effects are optimized enough to produce a truly beautiful render. Yet, we both know that some vitality is necessary for the scene, some evidence that real people have used this room. From coffee cups to papers to office plants, you don’t need much to make a 3D room resemble the real thing.

And after all 10 steps, here is the final render:

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You made it! In lieu of celebrating the end of this long post, here are several helpful resources for further reading and support:

Rendering the conference room is the second part of our three-part series, “How to Render a Beautiful Scene.” Next week, we’ll be showing a step-by-step guide on rendering a realistic residential exterior. Make sure to stop by!

Discover the full power of architectural visualization with Lumion 7, available as a free trial here.

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