What makes a beautiful render? In this post, we’ll break down the countryside residential home and learn tips about creating a setting, using and combining photo effects and more!

There is no single right way to create a render.

Some architects are looking for the fast and easy way. They import their model into Lumion, spend a few minutes sculpting the setting with a few trees and nature models, choose one of the Lumion Styles in Photo Mode and render a beautiful result. Just like that — one, two, three, done.

For others, the process from model to final render can take some time. Instead of speed, these individuals strive to capture a real-life setting for their building or landscape design. Sometimes they have an emotion or story they want to convey, and they meticulously tweak every detail until they can show the design exactly as they had envisioned.

No matter how you use Lumion for your unique needs, you can always find intuitive tools and innovative features and effects to help you reduce the amount of time it takes to make a beautiful render.

But maybe you’ve wondered, “How can I make my renders look like the ones I saw on the Lumion website? Or on their social channels?”

In this blog post, we’ll take you behind the scenes of a render that we recently used to showcase Lumion 10.3 and the displacement map import feature. You’ll learn a few tips and tricks about building a setting, and how to use and combine effects to create a style and mood. After going through this project breakdown and applying a few of the techniques to your own workflows, you should find you’re able to render just a little faster, with a slightly nicer result.

The Countryside Villa

Every rendering project in Lumion begins with a 3D model. For this project breakdown, the California-based architecture firm Ten Over Studio kindly shared one of their residential home designs with us, showing a charming villa in the countryside.

When visualizing this residential home design, we wanted to incorporate a lifelike, lush and rural setting, photorealistic morning-mood lighting, materials that feel real, and a pleasant, “going to grandmother’s house” feeling.

Before creating the scene, the first step was to imagine what we want the final render to look like.

After importing the model into Lumion, you can move around the model and inspect some of the features of the design. Make sure to double-check that all the surfaces line up. Have you assigned your materials correctly in your CAD software for easy customization in Lumion? If you find any issues with the model while inspecting it in Lumion, you can make the necessary changes in your CAD software and re-import the model immediately.

As you’re exploring the model, you might come across a view of the design that you really like. If this is the case, simply hit CTRL + 1 to save the view in Lumion’s Photo Mode.

You can save additional views by hitting CTRL + 2, CTRL + 3, CTRL + 4, etc.

You can then view your shots by entering the photo editor or by hitting SHIFT + 1 while in the project editor. These saved views and hotkeys can come in handy when you need to only create the setting for a specific camera view.

Creating a lifelike setting

In order to build the idyllic, rural setting for the countryside villa, we wanted to combine a mix of tall- and medium-sized trees with a variety of bushes, shrubs, flowers and other plants.

Lining the driveway of the house, for example, we planted several of the taller almond trees in the background, a line of velvet mesquite trees to provide a green, shaded layer following the driveway’s stone wall, and a sweet chestnut tree from Lumion 10’s fine-detail nature objects.

The tree models used in this image are from Lumion’s 5,600+ item content library.

A quick note — the fine-detail nature objects are ideal when you need an exquisitely detailed tree or plant model to stand in the foreground or background of the render. In our final render of the countryside villa, you can see the trunk of the sweet chestnut tree on the left side of the image.

Actually, you can see two sweet chestnut trees in this image. Behind the house and on the right side of the image, you can see another sweet chestnut from the fine-detail nature category.

In addition to trees, we also wanted to heighten the feeling of a natural, living environment by filling in the landscape with an assortment of plants, bushes, flowers, stones and other landscaping objects.

Tools such as mass placement, cluster placement and paint placement are helpful for quickly filling in the landscape with a variety of plants. For instance, we added the row of azalea plants with the mass placement tool in only a few seconds:

With the cluster placement tool, we were also able to fill in parts of the grass and gravel areas with the thicket plants.

Additionally, with the paint placement tool, we were able to fill in a larger part of the villa’s surrounding landscape with more velvet mesquite trees.

Once you’ve added the objects to recreate a real-life setting, it’s important to spend a little time working on the materials of your design.

In Lumion’s materials library, you can find over 1,200+ high-quality materials, all of which are customizable with weathering, foliage, displacement mapping and more. If you would like to learn more about applying and customizing materials in Lumion, check out the trove of helpful guides on the Knowledge Base.

Showing a style and mood

First, we populated the villa’s setting with a variety of trees, plants, flowers and other items. Next, we added and customized the materials for every surface of the home design (including adding ground gravel to the driveway and customizable 3D grass to the landscape).

When creating an image of your home design, the final steps include applying the right assortment of photo effects and rendering an image, movie or 360 panorama. For this blog, we’ll focus on making an image render, but before adding any of Lumion’s Photo Mode effects, our home design and setting looked like this:

Countryside villa without any photo effects applied.

Below, we’re going to go through some of the effects used to create the final look and feel of our countryside villa render. We won’t go through every effect, but you can find some explanations regarding why certain effects were used, and how we created a harmonious balance of effects to create that pleasant, “going to grandmother’s house” feeling.

To start, we used the Realistic Style to give our render a baseline combination of effects.

Countryside villa with only the Realistic Style applied.

In some cases, you could simply render as-is and call it a day, but we’re going to add and tweak a few more effects to really capture that feeling we were initially trying to create.

For example, to achieve a nice morning light, we combined one of the morning Real Skies with the Sun effect to better control the height, direction and intensity of the sunlight. With a little adjustment of the Sky Light and Shadow effects, we were able to produce this lighting arrangement:

Another important effect that we added to this image was the Precipitation effect. While the sky is clear in the final render, we still wanted to give the feeling that it had just rained only moments ago, whereas the ground is spotted with puddles and the aroma of fresh rainfall is in the air.

In this shot of the gravel driveway, you can see how we customized the Precipitation effect to show little puddles, reminiscent of freshly fallen rain.

And before we were happy with the final look of the render, we customized and added a handful of artistic effects to create the ideal color arrangement. These effects included Sharpen, Color Correction, Chromatic Aberrations, Bloom and Fog.

Ready to test our combination of effects, we rendered out a 1920 x 1080 image in 39 seconds using a laptop computer with a GeForce GTX 1080 with Max-Q Design graphics card.

Beautiful renders are now within your reach

No matter if you’re facing internal design reviews, client meetings, team presentations or other situations where renders are needed, Lumion features a wide range of tools and effects to help ensure that you get a beautiful result, without breaking a sweat.

Final render of the countryside villa, with model design by Ten Over Studio.

If you’ve never used Lumion before and you want to start creating beautiful renders yourself, then download the 14-day free trial. You can find several example scenes within Lumion, so you don’t need your own 3D model to jump in and kick the tires. Try exploring what you can do with lighting and shadow, or see how easy it is to create a setting for rural, urban, mountainous, oceanside and other locations.

Lumion Blog | Beautiful renders within reach.