Rendering and the architectural design process: how Lumion changes the relationship

Mar 5, 2021 | Lumion, News

Forget all those memories of painful rendering experiences. Lumion changes all this by fitting right into your design process, giving you clarity and insight at any moment along your journey towards design perfection.

Not so long ago, rendering was often viewed as a necessary yet painful chore, an activity akin to taking cough syrup or having teeth pulled. The visualization software at the time had a high barrier of entry, it was typically limited to a single CAD program, and it required months of slow-paced practice. Even then, producing lifelike and emotionally gripping renders of a design still could take days, if not weeks.

Orthogonal view light study, rendered in Lumion 11

With these obstacles, rendering just didn’t feel like an integrated and accustomed part of the architecture and design process. There was a broken relationship, a rift of sorts, between architect and rendering, and it was keeping the benefits of fast, beautiful visualizations out of the daily routine and standard workflows at firms both large and small.

Fortunately, the times have changed dramatically since then. You can now sketch an idea, model its basic shape and aesthetics in your CAD software, and render your form studies in Lumion — all before lunch.

Architectural model, rendered in Lumion 10.3 by Carlos F. Marques.

Rendering of a maquette, rendered in Lumion by Carlos F. Marques (@carlosfmarquess).

Lumion visualization software brings the art of rendering into the everyday craft of the architect. It encourages your drive for excellence, and clarity, as you express form and function in the built environment, and it’s specially designed to nurture your creativity, diligence and love for architecture.

In this blog post, we’re exploring how Lumion fits seamlessly into your daily routine, working almost like an extension of your hand. You’ll discover how Lumion empowers architects to render at any stage of the design process, all while fueling a desire to achieve elegance and inspiration in the art of construction.

How to include Lumion at every phase of your design process

There are as many approaches to architecture as there are buildings in the world, and no two firms (or even architects) are exactly alike in their techniques, skills and the technology they use.

Lumion is designed to adapt to your unique processes and workflows, no matter if you’ve never incorporated in-house rendering into your practice before.

You could be testing an idea, reviewing how the light falls on a specific element of your design, inspecting the form of the building against its surrounding environment, or making polished, beautifully crafted renders to show to your boss, your client or any other individual.

Modern Victorian Design, rendered in Lumion 10 by MOrenders .

Modern Victorian Design, rendered in Lumion 10 by MOrenders.

Lumion empowers you to create a beautiful render of your design or idea at a moment’s notice. All you need is a 3D model and Lumion turns the task of rendering into an enjoyable, productive experience. You can incorporate renders into your process from the very first stages of design development to the final visualizations.

It gives you more time to design. More time to refine your idea, perfect your craft, and fully experience the broader impact of your project on its surrounding environment.

Let’s explore how Lumion makes this possible.

Seamless integration with your CAD software

Do you build your 3D models in Rhino or Revit? Does your workflow include a mix of 3ds Max with a little SketchUp on the side? Or are you a dedicated Chief Architect or BricsCAD fan? Maybe you prefer taking the Cinema 4D or Maya route?

Real-time rendering with Lumion LiveSync

Model design by Pixel-Head Studio.

No matter the CAD or 3D software you use, you can always rely on Lumion and effortlessly import your models, accelerating your workflow as you iterate and further develop the design. Lumion supports the most common file formats, including:

.DAE (Collada) .DXF
.SKP (SketchUp) .3DS
.DWG .MAX (requires a 3ds Max installation)


Everything about Lumion’s model import and re-import functionality saves you time and effort.

For instance, let’s say you imported your model into Lumion from Allplan. After a few hours working on the rendering project in Lumion, you discover a grave mistake in your 3D model. You fix the model in Allplan and then re-import the updated model. In just a few seconds, the corresponding building in Lumion will update without losing any of your work, such as with the surrounding context, customized materials and Photo and Movie effects.

Real-time rendering with Lumion LiveSync

Besides using the re-import functionality, you can simultaneously model in CAD and render in Lumion with Lumion LiveSync. Whether you’re modifying the height of the walls, adding windows or doors, or even changing materials in your CAD software, your Lumion project will automatically update and show these changes amidst the lifelike landscape, realistic skies, vegetation, furniture, entourage and so on.

This free, real-time rendering plugin establishes a live connection between Lumion and the most popular CAD programs in the AEC industry, including:

LiveSync for SketchUp LiveSync for Vectorworks
LiveSync for Revit LiveSync for AutoCAD
LiveSync for ArchiCAD LiveSync for BricsCAD
LiveSync for Rhino


Rendering your 3D model as you’re developing it in CAD can unlock a myriad of benefits, giving you valuable insight into the design, its materials and how it blends in (or contrasts) the surrounding environment.

The Lumion LiveSync plugins are free and easy to install. To download the plugin for your software, click on the relevant link above.

Intuitive context creation for residential, interior, landscape and urban designs

Client expectations continue to evolve, and with the widespread growth of rendering technology, many are looking for the full visualization/immersion experience — images, animations, VR options — before approving a project and sending it into the construction phase.

They’re curious about how the sunsets would look from the driveway of their residential home project. They want to feel the connection between their commercial building and the other buildings around it, and they hope to get the fullest, clearest picture of how the design will translate into the real world.

Real Sky Villa, rendered in Lumion by Gui

Lumion guides the process of context creation, helping you capture the environment surrounding your design in a stress-free, pleasurable way. This includes residential exteriors and interiors, multi-family residences, commercial buildings such as museums or schools, and massive urban or landscape architecture projects.

Coastline by Gilson Antunes, rendered in Lumion

Coastline, rendered in Lumion by Gilson Antunes.

For example, if you’d like to give a detailed visual impression of the project’s location, you can use Lumion’s OpenStreetMaps feature and instantly import the building data, height maps and satellite maps of thousands of places around the world.

Whether you need the rolling hills of Ireland or the downtown city center of Dubai, the OpenStreetMaps feature allows you to show your building design in its future location faster than it takes to make a cup of coffee.

City Center visualization, rendered in Lumion 11 by Fatih Ekşi.  Project Evrenol Architects

City Center visualization, rendered in Lumion 11 by Fatih EkşiProject by Evrenol Architects.

There will be times, however, when you just need to create a render as fast as you can. Imagine that your client or another individual made a surprise visit, worried about what the design will look like in its actual location, and not a conceptual one.

With the Photo Match effect in Lumion’s Photo Mode, you can address the client’s concerns with such an air of tranquility that the client will think there’s nothing you can’t do.

Rendering emotion and atmosphere

In our previous blog post, we explored the many ways that Lumion breathes life into rendering — both the process and the result. We discussed how a pair of boots on the kitchen floor can capture the energy of an early morning rush out the door; we showed how raindrops racing down your windows can communicate the peace and comfort of a rainy afternoon indoors.

Lumion helps architects place their designs in the context of a real-life scenario. In an instant you can add the Aurora Borealis effect to reflect the majesty of your design’s location at the northern and southern ends of the globe; you can place a fire in the hearth to suggest the romance and beauty of your interior design.

With the goal of guiding you as you capture the atmosphere and emotion of your project, Lumion includes over 6,000 models in its content library, over 1,250 customizable materials and over 60 innovative effects for images, animations and 360-degree panoramas.

For instance, you can construct a wild and lush forest in a matter of minutes using the Mass Placement or Paint Placement tools to place hundreds of trees, shrubs, flowers, rocks and other nature items.

Landscape Design and 3D Rendering with Lumion 10

Residential building and landscape design, model design by Van Manen.

Turn on the Precipitation effect and toggle the rain streaks slider to add beautifully detailed raindrops to your windows and other glass surfaces.

Lumion 11 and Landscape Rendering

Create a gorgeous display of lighting without breaking a sweat by importing the IES profiles for all the Lumion spotlights in your scene.

Capture the rich and expressive colors of your project with the help of a RAL color picker and other useful color pickers.

designed by Estudio Medular and visualized by Angular Lab in Lumion

Designed by Estudio Medular and visualized by Angular Lab in Lumion.

With Lumion, expressing your unique vision as a beautiful, professional-looking render becomes an intuitive and satisfying process, and because Lumion offers real-time feedback and lightning-quick rendering speeds, there are no barriers to testing and exploring the ideas that will help you produce your very best work.

Rendering orthographic views

There are many benefits to orthographic projection in architectural visualization. By showing the building design from the front, end and plan views, among others, architects have a powerful visual communication tool at their disposal to convey the project’s general form and function, leaving a simple yet powerful impression on the viewer.

Villa Wegner | Side View

With Lumion’s orthographic view effect for images and videos, you can bring this standard and ubiquitous type of illustration right into your rendering workflow, saving you time as you create your dossier of drawings and visualizations for the project.

Orthographic views, rendered in Lumion by The Lumion Collective

Testing different artistic options, rendered in Lumion by The Lumion Collective.

Make sure to combine the orthographic views effect with other effects in Lumion’s Photo and Movie Mode, such as sketch and outline effects, Real Skies, animated 3D characters and more, giving a personal touch and memorable flavor to your next architectural presentation.

Animating all the parts of your design

Maybe you’ve never created digital animation, studied cinematography or spent hours upon hours in video editing software meticulously putting together a professional-looking film. But if you’ve ever wanted to include jaw-dropping animations in your next big client presentation, you’ll find that Lumion’s intuitive, everybody-can-do-it approach to animation puts you in the director’s chair.

For example, you can easily control the camera and set up compelling camera paths and angles by simply moving through your scene in the clip editor.

With the animated phasing effect, for instance, it’s possible to convey how all the elements of your design connect together in a visually stunning way.

Model provided by Ten Over Studio

Easy-to-use animation tools such as Move, Advanced Move and Mass Move give you full control over doors opening, people walking down the sidewalk and cars crossing a busy intersection.

You can even find in-program sound objects that increase or decrease in volume depending on the vicinity of the camera, allowing you to create a wall of ambient background noise. Text effects give you the ability to communicate the names of important rooms or buildings in your video, without having to edit the video in other software.

Even if it’s your first time making digital animations, Lumion guides the process so that you have an enjoyable, productive experience.

Embrace your creative process; bring renders into your workflows

Lumion is designed to support your craft, the everyday activities where you invest your time and energy in pursuit of excellence in architecture.

This could be solving social problems through design; it could be about aesthetics and expression. It could even be about precision, technique and detail. No matter what you’re trying to achieve, Lumion gives you the clarity you need to take an idea and bring it to life.