Exterior Scene – Night Lighting

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Industry
  • Design Visualization
Subject
  • Rendering
Products
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Intermediate

By Neoscape Artist: Hao La

Lighting is one of the most important parts in 3D visualization rendering. It brings not only the look and feel for the image, but also helps to visualize the design in reality. Unlike interior lighting where you have to spend more time to make sure every detail in the room is lit perfectly, exterior lighting is easier to set up but still challenges the artist.

1. Modeling

Here we have two blocks of buildings. This will be a very busy scene in the evening when there are a great number of highlights and shadows. Every element in the entire model is organized into layers.

2. Camera View Setup

We set up a perfect view for the scene. At this point, the overall lighting is sketched out. It is a late afternoon/dusk kind of lighting when there is still light from the sky and a slightly warm color from the sun. The scene is also lit by a lot of light coming from the retail stores, restaurants and cars on the street.

3. Texturing

All the materials are applied to the model. There is no tweaking in the materials at this point yet until the lighting is done.

All the materials in the scene are optimized by using Vray materials.

The materials have a lot of reflection and highlights. The point here is to create more highlight for the images at night time. This is one of the effective ways to give the image extra realism.

Besides that, some of the materials in the scene have Vray DisplacementMod such as the brick side walk and grass.

5. Lighting

Starting with environment light first, it is a good practice to spend some time looking for reference images or photos of the lighting. We experience the color of the sky when it is at late afternoon and find a good high-res of the sky at that moment. A lot of purple in the shadow, cooler color from the sky and warm color for the street lights; these are the things we need to aim for in the final image.

In the Environment tab in Vray setting dialogue, a sky bitmap is applied into GI and Reflection/refraction slot and leave the value at 1.0

After that, we can go ahead and test render. At this stage, we use a very low setting for the test rendering in order to get a quick preview of the image.

_Color mapping: Exponential
_ Irradiance map and Lightcache for 1st and 2nd bounce
_ Irradiance map was set to Very low
_ Light cache with Subdivs at 200 and sample size at 0.02

Press render…

It looks very dark at this point, but the lighting is starting to show the effect of the sky.

To make the image look much brighter, simply increase the value of GI environment from 1.0 to something like 7.0, and also change the value of Exponential colormapping some.

We also add a single Target Direct Light with a blue color to simulate the light from the sky.

Do the test again to see how it changes.

This looks much brighter as we wanted. The shadow is filled with purple color and there is light coming from the sky. The render’s quality looks really bad because of the low setting. This will not affect the final image since we will change to a higher setting later on.

That should take care for the environment light. We add some more details into the scene such as street lamps and interior lights.

_ Omni light is used to create lighting for those street lamps.
_ Vray Light is used in the interior.

And here’s a quick render right after.

It’s getting there. At this stage, we focus more on details of the scene. In addition, some landscapes, furniture, cars on the street and retail stores are added.

Now, we are ready for the final render.

4. Render Setting For Final Image

For a final render image at 4000 pixel, we change the setting so that it is higher than before to bring more quality to the image.

For post work, we also rendered out the VrayRawReflection/Refraction pass, VraySpecular (you can add these passes by going to Render Elements and click on the Add button).

5. Post Work

We use Photoshop for post work. Level adjustments and Color Balance are used to improve the contrast and correct the color for the image.

A sky backdrop, landscapes and people are also added into the scene.

Reflection and Specular passes are used to add more reflection and highlight for the image to provide more realistic effects.

We also render out a Vray Dirtpass pass so we can use it in Photoshop to boost the shadow.

Some close-up details:

And there it is. The lighting for the image is completed. We got the look and feel as wanted with a lot of lighting and highlights bouncing around the scene.

I hope this tutorial will provide you a simple, yet effective way to deal with a night lighting image.

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Tags
  • 3ds Max
  • Rendering
35 Comments
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| 12 years ago
excellent work! All the lighting looks perfect, expecially on the entourage. a couple of questions: were the people the only thing added in post? and do you use autocad to do your 3d modeling?
| 12 years ago
Nice lighting. One thing I would suggest though, for a high res image like this you do not need to set the Irradiance Map min/max rates to the preset "High". The higher the resolution of the final image, the more you can drop these parameters to speed up the render. (HSph & Interp.samples would remain as you have them - its the rest that can be changed without losing quality but speeding up the render)
| 12 years ago
Very nice! Fountains looking great with the lights. How do you make the fountains? Particle Flow?
| 12 years ago
Very nice, thanks. Could you explain a little more about the Vray lights you used for the interiors please. As in type, how they were positioned, strength ect. Thanks
| 12 years ago
lol, you make everything look so simple :) keep up the good work
| 12 years ago
ya,simply superb.......
| 12 years ago
great tutorial!, i was wondering why you used omni lights instead of sphere vray light, is there any differrence on that? and also the vraylights u used on interior spaces are this with no decay checked or with very hight multipliers...also are you using vray cam? thnx for sharing knowledge :)
5 STARS ..... & I pray to see an update or more detailed version of this tutorial .... certainly time consuming .... but just think of the joy you are bringing to so many people from all over the world ... smile .... & thanks.
| 12 years ago
walloping images,well done thank u for sharing ur skill of rendering.congrets
| 12 years ago
Que bien.!!... : O lastima que no entiendo ingles muy bien.....English...a little.
| 12 years ago
excellent tutorial, always on the lookout for a new Neoscape, but I like to see a tutorial about post-work, above all 2d People at the scene. photoshop work thanks sorry my english
| 12 years ago
rodaran: Thanks. I think we had some tutorials about post work on the site, so you may want to check them out!
| 12 years ago
futuraa and tct70: Hi, I used Omni since it renders faster than using Vray sphere. And because Vray sphere will create soft area shadow which make the render time longer, with Omni light I could be able to control/disable the area shadow to speed up rendering. For interior lights, I used Vray light with no decay UNCHECKED and pumped up the intensity to where it looked good. I also used Standard Max camera for this rendering.
| 12 years ago
pietro3d: Yes, it is Particle Flow with motion blur.
| 12 years ago
leotchest: Thanks for your suggestion, I'll keep that in mind.
| 12 years ago
kooshetty: Hi there. Yes, the people, sky back drop and the flowers at the lower left corner were added in Photoshop. Everything else is 3D. A couple level and color adjustment were also used to enhance the image.
| 12 years ago
Hi. Am I right in you saying that everything else is 3d, including the shopfront detail, curtains,etc!
| 12 years ago
Good job Haola. Good to see you're working with Neoscape. Stop by the Vizdepot from time to time big shot ;)
| 12 years ago
ubrown : that is correct, the only 2D elements are the people and flowers.
| 12 years ago
HaolLA: wow! I'm inpressed. I always thought people used images of shopfronts! Nice render. Keep it up
| 12 years ago
The light is incredibly realistic and beautyful. Can one downlode tutorials like these og is there copyright on them?
| 12 years ago
this what i do every day and thk u for example of lighting
| 12 years ago
can we get the scene it s great for Intermediate like me
| 11 years ago
Awesome for the Beginner and pro plzzz upload the Archive
| 11 years ago
really pregievole effect! ... but perhaps we need to make the lighting of the characters congruent with that of the environment ...
| 11 years ago
You're stuck in the 80's, America. All new buildings look like crap. Not the point here, I know, but why make the effort of illustrating something that looks bad?
| 11 years ago
Great one! Thank you.
| 11 years ago
whatever
| 10 years ago
Hao La, nice man, loolks awesome. Whats with all the negativity here....the renders are great. Not an architectural forum. Work is WORK, and if you that critisise are so BLESSED to only do MODERN and the best architectural designs, then good for you. Ciao
| 10 years ago
Great tutorial. Very helpful in work :)
| 10 years ago
Wonderful ! This will help me a lot for the lighting in VRay ! Roland http://graphconcept.blogspot.com/
| 10 years ago
nice job, i really like it.... thank a lot....
| 10 years ago
thanks,nice work
| 9 years ago
whats the configuration of your system
| 9 years ago
how the same can be done in mental ray, is it possible buddy, me from India, waiting for reply, Plz forward to davejustsingle@gmail.com