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View Full Version : Best lighting angle for Arch-Viz exteriors?



Nicolas Jordan
09-18-2013, 10:10 AM
117154

I have done Arch-Viz renderings for a number of years now but I have always struggled with the best way to light exterior scenes such as this house. I have used many different angles but the one I seem to use the most is having the light direction coming from behind the camera at almost the same angle lighting the front of the building. I see that many exterior renderings have the light angle coming the opposite side to create more drama. There seem to be pros and cons to all of these lighting angles. I'm curious if one of these light angles is more standard and artistically acceptable that the others.

Option 1: The light is coming from the the left mostly hitting the side of the house and allowing shadows to be cast onto the house from trees.

Option 2: The light is coming from behind the camera mostly hitting the front of the house keeping most of the house well lit. I find most clients prefer this for some reason as they don't like to see the building in shadow.

Option 3: The light is hitting the front of the house crossing the angle of the camera from the right side.

Option 4: A more dramatic angle from the right side that keeps the left side of the house in shadow.

What kind of lighting do you use or think looks better for exterior renderings?

Surrealist.
09-18-2013, 10:42 AM
None of the above. Because I hate the way people light Arch Vis renders most of the time. None of these options even vaguely represent reality. And even if they do it would be the same as some real estate bloke with a camera walking out to the site between the hours of 11Am and 3PM (depending where you are on the globe and time of year) and snapping off a shot with automatic exposure. And this is probably the mentality of the guy telling you what he likes.

So first rule of thumb when shooting subjects outdoors between the aforementioned hours is to stay home. Then get in your car and drive to the site so you arrive when the sun is at an extreme angle in the sky so that it does not light everything so harshly but not close to sunset where things are so dark it is hard to get a good exposure. You want something where the atmosphere from the horizon adds a natural diffuse to the light and gives the scene a more soft look and also has some shadow and depth. If you have a budget you'd also bring some large lights with diffuse to control the situation as the sun goes down. And then put some high powered lights in the house (pointed away from the windows) to get this effect:

117155

117156

117158

117160

117161

The key is to show some depth in the scene in some way.

Even something like these at least show some composition and depth:

117157

117159

And notice by contrast to the above images how flat and uninteresting this one looks:

117162

This looks like the guy got there at 2 PM and snapped off a picture then went back to the office.

I am talking from experience lighting and shooting in the real world. And how that translates to computers is a bit differently of course technically but the origins are from real world photography.

So I guess your argument for your cause ought to be something along the lines of "Do you want it to look like I snapped a quick photo for the classified ads or do you want it to look appealing and different to really catch people's attention aesthetically yet still show the work off in a good light?"

Danner
09-18-2013, 11:16 AM
Some very good points made by Richard, the "golden hour" lighting tends to make things look great, partly because shadows get bluish and sunlit things are warm, it gives a nice colour balance to the scene. It also evokes a nice mood, a relaxing, after work vibe, like finally coming home from a long day, where it is still daytime but indoor lights can be seen. There is no hard rule, it's just a matter of taste and, some houses look great in a cloudy setting, summer/beach houses should be sunny. I prefer number 3 on your tests, It could get a lot better with some careful post.

Tzan
09-18-2013, 11:31 AM
Option 3, is what I usually do.

Surrealist has some great points which you could try in your own practice time.
It will certainly take many hours of work to switch from your current style.
I'm sure the budget for this house doesn't allow for any additional modeling or test lighting/rendering.

prometheus
09-18-2013, 01:04 PM
Based on your options, I would probably go for number 3, maybe 4 too.
But that is just based on those showcased, think you could probably improve or change the lighting even better and maybe perspective etc.

Doesnīt really matter what time..that is solely dependent on how you want to showcase it, there are nice night time showcases too, if you want to showcase sitting outside at evening and showcasing interior lights flooding
around the home etc, and sometimes for building complex ..harsh sunny day works nicely, I think it has mostly to do with how the shadow falls upon the building(angle) and how it defines all shapes and details.

Michael

Iain
09-18-2013, 01:39 PM
Option 3. A bit of interest created by streaks of sunlight coming from the side is usually best.

I agree, too, with most of Surrealist's points and love to stamp some individuality on my imagery but unfortunately 99% of clients want a sunny day with a clear (or partially cloudy) sky. Usually the most artistic you can get is to avoid direct lighting.

SteveH
09-18-2013, 01:51 PM
Nicolas - hey I like your roof shingles (are they geometry or texture?) and your fire place rocks. Great job on that.

I have to agree with Richard - lighting your scene like his third one - would look very good I think.

sukardi
09-18-2013, 06:14 PM
One newbie mistake to avoid at all cost. LW default lighting is set at 45 degrees heading. You don't want to use that as it makes the shading of 2 sides of your building the same. Always go for sharp angles like 15 degrees or 70 degrees...

Nicolas Jordan
09-18-2013, 07:58 PM
None of the above. Because I hate the way people light Arch Vis renders most of the time. None of these options even vaguely represent reality. And even if they do it would be the same as some real estate bloke with a camera walking out to the site between the hours of 11Am and 3PM (depending where you are on the globe and time of year) and snapping off a shot with automatic exposure. And this is probably the mentality of the guy telling you what he likes.

So first rule of thumb when shooting subjects outdoors between the aforementioned hours is to stay home. Then get in your car and drive to the site so you arrive when the sun is at an extreme angle in the sky so that it does not light everything so harshly but not close to sunset where things are so dark it is hard to get a good exposure. You want something where the atmosphere from the horizon adds a natural diffuse to the light and gives the scene a more soft look and also has some shadow and depth. If you have a budget you'd also bring some large lights with diffuse to control the situation as the sun goes down. And then put some high powered lights in the house (pointed away from the windows) to get this effect:

117155

117156

117158

117160

117161

The key is to show some depth in the scene in some way.

Even something like these at least show some composition and depth:

117157

117159

And notice by contrast to the above images how flat and uninteresting this one looks:

117162

This looks like the guy got there at 2 PM and snapped off a picture then went back to the office.

I am talking from experience lighting and shooting in the real world. And how that translates to computers is a bit differently of course technically but the origins are from real world photography.

So I guess your argument for your cause ought to be something along the lines of "Do you want it to look like I snapped a quick photo for the classified ads or do you want it to look appealing and different to really catch people's attention aesthetically yet still show the work off in a good light?"

There are a couple house renderings that I have done recently that have a look that you are describing. The only reason I got to do it ids because the client specifically asked for it.


Option 3. A bit of interest created by streaks of sunlight coming from the side is usually best.

I agree, too, with most of Surrealist's points and love to stamp some individuality on my imagery but unfortunately 99% of clients want a sunny day with a clear (or partially cloudy) sky. Usually the most artistic you can get is to avoid direct lighting.

Yep most clients I deal with want a nice sunny day and they want all the colors they pick to match when they hold the physical color samples up to the screen or the print. Most clients have a hard time understanding that the lighting can effect the colors in the rendering.


Nicolas - hey I like your roof shingles (are they geometry or texture?) and your fire place rocks. Great job on that.

I have to agree with Richard - lighting your scene like his third one - would look very good I think.

The shingles are just a texture map. I made the ridge caps using LWCAD so those are 3d geometry.

JonW
09-19-2013, 02:07 AM
I would say 3.

The sky is not quite right. It does not have the "right" type of clouds! Skies and growies that are not quite right can kill an image. But just the right type of sky & growies can make an ordinary building look good. & a few leafs on the ground in the foreground to break boring footpaths & grass up a bit.

Even shifting the camera a touch can help a lot. Don't over cook the image making it all singing & dancing! Camera angle from a typical viewing position. Not unnatural positions.

Nicolas Jordan
09-19-2013, 09:32 AM
For the light angle it looks like I will probably go with number 3 since it seems to define the chimney and the shape of the building more than the others. It also seems to be the popular choice here. Looking at many renderings of buildings it looks like about 75% of them are lit with a light angle similar to my number 3 example. I guess it really depends on the subject since not all building seem to look good with this kind of lighting.

MSherak
09-19-2013, 11:45 AM
117154

I have done Arch-Viz renderings for a number of years now but I have always struggled with the best way to light exterior scenes such as this house. I have used many different angles but the one I seem to use the most is having the light direction coming from behind the camera at almost the same angle lighting the front of the building. I see that many exterior renderings have the light angle coming the opposite side to create more drama. There seem to be pros and cons to all of these lighting angles. I'm curious if one of these light angles is more standard and artistically acceptable that the others.

Option 1: The light is coming from the the left mostly hitting the side of the house and allowing shadows to be cast onto the house from trees.

Option 2: The light is coming from behind the camera mostly hitting the front of the house keeping most of the house well lit. I find most clients prefer this for some reason as they don't like to see the building in shadow.

Option 3: The light is hitting the front of the house crossing the angle of the camera from the right side.

Option 4: A more dramatic angle from the right side that keeps the left side of the house in shadow.

What kind of lighting do you use or think looks better for exterior renderings?

Option 1 or 2, if you are looking at light direction since it matches the lighting in the clouds. People seem to forget that background is key. Course that is why most just blow out the sky to white.

Ryste3d
09-19-2013, 12:00 PM
no 3

Nicolas Jordan
09-19-2013, 02:24 PM
Option 1 or 2, if you are looking at light direction since it matches the lighting in the clouds. People seem to forget that background is key. Course that is why most just blow out the sky to white.

I ended up changing the sky in this one. That a good point to keep in mind though.

prometheus
09-19-2013, 03:52 PM
I ended up changing the sky in this one. That a good point to keep in mind though.

Exactly, I wouldnīt go for the 1. 2 just because it fits better with the sky, 1 and 2 doesnīt convey the archviz building in a good lighting as number 3 does, therefore it is better to change the sky, and not the other way around.

Finding a better backdrop, make backdrops with ogo taiki, or ozone, vue..or simply use dpont_sunsky and if you know your way around voxels, you could throw in clouds, but at this point we are overdoing at a cost of
render time.

Michael

JonW
09-19-2013, 08:45 PM
I would say 3.

The sky is not quite right. It does not have the "right" type of clouds! Skies and growies that are not quite right can kill an image. But just the right type of sky & growies can make an ordinary building look good. & a few leafs on the ground in the foreground to break boring footpaths & grass up a bit.

Even shifting the camera a touch can help a lot. Don't over cook the image making it all singing & dancing! Camera angle from a typical viewing position. Not unnatural positions.

This is exactly the same for physical models. I have seen a lot of models in my time! Some really nice models simply killed by the wrong growies & other pretty ordinary models, if only they had put an hour more work into playing God with the trees!

You don't need to get creative, you need to get the basics right.

Large areas of sky and growies can make a poor model look good with not much effort!

On a physical model some people have simply chosen the wrong colour for the base. Which does not actually have anything to do with the model itself, but the right colour here will make the world of difference. On this model the sub base has also been thickened as well to make the base look more substantial. The new building is sitting in the old white colour scheme, also the transparent structures are new.

For not much work of redoing the base on this model. It looked so much better with a bit of new colour. Basically a dark metallic grey touch up paint.

The same applies with 3d, get simple things looking good & they will hide a multitude of sins!

Surrealist.
09-19-2013, 11:56 PM
There are a couple house renderings that I have done recently that have a look that you are describing. The only reason I got to do it ids because the client specifically asked for it.



Yep most clients I deal with want a nice sunny day and they want all the colors they pick to match when they hold the physical color samples up to the screen or the print. Most clients have a hard time understanding that the lighting can effect the colors in the rendering.

I don't see where control of color is an issue. It is in your hands and should not matter what time of day you are rendering. That is just a basic suggestion of how it works in the real world. In the computer you could achieve the same effect and have the client match his colors. The magic of CG.

Also if I was not clear in my post there is more to it than the time of day. As the two mid day examples I showed you prove. It does not have to cost more in rendering time. It does not have to cost more in time. My answer is still is not like any of 1-4.

No matter what you do there needs to be these things in the scene: ( and can be seen in the examples I posted)

1) A point of focus. Something that draws the eye into the image. This can be done with light, perspective, color contrast, color depth, anything.

2) A sense of depth to the image. And this is a part of the first one but more specific. It is showing a layering of depth. Things in the foreground that can frame the image, things that are the focus point, things behind the focus point. And all of the tricks can be employed here including the use of color depth for things in the foreground and background.

It just so happens that time of day choice can do a lot automatically for you because of the opportunities it presents. If you choose afternoon then you have to work at it a little more.

Lighting has a lot more to do with where you point the light and which way it casts a shadow and how that relates to the look of the sky. So I am going to have to disagree with all of the posts here to that effect.

Lighting is about creating an atmosphere that is both objective and subjective and done in conjunction with other elements in the scene. Composition, choice of color, placement of props, all to come together to convey a sense of depth and focus into the scene.

In my opinion none of these things are something you wait for a client to ask you to do. They are all things you do as a matter of basic standard in your work within which you give them what they think they want.

At least that is my input based on what I assumed you were asking.

Lighting is just one element. But even there in your examples it does little or nothing to achieve either eye direction or depth. The technical issues of shadows and sky are way down the list in my opinion. You want to create an atmosphere that gives an emotional impact. Obviously that takes more than just light. But if you are asking the best way to light the scene it needs to at least do that.

bazsa73
09-20-2013, 01:19 AM
So cool insight Surrealist! I feel the same but I'm lazy to write it down.