Light & shadow and their role in 3D rendering services
Light is one of the most important parts of Brisbane architectural visualisation services. Light adds realism to the render, as well as makes the scene visually interesting. Light can create shadows, which helps to give depth to our 3D models and makes them seem like they’re sitting on a real surface rather than floating in space. It also creates reflections on smooth shiny surfaces like water or glass windows. This is because lighting needs to reflect the natural world, which we are all familiar with, in order to trick the brain into believing that what it is seeing is real.
Brisbane architectural visualisation services: Light in a 3D render brings a feeling of realism.
Lighting is the single most important part of making a 3D render look photo-realistic. In order to create an environment that looks realistic, there needs to be light within the scene that comes from a natural source (i.e. sunlight or moon light) and/or an artificial source (i.e. a lamp).
Our brains are used to seeing things in the natural world due to our experience with them; this means that if there are no shadows present (or if they don’t make sense), then your brain will know that something is wrong with what it’s seeing. It’s pretty hard for us to not see something that is right in front of us – so when we see something where everything seems “out of place”, our brain doesn’t buy into what we’re seeing as being real.
Soft light has low contrast, while hard light has high contrast.
There are two types of light you can use in 3D renders: soft and hard. Soft light is created with a large area light source, or an omni-directional light source. Hard lights are created using point lights (the kind you might find on a lamp).
Soft light has no strong shadows or reflections, while hard lights have both strong shadows and reflections. Soft lighting is easier to work with because it’s so forgiving, but it doesn’t look as realistic as hard lighting does.
The best way to create soft light would be with an omni-directional light source, or a large area light like a window or skylight. This kind of lighting creates soft shadows and can help the render look more realistic and less stark. Hard light highlights shapes with strong shadows, as well as creating reflections on smooth shiny surfaces.
Brisbane architectural visualisation services: Shadows are important for realism.
Shadows let you know the shape of objects and help you understand where light is coming from. In addition to these two functions, shadows create depth by showing how far something is from an object or surface.
A shadow is just a shadow until it hits a reflective surface (i.e. certain metals, glass or water), then it becomes a reflection. Reflections also make 3D renders look more photo-realistic than if there are no reflections at all in the render (which is another reason why hard lighting is important).
In contrast, soft light does not highlight any one shape in particular and has no strong shadows or reflections.
When you use a directional light, you are able to create very hard shadows and reflections. In contrast, soft light does not highlight any one shape in particular and has no strong shadows or reflections. It’s more diffuse and less directional.
Since soft light is not as dramatic, it can be created with an omni-directional light source (like natural sunlight) or with a large area light such as a window or skylight.
The best way to create hard light is with point lights; the closer it is to the scene, the harder the shadows will be. This works because point lights have a very small radius and are very bright in comparison to other types of lights that are used in 3D rendering. Point lights also have large areas of effect and will illuminate not only surfaces but also objects within these surfaces. This property makes them ideal for creating reflections as well as specular highlights.
We hope you found this article helpful and informative. We know that there is a lot to think about when it comes to lighting, and we have only scratched the surface here. However, we hope that by reading this article you now have a better understanding of how light affects 3D renders, as well as how you can create realistic looking images using different types of light sources.
Laurent Visuals is a Brisbane architectural visualisation studio that crafts compelling visual stories of unbuilt spaces for property developers and project marketers across Australia, New Zealand and internationally. Our services encompass a spectrum of render types, from conceptual renders to photorealistic marketing visuals. Join us in bringing your architectural visions to life.