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Rendering an exterior at night in 5 simple steps, using
In this tutorial I will go through all the steps that we usually do when I`m asked to do an 'exterior night-rendering.
In order to Iollow it you need to know the basics oI 3ds max and vray.
1) Natural light
The Iirst step is to choose a background image oI a sky.
For this tutorial I have used the image bellow:
Now put the desired image into the environment slot (3d max`s environment slot, not in vray`s).
In the vray settings, check global illumination, select lightcache Ior secondary bounces, irradiance map Ior primary
(you could also use brute Iorce, but it will take longer to render).
In the global switches tab, make sure that ~default lights is unchecked.
Last but not least go to the vray environment slot and check 'GI environment (skylight) override. In the slot right
beside put a gradient (dark blue in the upper slot, a lighter blue in the middle and a pale orange or purple in the lower
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Rendering an exterior at night in 5 simple steps, using vray
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II you hit render, you will end up with something like this:
2) Adding artificial lights inside
As you notice, it is starting too look like a night rendering, but at the moment it lacks artiIicial lighting so the spaces
look deserted.
We will begin by adding vray lights inside the house, to simulate artiIicial lighting.
The important thing to keep in mind at this point is that artiIicial light can look diIIerent Irom one case to another
depending on many Iactors (intensity, color temperature, size oI the space that is a ctually lit, etc.) so you shouldn`t
put a light source and instance it all over the place. Be creative and play with par ameters like intensity multipliers,
Iilter colors, etc.
For this scene I have used spherical vray lights with intensity multipliers varying Irom 1 to 2, Iilter colors with orange,
yellow and blue tints and diIIerent a radius Ior each one.
Rendering an exterior at night in 5 simple steps, using vray
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II you hit another render you will end up with something very similar to the Iollowing.
3) Simulating artificial light ~spreading from inside
Now we have light inside the house, but the light doesn`t seem to 'come out enough. ThereIore we will place vray
planar lights just in Iront oI the windows, pointing towards the exterior, like in the Iollowing image.
Hit another test rendering and you should have something similar to the render bellow:
Rendering an exterior at night in 5 simple steps, using vray
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4) Adding artificial lights in the courtyard
We are getting closer. What doesn`t look right at the moment is the Iact that the co urtyard is too dark. Depending on
your scene, you may have exterior lighting Iixtures (like the lighting posts that I have in this scene), or even exterior
spotlights that illuminate the building. II you don`t have speciIic instructions Ior these, you could place lights
somewhere behind the camera, so that you give the impression that the space is recei ving illumination Irom
neighboring sources (street lights, car lights, or even other buildings).
In this particular scene, adding lights to the lighting small garden lighting posts should be enough.
First I have assigned them a vraylight material with a gradient map; than I have placed vray spherical lights over each
one. For each vray light in the courtyard I have excluded the lighting post bellow it. This is kind oI a Iake, but in the
end it looks right, and that`s all that matters. (II you want to do it more 'accurat e check out the lampshade tutorial as
Hitting a test render at this stage you should obtain something like this:
Rendering an exterior at night in 5 simple steps, using vray
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5) Photoshop touches
a) Add a subtle glow eIIect to the visible artiIicial light sources (in this case, the small lighting posts). You can do this
using the diIIuse glow Iilter.
b) In a new layer, add a linear gradient Irom bottom to somewhere at the middle Irom orange to transparent. Put the
layer on 'color and play with the transparency until you like the result. II you ar e Ieeling creative, you can also try
some subtle brush strokes, with diIIerent tints oI red, yellow or orange to create diversity.
AIter having done all oI the above, here is the Iinal image.
Rendering an exterior at night can be very tricky. The best approach in my opinion is to take it systematically by
starting with natural light, and adding artiIicial lights one by one during the process. Otherwise, you may Iind yourselI
lost not knowing where you did something wrong.
I can not stress enough how important is to have a Iew examples oI proIessional architectural photography at hand
and look at them at every stage oI the process.
Here are some general guidelines that I always keep in mind when I`m doing a night rendering:
1) Even at night time the skylight still casts a subtle shadow.
Rendering an exterior at night in 5 simple steps, using vray
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2) Never make the sky 100 black; it should have either a blue or a purple tint.
3) II there are no artiIicial lights on the ground, the sky will always be brighter and the ground would 'borrow a
bluish or purple tint Irom the sky
4) The lighting is a mixture oI dark purple/bluish tints at the upper part and orange/yellow on the ground and on the
building(s). That is because the natural light blends with artiIicial light sources placed on the ground.
5) The colors are more saturated in a night rendering that in a daytime one.
6) ArtiIicial light sources have a subtle glow around them.
7) II you have 'moving objects in your scene, don`t be aIraid to use motion blur. II you know a bit about
photography, you are aware that at night time photographers use high exposure times when they target architectural
subjects; this causes all moving things around (cars, people, etc) to appear with motion blur.
II you think that I have missed something, Ieel Iree to post a comment and let me know.
Comments (78) Posted in Illumination Tutorials
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78 Responses to 'Rendering an exterior at night in 5 simple steps, using vray'
MrCAD - December 6th, 2008 at 9:40 am
very nice vray tutorial.will plug it in my blog
Alex Mincinopschi - December 6th, 2008 at 10:32 am
I`m glad you like it.
Thanks Ior the link!
Altro tutorial render notturno vray [ Aggregator - December 6th, 2008 at 2:45 pm
|...| Sul sito cgdigest ho trovato un altro tutorial di render esterno notturno con vray e 3d studio max ecco il link
Hosain - December 8th, 2008 at 3:52 am
Nice pice oI work man.
Tutorial de 3ds Max e V-Ray: Renderizando uma cena noturna - Allan Brito - December 8th, 2008 at 5:48
|...| Para acessar o tutorial de iluminao com 3ds Max e V-Ray, visite esse link. |...|
dipesh sadavarte - December 9th, 2008 at 12:01 pm
nice work u did.
it will be helping Ior the others who need to make
a night is very good..
daveb - December 23rd, 2008 at 4:32 pm
what did you use Ior the grass in the scene, it looks Iantastic, good tut also
Rendering an exterior at night in 5 simple steps, using vray
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Alex Mincinopschi - December 23rd, 2008 at 11:16 pm
Thanks Ior the positive Ieedback!
For the grass I have used vray displacement; nothing special.
Mohammad - December 25th, 2008 at 2:23 pm
Thank you very much Ior this tutorial.The way you explain is very good.nice job thanks once again.i just want
to know about the trees u used beck side oI the house?
Alex Mincinopschi - December 28th, 2008 at 2:12 am
Thanks Ior the reply Mohammad. The trees are geometry converted into vray proxies.
mohammad anas - January 14th, 2009 at 7:04 am
thanks a lot it is very helpIul
AHMAD - January 17th, 2009 at 1:05 am
Alex Mincinopschi - January 19th, 2009 at 10:20 am
I`m glad you liked it Ahmad.
Regarding the grass, I will post a tutorial today.
Pawel Urbanowski - January 20th, 2009 at 6:18 pm
nice and helpIul tut! ;D I`m wondering about your model, did you use wall` to create it or do you have some
other methods? I see in the pic2 that your rooI is clean, in my projects I am always Iacing the problem making
clean rooIs aIter boolean`ing it Ior windows.. it consists oI hundrets oI triangles and then is diIIicult to lay
precisely materials on it..
best regars and thx Ior tut ;D
Alex Mincinopschi - January 21st, 2009 at 7:15 pm
I used simple poly modeling technique to model the house.
I try to stay away Irom 'templates like 'wall, 'door etc., and most importantly I never use booleans; as you
said it literally destroys the mesh.
gautam - January 26th, 2009 at 8:03 am
thanks but u did not tell the v ray setting plzzzzzzzzz send it on my email.thanks buddy
anand babu - January 26th, 2009 at 9:17 am
nice work alex.i like the tutorials very did you subtract without boolean?
Alex Mincinopschi - January 26th, 2009 at 1:31 pm
gautam irradiance map set to 'high, hsph subdivisions 25, interpolation samples 25 and lightcache
samples to 1000. The rest oI the parameters are untouched.
anand babu I use extrude towards the inside, and delete tha polygond behind Ior windows, in order to avoid
using booleans. II I have time these days I will probably write a short tutorial about this.
Many thanks again to everybody Ior taking the time to write a Ieedback. I really app reciate it.
Best regards,
Rendering an exterior at night in 5 simple steps, using vray
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inder jit singh - February 3rd, 2009 at 6:03 pm
Thank you very much Ior this nice tutriol,excellent work,night rendering is good,this is the best and very logical
apporch to ward the subject.slope rooI,and garage door and main entrance door need t o be more visible dont
you think so. once again lot oI thanks and best wishes
Alex Mincinopschi - February 5th, 2009 at 11:14 am
Thanks Ior the Ieedback!
Regarding those details you`ve mentioned, I kind oI preIer it this way. it gives more 'drama to the image.
However, it is just a matter oI taste.
jan raj - February 9th, 2009 at 7:59 am
the photoshop bit was really gud.hadnt been able to Iigure how to get that orange glow.
n i guess vray displacement gets meesed up iI the object has plenty oI curves..i break up the grassy area into
smaller portions to Iix there any other way?
Night Interior Rendering Tutorial - February 10th, 2009 at 12:33 am
|...| is a Iollow-up oI the Night Exterior Rendering Tutorial that I have written a while ago, so iI you haven`t
checked that one already, I advice you to |...|
Alex Mincinopschi - February 10th, 2009 at 4:19 pm
II you are talking about the glow around the light Iixtures, the workaround is simple:
Select the white areas and copy them to a new layer, than use the diIIuse glow Iilte r.
I don`t Iully understand how your grass gets messed up. problems usually occur when you have overlapping
polygons. II this is not the case, you could post a link to your image (or send it o me by email) and I will try to
Thanks Ior visiting!
3D studio max+Vray: Rendering an exterior at night in 5 simple steps [ CG Sharpe - February 14th, 2009
at 12:18 pm
|...| Source Tutorial: |...|
jan raj - February 17th, 2009 at 12:55 pm
thanx Ior the other link. i will make changes accordingly and get back in case oI trouble.
i will also mail u the image where my displacement gets distorted
jan raj - February 17th, 2009 at 1:15 pm
do dimensions make a diIIerence to the lighting setup parameters? i do work in mm and Ieet/inch both. wud the
same parameters work Ior both?
ahmad bagheri - February 17th, 2009 at 5:28 pm
Thank you very much Ior this learn
mhike - March 2nd, 2009 at 9:59 am
very nice,i hope you post more tutorials it will help us a lot..keep up the good work,..thank you
bob - March 4th, 2009 at 4:02 pm
alex, everything is Iantastic.regarding grass, could you pass to me the tutorial?
Alex Mincinopschi - March 4th, 2009 at 4:06 pm 30.
Rendering an exterior at night in 5 simple steps, using vray
8 oI 16 16-Oct-10 10:35 AM
Thanks Ior the Ieedback!
The grass tutorial is already published:
jan raj it doesn`t matter iI you work in inches, Ieet, mm or whatever. Just keep the correct scale.
farman khan - March 11th, 2009 at 10:26 am
this was my Iirst visit oI your website, i think its great please regularly send me the beginners excercise.
AbaidUllah - March 11th, 2009 at 10:33 am
Thank you very much to contribute this tutorial.
It is very helpIul Ior me and other proIessionals relating this Iield.
Thank you once again.
Reem Habib - May 25th, 2009 at 10:13 am
Thank you so much Ior this tut.. great work and great way oI explination. i was wondering iI you may include
some interior design scenes and give us more ideas n eIIects in this Iield.
Thank you once again..
niki - May 26th, 2009 at 9:32 am
Yes man you deserve lot oI beers!The tutorial is very useIul 10xxx!!!
shihab abdulla - June 2nd, 2009 at 9:41 am
Thanks For the Importend InIormation
and Very Good Tutorials
whaling - July 23rd, 2009 at 12:03 pm
nice tutorial , especially the notes at the end -thanks!
po - August 23rd, 2009 at 5:29 pm
thanks Ior the tutorial..i am Iollowing it but everything in the scene is getting too blue.your objects in the scene
are holding their material do manage this?my white walls oI the building are getting a blue
colour..and everything in the scene..can i Iix that?
Alex Mincinopschi - August 24th, 2009 at 1:21 pm
The blue tint is perIectly normal and it is caused by the environment skylight (in my case the gradient map).
II you look at the early stages oI the tutorial, right beIore adding the artiIicial lights in the courtyard, you will
notice that the walls in my example are bluish too.
The eIIect is less visible aIter that step because oI the yellowish artiIicial lights.
II you don`t like your rendering to be too 'blue you can desaturate the skylight co lor until you like what you
Again, as I said in the tutorial, it is very important to look at architectural photography at night time to see how
the environment light aIIects the objects.
Best regards,
Mai - August 24th, 2009 at 5:53 pm
Thank you Ior YOUR eIIort in this useIul tutorial
Vray Tutorials - September 2nd, 2009 at 2:02 pm
|...| 5) Night exterior illumination A tutorial that explains, in a systematic way, how to setup the illumination Ior
Rendering an exterior at night in 5 simple steps, using vray
9 oI 16 16-Oct-10 10:35 AM
a night time rendering oI a small villa. |...|
Diwakar - September 9th, 2009 at 9:20 pm
Hey Dude, I was good in interior lighting by vray, but this Iantastic tutorial Ior night lighting has given me some
more conIidence. Thankyou so much. Now I want a tutorial Ior perIect day light with proper shadows
xorg - September 10th, 2009 at 11:56 pm
thanks a lot irealy need your help i appreciate it
jake - September 16th, 2009 at 1:31 pm
thanks a lot sir alex. i hope continue to share your
knowlage to us and pls send me tutorials about interior redering in vray. simple but the best. thanks in
krishna - September 25th, 2009 at 8:23 am
thank`s a lot Ior night eIIect , it look`s superb
karthik - September 26th, 2009 at 6:09 pm
Hi Mr.Alex, the night exterior scene looks great! i am going to work on it right now. Wish me luck.
3ds Max 2009 Nacht-scene richtig beleuchten - - September 30th, 2009 at 12:39 pm
|...| |...|
tush bobo - October 2nd, 2009 at 1:45 pm
Good work,i m Iollowing the tutorial but the problem i have is that my lights dont render properly, my vray
plane light comes as a lit plane and covers the window behind it and the spherical vray light doesnt render at all.
Alex Mincinopschi - October 3rd, 2009 at 10:42 pm
Make the vray light planes invisible (and also make sure that they are oriented the correct way). Check the
multiplier and size oI the vray spherical lights; I can`t see any other reasons why you have problems with these,
at the moment.
Let me know how it turns out.
Best regards,
syed shan haider - October 9th, 2009 at 12:25 pm
My Project does not look real. how can i make it real.i request everyone to help me iI any body wanna help me
please send me email at this address
i will send my project to him who will send me email
A lot Thanks
andro - October 31st, 2009 at 6:17 am
thanks a lot Ior this very helpIultutorial, can i ask a 3d max Iile oI this tutorial sir? actually im a new user oI
vray and i cant Iollow the other modiIications that you have mentioned in this tutor ial.. thanks in advance sir.
Alex Mincinopschi - November 2nd, 2009 at 6:25 pm
UnIortunately I can`t share most oI the scenes I`ve used Ior tutorials, because oI l egal reasons: In some cases I
have used content (like models or textures) provided by another company, which I am not allowed to share,
while in others the models were part oI a commercial project Ior which I am not allowed to send any 3d model
or cad Iile to a third party.
HopeIully in the Iuture I will have more time to build scenes especially Ior tutorials but Ior now I can`t promise
Rendering an exterior at night in 5 simple steps, using vray
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Best regards,
Alex Mincinopschi
rakesh nayak - November 8th, 2009 at 6:38 pm
hi, its great help Ior me
Ratna - November 17th, 2009 at 8:39 am
Hi Nice tutorial.. and I have Iew questions
1. How to reduce the rendering time iI am usng more number oI lights in the scene. ( am using exact
photometric ies Iiles oI the lights)
2.What is the intensity and what kind oI Iake light u inserted Ior interior eIIect?
3. Is there no need Ior logarithimic exposure brightness?
THanks in advance
Alex Mincinopschi - November 19th, 2009 at 12:59 am
Hello Ratna,
First oI all welcome!
To reduce rendering times, you could try decreasing the number oI subdivisions oI those lights (until the noise is
becoming too noticeable). There are plenty oI other things you can to try like using interpolation, adjusting
the noise threshold, material subdivisions, etc.
I don`t remember exactly the intensity multiplier oI the light inside (and I don`t have the scene on this
computer), but it really doesn`t matter. That is diIIerent Irom one scene to another .
No logarithmic exposure was used. Everything that wasn`t mentioned in the tutorial was just deIault vray
Nguyen - December 20th, 2009 at 11:42 am
ALEX! You are great man! All your tutorials are good!
reem - December 30th, 2009 at 9:43 pm
hi..nice kinda new in the 3ds max modeling and i was wondering how ur did the doors and windows
without boolean?
melisa - January 21st, 2010 at 11:23 am
hi, 1st oI all i would like to thank you Ior posting this wonderIul tutorial. i`ve tried to Iollow the instructions that
u have taught but im stuck halI way. what do u mean by
'Now put the desired image into the environment slot (3d max`s environment slot, not in vray`s)?
and then yeh i understand the next one check the GI and stuII. but then i m lost aga in over here
In the slot right beside put a gradient (dark blue in the upper slot, a lighter blue in the middle and a pale
orange or purple in the lower position)
in the material editor tab i cant see 'gradient in the 'standard tab . pls anks alot..
Alex Mincinopschi - January 22nd, 2010 at 1:10 am
Hello melisa,
Rendering an exterior at night in 5 simple steps, using vray
11 oI 16 16-Oct-10 10:35 AM
''Now put the desired image into the environment slot (3d max`s environment slot, not in vray`s)?
Click 'rendering in the upper menu, than click 'environment. In the environment ma p slot place the desired
In the slot right beside put a gradient (dark blue in the upper slot, a lighter blue in the middle and a pale
orange or purple in the lower position)
As I said, click the map slot, (where it says 'None) and you will be able to Iind the gradient in the list that
pops up.
I hope it was clear enough now
melisa - January 22nd, 2010 at 4:39 am
hey thanks! ur great.
In the slot right beside put a gradient (dark blue in the upper slot, a lighter blue in the middle and a pale
orange or purple in the lower position)
im still conIuse bout this. so sorry. the Material Editor box beside the Render Setup box above. when i click
on mine.. it din turn out like urs. my sample balls in Material Editor box is in Vray..
and i cant get the Gradient thingy in the Material Editor box like urs.Should i change the Standard tab into
which one? Architectural? or Advance Lighting override? urrrghhh.sorry i m kinda slow.
Alex Mincinopschi - January 22nd, 2010 at 1:39 pm
As I said in the previous reply, iI you click directly on the map slot you will be able to Iind the 'gradient in the
list. Than simply drag and drop the gradient map on a Iree slot in the material editor.
I really don`t know how to be more clear than this
abhinav - February 11th, 2010 at 10:07 pm
hi dude i m going to use ur tutorial.. nice tutorial thanks.....
andreagung - February 16th, 2010 at 4:29 pm
thanks. nice explaination..
RPRA2 - February 17th, 2010 at 11:30 am
nice explaination.hope this will help me
harris - March 3rd, 2010 at 10:39 pm
thanks a lot alex. ive been doing lots oI day view and Iew night scene. your explanation is simple and it helps
ahmad sarg - March 10th, 2010 at 1:54 pm
thnx alot Alex.,,, u r great..
but 1 question .!!
is this scene Irom prespective view? or vray cam?
& iI it`s vraycam.. it`ll be nice to publish its conIiguration..
thnx again
mustafa mamdouh- March 23rd, 2010 at 3:40 am
thnx nice tutorial and great explaination
arnel - March 29th, 2010 at 4:45 am
nice tutorial did not know that vray gave you this good results i uslay just get vray problem
Rendering an exterior at night in 5 simple steps, using vray
12 oI 16 16-Oct-10 10:35 AM
Adhvaresh/Addy - April 11th, 2010 at 8:13 am
Thanx sir Ior this knolage work..
i realy like making games interior and exterior..
i see ur work Iirst time.
so plz sir more inIormation Ior this line.
m doing multimeda Animation course Irom Arena delhi,
and i hav complete 3ds max now..
pls some help
Hseyin - May 7th, 2010 at 6:19 pm
Nice tutorial thanks lot.
jignesh - May 11th, 2010 at 1:07 pm
very nice tutorial thanks a lot.
Exterior Night Renderings - June 1st, 2010 at 2:22 pm
|...| renderings so Iar, or iI you are just looking to improve your skills in this area, the exterior night rendering
tutorial that I have written some time ago might be a good place to start. Comments (0) |...|
ram - August 7th, 2010 at 9:48 am
is nice tot it use Ior all studnets and 3d designer
gappy - August 17th, 2010 at 6:11 am
thank you.. this tutorial is very useIul.. love this
Kamol - August 18th, 2010 at 9:25 am
Thank you so much, I have learned your tutorial. You r a good teacher. thank you.
erwin - August 20th, 2010 at 3:16 am
can u help me, using with vray. because i just learn about it. i need you`r help. i want study it. please help
me,.. thanx so much. God Bless U.
prince - August 22nd, 2010 at 11:35 pm
thanx sir Ior ur this tutriol by ur this tutriol and i am student oI architect and working on my showreal thesedays
in 3ds max v-ray so just tell me about some more exterior night light setting in v-ray.any links or sight iI u hv in
ur knowledge.
bhawna - September 1st, 2010 at 5:11 pm
its good..
djvin09 - September 8th, 2010 at 8:02 am
very good night rendering
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Rendering an exterior at night in 5 simple steps, using vray
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