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How to light day and night exterior scenes with Vray?

Exterior lighting in Vray - tutorial
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Tutorial contentWords | 4003 3dsMax scene files | 5 Photoshop files| 2

Creating good looking architectural exterior visuals depends on a your lighting setup to start with. The good thing is that especially in daylight scenes, this setup doesn't require a lot of light sources. Usually a sky- and sunlight are enough, and with a clever setup this needs minimal effort to change the lighting from early morning to a high contrast afternoon or a soft sunset mood.

In this tutorial we will light and render a basic exterior scene, focussing mainly on lighting setup and balance, but we'll also be covering things like the V-ray sun and sky system, the Vray physical camera with all its settings and so on...

This tutorial was created with V-ray version 2.0. You will probably be able to follow along with older versions, but some screenshots may vary, or some settings may be missing or will have a slightly different effect on image quality.

The included max files are all 3D Studio Max 2013. These will open fine in newer Max versions, but you will not be able to open them in older ones!

What will you learn?

General lighting setup for exteriors

Lighting plays an important role in any 3D visual, architectural exteriors are no different! We will build a custom daylight rig to cover the main lighting of the scene, and adjust it step by step.

Vray sun and sky system

The Vray sun and sky system can be set up so that it's easy to change the mood of the entire image simply by entering real world time and location.

Adjusting sun and sky balance

To further fine tune the lighting look of your exterior, the sun and sky models have individual parameters that can be tweak to change the lighting color and balance.

Vray physical camera settings

Much more powerfull than the standard 3dsMax camera, is the V-ray Physical Cam. We'll go over all the important settings, and how they affect the rendering. The Vray Cam is a must in combination with the Vray Sun/Sky system!

Convert the exterior to a night scene

When everything is set up correctly, converting the scene to night is a breeze. The combination of Vray sun/sky and physical camera allows you to quickly change the mood, as everything is nicely connected to each other.

Exterior lighting in Vray - example 1Exterior lighting in Vray - example 2

What can you expect?

  • In depth information about lighting, Vray Sun and Sky system, Vray physical camera and more!
  • Detailed explanations regarding real world photography, to better understand the Vray camera.
  • By using a simple exterior model, we focus on the important aspects of lighting instead of getting lost in the details.
  • Screenshots for every step of the tutorial, so you can follow along with ease.
  • We provide step by step instructions, in an easy to follow, human language.
  • All 3dsMax scene files are included, in case you get lost somewhere along the way, or simply to study the scene setup and settings.
Exterior lighting in Vray - what to expect
click to start learning 

Add to Cart


payment methods
Tutorial contentWords | 4003 3dsMax scene files | 5 Photoshop files| 2


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