Exterior Lighting | Cultural Center

How I create big exterior renders with V-Ray
by Mohammad Qtaishat

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Hi, I’m Mohammad Qtaishat, 23 years old from Jordan and I’m studying architecture at the University of Jordan.
Currently, in the beginning of my fourth year, my passion for CGI started 4 years ago when I was a first-year student.

I’ve been in CGI for almost 2 years now. Just last year I found the 5SRW method for V-Ray and I have to say that it helped me a lot to structure my workflow. The powerful system I learned helped me also in focusing more on the Artistic and Photographic side, using this knowledge to master the software part.

* To know more about 5SRW methodology, read the Ciro Sannino’s interview on the official Chaos Gruop website


Exterior render – Organic model
The roof of the model was originally created in Autodesk Revit conceptual massing environment, through lofting between different 3d splines which was based on 2D sketches. I learned Revit by myself, and with a good model, the ‘photography’ with V-Ray become very realistic.


Then the 3d model was exported to 3ds Max, where it was converted to an editable poly for more details:


Lighitng exterior renders
At the light balance stage, the light system I used was pretty simple. I used the V-Ray Sun + Sky with the default values, but most important I followed the lighting techniques. I studied the illumination, looking for the best angle camera/sun in order to get the best ‘Chiaroscuro‘ possible, as I learned during the Course. In this case, an angle between 80 and 90 degrees was the best option for this exterior lighting. I just changed the Size Multiplier to 3 to get smoother shadows:


Here the result with a V-Ray default material
After completed the step-2 of the method (lighting exteriors/interiors) I was sure to be on the right track


Vegetation for exteriors with V-Ray
The vegetation was handled through using Forest Pack Pro and the scale of the rendering helped in separating the vegetation to 3 different layers

First layer – the grass. Two different models, a dense one and light one to create variety and empty spots in the grass through using the distribution map in Forest pack pro. It was then textured using ForestColor with a texture on a surface

Second layer – the shrubs. Three different shrubs were distributed on the surface to add another level of detail

Third layer – the trees. 15 different types of trees were used and distributed on specific surfaces and splines to create the forest and to fill the background


Background / post-production
It was inconvenient to model the whole haze part and so I had an image in mind that I wanted to composite and merge it with the original rendering. I tried to match the perspective in 3ds Max of this image:

with the original rendering:

And then in Photoshop with layer masks, and some tips and tricks from the 5SRW Course I was able to merge them together.

Following the course, I learned how important is the consistency in lighting: this makes real and credible our images. So it was important finding a background image with the same light direction of my render. This allowed me to match the two images in a perfect way!


Finally, I matched the colors in Photoshop, just playing a bit with curves & levels.
It was a very quick process. The composition improved a lot and this was the final result:

Extra shots, created working on the typical light hierarchy for night renders:

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: Mohammad Qtaishat | V-Ray for 3ds Max | Method & Techniques: 5SRW