Lighting for Realism


I am having some trouble lighting this scene to make it look more realistic. I was able to get an okay looking image after tweaking in photoshop but does anybody have any suggestions for getting a better looking result straight from Blender? The image looks “soft” and cartoony to me which is not what I’m trying to go for.

The scene is being lit with an HDRI.

Thank you!

I don’t understand the background, what is it what I see?
Back to your question, one thing is that most likely you have loads of bounces, 128 maybe? Try it with 6
It looks like a very diffuse HDRI to me with not that much contrast. Maybe look for a more an HDRI with a bit more contrast.
Other ideas:

  • Place some objects that cast shadows on the house, like trees.
  • Try other textures. The texture of the roof, doesn’t match qua contrast with the texture of the wood.
  • Some sharp edges reveal that the geometry is to perfect. Do something with it, like add details, or add some randomness, etc.

And what do you mean with soft: lack of contrast, or that the HDRI is in lower resolution than the scene (hdri looks blurry, and gives gives a kind of DOF effect making the house look more like a toy?)

Cartoony? I think those are the shard edges I mentioned earlier.

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Thank you very much for your comments I appreciate the effort. I’m still pretty new with blender and 3D modeling/rendering in general so any advice is great.

I’ll play around with the tips and settings you mentioned to see if I can get a better result. The background definitely needs work as right now it is basically a wall of low poly two-plane tree images. I was playing around with some techniques to save on render times but its probably worth sticking some higher fidelity models in there.



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Edit sorry I replied to the wrong post. In addition to the other suggestions you can adjust contrast, exposure etc with the colour management settings in the render properties.

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Good suggestion! I’ll give that a go as well.



You also have a strange lens setting which is causing a lot of distortion. The “vertical” walls of the house converge strongly, and the camera itself is on the ground.

Consider using an orthographic projection. Many real-world architectural photographs are (still!) taken with “old-timey” bellows cameras for precisely this reason.

The scale of the various elements are also working against you: if those wall-boards are made of (say … 1x6" lumber, how big is the moss on the roof? Or that chimney-pipe? Or those trees?

Play with camera positions and settings.