Tips to improve outdoors scene

I’m trying to create an outdoors scene that I could show to architecture agencies or construction firms in order to (hopefully) get some 3D-modelling assignments. This is the project I’ve been working on for a while. For my part I’m quite pleased with it but I see it doesn’t really compare with some of the professional renders I’ve seen here and elsewhere.

I aim for photorealism and a selling image. For the final render I’ll increase the number of samples a bit since some areas are still a bit grainy. But before that I’d like to hear some input on what could be improved before rendering. I’d also love to hear some advice on what post-production I should add as well.

The house looks good to me. i wonder how you made the plant growing on the wall.

you should work on the grass. give it a better texture, this light green looks unreal. the same for the lightning. with the house so bright, the sky definitely has to be brighter too.

Thanks for the input. Now that you mention these things I see them as well. I’ll try for a brighter sky and make the grass a bit darker and less saturated. I’ll be back in a day or so with a new image.

EDIT: oh, and the climbing plant was made with the ivy generator add-on.

What lighting set up are you using? I assume you are using an environment map? If so, the reflections on the windows look a little low-res, perhaps try using an image with a higher resolution. Agreed about the colors in general - far too saturated (in my opinion). Something like this would look more natural (by Andrew Price):

I’m using one sun light (strength 8) and an HDRI map (strength 1) for lighting. I didn’t even think about the fact that the HDRI could have too low resolution. I only have free HDRI maps so I’m not sure if I have one with higher res.

Good reference image - this is the quality I would like to achieve but I’m not there yet.

Here comes an update. I still haven’t solved the low-res HDRI but I rotated it a bit to make it less obvious, not sure if it’s better this way though. The sky and grass looks better now in my opinion and I hope you agree.

EDIT: I still have a few issues I don’t know how to solve. The leaves in the foreground are supposed to be more out of focus, but I had trouble finding a good balance with F/stop so that the rest of the scene didn’t become too blurred. The small tree to the left of the house seems to suffer from this – or is there some other reason it would blend into the background like it does?
I tried to render the foreground leaves on a separate pass to blur them in the compositor and get them to look out of focus that way. But that makes the whole plane they are mapped to part of that layer. Is it not possible to render alpha parts of a texture on a separate pass that can be composited?

Looks better. Take a quick look at these:

Maybe you have already tweaked your lighting from the environment map, but it’s worth a look and can make the lighting more natural. You may be able to tone down the sun lamp (or remove it entirely).

For the leaves at the top, make them smaller and move them closer to the camera, if you want them to be more out of focus.

I personally think the greens could do with a bit more yellow, and a bit less saturation - that is partly personal preference. The colours you have are within the realms of reality - but there is something a little off, perhaps the combination of greens and contrast with the sky doesn’t seem quite natural.

Here’s a new render. I tried following the HDRI examples in your posts but I couldn’t get the sharp shadows that I wanted. In the end I decided to put in some real geometry in there to be reflected in the windows, because I didn’t find an HDRI that I was satisfied with, and I’m still using the same light setup. For this image I also increased contrast and sharpened it a bit.

Do the windows look convincing? It’s just a mix of glossy and transparent because I didn’t really get it right with glass material. I’m also wondering if more detail is needed for the white house walls or the white boards at the ends of the roof?
EDIT: Just did some more post processing on the image, removing some grainy dots.

Maybe you can change the grass a little, make it a bit more irregular, a bit darker and maybe at some flowers in. But anyway, it’s pretty nice!

There are a few things that - IMHO - still interfere with the aim of photorealism:

To me the image seems to be oversaturated, resulting in a slightly cartoonish look.

It is also slightly overexposed. Just look at the garden way and the driveway to the garage: They get blown out to an almost pure white color and any surfacing details that material might have are totally lost.

Materials in general could use a little variety, dirt / bump textures etc. There is quite a lot of “white” going on.

I understand the idea with the foreground leaves, but I’m not a great fan of it. If we’re talking about photorealism, I tend to ask myself: How would a photographer have done this? And I can hardly imagine a professional photographer crouching through hedges and trees to get a shot of that house…:wink: And even if so, a photographer would have done anything to get rid of that leaves in post. Just my personal preference, of course.

There seems to be a mismatch between the sky color and the lighting situation. The lighting fits to a bright summer day, while the visible sky seems to be too dark in color for that time of day / year (and is still a little low-res). Did you think of using the sky only for reflections / lighting and adding a hi-res backplate for the visible sky in post?

I agree with the comments about the variety of the grass. I take it the grass is a particle system? Sometimes I find it easier to just fake grass in post, especially if the view is not that close up.

Thanks for the additional input. Hopefully I will get the time to tweak this image further in a while. When I do I’ll do my best to adress the things you pointed out. If I manage to do that it may lift the image to another level of photorealism.

I just spent a little more time looking at your render - I hope I don’t start getting on your nerves with my remarks, but hey: You asked for constructive criticism and please take everything with a grain of salt…:wink:

I was still wondering why I got this slightly “cartoonish” feeling about your render and I think it’s partly the proportions.

If the entrance door is of standard size (about 2,10 m in height), it is extremely narrow and the placement of the windows is a bit off: The window sill would be only about 50 cm above the estimated floor level of the house - which is roughly the knee height of an adult (about 80 cm would be standard, I think). The rail of the balcony on the other hand would be roughly 1,30 m high, which seems quite enormous to me. Did you base your model on real constructional drawings?

Hi alandor

First of all, congrats for the work!

I think the image looks too grayed out.
Would rather have the tree to the left closer (or bigger) to the house, casting more shadows on it.
Dont know if the handing leaves are working well.
Maybe try a different angle. Would try to bring the camera down a bit, and decrease the focal length.

Hope it can help. Cheers!

ps: have tweaked the lighting a bit in photoshop. Basically, a levels adjustment layer and saturation. Hohe you won’t mind.
Here’s what I get:

EDIT: This reply was to @IkariShinji

I’m glad you’re taking the time to look at it so closely. Not getting on my nerves at all.

You saw through the illusion – I just modelled the house from my imagination. I did try to use realistic measures but apparently I didn’t do it well enough (though I thought 80 cm was standard for doors?). I realize that to make a top-notch render I should change the model – some of the things you mentioned shouldn’t take too long after all. But I was hoping that if I used this as a reference image people would look at the quality of the render and not the architectural design of the house. Your points are valid though – I understand that viewers may be disturbed by these things and that I should fix them to make a convincing image.

I have a busy couple of weeks ahead of me and I may not be able to work more on this until the Christmas holidays. But I will get back to it eventually and when I do I’ll upload the new render.

ps: have tweaked the lighting a bit in photoshop. Basically, a levels adjustment layer and saturation. Hohe you won’t mind.
Here’s what I get:

Thanks for the tip. I’ll get back to this post when I get back to working on the render again.

I have to say, the leaves in the foreground look pretty terrible. Just get rid of them altogether. :wink:

Also, there does not appear to be any doorknob? How is anyone supposed to get inside this cool house?

I’d put some supports under the deck overhang. I don’t think that deck would be up to code :slight_smile: It would almost certainly require a load-bearing support under at least on corner, possibly two. Really liked the improvements you made. The grass desaturation and the change in color of the lawn border really help. I totally agree about the leaves in the foreground. Really nice project!

i’m looking at post #8

what i see is there is a lot of perfection in an image that meant to be imperfect,

  • like there is areas of the walls, that seem the same degree of white
  • the shadows appear on the windows but does not appear on the walls
  • shadows that appear on the wall does not appear on the widows
  • the leafs that close to the camera have realistic materials while the other planets have a near perfect materials
    and they are not blurred right , and they have low quality, and they should be darker as they are dont face the sun
    and they should glow a little bit because they are thin and they are right under the sun light
  • the sky is not right because it was taken at the morning, and the lighting seems like it’s mid day,

Thank you for your honesty – I’ll consider it.

Good point about the sky and light not matching. I’m not good at determining this but others also mentioned the sky seems off so I should probably brighten it or change the image.

But I don’t understand the points about shadows on walls and windows not matching. Should glass receive more shadows? I suppose they reflect the environment lighting so much that the shadows disappear. Is this wrong?

Also I understand that photorealism means things shouldn’t be perfect. But architectural renders tend to be fairly perfect since they are supposed to look shiny new so I’m not sure what to aim for here. I’ll look around more at existing architectural renders to see how ‘perfect’ the materials should be.