Urgent help! Lighting interior scenes is subpar at my work

I’m having serious troubles at work. I’m a archviz designer and my boss is saying my interior scenes are not well lit.

I have one more colleague that uses Blender (my boss says that even with him sometimes clients say they don’t like the lighting), and two other colleagues use 3ds Max + Corona.

I’ve been trying dozens and dozens of HDRIs, but I am unable to achieve the “fullness” of shadows one sees in interior professional renders.

Is Cycles just inferior to Corona in this aspect or am I doing it wrong? I’m actually using the easyHDRI plugin…is Nishita sky a better method?

Any help would be more than welcome.

Discuss it with your two other colleagues who use 3ds Max + Corona and check if they do something differently. I would suspect archviz cheats too, just as the rest of us. Very often “realistic” just sucks and you have to cheat with lighting, just as photographers do. I pretty much only use Nishita for lighting, using HDR/background plate only for camera. But just because I can do solar studies and it cleans up faster. However my priorities are different as it’s not strictly high quality archviz I do. My boss never complained about lighting, but I’m sure if I had yours he’d laugh his ass off :smiley:


Thanks for your reply. I will talk to them, although I don’t know if that will be very helpful, since the two softwares are quite different. Nevertheless, I don’t lose anything by doing it, and they may very well be employing some tricks, as you said.

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Ask if you can share a couple of examples from the company’s portfolio; this one good, this one bad. Who are the clients that complain, and what are they used to/what do they expect? I mean, sure, sometimes there are software limitations, like Blender not being adequate at all for awesome caustics and you may have to manually supersample (render at 4k, sharpen, reduce to 2k, sharpen for output). But if it’s only “bad lighting”, that doesn’t really tell much of a story. Could be new artist lacking experience to know all the tricks of the trade incl post production, or it could be down to software - impossible to tell without examples.



You can look at the gallery on this site to see interior renders and see if they got the same issues you have :

Of course, it’s also up to the artist to take Cycles as a tool and make something great with it.
I can probably find crappy renders but the problem may be more on the artist than the software.

To me it’s a bit subjective statement. You must get better feedback from professionals on what is lacking.
In general, clients are good at picking something wrong, but they may not express it, or express the solution in something useful to us as artists. We have to make sure we get a bit into their heads to see the result as they see.
Many time I get some comments, but the solution differs to what clients tell me about, they make instinctive and subjective comments, where a specialist may offer a more precise critique.

In that sense, talking to your colleagues and show them your work will help a lot on having a clearer idea on what is wrong, and that can eventually lead to a technical solution.
Learning more about their workflow will give you ideas than latter you can translate into blender.
Every software has their own tools , but it’s still CG after all, they all have similar features.

Also do you use photoshop to finish your renders ? Most of the time a 3D render is a bit dull and lack a polish pass. That can be done in PS for static images or AE/Nuke for animation.
There is always a tiny bit of post processing in all the renders that we see.
Depending on the case, it’s small touch up. Or worse cases it’s a bunch of work if the initial render isn’t solid enough. Makes sure to ask your colleagues about that.

Good luck ! It’s quite stressful to get these comments but eventually you’ll figure out what to do !
We all rant into these situation when starting to work ! On when you work on something new !


On my local art forum biggest part of 3D people was in archviz. Read tons of threads… and learn couple stuff. Or, what is important in archviz, what this dudes consider as important. Most of people in this time use Vray + 3D Max, couple C4D with Vray… until one day one guy start to post his renders in Blender - Cycles. He get very good “critiques”. To be clear comments in this forum are Honest, merciless. If you are good, you will get praise. If you are not good… then prepare yourself for world of pain. I guess that here such comments will be flagged as offensive, rude. But this are only way for improvements. I still remember “praise” which I get for one of my first renders :smiley:
But I don’t run in basement and cry, I use this as motivation to become better, to try harder… and most importantly to be more OBJECTIVE toward my own work.
This are great obstacle these days. People don’t want to give clear, honest critique, and artist like all people don’t have an objective, unbiased view of his work.
Maybe your collogues hesitate to talk honestly. It’s not pleasant to tell someone: delete this garbage and start from scratch. You also must try harder to see what is issue. Compare your work with others, make studies from photos. Blender - Cycles is more than capable to get great “pro” results. Try with free Octane, see do Octane more fit to you.
Also post is very important. Some people say that raw render is 60-70% of job. Rest is post.
Also do your research, try to find sites which deal with archviz. Here is one good read
Juraj’s Renderings thread (corona-renderer.com)
No matter that this dude use different software - renderer, you will find many useful tips.
PS. about caustic… truth is that majority of “pro” fake it… just like they fake many other stuff. remember archviz are not art. Archviz are tedious, stressful job, there is no shame to use every trick to achieve fastest and best result.

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Lighting isn’t about tools. You can achieve any look or quality with any render engine. At the backend all render engines have the same equation, but some of them are built for easy application. They’re not better just requires less inputs from the artists. I suggest that you read CG Cinematography, specially chapter 8, and avoid addons and plugins until you really know what they’re actually doing.

Consider that archviz also depends from interior design, CG is just a part of it. And probably your boss doesn’t know CG or he would already helped you, he just didn’t liked. A interior designer and a lighting designer (real world light) will help you more.

I don’t know if you’re already doing but there’s also post production. Trying good looking stills straight from render is bad for business.

IKEA shares part of their process, yet it’s a V-Ray advertising video: