Unleashing the powers of Lumion

21 min read

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Lumion supports a direct import of SketchUp files, which means that we don’t need to use any special format to have our 3D model in Lumion. But if you are working with modeling packages, such as 3ds Max, Maya, and Blender, you need to use a different approach by exporting a COLLADA or FBX file as these two are the best formats to work with Lumion.

In particular situations, we may need to use our own animations. You may be aware that we can import basic animations in Lumion from 3D modeling packages such as 3ds Max. Lumion uses the flexibility of shortcuts to improve the control we have in the 3D world.

Once we import a 3D model or even if we use a model from the Lumion library, we need to adjust the position, the orientation, and the scale of the 3D model. But keep in mind the importance of organizing your 3D world using layers as well. They are free and they will become very useful when we need to hide some objects to focus our attention on a specific detail or when we use the Hide layer and Show layer effect.

At a certain point in our project, we will need to go back and undo a mistake or something that doesn’t look as expected. Lumion offers you a very limited undo option.

When working with Lumion, and in particular, when organizing our 3D world, and arranging and adjusting the 3D models, we might find the possibility of locking the 3D model’s position to be useful. This helps us to avoid selecting and unintentionally moving other, already placed 3D models.

From the beginning of our project with Lumion, it is very important for us to organize and categorize our 3D world. Sometimes we may not do this straightaway, and only after importing some 3D models and adding some content from the Lumion library we realize the need to organize our project in a better way. We can use layers and assign the existing 3D models to a new layer.

Over the course of a project, it is very common to have certain 3D models updated, and we need to update those 3D models into our Lumion project. This can be a rather daunting task, taking into account that most of the time these updates in the 3D models happen after we have already assigned materials to the imported 3D model.

Sometimes during the project, we may face a radical change in a 3D model we have already imported into the Lumion project. The worst scenario is reassigning all the materials to the new 3D model and perhaps relocating to the correct place. However, Lumion has an option to help us with this and to avoid reassigning all the materials or at least not all of them, and the 3D models will stay in exactly the same place.

After importing a 3D model we created in our favorite 3D modeling package, it is likely that we want to enhance the look and the environment of the project by using additional 3D models. The lack of detail and content will definitely create a lifeless and dull image or video. Lumion will not only help you learn how to place content from the Lumion library, but also how you can discover what you need.

Something indispensable for a smooth workflow in every project are the copy and paste tools. Imagine having to go to the import library to place the 3D model again and assigning a material every single time we need a 3D model. Lumion doesn’t have a standard copy and paste tool that we can find in most software, but there is a way to emulate this feature. Lumion will help you copy a 3D model already present in your scene and avoid the trouble of going back to the Lumion library and placing a 3D model already present in your project.

Removing or deleting a 3D model is a part of the process of any project. This can be particularly tricky when our 3D world is crowded with 3D models and there is a possibility of selecting and deleting the wrong 3D model. Nevertheless, Lumion does a great job in this area because it protects you from deleting something by mistake.

All projects are different, and this typically brings in unique challenges. Sometimes, a building or the environment are really intricate, and this can cause difficulties when we are placing 3D models from the Lumion library. Lumion recognizes surfaces and will avoid intersecting them with any 3D model you want to place in your world. However, there are times when this feature may be in our way and cause difficulties when placing a 3D model.

A project needs life, but placing dozens of models one by one is a massive task. Lumion helps us to populate our 3D world by providing the option to place more than one copy at a time. By means of a shortcut, we can place 10 copies of a 3D model.

The world we live in is bursting with diversity and variety. Consequently, our eyes are incredible in picking up repetitions. Sometimes, even if we cannot explain why, we know something is wrong with a picture because it doesn’t look natural. When we are working on a big project, such repetitions stand out almost immediately. We can use a feature in Lumion that gives us the ability to randomize the size of 3D models while placing them.

With more than 2,000 models, we can say that Lumion has everything we need to use in our project. Although Lumion has predefined models, it doesn’t mean that we can’t modify some basic options. We can modify simple settings such as color and texture, but keep in mind that this doesn’t mean we can change these settings in every single 3D model.

In almost every project, we have some autonomy to place the 3D models and organize the 3D world. Nevertheless, there are times when we really need more accuracy than one can get with the mouse. Lumion’s coordinate system can assist us with this task.

Typically, we focus our attention on selecting separate 3D models so that we can make exact and accurate adjustments. Eventually, we will need to do some alterations and modifications to multiple 3D objects. Lumion shows you how you can do this, along with a practical application.

While working with selections in Lumion, every time we make a selection and transform the 3D model, we need to choose the correct category. There are particular occasions when we need to select and manipulate 3D models that belong to different categories. Lumion can select 3D models from different categories in one go.

Initially, we may find Lumion very restrictive in the way it works with the content placed in our project because we need to select the correct category every time we want to work with a 3D model. However, we can bypass these restrictions by using the option to select and move any 3D model in our world without selecting a category.

As mentioned earlier, the world we live is full of diversity and randomness; however, almost on every project, there are some situations when we need to place the content in an orderly way. A quick example is when we need to place garden lamps along a path and they need to be spaced equally. This can be done in Lumion.

Lumion is a unique application not only because of what we can do with an incredible quality, but also because we have features that initially may not seem beneficial at all until we work on a project where we see a practical application. One example is when we need to align the orientations of different 3D models, Lumion shows not only how to use it, but also how to apply it in a practical situation.

While populating and arranging our project, there are times when a snapping tool comes in handy. We can always use the move and height tools to place the 3D model at the top or next to another 3D model, but Lumion allow us to snap multiple 3D models to the same position in an easy way.

While placing content in our project, we are usually concerned about the location of the 3D model. However, later we realize that our project is too uniform, and this is easily spotted with plants, trees, flowers, and other objects. Instead of selecting an individual 3D model and manually rotating, relocating, and rescaling it to bring some variety to our project, Lumion helps us out with a fantastic feature to randomize the orientation, position, and scale of the 3D models.

Even in the most perfect project, we can find variations in the terrains and in the building, it’s natural that we find inclined surfaces. Rotate on model is a feature in Lumion that allows us to snap to the surface of other 3D models when we are moving a 3D model. We can use this to adjust a car on a slope or a book on a chair.

While changing the 3D model’s rotation, we can see that when the 3D model is getting closer to the 90 degree angle, it will snap automatically. This is fine, perhaps, in most cases, but there are times when we need to do some precise adjustments and this option can be helpful in our way. Lumion deactivates this feature temporarily.

An initial tactic to sculpt and shape the terrain is to use the terrain brushes available with Lumion. Lumion is not an application like ZBrush, but it does well with the brushes provided to sculpt the terrain, and they are not difficult to master. Lumion explains how we can use them and some practical applications in real projects.

We know how to use the five brushes to sculpt the terrain and the different results of each one of them. However, we are not limited to the standard values used in each brush because Lumion allows us to change two settings to help us sculpt the terrain. This control is useful when we need to add details at a small or large scale.

Some projects don’t require any specific terrain from us, but at the same time, we don’t want to use a flat terrain. In the Terrain menu, we can find some tools that help us to quickly create mountains and modify other characteristics of our project.

When we start a new project in Lumion, we can start using nine different presets. They sort of work as a shortcut to help us get the appearance we want for our project. Most of the time, we may use the Grass preset, but that doesn’t mean we get stuck with the landscape presented. We know how we can sculpt the terrain, but we can do more than that in Lumion and see how we can completely change the aspect of the landscape.

Although we have 20 presets to entirely change the look of the landscape, this doesn’t mean that we cannot change any settings and actually paint the landscape. Lumion explores the Paint submenu and shows how we can use Lumion’s textures to paint and change the landscape completely.

Perhaps you don’t want the trouble of sculpting the terrain using the tools offered in Lumion. Truth be told, in some situations, it is easier and more productive to model the terrain outside Lumion and import that terrain along with the building. Lumion has fantastic material that blends the terrain we imported with the landscape.

Another solution to create accurate terrains is by means of a heightmap. A heightmap is a texture with stored values that can be used, in this case, by Lumion that translates this 2D information into a 3D terrain. Lumion will help you to see how you can import a heightmap and save the terrain you created in Lumion as a heightmap file.

It is remarkable how little things, such as defining the Sun’s direction, have the most considerable amount of impact on a project. Throughout the production process, we may need to adjust the Sun’s direction to have a clear view of the project; however, in due course, we will get to a point where we will need to define the final orientation that we are going to use to produce a still image or a movie.

Setting up the Sun’s direction and height is one of the simplest tasks in Lumion; however, by only using the Weather menu, we can start feeling that there is a lack of control over these settings. Fear not though! Lumion offers an effect that provides assistance to control the Sun in a way that can make all the difference when producing a video. Lumion will help you comprehend not only how you can modify the settings for the Sun, but will also provide you with a practical example of how you can apply this feature in any project.

A shadow can be defined as an area that is not or is only partially illuminated because an object is obstructing its source of illumination. It is true that we don’t think that shadows are important and essential elements to create a good-looking scenario, but without them our project will be dull. Lumion is going to help us use the Shadow effect to tweak and correct the shadows in order to meet our requirements and the finishing look we want to accomplish.

An additional aspect connected to the shadows in Lumion, and it happens in the real world too, is the influence of the sky over shadows. Taking a look at the shadows in any project, you can easily realize how a sunset or a midday scene can transform the color of the shadow. Lumion will show how to control and change the influence that skylight has on shadows.

We have been working entirely with hard shadows. The Sun in our 3D world can produce these hard shadows, and they are called by this name because they have strong and well-defined edges with less transition between illumination and the shadow. Soft shadows can be produced by the Sun in certain circumstances, and the sky, likewise, can create these diffused shadows with soft edges. We can apply soft shadows to our project to enrich the final look.

So far, we have been looking at how we can use the Weather menu to create an enjoyable environment for our exterior scenes. Lumion is also capable of producing beautiful interior scenes, but we need to work a little bit with the interior illumination before we can produce something that is presentable and eye-catching. For interior scenes, we can use the Global Illumination effect to improve the illumination that is either provided by the Sun or some artificial source of illumination. We can improve the interior look and illumination using Global Illumination.

An element that can bring an extra touch to the final movie are the clouds. This is a component that does not always cross our mind when trying to attain a good-looking and realistic movie. Lumion provides us with a lot of freedom not only to change the appearance of the clouds, but also to animate and even create volume clouds to bring this fine-tuning to a different dimension.

Fog is a natural phenomenon that can be added to our project, and it can really change a scene dramatically. With it, we can make a scene more mysterious or reproduce the haze where dust, smoke, and other dry particles obscure the clarity of the sky. With the Fog effect, we can achieve this and much more.

The fact that we can add rain and snow, as easy as reading this sentence, really proves that Lumion is a powerful and versatile application. Adding rain or snow is something that we can easily achieve by adding two effects in the Photo or Movie mode.

Lumion by default uses wind in any project you start. Once you add the first trees, you can see how they slowly move showing the effect of the wind. We can control the wind using the, yes you are right, the Foliage Wind effect.

Another option to control the Sun is using a new feature introduced in Lumion Version 4. This option, that we can find under the Effects label, is called Sun study. It is an amazing feature that allows us to select any point on the planet and mimic the Sun in that location. However, there is much more that we can do with this effect.

Lumion has more than 500 materials on hand and generally this is more than adequate. Still, Lumion is a very flexible application, and for this reason, you are not fixed with just these materials. We have the opportunity to use our own textures to create other materials. Lumion is not going to show you all the settings that you can use to tweak the material; instead, we are going to focus on how we can replace and adjust an outside texture.

Making a 3D model invisible or hiding surfaces from our 3D model is something that we don’t anticipate to do in every project. However, there are times when the Invisible material can be very handy, and Lumion demonstrates not only how to apply it, but also some specific situations that we may consider while using this material.

Glass is essential in any project we work. From the glass in a complex window to a simple cup made of glass, this material has a deep impact on a still image and even more on a movie, helping us capture the light and reflections of the environment. Lumion has a glass material that can be used to create some of these materials. The Glass material can be manipulated to get a more realistic look.

During the production, it is expected that we save the materials applied to the 3D models. This should be done for precaution purposes, in case something goes wrong or when we need to go back and forth with materials, without having to lose any settings. Lumion has an option to save the materials you applied to a 3D model and later on load them again, if necessary. There is another feature that Lumion is going to show you which will give you a chance to save a single material instead of material sets.

There are different ways in which we can add water to our project. We can create an ocean as easily as reading this sentence, and the same is true when we need to add a body of water or create a swimming pool. However, what if we want to create a fountain? Let’s go even further: can we create a river? Lumion will teach you how easy is to create a streaming water effect.

Another beautiful and eye-catching effect is when we have glowing materials in our project. From light bulbs to TV screens, we can add an extra touch to our scene by using the Standard material to create this glow effect. Lumion will teach you not only how to add this glow, but also how you can use textures to produce interesting effects.

After adding trees, bushes, and other plants, the next thing you should add to the project is some grass. Prior to Lumion Version 4, you had to be satisfied with the terrain’s texture. We can also import some grass, though, the project would become very heavy. You can also add some grass from the Lumion library and adjust that grass in the best way possible. Now, Lumion provides an option to use realistic grass, bringing that whoa factor.

Each material has a certain amount of reflection, and this is a setting that we can adjust in almost every material that we can find in Lumion. Taking into account that Lumion is a real-time application, it is natural that in some cases, the reflections don’t meet our requirements in terms of accuracy. Lumion has an effect that we can apply to surfaces in our 3D model to improve these reflections.

While applying and tweaking materials, you can cross a section in your 3D model where you can easily see some flickering. Although this should be avoided, there is an inbuilt setting in every Lumion material to correct this problem.

Fire is a special effect that is accessible in Lumion and is one of those elements that can bring an ordinary scene to life. We may have a living room that per se is excellent with all the materials and light, but when we add fire to the fireplace, it completely transforms the room into a warm, comfortable, and welcoming living room. Alternatively, consider how the same living room can be changed to introduce a romantic scene when illuminated with candles and a fireplace. Lumion is aimed to help you apply fire and control it using the Edit properties menu.

In addition to the solid and liquid elements in Lumion, we can find elements that we could label as non-solid. Lumion has a special section for these elements, opening with the smoke, passing all the way through dust, and then finishing with fog and water vapor. How we can place these elements in our project and a realistic application of some of them is what Lumion will teach you.

Fountains have their distinctive place in Lumion, and there is a tab dedicated to different categories of fountains. We can separate this tab into two parts: standard fountains and fountains produced by a waterspray emitter. Lumion is aimed to show you where to find these fountains, how to place them in the scene, and also provide you with some useful applications.

Falling leaves are an enjoyable extra touch that can improve our still image or movie. Nevertheless, like the preceding special effects, this one needs to be used in the correct amount. Too much can ruin the scene, making the viewer focus more on leaves passing through the screen than actually focus on the 3D model.

We can add text to a movie or a still image using the Titles effect, but in some circumstances, we need a text element with some more flexibility. Sometimes, when working on a presentation of a project, we are required to show some additional information; this can be easily achieved using this fantastic feature available in Lumion. We can add text to our project in the Build mode.

A clip plane is an object that can be added to a scene and later used in the Movie mode, and it can be animated to produce a kind of reveling effect. Initially, it may seem a little bit confusing, you will understand how to apply it to your scene and animate this plane.

It is time to move from special effects, such as fire, smoke, and water that we can add to the scene and move towards effects that we can apply in both the Movie and Photo modes. Lumion gives you an overview of how general effects work, how you can stack them in either the Movie or Photo mode, and how you can control them.

It is logical that all the effects available in Lumion are applied using either the Movie or Photo mode. The reason for this is that if all those effects were applied to the Build mode, they would have a massive impact on the performance of the viewport, slowing down our workflow. However, Lumion likes to provide you with the freedom needed to produce the best result possible, and in some situations, it could be useful to check the effects in the Build mode.

Bloom is the halo effect caused principally by bright lights in the scene. In real world, the camera lenses we use can never focus perfectly, but this is not a problem under normal conditions. However, when there is an intensely bright light in the scene, these imperfections are perceptible and visible, and as a consequence, in the photo that we would shoot, the bright light will appear to bleed beyond its usual borders.

Purple fringing, distortion, and blurred edges are a combination of errors called chromatic aberration. A simple explanation is that chromatic aberration happens when there is a failure on the part of lens to focus or bring all the wavelengths of colors to the same focal plane. As light travels through this lens, the different colors travel at different speeds and go to different places on the camera’s sensor. With 3D cameras, this doesn’t happen, but we can add chromatic aberration to our image or video, giving an extra touch of realism.

The expression “color correction” has a fair number of different meanings. However, generally speaking, we can say that it is a means to repair problems with the color, and we do that by changing the color of a pixel to another color or by tweaking other settings. In Lumion, this means that we can use color correction to either achieve a certain look or to enhance the overall aspect and mood of an image or a movie. We can use this effect in Lumion and apply a few tips to help us not only to correct the color, but also perform some color grading.


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