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How to create the perfect atmosphere with the volumetric spotlights effect

Lighting plays a key role in how people will experience and understand your designs and ideas. After all, lighting is one of the first things they’ll notice when getting a feeling for the space.

Scorpia model design by Adam Ingram (Ark Visuals).
Scorpia model design by Adam Ingram (Ark Visuals).

Light can draw attention to texture and color; it reveals structure and form while communicating atmosphere and evoking emotion.

Lumion comes with many tools and features to help you create the perfect lighting arrangement for your designs. This includes spotlights, omni lights and a multitude of lighting effects such as volumetric lighting, bloom, lens flare, color correction and others.

In this tutorial blog, we’ll take you through one of the more visually striking lighting effects: the volumetric spotlights effect.

With this intuitive and effective tool, you’ll discover how quick and easy it is to enhance realism, personalize your visualizations and captivate viewers with an unforgettable style and atmosphere.


Adding spotlights to your Lumion project

The volumetric spotlights effect provides a surprisingly easy way to show a visible beam of light in your project.

To demonstrate this effect, we chose the Museum development project designed by Obra Visual. You can find this project among Lumion’s 9 example projects. Feel free to open up the museum project or you can load your own project.

If you don’t have a Lumion license, you can try out the volumetric spotlight effect by downloading the free trial and following along with this tutorial.

The Lumion example projects are perfect for understanding how to construct a scene in Lumion and then render a striking, beautiful result with the dozens of Photo, Movie or 360 Panorama effects.

For instance, in the Museum development project, you can click on the ‘Lights’ category in the lower-left corner of the screen to see the entire lighting arrangement, such as the number of lights used to illuminate the project along with their settings.

For this tutorial, we want to simply add a spotlight object somewhere in the scene and then give that same light a volumetric effect. Let’s focus our attention on one of the streetlights.

To add a spotlight, click the ‘Place’ button in the lower-left corner of the Lumion editor. Select the lightbulb icon to open the ‘Lights’ category and then choose the spotlight most relevant to your lighting needs.

You can also toggle between spotlights, Omni lights and area lights, but for now, let’s just add one spotlight to the street light fixture.


Adding the volumetric spotlights effect

With volumetric lighting, you have a powerful, visually striking effect that instantly bolsters the atmospheric qualities of your renders.

The first step, however, is to modify the scene to get the most impact from our volumetric lights. For example, it’s more difficult to see the volumetric lighting effect during the daytime, which means we need a night view.

If you’re working on your own project, you can quickly achieve an attractive nighttime look by going to Photo Mode, clicking on ‘Custom Style’ and then choosing the Night Style.

Next, let’s give the project a lifelike Real Sky at night.

Because the Real Skies come with their own Sky Light 2 lighting simulation technology, a night Real Sky can help balance your environmental lighting for a realistic appearance.

Feels like a calm evening.

Now we’re finally ready to add the volumetric spotlights effect. You can find this effect in the Photo, Movie and 360 Panomara modes. Click the FX (Add effect) button and go to the Lighting category.

Simply add the effect and click on ‘Select lights’ to choose which spotlights should show a volumetric beam of light. For this example, we selected the spotlight that we previously added to the street light.

Click on the light and it becomes volumetric. Just like that!

You can further personalize the look of your volumetric lighting by moving the density, intensity and falloff sliders. Let’s change some of these around and see what happens.

Once you’re happy with the light settings, let’s do some test renders and see how this scene looks with a volumetric spotlight.


Achieving the results you want

Our first test renders are looking pretty good; we’re going in the right direction. Nevertheless, there are a few issues with the lighting that we would like to solve.

For instance, there is too much lens flare and it is overpowering the mood of the image. The lens flare effect is located under the Camera category in the Photo and Movie modes (this effect isn’t available for 360 panoramas). Open up the effect and you will see all of the sliders that you can use to personalize this simulated photographic phenomenon. In some cases, fixing an issue requires a few simple slider movements, such as reducing the intensity of the flare’s light streaks.

In other cases, you may need to play around a little bit. Try adjusting the bloom, streak intensity, and other sliders until you’re satisfied with the result.

Tip: You can always click the high-quality preview for a sneak peek of the final render’s lighting arrangement.

In addition to the lens flare issue, there is also a slight problem with the streetlight fixture blocking the light. To fix this issue, we’ll move the spotlight’s position a little bit and then adjust the shadow exclusion zone in the spotlight’s properties, which prevents the horizontal surface from blocking the visible light beams.

Tip: hold down the shift key for more precise movements.

Render again and review. Some final adjustments we’ll make to this image include:

— Turning off the Depth of Field effect

— Adjusting the Precipitation effect to show more snow across the scene

— Adjusting the light color temperature, brightness and cone angle of other spotlights

Tip: By using the ‘Build with Effects’ tool, which allows you to edit the scene while retaining all your photo effects, you can easily fine-tune the light settings to capture the exact look you want.

And here’s the final result.

Remember, after adjusting the properties of any spotlight, you may need to readjust the volumetric spotlights effect settings, such as the light density and intensity.


Beautiful lighting rendered quickly

When it comes to architectural visualization, lighting is key.

With Lumion, you can enjoy 100% control of all the lighting elements in your rendering project, whether that’s the brightness and position of the sun or the arrangement of spotlights, Omni lights and other lighting objects and effects. All it takes is a little practice with Lumion’s intuitive lighting features and you’ll be unveiling the life and beauty in your design with a masterful display of beautiful lights.

If you would like to learn more, check out our YouTube playlist for Lumion tutorials, tips, tricks and much more.