Render a Scene With Underwater Lighting

Make More of Renderworks

UnderwaterLighting_Large_Thumb.pngWe are often asked by clients ‘What is the best way to light water in evening or night time renders?’ Some of our Interior design clients want to light luxurious indoor pools, while garden designers want to light garden pools and ponds. There have been many articles in the landscape press recently talking about underwater lighting, so this prompted Kate to get creative with Vectorworks and Renderworks.

"A realistically lit pool or pond can be a little difficult to achieve, as both the underwater and environment lighting have to be balanced to give a realistic look. Getting the water texture just right is also important, there has to be a balance between the amount of transparency, movement and reflectivity. Here we will explore the techniques used to create the following example.
First, I have used the Wall tool to model the sides of the pool. The bottom offset of the wall is set to a negative value to sink it into ground. The ground is a simple rectangle converted to a floor object. I have then cut a hole into the floor using the Clip Surface command. The pool walls fit into this hole. Another floor was then placed at the bottom of the pool to prevent light from the sunlight or evening light showing under the water.

Light from the sun is achieved with a Heliodon. The Heliodon is an intelligent light object that controls the time of day, date and the direction of North, with the relevant longitude and latitude for the site. The Custom Stair tool was used to create the steps. It enables you to set the height, tread and riser measurements of the steps. Simply choose your preferred 3D construction method and place them in the pool. Setting a negative Z value on the Object Info Palette, this sets the steps at the correct level in the pool. For the water I have converted a rectangle into a 3D polygon. This creates a flat 3D surface to apply the water texture to. Set the Z value of the 3D polygon to the water level.

Once you have the main components we can start adding the lights. A good tip here is to light the model first. It can be tempting to start applying textures to your model, but it is much easier to light a white model and then add the textures. As you apply the textures you can watch how each texture affects the look of the lighting and mood of the scene.
Now let’s take a look at how to create the main pool lights. These lights comprise two parts. First, an extrude for the main light fixture and a Point light. In an elevation view, model the extrude for the light fitting. Now we need to create the texture for the light fitting. In the Resource Browser create a new Renderworks Texture. Name it White Glow and set the following:

  • Colour Shade: Colour White, 100% Brightness.
  • Reflectivity: Glow, 150%, Check Emit Light, Reflection 10, Blurriness 5.
  • Transparency: Plain, Opacity 45%.
  • Bump: None.

Use the Render tab of the Object Info palette, to apply this texture to all parts of the extrude.
Next, add a Light object, from the Visualization Toolset. Select Point light mode and place a light just in front of the light fixture. Set the Z value to match the light fitting. Then group the light fitting and the Renderworks Point light, and create a symbol. Now use the symbol to place more underwater lights.

Once the model is complete apply your choice of Renderworks textures to all 3D parts. Render the scene. It is easier to render your model in a viewport as you can tweak the settings it before you start the render.

UnderwaterLighting_2_Large_Thumb.pngTo create perspective viewports, use a Renderworks Camera from the Visualization toolset. The Renderworks camera enables you to set the viewer and look to height as well as altering the perspective and zoom of the view. Link the camera to the viewport, so that you can later edit the viewport if you need to adjust the view.

Next, set up the render settings for the view. Change Background Render to Renderworks Style > Realistic Exterior Final. This style comprises a series of settings that include a “Physical Sky” background that will adjust according to the settings within the Heliodon. The sky background will also emit into the scene, softening the effect of the sunlight. Click Update. The viewport will render. If you want to tweak the settings, you can turn down the colour saturation from the sky background. On the Resource Browser, locate the Physical Sky background and edit it. Click Options and reduce Saturation to 80%.

Currently, the Renderworks Style is “bouncing” the light in the scene twice, and this may result in a scene that is a little too bright. On the Resource Browser, right click on the Render Style Realistic Exterior Final and choose Edit. Click the Lighting tab and change Indirect Lighting to Exterior, 1 Bounce. Select and Update your Viewport.
Wow! There you have it realistically rendered underwater lighting!

This entry was posted in Vectorworks Software and Training and tagged:
Lighting Design, pond, pool, renderworks, water


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