Lumion 3D
Lumion 3D

With the popularity of 3D visualization and rendering on a steep incline, the industry has seen a steady stream of new software becoming available for architects, engineers, and artists. No longer are the likes of VRAY and Maxwell the only ‘true’ rendering engines used only by ‘real professionals.’ Indie development, open-source software, and an influx of financial investment has lead to some increasingly viable options when it comes to finding the right fit for your needs. Lumion 3D might be a bit of a newcomer, but with it’s user-friendly approach to redefining the rendering software interface has propelled it to being one of the most widely-used products by architecture firms across the world.

Their tagline is simple: “Before Lumion, rendering used to be really hard.” It’s a simple declaration, but one that speaks volumes to anyone who’s spent countless weeks, months, and years grappling with the more ubiquitous programs like VRAY and Maxwell. I’m not here to say those programs aren’t worth using - because those who can wield the power they possess produce the kind of work that should be hung in the MOMA - but those results come at a massive learning curve many architects just don’t have the capacity to climb.

Lumion fixes to break down that learning curve in a way that empowers designers to render their own work, and closing the gap that can sometimes grow between the architect and the artist. That is to say, the closer the designer is to the production of the visualization, the more accurate it will become in terms of aligning with design integrity and conceptual reinforcement. Better communication leads to better work and trust in the client that the end product will be just as magnificent as they were promised at that cocktail party all those months ago.

So, how does Lumion 3D do it?

For one, they make it fun. In a lot of ways, using Lumion is like toying around with a video game of the likes of SimCity. Let’s say you’ve built your design in AutoDesk Revit, like many architecture firms are prone to do. Simply import the Revit model into Lumion 3D and begin populating the scene with a robust catalogue of materials, textures, flora, fauna, and even terrain models. In a matter of hours you’ll have a ready-to-render Lumion 3D computer file that can start pumping out renderings that can be quickly used to study light, materiality, and real-world spatial experience.

In that sense, Lumion becomes as much of a design tool as other user-friendly programs like Google SketchUp. The interface is so easy to use, it can even be used in presentations of client meetings to run quickly through different options for fit and finish. At the end of a design critique or vignette, that work can then be instantly exported as a true-to-life 3D rendering that doesn’t sacrifice quality like many other products who are trying to do the same thing.

All this adds up to a product that is currently being used by over 60 percent of architecture firms. Lumion is perfect for the small to medium sized firm who might want to keep their rendering work in house. It wouldn’t take long to get a small team of interns up to speed with the tools Lumion offers. It is an investment worth looking into, because at the end of the day control is the one thing architects have the hardest time parting with. Lumion offers them back that control and then some.