How to Render a Night Scene Artificially in 5 Simple Steps

A nighttime rendering of an exterior is challenging. It would be best to take it one step at a time, starting with natural light and adding artificial lighting one after another. A different approach may result in you being unclear about what went wrong. The importance of having a few examples of professional architectural photography near you at all times cannot overstate.

Natural Light

1. The first step is to choose a sky background image.

2. If you wish to use a 3d max environment slot rather than V-ray, you should place the image there instead.

3. The global illumination should be set to secondary bounces, and the irradiance map should be set up for primary bounces. A brute force approach would also work, but it would take longer to render.

4. Make sure to uncheck default lights under the global switches tab.

5. Finally, go to the V-ray environment slot and look at the GI environment skylight override. Place a gradient in the slot connected to the right adjacent to the upper slot, a lighter shade in the lower position, and a pale orange or purple in the middle.

Adding Artificial Light


1. There is no artificial lighting at the moment, so it looks as if it is night, but as you can see, it is starting to look like a night rendering.

2. V-ray lights, which simulate artificial lighting, will be added inside the house first.

3. Artificial light can look different from one case to the next and depends on several factors, including intensity, color temperature, size of the area lighted, & more.

4. Light sources should not spread out all over the place. Create your parameters by playing around with intensity multipliers, filter colors, etc.

5. The spherical V-ray lights should have intensities ranging between 1 and 2, filters with orange, yellow, and blue tints, and a different radius for each.


Currently, the courtyard is too dark, which doesn't look right. If the building illuminates by exterior lighting or even spotlights, it depends on your scene. For those who don't have specific instructions for these, you can place a light behind the camera, so it seems that traffic lights, street lamps, or even other buildings are lighting the space.

It should be sufficient to add lights to the lighting small garden lighting posts in this particular scene.

Initially, V-ray light materials with gradient maps are assigned to them, then spheres of light are placed over them. Your courtyard lighting has been omitted from each V-ray light. While it may fake at first glance, it looks correct at the end of the day.

Artificial Light Spreading

The house is now illuminated, but not with enough light. Thus, you should place roof and window lights directly in front of the windows, facing the outside. At the upper part of the scene, the lighting is bluish or dark purple, and on the ground and buildings, it's orange or yellow. The reason for this is that the natural light blends with artificial lighting on the ground.

Photoshop Uses

Light sources with visible artificial light can give a subtle glow effect. The diffuse glow filter can be used for this.

You will need to add a linear gradient between orange and transparent from the bottom-middle of the layer. You can change the transparency of the layer after putting it on color. Using different red, yellow, and orange tints will create diversity if you are feeling creative.

Adjusting the Skylight

Skylights still cast subtle shadows at night. Always make the sky either blue or purple, never 100% black. As long as the sky fills with light, the ground will always appear blue or purple, especially if artificial lights are absent.

Evening renderings have a more saturated color palette than daytime renderings. There is a subtle glow around artificial light sources. Motion blur can be used when there are moving objects in your scene.

Photographers use long exposure times at night time to take photos of architectural subjects. That makes moving objects, such as cars, and people appear blurry.

Wrapping it Up

You can create stunning exterior renders at any time of day with the array of tools in V-Ray for exterior rendering. Create cozy, atmospheric scenes with subtle lighting and bright light with full creative control over your projects.

The night sky is especially challenging to render artificially. It's a favorite for Designers & Architects because it gives an amazing look to exterior rendering. No one can stop you from becoming an expert in rendering if you can visualize your design & implement it properly.

To learn more, watch the following video tutorial.

Video Source: ChaosTV

How to Render a Night Scene Artificially in 5 Simple Steps