How to Maximize Your Rendering Lighting to Communicate What You Mean

Often, an architectural rendering is about capturing a moment. And that moment is meant to communicate to its observer something deeper behind that architecture. In particular, the lighting within a given rendering becomes quite revealing, as it sets the scene and brings life to materials. You see, light and shadow help a rendering to express itself. In fact, the following is a list of the various ways light and shadow help renderings to communicate:

- Time of Day

- Geometric Form

- Materiality

- Depth / Distance

- Texture

- Transparency

- Reflection

- Ethereal Quality

Overall, the lighting expressions listed above can be used to make a rendering richer — where it communicates a lot of information about an architecture. Yet, as you work on a rendering that conveys meaning, it becomes helpful to ask yourself:

“Is what I’m trying to convey more instructional or poetic?”

Renderings can be used to convey the construction of your architectural design — the “how to” or the assembly of parts. And when this is done with a rendering, lighting is all about clarity. In other words, the rendering comes to life as the meaning behind the construction becomes apparent.

Renderings can also be used to convey the poetics of your architectural design. This type of rendering aims to capture the “feel” of an architecture — the architectural experience. In fact, it can be described like this: Have you ever looked out of a window at the exterior, and been able to perceive of the outdoor temperature or time of day without looking at a thermometer or a clock? If so, you could likely do this because there were certain exterior lighting cues that your senses picked up on (even from behind a glass window). Well, the same is true with your rendering — you are providing lighting cues for your observer, so they can “feel” your architectural space.

Certain lighting cues may include the color of the light, the intensity of the shadow, the length of the shadow cast, or even the direction of a light beam. Keep in mind, that there are infinitely more cues — and these make all the difference when it comes to conveying meaning with your rendering.

So, the questions now become: What are you aiming to convey with your architectural rendering? How will you use light (and other cues) to convey that meaning? And is it more important to express a poetic moment, or to clarify instructions?

Keep in mind that your rendering can always aim to do both — be poetic and instructional. Yet, to do so will require a keen eye toward designing with lighting and the cues that it emits. Be aware of what your lighting is expressing, being certain that it does not contradict the true nature of your architecture. In this way, your renderings will communicate what you mean — the vision behind how your design is to be built and experienced.

Image Credit: © seier + seier | Flickr

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