V-Ray Tutorial for Residential Exterior in 3dsmax


Using Vray for Residential Exterior

If you are interested in learning how to create beautiful and realistic vray exterior renderings, this is a great point to start. In this vray tutorial inside 3dsmax we will covering all the aspect of creating a stunning rendering using vray sun & sky as lighting source.

When creating exterior rendering for the residential market it is important to have several things in mind:

  • It is important to show that somebody is living inside
  • Shining Lighting and Surfaces
  • Lovely landscaping
  • Awesome Sky
  • Not so perfect surfaces
  • Beautiful Textures

Those details will help your renders to feel more alive so it can make a better impact into the viewer. Sometime we design for ourselves when we need to focus in the final customer, and this is where we need to put more attention if we want to create a successful rendering that sells.

For this 3d render, I was thinking in a couple without kids, a couple that love to be in a peaceful place without the noise of a big city. Why I told you this? Because it is vital to create something for a ”real” person, so you can focus on those details that will make your render more ”realistic”.

Software Used in this Scene

For this scene I used a few software that I think you need to have in order to complete this tutorial, but you can put this in practice in any other application, just wanted to share this info with you.

Getting Starter with the Scene

Now I want to show you more technical stuff, so you can learn more about residential exterior rendering using Vray and 3dsmax, also I used Photoshop for the textures and post production.


The modeling phase was simple, I created everything with the modeling tools that 3dsmax offers, everything was polygonal modeling.


Vray Texturing Shading

This part was easy to complete because there are not complex material in this scene, the architectural vray materials are not very complicate to set. There are some important stuff that you need to have in mind when creating your shaders:

  • Using high quality textures
  • Create your Diffuse, Bump and Specular maps
  • Use Vray Glossiness Reflections
  • High Subdivisions to avoid noise

This is pretty important if you really want to render stunning and realistic images. Also I always mention that if you really want to have a shining surface you need to use glossiness reflections in your shaders, this will make a big impact in your realism. This help to propagate the bounces of the light in your scene by creating some nice specular in your scene.

Here is a gallery with the main shaders that I used in this scene:

translucent-vray-material-curtain-shader-1 vray-wood-shader-material-exterior-house-render vray-glass-material-architectural-shaders vray-floor-material-marble-architectural-rendering vray-concrete-white-material-exterior-rendering vray-concrete-black-material-exterior-rendering 

Setting Up the Vray Lighting

As mentioned in the tittle, the lighting engine used in this exterior rendering is Vray. This is a fast render engine that will produce high quality results with minimum settings.

The Lighting system is Vray Sun & Sky, it is a physical interpretation of the real Sun and Sky that you have in real life. This is the simplest lighting method that required minimum settings and will create some realistic light in your 3d render.

The Vray sun was positioned in a way that will produce some nice shadows and specular all around the scene. And this is the position of the Vray Sun:


I recommend you to play with the position until you find the right spot for your vray sun, the good thing about vray sun & sky is that if you change the position of the sun, the sky will change it’s color, giving your a realistic sky color.

The settings for the vray & sky are the defaults, the only thing that I change was the size multiplier. I increased the value, because I wanted to have softer shadows, by increasing the size your shadows will be more blurred but the intensity remains the same.

Here is a detailed view of the vray sun settings:

vray sun setting realistic exterior rendering

Interior Lighting for Exterior Rendering

The tittle maybe confuses you, but yes it is correct, what I mean is that for exterior rendering you need a different lighting for the inside, if you are rendering a exterior daylight scene you need a soft interior lighting just to show a little bit of the interior, so you do not steal the focus of the exterior.

Also it is important to know that you have a bright interior, the exterior have to be overexposed and that will kill your image.

For that reason you only see a little bit of lighting in the renderings, just to show that they are people living in that house!

I added a simple Vray IES lighting, then I duplicated the same lighting 5 time more.

Vray IES gives you a real life feeling, because they use real life lighting data. The settings for this lighting are the next:


As you can see the color is based on kelvin temperature, this gives me more control, and I am using a warm tone, so the house will look more welcoming!

Vray Physical Camera

I really love the vray physical camera, because it feels like a real DSLR camera, where you have access to change the aperture, lens, shutter speed, ISO, etc.

This gives you total control in how the light affects your 3d render, in this case I did not make a lot of changes to the camera, and here you can see what I did:


As you can see, I changed the focal lens and increase the f-number to 9 because I wanted to catch less light and avoid overexposed surfaces, for the white balance I am using a blueish tint to compensate the sky color. I did not change the shutter speed or film speed ISO.

Creating the Grass

The grass is a important part of making your exterior more realistic, there are plenty of options to create a beautiful and realistic grass.

In this case I am using forest pack for the grass creation, the first thing that you need to make is several grass patch so you can distribute them around your surface.

These are the grass patches that I used in the scene:


As you can see, it is a very simple model of a grass with different size, shape and distribution, them I use 3 of them for the grass field.

Now you need to select forestpack from the menu, click in your surface and add the different grass patches to it.

After adding the grass patches these are the settings that I used in the forestpack menu:


If you see that you need more grass you can decrease the scale so it cover more space or decrease the units, that would add more grass to the field.

As you can see I have all my grass converted into proxies, I did that to avoid losing the settings because sometime forestpack does not visualize the grass, what I do is to save a file with settings and them create another one with the patches converted intro proxies, the only bad things about that is that you can not change any settings when you do that, for that reason I save a backup file.

You can do that if you are going to send the file to another person so you do not have any issues with the rendering.

To do that go to the Utilities panel in 3dsmax, make a click in more and select Forest Tools from the menu, now you will see a button called INSTANTIATE, make a click and you are done!

Render Settings for a Realistic Look

The renders settings play a big part of getting a realistic render, if you do not make the right changes in your settings it is probably that you will get a wrong result, also it is important to understand how vray works in order to optimize your rendering process.

I prefer Brute Force because it gives you a better result, because it calculate better the GI.

If you want to learn more about render settings, check the vray manual

Here is a detailed image of my render settings:


Improve your Render with Post Production

Post production allows you to make a better version of your raw vray render, so you have more tools to tweak your image and make it more realistic. In this case I used Photoshop to enhance the render, use tools like Highlight, Black, Contrast, Clarity and Sharpen, I was able to improve the final image.

Here is the final image after the post production process with Photoshop


I like to create different lighting version of my scenes, for that reason I did a NIGHT VERSION of this 3d scene, check the result:

vray night exterior rendering 3d scene download tutorial training


Creating beautiful and realistic images required time and effort, and you need to be patience and always try to learn how you can make your render to look better. Remember to practice and try to emulate real photograph, doing that you will have a real feedback on how the things looks in the real world.

Study some lighting, go outside and take some picture, that will help you to understand more about lighting and how to setup the vray camera in a proper way.

Thank you for taking your time to watch this tutorial, see you the next time!

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