This forum is now closed.
Please join us at the new Lumion Community forum.
Lumion Community
Use your email address and password from the old forum to log in if your account was created before Feb 20 2020.
Otherwise, you will need to create a new Lumion Account at the new forum.

Author Topic: LUMION 5: Quickstart Guide  (Read 31912 times)

LUMION 5: Quickstart Guide
« on: October 24, 2014, 04:50:47 pm »
October 24, 2014, 04:50:47 pm

Please note that scenes and LS5 files saved in 5.x are NOT backwards compatible with earlier versions. If you try to load scenes or imported model files made with Lumion 1.x, 2.x, 3.x or 4.x, you will have to remove and re-assign all materials in Lumion 5.7.2.

Lumion 5.3 and 5.7.2 allow users to configure a different combination of effects for all individual photos in Photo mode. The introduction of this feature in 5.3 means that older projects load with an empty list of effects in Photo mode.

If you want to apply the same set of effects to photos in Lumion 5.7.2, simply save the effects in Photo mode in Lumion 4.5.1 or Lumion 5.0 and load the effect file in 5.7.2 via the context menu button above the effect stack.


Click on the yellow button in Place Mode to import a new model.

Import model -> Animation on/off button: This option allows you to import move/rotate/scale animations via FBX/DAE, for example from 3D Studio Max (FBX is the recommended format for animated models). It is not possible to import vertex or bone animations (for example animated people from TurboSquid or Axyz Design).


METHOD 1: Reload Model button: Click on the Reload Model button and then click on the small circular Object Icon of an object in your scene to reload this model. The original location and name of the imported file is displayed when the the mouse cursor overlaps the small circular Object Icon.

METHOD 2: (ALT) + Reload model button: Click on this button and then hold down the (ALT) key while clicking on the small circular Object Icon to manually select the location/name of the file. Use this method if the file name and location have changed.

METHOD 3: Toolbar Context Menu -> Click on an object icon -> Extra -> Reload: This function will reload the model you clicked on:

METHOD 4: Toolbar Context Menu -> Click on an object icon -> Extra -> Reload from File: If the name or location of an exported object file (DAE, FBX etc) has changed, this option allows you to manually select the location/name of the file.

METHOD 5: Edit Materials -> Context Menu -> Material Properties button -> Reload model: This function allows you to reload the model that the material you are editing belongs to.

METHOD 6: Edit Materials -> Context Menu -> Material Properties button -> Reload model from a new file: If the name or location of an exported object file (DAE, FBX etc) has changed, this option allows you to manually select the location/name of the file.


Color Map slot: This texture slot allows you to add your own Color Map texture to your model.
With this slot, you can also use an  MP4 video file (maximum 50MB per file).  This allows you to have animated textures for things like a live TV and video wall.
Normal Map slot: This texture slot allows you to add your own Normal Map texture to your model (Read this article to learn what a Normal Map is). If your Normal Map contains an alpha channel, it will be used as a Gloss mask. This mask type supports 8 bits, i.e. all 256 greyscale tones in the alpha channel.
Create Normal Map: If you add a new Color Map texture to your material, Lumion will automatically create a Normal Map which adds depth and better definition to the material. You can click on this button to add a Normal Map manually.
Flip Normal Map direction: After Lumion has created a Normal Map based on your Color Map, you can invert the depth direction by clicking on this button.
Colorization: Between 0 and 0.5, the Color Map is tinted more and more by the colour in the colour selector. Between 0.5 and 1, the texture of the Color Map is replaced completely by the selected colour.  To lighten/darken a surface, change the Brightness slider (left vertical bar).
Gloss: Reflection blurriness vs sharpness. This can be combined with a Gloss mask in the alpha channel of the Normal Map.
Reflectivity: Reflection amount. Between 1 and 2, the material switches to metallic reflections. For mirror-like metallic reflections, you should use a metal material such as chrome.
Relief: Material roughness (provided that you use a blue normalmap).
Scale: Material size. Set this to 0 if you want to use imported texture coordinates instead of automatically applied texture coordinates. Rectangular textures are always re-scaled so that they are square in Lumion.

More button -> Position module:
  • X/Y/Z Offset: Adjust these sliders to change the position of the Color Map and Normal Map. This is only possible when the Scale slider value is above 0.
More button -> Orientation module:
  • Heading/Pitch/Bank: Adjust these sliders to change the orientation of the Color Map and Normal Map. This is only possible when the Scale slider value is above 0.
More button -> Flicker Reduction module:
  • Flicker Reduction: You should only use this module if overlapping surfaces flicker or disappear when you move the camera. Avoid extreme Flicker Reduction values - you should only adjust it a little bit, until the flickering stops (The best method is of course to make sure that your surfaces are offset a bit in your 3D modelling application, so that the flickering is less likely to occur in the first place).
More button -> Advanced module:
  • Emissive: A low value brightens the material and a high value makes it glow.
  • Saturation: A low value desaturates the Color Map texture and a high values makes it more saturated.
  • Specular: This slider allows you to boost the specular highlights.
  • Texture Alpha: The Reflection/Clip/Emissive mask buttons allow you to specify whether the alpha channel in your Color Map is used as a Reflectivity mask, a Clip mask or as an Emissive mask. Please note that the Standard material only supports a 1-bit Clip mask, so each pixel is either fully transparent (black) or fully opaque (white). If your Clip mask contains greyscale tones, they will be rounded up/down to pure black/white. Reflectivity masks support 8 bits, i.e. all 256 greyscale tones in the alpha channel.


This feature automatically generates a Normal Map when you add a Color Map to a Standard material. It is possible to flip the direction of the Normal Map by clicking on the Flip Normal Map direction button which appears after you have chosen a new Color Map. You can also create a Normal Map if the imported model already has a texture from outside Lumion.


Material Editor -> Context Menu -> Material set -> Load/Save: You can save all the materials of a model to a file, and automatically apply those materials to another imported model, provided that both models use the same material names in your 3D modelling application. Please note that textures that were added to models outside Lumion are not saved/loaded in Material Sets:

You can also Save or Load an individual material to a surface or other surface using the Edit button.


Select Objects Mode -> Select the Move Mode tab -> Click on Move Object Icon -> Select Object (Click on the small circular object icon of the object).  Enter Position values for X,Y,Z. 

Select multiple objects to set same value.


Select Objects mode -> Select the Move mode tab -> Click on Rotate Heading -> Click on the small circular object icon of the object you want to rotate with the sliders.

Double-click on a slider to type in an angle between -180 to 180 degrees.

Please note that the sliders will not appear when trees and plants are selected. This is due to a technical limitation which prevents Lumion from changing the pitch and bank values.


Cone Angle: This slider specifies how wide the beam of the light should be.
Show light source: This On/Off button shows/hides the spotlight mesh.
Night activation: All lights with the 'On' property switch on at the same time at sunset (which is ideal for streetlights for example). All lights with the 'Random' property switch on at a random time around sunset.
Optimize for: Choose the shadow types that should be used.
  • Accuracy: The shadows are updated every frame (Slow!). Every time you add a light with Accuracy turned on, the entire scene has to be rendered once more. Add 10 lights and the scene has to be rendered 10 times more every frame. Each light uses a 1024x1024 pixel shadow texture.
  • Speed: The shadow from the light uses a static 512x512 pixel texture which is not updated (Fast, moderate memory usage)
  • Memory: The shadow from the light uses a static 128x128 pixel texture which is not updated (Fast, very low memory usage)
To reduce render times, we recommend that distant lights (e.g. street lights) in your scene use either the Memory or the Speed option, so that the shadows are not updated every frame. If your graphics card has enough memory, the best option is Speed.

You would only ever use Accuracy for your lights if something that casts shadows is moving near the light (a car driving past a street light for example). Or if the light itself moves/rotates (stage lighting for concerts for example). Or if you need high-resolution shadows in certain areas (typically close-ups of interiors).

Target Light(s): Click on a surface that you would like the spotlight to point at.

To preview shadows from spotlights in Build mode:
1) Press (F8) or select the spotlights in Build mode to temporarilly turn on real-time shadows.

To preview shadows from spotlights in Movie/Photo mode:
1) Press (F8) or go to the Photo or Movie section.
2) Apply a Global Illumination effect (New effect -> World tab -> Global Illumination).
3) Click on Preview spotlight GI and shadows in the effect panel.
4) If you want to view the shadows in Build mode, click on the Build with effects button in the top left corner.

About Layers: Layers are useful for organising large projects. The Layer buttons in Build mode allow you to show or hide models. You can also animate the visibility of Layers in your clips with the Show Layer and Hide Layer effects.

Sun shadows in Lumion are added on top of all surfaces with a small offset. The reason an offset is needed is that the shadows will otherwise flicker (or display banding artifacts) when the shadows are very close to surfaces. If the offset is set too high, furniture (as an example) will appear to hover above the floor. In reality the furniture is not hovering of course, but the offset shadows give the illusion of it.

It's challenging to get the offset right as the optimal offset varies from scene to scene, depending on the sun position and the camera position. For that reason, you have to add the Shadow effect to your clip and experiment with the Shadow correction and Shadow Slope Correction sliders until the artifacts are gone.

The Shadow correction slider controls the offset directly whereas the Shadow Slope Correction slider is used to prevent light leakage through models.

There are 2 types of reflections in Lumion:

PLANAR REFLECTIONS (New effect -> World -> Reflection):
This Movie effect allows you to specify up to 10 reflection planes in your scene. Any model surface which is co-planar with a specified reflection plane in your scene will have accurate reflections, provided that you have assigned a Standard, Water or Glass material to it. This is ideal for mirrors, marble floors etc. You can also assign reflection planes to the built-in water planes in Lumion. The effect includes a Threshold slider which allows you to adjust the distance at which nearly-co-planar surfaces will be included in the reflection plane. The tradeoff is accuracy but it's usually not noticeable. Please note that if you have some nearly co-planar surfaces that you want to assign a single reflection plane to, you need to assign the plane to the surface which is closest to the camera so to speak.

Please note that the following objects and materials are not reflected due to technical limitations:
- Ocean.
- Native Lumion water planes.
- Waterfall, Water and Glass materials.
- Special effects: Fountains, Smoke, Fire and Fog.
- Grass.

Every time you add 1 reflection plane, Lumion has to mirror all models & render the entire scene once more, and this can get slow very quickly. For that reason, try to use as few reflection planes as possible:

Projected reflections in Lumion rely on a single 360 degree panoramic reflection texture which is projected onto any reflective materials that are not using planar reflections (this includes the ocean in Lumion). The projected reflection method is only an approximation and will never provide as realistic reflections as the planar reflection effect above.

In Build mode, the Reflection Control object is placed 100m above the Lumion terrain in order to provide generic reflections of the sky and entire scene.

However, when you render still images in Photo or Movie mode, the 360 degree panoramic reflection texture is automatically rendered at the camera position.

When you render videos, the 360 degree panoramic reflection texture is rendered at the position of the camera at the first frame of each clip. The position that the 360 degree panoramic reflection texture is being rendered at does not change while the clip is being rendered.

To preview the reflections before starting the rendering procedure, you need to press the U-key.

To disable these automated functions, you should insert the Reflection Control object into your scene in Build mode, and move it around manually in Movie mode via the Move or Advanced Move effects.

In Lumion 5.x, add the Lights and Special Objects -> Utilities -> Reflection control object to your scene to specify the position where the 360 degree panoramic reflection texture should be rendered at. Bear in mind that you can also animate this object with the Move/Advanced Move effects in the Movie section.

(U): If you press the U key, the sun, sky, lighting, clouds and 360 degree reflection texture will be updated. This is often necessary if you switch between Build/Movie/Photo mode and the sun is in different positions.

If you keep the U key pressed in Photo/Movie mode, the Cloud effect will be rendered in (almost) final render quality. This is useful if you want to see what the clouds will look like while adjusting the cloud sliders. Bear in mind that the Volume Clouds effect has to be rendered in 3 star quality to see what these clouds will look like in final render quality.

Objects -> Edit properties -> Object Color allows you to change the colours of many of the Transport, Indoor and Outdoor models, e.g. furniture and vehicles. Note that you can also copy-paste a colour from outside Lumion to any color selection window in Lumion. Simply press CTRL + C to copy a highlighted hexadecimal colour in text format, eg, "ff0000" (red), and press CTRL + V to paste this colour onto the solid bar on the right side of the color selection window.

There are two ways to work with terrains in Lumion:

1) Import your own model and tell Lumion to treat it like a terrain.
2) Use the built-in native terrain functionality in Lumion.

Simply import your model in Lumion and mark it as a terrain.

Context Menu -> Click on the object icon of your imported model -> Extra -> Mark as terrain -> On

Then assign a Landscape material to it. This allows you paint on it just like the "native" terrain in Lumion:

Marking an imported model as a terrain also allows you to use the Eye Level function in Movie mode. Please note that marking an imported model as a terrain will require system memory due to additional collision data being stored, so please only use this function sparingly. When you move a lot of objects, performance may also deteriorate if you have marked a lot of complex imported models as terrains.

The editable part of the terrain in Lumion occupies a 2000x2000m square. Beyond this, you will not be able to change the height or paint the landscape. The height of your terrain fades out to zero height over the last 50m of the edges of the 2000x2000m square in order to blend with the flat terrain outside the editable area.

If you want to generate a terrain based on an imported greyscale heightmap the resolution should be 1024x1024 pixels. The innermost 1000x1000 pixels are used to cover the 2000x2000m square. The outermost 24x24 pixels are not used.

Each pixel on the heightmap corresponds to 2x2m on the editable part of the Lumion terrain.

If you save a standard JPG file as a heightmap, 100% black equates to a terrain height of 0m and 100% white is equal to a terrain height of 200m. In other words, each greyscale step (from 0 to 255) is equal to 0.78125m.

As for the height scale of imported heightmap textures, the RGB values normally range from 0 to 1.0, but if you create a 32-bit image in Photoshop (Image -> Mode -> 32-bits per channel), you can boost the "whiteness" (and thereby terrain height range) by up to x20. In other words:
RGB 0 to 1.0 in Photoshop = 0m to 200m in Lumion
RGB 0 to 2.0 in Photoshop = 0m to 400m in Lumion
RGB 0 to 3.0 in Photoshop = 0m to 600m in Lumion

Once you've created your heightmap, you'll need to save it as a 32-bit DDS heightmap in "32f" format using Nvidia's DDS plugin for Photoshop:

Make sure that you do not turn on 'Limit all textures to 512x512' in the Settings menu as this will reduce the resolution of the heightmap from 1024x1024 to 512x512.


Entire Movie versus Clips: You can apply a Movie effect to a single clip or to the 'Entire Movie'.

'Entire Movie' is selected by clicking on the large button in the lower left corner of the screen in Movie mode. If a new Movie effect is applied while 'Entire Movie' is selected, this effect will affect all clips in your movie.

The exception to this rule is if you have also applied the same Movie effect to one of your clips. In this case, the Movie effect in the clip will override the Movie effect that is applied to 'Entire Movie'.

Double-clicking on a clip thumbnail: This allows you to edit the clip without having to click on the Edit clip button in the top-left corner.

Create Movie Effect keyframes: The small button with the sine wave symbol to the right of the effect sliders allows you to add/delete keyframes:

Build with effects: This button in Photo/Movie mode allows you to preview effects in Build mode:

Save Movie (or Create movie from clip) -> Images tab -> Frame range -> Custom -> Shots: This allows you to render each camera keyframe in a clip or in the entire movie as still images.


1-star quality: Draft quality *
2-star quality: Good quality **
3-star quality: Production quality with 4 sub-samples ***
4-star quality: Production quality with 8 sub-samples ***
5-star quality: Production quality with 16 sub-samples

* Global Illumination and the Volume Clouds effect will not look right. Sky, sun and clouds will remain static.
** Global Illumination and the Volume Clouds effect will not look right.
*** Fewer sub-samples per frame will result in lower quality anti-aliasing, shadows, depth of field, motion blur, leaves on trees/plants, hair/semi-transparent parts on the 3D people and volume clouds. For optimal results, you should render final videos in 5-star quality.

Quality Rendering of Clouds, Moon and Stars:
The Moon and Stars will render at a lower quality even if you use 3 Star or more for Output Quality.
To set best rendering quality, turn on HQ Clouds in movie render (slow)

Lumion always renders movies and image sequences in the background (which correspond to the MP4 and Images tabs in Movie mode), so that you can check your emails etc while it is rendering. Background rendering is not supported when rendering a still image via Photo mode or the Single tab in Movie mode.

IMPORTANT: For the background rendering process to work when you render videos or image sequences, you should not switch to another program until the first image is done rendering. Avoid moving/re-sizing/minimizing the Lumion window while it is rendering, and do not click on the Show Desktop button in the lower right corner of Windows. This will reset the exposure in Lumion which means that the video has to be rendered from scratch again.
IMPORTANT: Please do not send private messages and emails to members of staff - unless we specifically ask you to send us sensitive information, for example License Keys.