Lighting Help needed

Hi All,
Been trying on D5 and there is one thing i get stuck on is good lighting. I try using HDR scenes and it helps to an extent, but my renders still lack the lighting depth that i am seeing online that some others are achieving. Attached is a render i found online and i tried to copy that with a render of my own. You can see the difference.
If anyone has any tips on lighting, or can point out what i am doing wrong, it would be very helpful.
P.S- The one with the bright tan leather furniture and white brick wall is the ref image. The one with the concrete wall is my render.


Hi sumanthkamath,

You’re closer than you think. Your reference looks like a decent AI render?

Soften the sun’s cast shadows by increasing its radius to match more closely. Try adding area plane lights right outside of the windows (like portal light technique). The plane lights should have a huge attenuation radius (35k or enough to cover entire environment) and low intensity. This will add the soft ambient/sky light that feels to be missing from yours. HDR can only do so much to fill in some interior lighting. I often keep HDR intensity around 0.1 or 0.2, and go from there.

D5 cannot do as many light bounces as a path tracer, so when lighting think about the brightest sources of light in your scene and imagine how that light would bounce in the room. Sometimes you need to fake an extra bounce with an invisible plane light. Even if its intensity is 1 and attenuation is low, you can add a small amount of rim lighting around objects to fake bounced lighting, contributing to the realism of the scene.

As a tip, work with auto-exposure turned off, because it will forcibly adjust the camera’s exposure to the brightest source in the room, which can lead you to increase lighting intensities too high and less control. Set your lights, then turn auto-exposure on if needed.

If you’re trying to match your reference, raise camera height a bit as well.


Thank you Sepigraph. Those are great tips. I will try them out.
While we are at it, can i ask why my HDR images are low res in renders even when using 4k HDRs?

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I’m not 100% sure how/why, but it appears to me that D5 limits the resolution for performance purposes I would guess.

What I do is use HDR for low intensity light/reflections, then use exterior light planes/sun to fill in more light.

I sometimes use exterior backplate meshes, or use a sphere with a HDR mapped to it but set disable its raytrace contribution (I forget the exact setting name but it’s near the top when viewing a selected object’s properties). That way you have better control anyway, with the ability to adjust the horizon line height of the exterior environment by moving the sphere up or down, and also its color and light intensity. The sphere mesh also will get the full resolution of the HDR if its a 4K or 8K map, you just have to convert the HDR/EXR to a JPG.


wow! you really know your stuff.
Didnt know we could map a HDR on to a sphere in D5.
I tried setting the autoexp off and using plane lights as you suggested. Render below is the result. I must say, its really helped the overall look. Loving it. Thank you!