Author Topic: LUMION 4: Tips, Tricks and Shortcuts  (Read 183234 times)

LUMION 4: Tips, Tricks and Shortcuts
« on: December 11, 2012, 12:49:51 pm »
December 11, 2012, 12:49:51 pm
These Tips, Tricks and Shortcuts apply to the latest version of Lumion (4.5.1).

Please note that scenes and LS4 files saved in 4.x are NOT backwards compatible with earlier versions.

If you try to load scenes or LS3 files made with an earlier version of Lumion, models may be be missing in Lumion 4.x, i.e. replaced by red questionmarks.

(W) / (Up arrow): Move camera forward
(S) / (Down arrow): Move camera backward
(A) / (Left arrow): Move camera left
(D) / (Right arrow): Move camera right
(Q): Move camera up
(E): Move camera down
(Spacebar) + (W/S/A/D/Q/E): Very slow camera
(Shift) + (W/S/A/D/Q/E): Fast camera
(Shift) + (Spacebar) + (W/S/A/D/Q/E): Very fast camera
Right mouse button + Move mouse: Look around
Middle mouse button + Move mouse: Pan
Mousewheel up/down: Move camera forward
(CTRL) + (H): Reset camera pitch to horizontal viewpoint
(O) + Right mouse button: Orbit camera.
Double-click with right mouse button on models: Instant 'teleport' to the position that was clicked on.

(F1): Editor quality: 1 Star
(F2): Editor quality: 2 Star
(F3): Editor quality: 3 Star
(F4): Editor quality: 4 Star
(F5): Quick save (Saves a file called QuickSave)
(F7): View the Lumion terrain at the maximum level of detail.
(F9): If you press F9, all trees and plants in the viewport will be rendered at their best level of detail, so that it's easier to see where you need to add more trees and plants in a scene.
Home -> (CTRL) + (F11): Fullscreen.
Home -> (F11): Maximize window with/without taskbar (press twice to toggle).
Sliders: You can double-click on all sliders in Lumion to manually type in values. Press Shift while adjusting slider values to fine-tune them (more digits after the decimal point will be displayed).

(CTRL) + (1) (2) … (9) (0): Use this function to save up to 10 camera positions.
(SHIFT) + (1) (2) … (9) (0): Load previously saved camera viewpoints. The saved slots are also available as easily accessible thumbnail images in Photo mode.

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.

Edit Materials -> (CTRL) + Reload Model and re-apply materials (new file) button: If the name or location of an exported object file (DAE, FBX etc) has changed, this button allows you to manually select the location/name of the file:

Edit Materials -> (ALT) + Reload Model button: If you import a model that uses over 100mb of texture memory, Lumion will cap the maximum texture resolution at 2048x2048 pixels. However, you can bypass this limit by pressing ALT while you click on the Reload model button. If you apply a Standard or Lightmap material to your imported model, any texture you load will be loaded at whatever resolution your graphics card is capable of displaying (up to a maximum of 16384x16384 pixels).
Import model -> Animation on/off button: This function lets you import move/rotate/scale animations via FBX/DAE, for example from 3D Studio Max (FBX is the recommended format for animated models).
Imported material scale: If you apply a Standard material to an object, a Scale slider value of 0 means that the imported texture coordinates are used. If you set the Scale slider to 1.0 in Lumion, and the surface is aligned with the world axes, each texture "tile" will cover an area of 1x1m in Lumion. Rectangular textures will be re-scaled so that they are square in Lumion.
Load/Save material set function: You can now save materials in a scene to a file, and automatically apply those materials to another imported model provided that they use the same material names in your 3D modelling application (Edit materials -> Load/Save material set buttons):

(CTRL) + Drag with Left mouse button: Rectangular selection tool for selecting multiple objects.
(CTRL) + (SHIFT) + Drag with Left mouse button: Add new rectangular selection to existing selection.
(ALT) + Move selected object(s): Copy-paste selected object(s) by pressing ALT while dragging one of the selected objects.
(ALT) + (X) + Move selected object(s): Copy-paste selected object(s) and retain the rotation of trees & plants by pressing ALT while dragging one of the selected objects.
Place object mode -> (CTRL) + Left-click: Randomly place 10 copies of the currently active object library model.
Place object mode -> (Z) + Left-click: Place a new object with +/-0 to 50% random scale.
Place object mode -> (CTRL) + (Z) + Left-click: Combined operation of above mentioned Place Object Modes.  Randomly place 10 copies of the currently active object library model  with +/-0 to 50% random scale.
(F12): Drag Model mode lets you move objects by clicking directly on them and dragging the mouse to move them. In addition, (H) lets you move objects up and down while (R) allows you to rotate them.
(G): This function will make objects that you are moving or placing in your scene snap to the Lumion terrain while ignoring all other object types.
(F): The orientation of all objects (apart from Trees/plants) can be made to adapt to the surface angles of other objects. Move object button -> Press (F) for "Flatten" -> Move the object(s) to make them adapt to the surface angles of other objects. This function only works on surfaces that are facing the sky, i.e. less than 90 degree angles.
(SHIFT) + Move selected object(s): Press shift while dragging selected objects to move them horizontally with snapping turned off.
(SHIFT) + Rotate/Rotate Pitch/Rotate Bank selected object(s): Press shift while rotating objects to temporarily turn the 45 degree angle snapping off.
(K) + Rotate/Rotate Pitch/Rotate Bank selected object(s): Press (K) while rotating objects to make all of the objects face the mouse cursor.
(CTRL) + "Same height" command: The selected objects will be placed at the same height as the object you clicked on. (CTRL)-select objects -> Context menu -> Click on the icon of the object that has the height you want the other objects to inherit -> Transformation -> Same height.
(CTRL) + "Space" command: The selected objects will be placed in a straight line as defined by the object that you clicked on to execute the command and the object that is furthest away from that object. (CTRL)-select objects -> Context menu -> Click on the selection icon of one of the selected objects -> Transformation -> Space)
"Align" command: This command lets you centre selected objects so that their pivot points are at the same position (CTRL-select objects -> Context menu -> Transformation -> Align). If you need to move or manipulate one of the overlapping objects, place the mouse cursor over the small overlapping object selection icons and use the Arrow Up/Down (W/S) keys to toggle between the objects.
(L): Scale model.
(R): Rotate Heading.
(P): Rotate Pitch.
(B): Rotate Bank.


To preview shadows from spotlights in Build mode:
1) Select the spotlights in Build mode to temporarilly turn on real-time shadows.

To preview shadows from spotlights in Movie/Photo mode:
1) 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 effect button in the top left corner.

In Light Properties -> Optimize for, choose what is most important for each light:

  • 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).

Shadows in Lumion are added on top of all surfaces with an 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 surface. 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 difficult 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 sliders until the artifacts are gone.

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

(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.

You must render images/videos with the Global Illumination effect in 3 star quality. If you render it in 1 or 2 star quality, the lighting will appear to flicker and you will only see a pixelated preview of the global illumination lighting on your renderings.

You must render images/videos with the Volume Clouds effect in 3 star quality. If you render it in 1 or 2 star quality, you will only see a pixelated preview on your renderings, and the clouds will appear to move and change shape as the camera moves.

There are 2 types of reflections in Lumion:

1) 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. This is ideal for mirrors, marble floors etc. 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. For that reason, try to use as few reflection planes as possible:

2) Projected reflections:
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. The projected reflection method is only an approximation and will never provide as realistic reflections as the planar reflection effect above. In Lumion 4.x, add the Lights -> Utilities -> Reflection control object to your scene to specify the position where the 360 degree panoramic reflection texture should be rendered at.

If you do not add this object to your scene it will be placed a few hundred meters above the terrain. If you are rendering interiors, the best position for the Reflection Control object is often near the camera position. Bear in mind that you can also animate this object with the Move/Advanced Move effects in the Movie section.

If you notice that surfaces flicker or disappear when moving the camera, add a Standard material to the surface that you want to be on top. Then adjust the Depth Offset slider in that material but avoid extreme Depth Offset 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).

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.

The editable part of the terrain in Lumion occupies a 2048x2048m square. Beyond this, you will not be able to change the height or paint the landscape. When you load a heightmap texture it will stretch to the full extent of the 2048x2048m square, but will 'fade out' to 0m along the edges to blend with the endless terrain outside the editable area.

If you load a standard JPG file, 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 the 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:

TIP: You can also import your own terrain as a DAE/FBX object and apply a Landscape material to it. This allows you paint on it just like the "native" terrain in Lumion:


Try to experiment with each material slider to find out what the various values do.

Reflection/Clip/Bright: An important slider is the Reflection/Clip/Bright slider in Lumion 4.x (Reflection or Clip slider in Lumion 2.5). This slider allows you to specify whether an alpha channel in your diffuse texture is used as a reflection mask (= Reflection), alpha clip mask (= Clip) or as an emmissive mask (= Bright).
Scale: Material size. Set this to 0 if you want to use imported texture coordinates instead of automatically applied texture coordinates.
Reflection colorize: Tint reflections with overall material colour.
Reflection Falloff: Reflection amount vs viewing angle.
Brightness: Material darkness vs brightness.
Glossiness: Reflection blurriness vs sharpness.
Bump: Material roughness (provided that you use a blue/purple normalmap).
Reflectivity: Reflection amount. Can be combined with a specular/reflection mask in the alpha channel of the Diffuse texture.
Saturation: Black& white versus colour.
Emissiveness: Material glow.


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 circular button to the right of the effect sliders allows you to set 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.

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.


Your Lumion scenes and imported models are saved in these folders:

  • Documents/Lumion 4/Scenes: All scenes saved in Lumion 4 (2 files per scene)
  • Documents/Lumion 4/Library: Models imported in Lumion 4 (up to 4 files per model)

The Documents/Lumion 4/ folder is on the C: drive by default.

If you would like to move the Documents/Lumion 4/ folder to a different location, please follow these instructions on the Microsoft website:

As with any other important data on your harddrive, we recommend regular backups of the Documents/Lumion 4/ folder.

If you need to load a Lumion scene on another PC, you need to copy the Documents/Lumion 4/ folder to that PC. Remember to restart Lumion after copying the folders.

Alternatively, if you have Lumion Pro, you can also export the scene as an LS4 file which includes imported models. This makes it easier to move scenes between PCs.

If you need to load a Lumion 3 scene in Lumion 4, you need to copy the Scenes & Library folders in Documents/Lumion 3/ folder to Documents/Lumion 4/. Remember to restart Lumion after copying the folders.

Alternatively, if you have Lumion Pro, you can also export a Lumion 3 scene as an LS3 file which includes imported models. The LS3 file can then be imported in Lumion 4.

WARNING: Lumion is not backwards compatible, so if you save a scene or an imported model in Lumion 4 you can't load them in Lumion 1, 2 and 3.

If you notice a red questionmark in one of your scenes, it means that the files for that model are missing in the Documents/Lumion 4/Library folder. It is currently not possible to display the file name of missing models.

Here's how to delete questionmarks in your scene:

1) Lights & Special objects category -> Context menu -> Selection -> Select all similar
2) Trash object -> Click on one of the questionmarks to delete them

Select models -> Context menu -> Transformation -> Lock Position -> On

CTRL-select the object and make sure that its thumbnail is displayed in the lower left corner. Move the camera until you're happy with the way the model appears on the screen, and press and hold CTRL. Then left-click on the thumbnail to update it.

'Limit all texture sizes' on: Textures that are bigger than or equal to 1024x1024 pixels are automatically reduced to 512x512 pixels in all modes. This applies to built-in materials as well as textures used by all models (stock and imported models). There is no override function.

'Limit all texture sizes' off: If you import a model that uses over 100mb of texture memory, Lumion will cap the maximum texture resolution at 2048x2048 pixels. However, you can bypass this limit by pressing CTRL while you click on the Reload model button. If you apply a Standard or Lightmap material to your imported model, any texture you load will be loaded at whatever resolution your graphics card is capable of displaying (up to a maximum of 16384x16384 pixels).

It is possible to import move/rotate/scale animations from some 3rd party modelling 3D applications, e.g. 3DS Max and Maya. The frame rate has to be set to 25 frames per second and the preferred export format is FBX file. Collada format (DAE) also works but the interpolation between keyframes will be linear.

It is not possible to import vertex animations, morph animations or bone animations in Lumion.

Go to Libraries/Documents/My Documents/Lumion 4/Library and create one or more folders for your models - the limit is currently 14 custom folders.
For example: Libraries/Documents/My Documents/Lumion 4/Library/My Furniture

Once you've done that, move the relevant model files to the new folders (note that there are up to 4 files per model). The folders and any model files that you have moved to the custom folders will appear in the numbered tabs in the Imported Model browser after you have restarted Lumion:

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.