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The pros and cons of Lumion 9

Written on 05-02-2019

Call me a creature of habit but as I explore various architectural rendering software I tend to find myself back at Lumion any time I have a new project. Let us go through some of the big advantages that Lumion has and some of their big disadvantages. You may have read my previous review on Lumion 5 but there has been a lot of improvements with the numerous new releases.

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The strong side of Lumion

1. The easy to use / quality of results ratio is great

Most design professionals will keep a cost analysis calculator running in the back of their mind, even if it's subconscious. This is what keeps me coming back to Lumion time and time again. Imagine an aesthetic scale from 0% to 100%, 0% being Kentucky's Kaden Tower and 100% being the Taj Mahal. Strong software like VRay can produce a 100% quality but takes a large amount of time and skill. Lumion can produce a 90% quality for a fraction of the time and skill. So imagine you're busy schedule (I know you have one). What's going to be more attractive? A good rendering in an hour, or a slightly better rendering for a day of work?

2. Speed

As mentioned before Lumion's rendering engine is fast. I've pushed Lumion to the limit with every filter, high-quality material images, landscaping, and clutter object and it still only takes a few minutes to render. With Lumion 9 you can now add fur to objects and naturally, the first thing I did was create a room entirely of fir just to test the software. It still only took a few minutes, but my computer tower started to moan.

example of a Lumion rendering
A room full of Lumion Fur

At this point I'm going to mention Enscape. Enscape is a plugin for Revit, Archicad, Rhino and Sketchup. It is also a fast and easy rendering tool. Its superpower is the speed and quality of the rendering engine for materials. Like Lumion, Enscape can update in real time as you modify the parent file. But I rarely do this because it gives my Revit a half second delay, which initially doesn't sound bad. However, I am looking for efficiency and that half second delay feels like a knife in my side.

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3. Out of the box planting and clutter

The library that Lumion offers is also one of its main draws. There is a large selection of mostly relate-able planting and clutter. No matter the project you can probably find a plant that looks like it fits your specific climate. Early Lumion had Quaking Aspens which are everywhere here in Utah. Then Lumion replaced the Quaking with European Aspens. The European are close enough but as a Utahn, it stings a little.

The point I'm trying to get to here is that Lumion makes it easy enough to reach that 90% rendering in an hour with a large enough library to be worthwhile. Enscape offers some objects but the planting renders like it's Prince's 1999 again. You can buy basically any object you need for Vray, but I found myself walking to the billing department to buy a single tree or a single person way too often.

example of a Lumion rendering
An exterior view captured by Lumion, done in about an hour
example of an Enscape rendering
An exterior view captured by Enscape, done in about an hour

4. Great presentation opportunities

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Just like with all versions of Lumion, I get to 'fly' the client through the proposed project. They love it. I mean they like it, but get distracted because I end up revealing that one corner of the building where the walls and ceiling didn't quite connect cleanly. You know that corner, the one that will never show up on any construction document and is therefore not actually a real a problem. And then your boss gives you the 'get your shit together' look.

5. Good support.

Lumion makes good attempts to give their customers support. Hell, they might even read this article and post a comment below. Maybe?

If you contact them through their forum, they seem to make sure to address the issue. When I had issues updating a file, they took the time to review the hardware on my computer to make sure that it wasn't something outside of their software causing problems.

6. Interior versus Exterior

As I mentioned before Lumion gets you a 90% quality rendering in the blink of an eye. This applies to both interior and exterior views. Which is great because every building I've worked on has both an inside and an outside. Enscape's rendering engine is very beautiful and fast for interior shots. We're talking 95% quality interior renderings that are quick and easy to produce if you already have good furniture models. In contrast, Enscape's exterior shots are a poo poo 50% quality. So factor that in when deciding which engine to use.

example of a Lumion rendering
An interior view captured by Lumion
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example of an Enscape rendering
An interior view captured by Enscape

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