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Photorealistic rendering with Radiance


Dion Moult writes:

Radiance is a light simulation tool that can be used to render photometrically accurate images invented in 1985. It was the birthplace of many of the concepts we use today, such as normal maps, the HDR format, and exposure control.

Radiance is not often used for photorealistic and qualitative rendering, and instead more for quantitative analysis. However, I demonstrate with this scene created with Blender that it is possible to use modern 3D techniques to create believable scenes in Radiance. This render was done "blind", with no artistic license or test renders: all material and light information was numerically input from material measurements in an independent location! The predicted scene is then compared with photos of real life. The scene can also be viewed in VR.

All work is open source, with a series of related tutorials on how to achieve this output, all through the Blender interface. I have also launched an open source Radiance model repository which has free 3D models with photometric material definitions. Geometry is available in Blender format.

About Author

Dion Moult

I work in the architecture industry and do software development. I have written about Gentoo Linux, CG art, open-source, plants, robotics, digital privacy, and GIS. My blog is available at and I am available on the fediverse socially as @[email protected]


  1. Daris Idirene on

    great lighting and composition it is really good but the next step is to smudge and grudge the textures in the glass and others.

  2. Thanks @Daris! Smudging glass could be a very tricky thing indeed. Glazing transmittance data usually comes from an international glazing database supplied by different manufacturers. The impact of smudging will need to be double checked by a more experienced lighting simulationist! But yes, definitely the next step!

    @Nedag, most modern rendering engines do not offer the same scientific accuracy that Radiance offers :) Radiance is the most modern offering that still has such a complete feature set. That said, the modeling tool is Blender, which is certainly a modern tool!

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