Taking Your Architectural Rendering From Day to Night

9 November, 2017 | Ryan [simple-social-share]

Taking Your Architectural Rendering From Day to Night

The time of day or night can make a profound difference in your architectural rendering. Click here to learn how to take it from day to night!

Sometimes you need to turn day into night.

Especially when you’re trying to take your architectural rendering from day to night.

You want to impress your clients or professor but you know you won’t achieve the same look if you use the same image taken at night.

Why? Because the time of day or night can actually make a profound difference in your rendering.

And if that perfect image can only be taken during the day, you need the right tools to turn day into night. 

So let’s learn all about architectural rendering using Photoshop to turn day into night.

What are Architectural Renderings Used for?

There are a lot of reasons to use a rendering.

The most common uses are for marketing, presentation, and design analysis.

Here are the most common reasons why an architectural student or professional might find architectural rendering useful.

  • 3D Walkthrough and flybys
  • Still renderings
  • Virtual tours
  • Floor plans
  • Photorealistic 3D renderings 
  • Realtime 3D renderings
  • Panoramic renderings
  • Renovation renderings
  • Light and shadow renderings

The best program to achieve the results you desire to turn day into night is to use Photoshop.

Let’s learn the best steps to take and resources to use when turning your architectural rendering from day to night.

What Architectural Renderings Work Best When Switching from Day to Night?

Not all images will work well for this type of architectural rendering.

The images that are best to use in a rendering are when:

  • Highlights are not blown out
  • Highlights are not overexposed
  • There’s a clear separation between sky and foreground
  • There’s a sharp and direct light source

Using images that contain these issues will make the project take much longer and may not end with the desired result you’re looking to achieve.

Turn off Layers

The first step is to turn off certain layers in the original daytime scene that may not necessarily belong in your evening scene.

Turn off such daytime layers such as:

  • HDR effects
  • Warm color overlays
  • Fog
  • People 
  • Cars

To turn off layers you:

  • Hold down Alt (in Windows)
  • Option (for Macs)
  • Click the layer visibility icon

Do a Curves Adjustment

This will help you darken the image a bit.

After all, if you’re doing an architectural rendering that’s supposed to be an evening image, you can’t have natural daylight.

To do this you: Create a Curves Adjustment Layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves). Then adjust the sliders.

Dragging the curve down will darken the image. 

Sharp Shadows Should be Removed

The shadows caused by the sun will most likely be one of the more difficult features to remove.

However, using the photoshop tool “Clone Stamp Tool,” you can edit the sharp shadows out.

Since trees tend to be their own layer, often you can simply take those out rather than having to use the Clone Stamp Tool.

Removing these sharp shadows is essential. It will otherwise confuse the viewer who isn’t expecting shadows to appear at night.

The Image Should be Darkened with Blue and Black

This is kind of a no-brainer. After all, we’re turning day into night so things should get darker.

Luckily, this is a rather easy step.

For your architectural renderings here’s what to do for the blue nighttime tint:

  • Fill canvas with blue paint (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Color Balance)
  • Set layer blend mode to “multiply”
  • Mask out blue so sky and interiors can show through
  • Darken any clouds

You may not wish to darken the sky itself. Often there isn’t much of a difference and you might want to contrast the lighter sky with darker buildings.

However, if you want to go darker you can create a new layer by adding black.

Here’s how:

  • Hit Contol + Shift + Al + N and fill it with black
  • By lowering the opacity of the layer to 44% it will make the image even darker.

Desaturate the Colors

Colors at night are less vibrant. 

Editing the coloring will help you pull out more detail.

It will also add more contrast to the architectural rendering and darken it a little more.

To change the vibrancy from daytime colors to nighttime colors in your renderings you:

  • Add a hue/saturation adjustment layer by going to (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation
  • Drag the saturation layer to left to decrease the saturation of the daytime colors
  • Lower the opacity to 46%. This will leave some but not all colors still noticeable. 

Lighting Should be Added

You want to enhance lighting in certain areas of your rendering. 

You’ll have to manually paint light into the scene.

You can use lighting for:

  • Highlighting underneath a building
  • Accent lighting
  • Highlighting windows

To create light coming from a window:

  • Create a new layer
  • Use a round brush to paint between the frames of the window. Choose a white or nearly white color to give the appearance of light.
  • To add glow use a round soft brush and yellowish paint

There are also some features you can add to give the appearance of nighttime.

Here are some ideas that might help enhance the image.

Create an Appearance of a Wet Ground

Adding a wet ground when turning your rendering from day to night can achieve several desired results.

Wet pavement can:

  • Add complexity
  • Engages viewer
  • Adds drama

There are other features you can add to create a contrasting look. It’s just a matter of finding the right images to enhance your rendering.

Add or Subtract Objects

You can add objects to your architectural rendering to enhance the mood you’re trying to capture.

Adding raingear and umbrellas to a wet night scene adds to the feeling of the wet weather while not distracting the viewer with close up views of the individual people.

You may also want to subtract the sun and add in the moon to your nighttime scene.

It can also activate the scene you’re showing.

Subtracting items from your rendering can also help lessen the distraction of the work. 

How Long Might a Typical Architectural Rendering Project Take?

It depends on what the project is.

For exteriors where turning day to night it may take:

  • Small Building: 1-2 days
  • Standard House: 2 days
  • Skyscraper: 3-15 days
  • City: at least 15 days

Whether you’re a student or a professional architect, it’s so much easier to complete assignments when you have the right tools.

One of those tools is having the right images at your disposal. We’ve compiled them conveniently for you to use, at the price that works best for you. 


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