I have enjoyed fiddling w Radiance, playing w models successfully exported from SketchUp.

I will go on doing this because it's enjoyable. It is time consuming but I recognise, from past experience, that sometimes you have to accept that time properly spent on work, should, in fact, be spent playing.

From this, good things will come.

I am completely non-technical. I approach Radiance in the hope of making images that tell me something useful about the fall of light in rooms.

To tell whether or not an image does that is both technical and non-technical. Certainly, one can tell from experience if an image has any plausibility.

Plus, changing settings such as the gensky settings informs one about difference, even if inexactly.

Exactitude may be a red-herring. Difference is what matters in the rough and ready world of a practising small-scale architect.

One possibility is setting up a model of light and ground source settings, with a basic materials file, to review light in spaces one is working on.

Let's see: materials aren't that variable in the ordinary world of the domestic architect. Glass - yes. Decorated plaster - yes. Gloss painted timber trim and structural elements - yes. Marble, various stones primarily Yorkstone, Limestone - yes. Concrete - yes. A range of timbers - larch, walnut, oak, western red cedar. Brick of course - new and old, red thru yellow to blue.

The impression is that Radiance is used by consultants who have the skill to create the palettes of material which they need from scratch based on a technical grasp of reflectance, specularity, perturbation etc. A practising architect is unlikely to share this facility.

So a materials file such as the one alluded to would be very helpful.

I am aware that I am bleating somewhat, and pleading for something that takes years of skill to produce, but the lighting and rendering consultants out there are never going experience competition from the likes of me. So why not release a set of sky files for London and a materials file which are credible.

I have scoured the Net for Radiance materials and I haven't found anything which deals with the world that I inhabit. The stuff out there is useful for basic self-tutoring only.

None of the Radiance generated imagery wh I have seen relates to the kind of projects which I am talking about as the meat-n-drink of the ordinary London architect.


Hi Tom,

Thank for taking the time to write a thoughtful and thought-provoking letter to the group. Indeed, material models are hard to come by in Radiance, and most users end up spending a significant amount of time creating the materials they need for a convincing and accurate result.

Sadly, there are so many architectural materials out there, that creating a library that is comprehensive or even representative is a daunting challenge, and it has proven difficult to get public funding agencies behind such an effort. The best hope is for a consortium, similar to the one set up by Mike Rubin & company at LBNL with the glazing manufacturers to establish a protocol for characterizing their products in a consistent and unbiased way. Getting the kind of cohesion and groundswell needed for such a consortium of the many companies involved in producing masonry, floor coverings, paints, wallpaper, etc., etc... Well, let's just say it would take a big push from somewhere.

So, I don't really have a satisfying answer to your request, but maybe there are others on the list who can volunteer their experiences with material modeling. Perhaps someone can even suggest a route for gathering a reasonable library together. Certainly, it would get some use.