Tip of the Week - HDRi Skies
This Tip will show you the advantages of using HDRi skies to create better renderings.
This week's Tip of the Week will show you the advantages of using HDRi skies to create better renderings.
HDRi skies are a great way to improve any scene you are rendering. It is a quick and accurate way to give the user a high quality background image and illuminate the scene using the HDRi light intensity and colors.
Image of an Airstream rendered with an HDRi sky. The HDRi image provides a background as well as the correct illumination, shadows and full 360-degree reflections.
One of the benefits of HDRi skies is the fact that the background image is in the shape of a dome, providing a full 360 degree background. This means that no matter what angle you are viewing your model from, there will always be a high quality background image. This also makes them valuable for scenes which contain reflection - reflective surfaces like this Camper, or windows.
Comparison to non-HDRi rendering
This second image was rendered using the default SketchUp Sun. Compare this to the image above which uses HDRi skies.
There are a number of notable improvements in the HDRi image including softer shadows, softer lighting and reflections that match the background image. All of these improvements help to add to the realism of the model.
Same model with reflection from a normal "Automatic" sky.
And the separate lighting channel contained in the HDRi image provides better shadows and illumination than just the sun, or plain sky. This lighting information allows some parts of the sky to illuminate the scene more than other parts even though they have the save RGB (red, blue, and green) values and look identical.
Use HDRi Skies for:
- Background Skies
- Background Trees and Foliage
- Showing objects in existing Interiors
- Realistic Lighting Effects
Creation of HDRi Images
Many HDRi images are made by photographing actual scenes.
- A 360-degree image is created - either with a special 360-degree camera - or by stitching together 3 of 4 images from a single camera after rotating it.
- Then three images are create - underexposing one image and overexposing another. When combining the 3 images, the RGB of the the middle image is used, but the other two images can be used to determine the intensity of illumination because brighter places will overexpose faster than places which are not providing illumination.
Sources of HDRi Skies and Backgrounds
Free HDRI Skies:
- HDRI Haven - A great site to get free HDRI images.
- HDRI-Hub.com - HDRI-Hub.com is your first address for royalty free, high resolution 360-degree High Dynamic Range panoramas and high quality architectural textures. These enable you to light and shade your 3D scenes photo realistically. You will find the panorama images and textures in our shop.
- OPENFOOTAGE.NET - 35 Full 360 degree HDRI Panoramas for backgrounds
- www.accustudio.com AccuStudio Gallery - go to Exchange and then HDRI.
- Brian Jame's HDRI collections
- Paul Debevec Probes
- Max Planck Institut OpenEXR
- USC - ICT Graphics Laboratory
- Keith Bruns HDRI Gallery
- Greg Ward, Anywhere Software
Not free HDRI files:
For IRender nXt Users
Using the Setup Options of IRender nXt, you are able to position the background image just where you want it. This is helpful if either you don’t like the part of the image you can see and would rather see another part - a better looking part - of the image because it would fit better with your model. Also, if you would like, you can change the position of the sun in the sky by rotating the image.
You can also set the intensity of the HDRi illumination.
- Load the Setup Wizard. ( )
- Select the HDRi Tab
- Set the rotation or intensity and re-render the scene.