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So I've modeled a simple ufo and now I want it to be in a scene of course. So I don't want to just have the object in blank space, but an environment (background) around it. Now, I'm asking if there's a way to do that quickly or do I have to model the whole environment too? Is it possible to just set up an HDRI? Until now it just looked fake when I tried that. Please note I'm not talking about the lighting, but the objects behind the "main object", so the environment.

Thanks for your help. I searched for over an hour on this site and on youtube. But I also tried around in blender.

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Example background. I'm talking about the rails, the trees,...

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    $\begingroup$ you can use HDRI, you can model objects, you can also project some textures on some planes $\endgroup$
    – moonboots
    Oct 10, 2021 at 11:59

2 Answers 2

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The easiest way to do this is to change your world shader to one that uses High Dynamic Range images (HDRIs). There are many sites online that provide high quality HDRIs and you can find them by searching for "free HDRI" in your favorite search engine.

There are two steps to this.

  1. Download the image from a web site. Each site will have its own instructions but usually it's simply 'download image'
  2. Change your world shader to use the HDRI as the lighting source.
  • go to the Shader Editor
  • In the header change from Object to World

Header menu showing change from object to world

  • Enable Use Nodes

  • Enter this shader:

World Shader for using HDRI

Note: I've already added an HDRI, so you can't tell, but the node with the orange header is an Environmental Texture.

  • Click on the folder in the environmental texture and navigate to where you downloaded the HDRI. Select it. It's a good idea to create a folder where you store HDRIs and always select your HDRI from that folder.

  • Switch the Shader Editor back to Object so you won't be confused the next time you edit a material.

Explanation of the node group

The first two nodes are a Texture Coordinate node and a Vector Mapping node. Together they allow you to change what part of the HDRI is behind your object from the Camera's viewpoint. Changing anything but Z Rotation will distort the HDRI, but changing the Z rotation is a common technique.

The next node is an Environmental Texture. This is the node that changes the image into a form that can be used as a Background. It has 5 imput fields:

  • The image name, already mentioned.
  • Texture Interpolation. Leave this as Linear
  • Projection Type. HDRI images come in two formats, mirror ball, or the more common Equirectangular. Unless the site describes an HDRI as being a mirror ball, leave the setting at Equirectangular
  • Where the image comes from. Leave this as Single Image.
  • Color Space. Leave this as Linear

The green node is a Background node. This converts the output of the Environmental texture into a light source. The Strength Field sets how strong the light is.

The final node is the World Output node. It simply tells the render engine that this is the world lighting. Leave the one setting at All for an HDRI

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One of the easiest ways:

  1. download this free add-on here: https://codeofart.com/easy-hdri-2-8/ and install it

  2. Create a folder named "HDRI" on your computer.

  3. Download free HDRIs here: https://polyhaven.com/hdris and store them in your HDRI folder

  4. tap on "rendered": enter image description here

  5. tap on "Easy HDRI"-tab here

enter image description here

  1. Tap on "create world nodes"

enter image description here

  1. tap on the folder button and choose your hdri-folder

enter image description here

  1. then tap right in the middle of the image to choose the hdri you like

enter image description here

  1. enjoy your objects right in the middle of you HDRI

enter image description here

enter image description here

Note: what's pretty cool about it that you can

  • change the sun strength (bit similar to changing strength of light)
  • change the sky strength (same, but sky)
  • change rotation, so you even can change how the light is coming into your scene

... and all for free :D

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much! One question though: Can't I do that without the addon? Just install the HDRI, go to shading tab, switch to world, open HDRI, press Ctrl+T when Node Wrangler installed and then change rotation? $\endgroup$ Oct 10, 2021 at 12:13
  • $\begingroup$ Yes you can do it without an add-on. I'll add an answer with a step by step for that. $\endgroup$ Oct 10, 2021 at 13:49
  • $\begingroup$ of course you can - but i think the add-on makes it much easier. I use it a lot. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Oct 10, 2021 at 17:11
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you! But how can I really make the object fit into the HDRI? The HDRI is way too big and I can't find a way to scale it down? $\endgroup$ Oct 11, 2021 at 14:11

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