I'm trying to create a molecular scene similar to this:

enter image description here

I have attached here my blender file: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GFdbRQH5UCvOVWDJdgBlhnNIdrRgqhwV/view?usp=sharing

I have difficulty in creating the background. Even though I added environment texture with an HDRI image, I tried several types of glass material, but the result is this:

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Hi :). You just need waaay more contrast in lighting (or in hdri). $\endgroup$ Oct 20, 2021 at 19:07
  • $\begingroup$ I think it's because your back plane has an emission shader component - removing it should resolve the glass somewhat. Also, the correct IOR for glass is 1.450 - yours is lowered to 1.10 (if there's some reason for that, then skip this, but I think its influencing what you're seeing). Lastly (though its not a huge difference), since you are using cycles, you can skip the Principled BSDF and just use a Glass BSDF. $\endgroup$ Oct 20, 2021 at 21:04

1 Answer 1


You did a good job with the models (sphere + Solidify modifier), environment, and the shader.

As already mentioned in the comments you just need to tweak a few things.

enter image description here
The bad white points are from a point light / Only camera Depth of Field with 2000 samples (adaptive)

  1. the IOR for glass is 1.450. This creates the distortion if you look through the glass sphere and affects the reflection on it

  2. to get a tint for the glass add some Volume Absorption. With the Solidify modifier this creates a darker tint. It's the same effect that you see at the side of the plate of a glass table for example.

  3. use an HDRI with a bumped boosted strength and a big environment box. The HDRI you have already. The beveled plane that you use for the background and the HDR image will be reflected in the spheres. If you want to have a "clean look" as in the reference you need to reduce the reflects a bit with a big "shield". This will also create shadows and of course, requires more light => HDRI strength 4 or 5. Note that when the environment box is too close it will tint the sphere. Scale it up a lot if you don't want this.

  4. optional, if you want to enhance the silhouette/the rim of the glass you can add a Layered Weight node with a Color Ramp to darken the rim a bit.

  5. Last but not least, you can increase the contrast in the Render Properties > Color Management settings to Medium High Contrast or High Contrast

Please note that the rendered result heavily depends on the used HDRI!

For the composition of the scene I recommend using Linked objects, and Collection Instances for the molecules.

Model Setup

The box is 250 m large. Don't forget the adjust the camera's clipping (Lens > Clip End). model

Glass Shader

glass shader

Examples (128 samples, adaptive)

Beveled plane as background/environment = more reflections, noisy camera DOF

beveled plane

For comparison: the glass spheres have no layered color but the connections have. Used the Defocus node for depth of field effect

no layered color

Different HDRIs result in different colors:



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