I am compositing a scene using a standard process in Cycles, and it worked correctly as long as I had my lighting setup in the scene, however when I switched to HDR, my Shadow pass seems to become a solid black. Why is this, and how can it be avoided?

My node setup: Node Setup


2 Answers 2


The HDR environment does not affect the shadow pass. At all. The problem originated with the removal of the lighting setup.

In other words, the shadow pass only supports lamps. Mesh lights and world lighting will not affect it. See Why does the shadow pass not account for mesh lights?

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the link! I should have thought of the similarities between environment and mesh lights and searched for that as well. Good to know why it doesn't work. $\endgroup$
    – J Sargent
    Apr 15, 2015 at 11:36

Please note as of Blender 1.79 there is a new shadow catcher that can generate a shadow from HDRI light source. I've tried the release candidate and it's great. Saves all the multi-layer rendering and filtering stuff!

However it should be noted that only the shadows are catpured and not reflections.


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