How to create your own HDRI environment map in Blender + video tutorial

by Svyatoslav Alexandrov
September 10, 2020

Hey guys! My name is Svyatoslav Alexandrov, and today I will show you in 6 easy steps how to create your own HDRI images in Blender for your projects.

Step 1

Create and prepare a scene. I already did it. It could be anything you want. You can create walls, a floor and a ceiling, you can add any objects into your scene, and, of course, you will need to add a camera. It’s important to put the camera in the middle point of your scene. I have photography experience and some gear, so, I just shot some light modifiers, edited them in Adobe Photoshop and added in Blender. You can download them for free. Why did I do this? To get more realistic reflections on glossy surfaces. Simple, not textured meshlights and lamps cannot allow us to achieve this effect. Just take a look at these Susanne renders, the right one looks much more natural.

Step 2

Change the camera resolution on the properties panel. You can use any values, but you have to remember: you need to use aspect ratio 2:1 to get a seamless HDRI image. Let’s use here 8000 to 4000 pixels. 

Step 3

Select the camera, move to the camera settings on the properties panel. Change the Lens type to Panoramic, change the panorama type to Equirectangular.

Step 4

Move to the Output properties, Output, and change the file format to the Radiance HDR. This format will help you to save all brightness information of your HDRI map.

Step 5

Set up the render quality. You can experiment with the Sampling. Let’s use 1000 samples here.

To avoid the noise let’s activate denoising data in the View Layer properties,

and then let’s go to the compositing tab, add the Denoise node and connect these nodes.

Step 6

Press F12 and drink some tea. When the rendering is finished, save your file.

Aaaand that’s it!

Now let’s test our HDRI environment. I will use a simple ShaderBall that I created before. You can watch my SpeedBlend video and download the ShaderBall for free.

I’m using and recommend you to use the Node Wrangler add-on that allows you to save a lot of time in the Node editor. Just move to the node editor, select World, then the Background node and press Ctrl+T, and all necessary nodes will appear. Now just select your HDRI map and it’s done! You can rotate the world to change the lighting direction, you can change strength, add additional color corrections, use curves, etc.

And here is the result.

ShaderBalls in Blender

I hope the tutorial was useful. You can find more cool stuff on my YouTube channel. Like, subscribe, leave your comments, share the video with your Blender buddies, follow me on Instagram, Behance, Telegram and Twitter.

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Thank you, and have a nice day!:)