Friday, October 2, 2009

Rendering Tip of the week - HDRi Skies

This weeks Tip of the Week will show you the advantages of using HDRi skies to create better renderings. (Thanks to Dennis for the renderings and much of this text)

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.

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.

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.

Comparison between HDRI and non-HDRi renderings

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.

Same model rendered with just the SketchUp sun. Note the harsh shadows

The 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.

See: HDRi Skies

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