HDRI exterior lighting with Vray

An outline of the techniques used for rendering an exterior scene using Autodesk 3ds Max and Chaos Group Vray. A HDR image will be used to light and reflect the environment and VraySun as the direct light source for a typical sunny day scene.

HDRI stands for high-dynamic-range imaging, which is a 32bit float image format that allows a greater dynamic range of luminance between the lightest and darkest areas of an image.

A HDR image holds enough information to light a scene, where as images such as JPEGs do not hold enough information to light a scene successfully. HDR images can produce good results, but the intensity is still not enough to give realistic hard shadows that would come from the sun. By adding in VraySun as a direct light source, the two methods combined will allow for easy control over time of day and various types of weather conditions.

Before I start, I would like to point out that I will be using a linear workflow with a gamma 2.2 setup within 3ds Max and Vray. I strongly recommend setting this up as it will improve many areas within your workflow. You can find an easy to follow, step by step guide here. This tutorial will not go through the Vray render settings, but you can find a detailed explanation of how to set up the Vray renderer here.

Finding the right HDR image

The choice for time of day and weather conditions will determine what HDR image is required. Within this tutorial it will be a sunny midday HDR image with minimal cloud which you can purchase and download yourself from here. There are various shapes and sizes of HDR images out there on the web. You will need to make sure that the HDR image is a 360 degree spherical image and the higher the resolution the better. When a spherical HDR image has been applied as an environment, Autodesk 3ds Max wraps the HDR image around a sphere. None spherical HDR images will not wrap around the sphere correctly and produce incorrect results. Resolution matters only if you are planning to use the HDR image as a back plate. If the HDR image is only to be used to light a scene, you can get away with a much smaller resolution.

You would want a HDR image that has maximum sky and a hint of a horizon. Typically a HDR image is pure black under the horizon and therefore will not cast any light. In theory it will also be covered up by geometry.

You can also find HDR images that are pure sky with no horizon. This type of HDR image allows for maximum light, there is no pure black present.

Aligning the HDR image in the viewport

A 360 degree spherical image has a narrow aspect ratio. By default the 3ds Max viewport is 4:3 (1.33) which is a standard resolution of 640 x 480 pixels. As a result of this, you will not be able to see the full height of the HDR image no matter what aspect ratio you choose and this is due to the nature of a computer screen. The majority of exterior visualisations are viewed from a person’s eye line. If the sun is high up in the sky, it will not be visible within the viewport.

Start by setting your 3ds Max standard environment to a VrayHDRI.

Next drag and drop the material from the environment rollout to an empty slot in your material editor. Choose instance and then load in your HDR image. Here you can select spherical for the mapping type.

Go to views, viewport background and tick use environment background and display background. Under apply source and display to change the view type to all views.

HDR images are typically over exposed and may appear blown out in your viewport. To fix this, lower the overall multiplier so that you can clearly make out brightest spot within the HDR image, in this case it is the sun with no clouds. The render multiplier is there if you only wish to affect the map upon render time and not in the viewport.

Next add a Vray physical camera to your scene and point the target up in the sky. Move around the viewport and locate the brightest spot within the HDR image. Ideally the brightest spot needs to be in the centre of your viewport. You can leave the Vray physical camera settings at their default. Do not rotate your HDR image using the horizontal rotation in the material editor; this will need to remain at 0.0.

Once you have aligned the Vray Physical Camera to the bright spot within the HDR image, change the HDR image overall multiplier back to 1. Render your scene using the Vray physical camera with everything hidden so you only render the viewport environment. Once complete, within the Vray frame buffer click duplicate to Max frame buffer and leave it open. This is used as a reference so you can check that the VraySun lines up correctly.

Adding the VraySun

Add a Vray sun to the scene and choose yes to adding a VraySky map to the environment when prompted. This will replace the current HDR image in the viewport. Again, the VraySky map may be over exposed but there is no need to view the VraySky within the viewport, so turn off the viewport background.

Using the align tool, align the VraySun target to the Vray physical camera and then align the Vray physical camera target to the VraySun. The height of the VraySun will vary depending on where the bright spot is within the HDR image. The higher the VraySun the brighter the VraySky, this simulates the time of day. As an example the height of the VraySun for this scene after matching it to the HDR image is roughly 50 times the height of the building.

Render only the environment background using the Vray physical camera. If your sky is over exposed then adjust the f-number of the Vray physical camera to something like 12. Compare the rendered VraySky to the previously rendered HDR image. Both suns should be roughly in the same place within the image.

You may need to adjust the size of the sun within the VraySun parameters. Adjust the size multiplier but keep in mind that the larger the sun, the softer the shadows. A range of 2 – 10 is adequate. All other settings can remain at their defaults.

Depending on the scene, there are multiple options available for the type of sky used with the VraySun.

Preetham et al

This is typical blue sky that has a visible atmospheric haze.

CIE Clear

Again a typical blue sky, but it has less atmospheric haze which tends to give a deeper more saturated blue

CIE Overcast

A very diffuse and desaturated sky that you would typically get in overcast weather conditions. You would normally use very soft shadows, which are controlled by the sun size.

Adding environment light

Place a VrayLight in to the scene and change the type to dome, set the intensity multiplier to 1 and under texture, drag and drop the HDR image from the material editor and chose instance. Make sure the Vray light dome is perpendicular to the ground plane.

If you want the HDR image to be visible when rendered, keep invisible un-ticked and if you plan to add your own sky in, post production then tick invisible. The VraySky will then be the background for the render; this can be removed via an alpha mask whereas the HDR image cannot.

The resolution and the adaptiveness of the texture affect the way shadow rays are generated towards bright area of the HDR image. Increasing the resolution requires more RAM and slows down the render times slightly, but it will make the adaptation follow more closely with the intensity of the HDR image. Within the majority of scenes this goes unnoticed, so the default resolution and adaptive amount is adequate.

Setting up the multipliers

In the material editor, make sure the HDR image overall multiplier is set to 1. Also set the VraySun multiplier to 1. You can control the level of intensity via the Vray physical camera settings. Keeping all multipliers at 1 and the default settings for the Vray Physical Camera is a good starting point. Then adjust the exposure to suit your scene. You can turn off the Vray dome light and complete a test render to see the effects of the VraySun and vice versa. By doing this you can see how one is affecting the other and then find a healthy balance between the two.

Making final adjustments

Remove the VraySky from the 3ds Max standard environment as this is no longer required because the scene will be lit via the Vray dome light. It was only used to make sure that the VraySun was aligned to the HDR image correctly and was the right size.

Next within the Vray physical camera settings, change the white balance to daylight as this will add a colour filter to the render. This is not a requirement, you can choose to have a neutral colour balance of white if you prefer.

You may need to increase the sampling subdivisions of the Vray dome light. If your shadows are very noisy, increase the subdivisions by multiples of 8 until you are satisfied with the results.

The resulting render has a visible reflection within the windows. The Vray dome light does two things, illuminates the scene and adds a reflective environment. There is no need to add a reflection map in the Vray GI environment (skylight) override.

Rotating the VraySun and HDR image

At the moment the sun is to the right of the building. Obviously if you were to move the VraySun to front or the left side you would want the HDR image to rotate also, so that the two suns stay together. This can be achieved by wiring the horizontal rotation of the HDR image to the Z rotation of the Vray dome light.

When rotating HDR images, they are rotated by degrees. Because the 3ds Max rotation is also in degrees, wiring HDR image and the Vray dome light together is very straight forward. There would only be any complication when trying to wire an image that uses U and V as rotation, which is essentially X and Y coordinates. If for example you use EXR images instead of HDR images, you would need some method of converting the different forms of rotation.

Hide everything within your scene except the VraySun and the Vray dome light. In the top view, position the Vray dome light half way between the VraySun and its target, it doesn’t have to be exactly to centre.

Using the select and link tool, select both the VraySun and its s target and link them to the Vray dome light. Test that the link was successful by rotating the Vray dome light on its Z axis, the VraySun and its target should rotate around the Vray dome light. If you have rotated the Vray dome light, undo this step as it needs to be in its original position.

Still in the top view, select and right click the Vray dome light and choose wire parameters, transform, rotation, and then Z rotation.

A wire will appear prompting for you to select an object so select the Vray dome light itself. Then choose object (VrayLight), texture, and then horizontal rotation.

In the new pop up window, choose one-way connection: left parameter controls right parameter. In the expression window put a – (Minus) in front of Z_Rotation. This is to make both the Vray dome light and HDR image rotate in the same direction. Otherwise the Vray dome light will rotate in a clockwise direction and the HDR image will rotate in an anticlockwise direction. Press connect and close the window.

This allows you to control the rotation of the HDR image shown within the material editor by rotating the Vray dome light on the Z axis within the viewport. Now the position of the brightest spot within the HDR image will follow the VraySun. You will notice that you can no longer rotate the HDR image by horizontal rotation within the material editor, this is now greyed out. You can see the results by rotating the Vray dome light and watching the HDR image within the material editor rotate in real time.



  1. Nikhil on said:

    Hi gone trough the steps, i got stuck after adding ,hdri in max environment in the view port, before i explain i dont have very same hdri you have shown, my hdri brightest point is behind trees, but in view port the hdri appears dark when i try to adjust the brightness increasing overall mult value, the view port image get bright and washed out,i cant see sky color its burn even increasing 1.1 value, when i set gama value 2.2 in hdri material the background image appears proper color in max back ground.
    once the i proper color in view port after giving 2.2 value in vray hdri material,when i try to render without any mesh in scene, the render image appears dark now over i got stuck , shall i increase f number or color mapping

    thanks for clearing concept! can you please what shall i do.

    • Nikhil,

      HDR images are meant to be kept linear. (Gamma 1.0) You should not adjust the Gamma of the HDR image.

      Lowering the multiplier allows you to easily identify the bright spot within the HDR image. Once you have located the bright spot you must put the multiplier of the HDR image back to 1 (linear).

      You control the brightness of the HDR image and the overall scene via the Vray Physical Camera exposure. Using the f-stop as you have mentioned.

      The HDR image may appear over bright within the viewport background when the multiplier is set to 1. This is because 3ds Max does not give an accurate representation of the HDR image.

      But at render time when the Vray Physical Camera exposure is applied it is correct and not over bright.

      I hope that helps.

      • After reading back through the tutorial I have realised why you might have gotten stuck. I have now updated the tutorial to reflect what I have said above.

  2. Michael A on said:

    Great Tutorials. I’ve learned a lot about Vray from your tutorials alone.

    I wanted to know if you know of any websites that offer free spherical hdri images.

  3. Andy Wiggins on said:

    Hi James,

    I have a very strange thing going on. When I link my dome to my vraysun and rotate it, the dome texture is rotating the opposite way to the vraysun..? I cannot get them to rotate the same direction. The dome light itself rotates correctly on plan, but the texture moves the opposite way. So when I rotate and render, there are 2 shadows..? Not sure whats happening.

  4. Rodrigo Sanz on said:

    Great tutorial James, thanks a lot, just one question, what would be a good resolution for an HDR image, so i can leave it as a background and reflection map???

    • Hi,

      For best performance and outcome its best to use a low resolution for lighting and hi resolution for reflections, and then a jpg image for a backplate.

      But if you were to only use one, then I would say use a high resolution otherwise your reflections will be low quality.

      How ever if you can get away with a low resolution HDR image then do so. As these will produce less noise than high resolution ones.

    • Hi,

      Are you using 3ds Max 2012 and the new Nitrous viewport? If so there a few bugs with Vray. One of them being HDRI maps do not display in the viewport background. You have to revert back to Direct3D and then it will work.

      • viliam on said:

        Hi James
        Could you describe more how to revert back to Direct3D. I have the same problem like Nitten. I work in 3ds max 2012 an i am unable to see the hdri in the viewports. In 3ds max 2009 there is no problem with that. Please help. thanks

      • Within the start menu go to the 3ds Max folder and you will see a utility called Change Graphics Mode. Here you can revert back to Direct3D. Alternatively you can do this with 3ds Max preferences but it does require a restart.

  5. Hi,James
    Can I use HDR image with Direct Target light for illuminating as sun in my Exterior scene(v ray 2.0-max 9)?
    What basic parameters should I use for the direct Light(as in intensity, Hotspot & fall off/field values)?
    Please help !

    • Yes you can use a direct light with HDRI. If you are using a direct target as the sun set the hotspot and falloff fields larger than what your are illuminating. So if your building was 5m x 5m set the hotspot to at least 6m.

      The intensity will depend on whether you have camera exposure. Use what ever you feel looks OK. If you have Vray plane lights in your scene they will counteract with the direct light so you need to find a healthy balance between the two.

  6. Thierry on said:

    Since the GI is already handled by the Vray dome light and his HDRI.what we got in the GI environment skylight tab?? The vray sky?? thank you

  7. I think that is one of the most significant information for me. And i’m satisfied studying your article. However want to observation on some basic things, The website taste is perfect, the articles is in point of fact excellent : D. Just right process, cheers

  8. Thank you James! Now I can archieve better results in my VIZ. I was using other method, and I was unsatisfied! Thank you so much again! And keep up!

  9. hi, i am trying to do the tutorial but for some reason when i move my physical camera around, trying to spot the light source of the hdri, the hdri image is not changing. its static on the back of my viewport no matter where i look. like its detached from the actual scene. what should i do?

    • Hi,

      What version of 3ds Max are you using? Are you running the nitrous viewport? This is not yet fully supported by Vray so revert back to Direct 3D and then try. Also If you are using the standard bitmap loader for your HDRI images and not the Vray HDRI loader then you must make sure your HDRI is set to spherical environment and not screen otherwise it wont rotate.

  10. My hdri applied via VRay Dome is dimmed. :( and dont know what do do with it, how to scale etc. Is it right to use it via/with color correction plugin?

    • Hi,

      You can control the intensity of the HDR image by either adjusting the multiplier for the map in the material editor or the multiplier for the Vray dome light. You cannot scale an environment light, it projects onto the same point in space no matter the scale. HDR images should be fine with the colour correct plugin, although HDR images should be kept linear.

      • Thanx a lot for help and you patience, Im damn noob in it. Its like chaseing butterflies. ;)

        So how to have realistic sky if I cant scale projected HDRI?

      • Hi,

        Sorry I don’t think I follow, why would you need to scale the HDRI? The panoramic image used as the HDRI should be taken with the photographer roughly standing in the same place as the object you will be putting in the scene. That way distances to clouds or the horizon would be similar.

      • 1. HDRI i have looks a lot brighter than the same HDRI projected via VRay Dome and rendered. Its a lot dimmer.

        2. This HDRI contains clouds, but I cant see them in my rendered scene where I would expect them tobe – on the sky. It looks like HDRI is too large and streched.

      • Hi,

        Do you have Vray camera exposure? If so that will dim the HDRI and the scene. As Mentioned previously increase the multiplier of either the light or the material. You could be seeing clouds do to the angle of your camera, the HDRI must be a full 360 degree spherical panoramic image in order to not be stretched. We can look at your file for you and discuss in much more detail via our consultancy service. Email us if that is something you would be interested in pursuing.

  11. can u help me with in 3ds max vray i hav taken a object which has material white & when ever i use any hdri the scene get that color which is in hdri? how to get that pure white material ? & what is white balance in can u explan me in simple or any site recommed by you as a basic tutorial for white balance?

    thanks for this tutorial

    • Hi,

      White balance is the process of removing colour casts that occur when taking a photo or in this case rendering with a camera. The human eye is much more advanced when it comes to judging what is white and what we see as being natural light i.e sunlight. The Vray camera has a built in parameter for adjusting white Balance.

      As an example you could place a white box in your scene and the render it. Use the RGB colour picker in the Vray Frame buffer to get the resulting colour of the white box. Add this RGB value into the white balance parameter of the Vray camera.

    • Hi,

      In the Vray Frame buffer right click and hold an area of the rendered box. You will see an 8 bit colour value which is RGB. This is the value you put in the white balance for the Vray Camera.

  12. Hi James,

    When I launch VRayRT (2.0) with VRayLight (Dome)/EXR loaded only I can’t see my scene at all. All dark.
    With VRaysun only all is visible.

    Do You have idea what can be wrong?

    Thanx in advance

    • In the early versions of VrayRT there were a few bugs. One of them being VrayRT does not recognise that an HDR file has been loaded and therefor renders black. Another un-supported feature is affect background. You could try rendering with the dome light invisible to see if that changes your result. How does the render look if you use the standard renderer?

      Vray 2.20 is now available and there are many bug fixes so perhaps updating your software might fix the problem?

  13. Michal on said:

    Thank You for information and knowledge You share. Really cant express (not only because of my bad english ;)how thankful I am.

    Good news is that this is probably not about my settings or something, bad is that new VRay is about 1350$. :(

    Link to Chaosgrup site seems broken at least in my case.

    How come buying new stuf solves problems almost always? ;)

  14. Michal on said:

    >How does the render look if you use the standard renderer?

    You mean scanline? I don’t know I use VRay only.

    • By standard renderer I mean Vray production renderer as you mention you were having issues with VrayRT. As suggested, update to the latest version (2.20) to see if the problem still exists.

  15. merymery25 on said:

    you are amazing james, I wish if You could transfer your knowleadge to my brain directly , I am impressed, I try to learn everyday but I can’t know every detail. i want to know the secret of being like you.

  16. Thanks for the tutorial, a question, you must turn off the shadows of Vraydome? Is that I produce shadows that create confusion with those issued by the VRaySun

    • No leave the dome light shadows on. If you have aligned the sun from the HDR to the V-Ray Sun, then there will be no confusion. However if it is not aligned then yes you could turn the dome light shadows off. But keep in mind by doing this you will loose detail given by the dome light.

  17. Thanks, when I look in the viewfinder hdri hdri’s sun visor is beyond the max, in this case as I align the light of VRaySun?.

  18. Hi James,
    Like the way you mention everything in detail and in simple way…
    I just have 1 question though, setting up vray hdri as environment background as you’ve said, when rendered in perspective view or max standard camera the background renders fine but when rendered in vray physical camera it renders near black. I tried altering the camera exposure, shutter speed, vray hdri multiplier but nothing gives good result.
    When multiplier in material editor slot is 1 i get near black image, when i increase it to 100 the background brightens up (not good enough though)but my scene also is washed out white, hope u can help me with this…

      • Sorry but i was not able to attach the whole archive but only the file due to attachment size limit

      • Hi,

        There seems to be a bug within the file. I replaced the VRayHDRI texture with a new one and it shows up in the viewport fine. If you then replace it with the old VRayHDRI texture, it then works fine. Initially for some strange reason it does not show up. This may be a bug and it might be worth reporting it back to Chaos Group.

  19. Michael on said:

    hi… thanks for your tutorial. I just tried it. But, I’ve got stuck on adding VrayLight and after that remove the VraySky. It made my image render become whole black. Please kindly I need your assistance. Thx. God b u

    • James Cutler on said:

      What is the intensity of the V-Ray light? Try increasing it, also do you have gamma correction enabled?

  20. Excellent tutorial but i have a problem, when i want use parameter wiring i make all the steps but the horizontal rotation in the material editor doesn´t change to gray and the HDR doesn´t rotate with the dome light.

    • Hi,

      If possible please could you send a link to your scene? Have you tried starting from scratch with a new scene to see where you could have made some errors?

  21. Lars M on said:

    Hi Mintviz,

    Interesting tutorial, but I can’t make it work for some reason. I have the exact same problem as Real3dvison. I can make the sun rotate with the domelight just fine, but the hdri doesn’t rotate.

    I have a screenshot of the parameter wiring here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/15189670/mintviz%20hdri%20tut.jpg

    Does the text in red indicate that something is wrong perhaps?

    Any tips or pointers will be recieved with great appreciation!


    • The text in red indicates that there is a parameter with a wire controller assigned to it that is either a member of a two-way pair or as a slave in a one-way wire. We have uploaded a short video showing the steps on how to wire the dome light to the V-Ray sun light. You can view it here: http://screencast.com/t/OffpmIY5Vp. Let us know if this works for you, if not we can take a look at your file.

  22. Hi James,

    Trying to follow this tutorial, i get stuck when adding the vraysun, when i render to try and line up with my HDRI its just a pure white render, seems none of the proprieties i change stop it from being a pure white render.

  23. arunkumar on said:

    I am fallowing ur every tuts in Mintviz .these are very usefull to me.Thank you for this , I have some problem ….my renders are looking very dull with reference to some web images and I am attaching my Vray settings and rendered images .Please give me some advise .
    this is the link iam sending the files http://www.sendspace.com/file/l5dpj2

    Thank you

    • There are too many variations in colour and tone on the vegetation. Overall the image is too clean and the building requires more textures and materials. Perhaps concentrate on this before looking at the lighting and environment.

      • Use better high resolution textures or 3D geometry. The textures used on the vegetation are very low resolution and have variations in colour and intensity. They must match up in terms of lighting and shadows. But as mentioned previously, start by looking at your materials for the building and study real life photographs of the materials you wish to replicate in 3D.

  24. Thanks for a wonderful tutorial. I have managed to get it all pretty much right. The HDRI rotates along with my sun, but my reflections don’t follow, and rotate differently. I am unable to make heads or tails of the Parameter wiring and the only -Z option I come across is swapped.

    Again, great tutorial !

  25. prashant on said:

    Sir, first thank for this great tutorial…
    Now, my problem is after complete all method up to set vray dom light, then i test render image, so proble is my building is make orange tone, i change and set another hdr image but the result is same like orange tone of building, my material is white (250,250,250) but after render it make orange tone. then i disable vray sun light, then render result is proper white but colour is over expose and shadow of object is disappear….

    can u help me to solve this problem….

    once again thanks for this tutorial

  26. Hi, I followed the tutorial and set up max with the linear workflow as per your other tutorial. However, at the stage where we render a test after aligning the vray physical camera to the bright spot of the HDRI, the render is almost black. Ive read through several times to make sure ive not missed everything but it still happens. I have also tried several HDRI maps. Im using max 2012 64bit and Vray 2.20. Thanks

    • If you have “don’t affect colours” on in the colour mapping settings, make sure you turn on the “show colours in sRGB space” in the V-Ray Frame Buffer. If you are using exposure, it could also be that your exposure settings are too low.

      • Alex Massey on said:

        Thanks, it works perfectly now. Can i just say that your website & resources are brilliant and the individual responses to each problem are an asset and certainly welcome

      • Alex Massey on said:

        Actually now having another possible problem. When rendering at the end, the whole scene is vastly overexposed, yet by deleting the Vray sun, the image looks right. Any thoughts?

      • You will need to set your exposure accordingly. This following is an extract taken directly from the V-Ray help.

        “By default, the VRaySun and VRaySky are very bright. In the real world, the average solar irradiance is about 1000 W/m^2 (see the references below). Since the image output in V-Ray is in W/m^2/sr, you will typically find that the average RGB values produces by the sun and the sky are about 200.0-300.0 units. This is quite correct from a physical point of view, but is not enough for a nice image. You can either use Color mapping to bring these values to a smaller range (which is the preferred way) or you can use the Sun intensity multiplier to make the sun and sky less bright. Using the VRayPhysicalCamera with suitable values also produces a correct result without changing the sun and sky parameters.”

  27. my scene is coming black …after adding vray dome ……n also when i am doing wire parameter and i am selecting vray dome itself in transfoem vray light ………..its not showing me texture option ………..actually i am making a evening scene of terrace so ……….if i put vray physical camera target at sky ………..than how ll i render my scene……

    • If your scene is rendering black, please check your exposure settings. Once you have aligned the VRaySun you can re-position the camera target or set up a different camera.

  28. i am doing it again but i am not understanding after using vray dome….. i can turn off the Vray dome light and complete a test render to see the effects of the VraySun and vice versa…i am able to see this effect but after…..Remove the VraySky from the 3ds Max standard environment as this is no longer required because the scene will be lit via the Vray dome light. It was only used to make sure that the VraySun was aligned to the HDR image correctly and was the right size. i am able to see my hdri not the sun created by vray sun even if i delete it i can see my hdri same …as it is with vray sun ………….and i am not using any exposure control………..

  29. till now m not able to connect vray dome to vray light texture properties m only able to find dome texture plz help….

    • The link says: Your session has either timed out or has not been correctly established.
      Please login again. Could you upload a new image please?

  30. hey sorry to disturb u again n again…………..m final render is coming very noisy ………..and till now i am not able to find out texture in vray light through wire parameter instead of that …..there is a option dometexmap………….

  31. hey ..i am not able to upload screenshot of the parameter wiring …..but remember i told i am getting a parameter dometexmap…..its doing the same thing ….after making connection i am able to rotate my hdri………..

  32. First I want to thank you James for this fantastic Tutorial. You realy helped me.
    Also I would like to ask you something. could you please tell me how can I move the Horizon from my HDRI map down so that is not visible? I want only the clouds to be visible.

    Thank you again!

    • There are a few options you can try. 1) Adjust the offset of the HDRI texture in the material editor. 2) Adjust the vertical rotation of the HDRI in the material editor. 3) Remove the horizon in Photoshop and extend the sky.

  33. Blakes on said:

    Hello, it’s a great tutorial but I have a strange issue which doesn’t let me continue. I am following your steps, I’ve added HDRI into evn. map and physical vray cam – new scene, default settings – but the exposure control do not affect final render ( I am using linear workflow). The only way to control BACKGROUND exposure is through HDRI map multiplier. My camera settings do not affect background, it does however affect other standard lights. With GI turned on (IR and CL) first IR pass looks correct but final render is not affected by camera settings. Please help!

  34. Bullfrog on said:

    I don’t find any HDR environment like you used for this tutorial. I mean : load of sky, minimum of land and pure black in the bottom.

    If anyone has a good link for these please share. I could even give money for that… (I mean for the HDR not the share :-D)

  35. Bullfrog on said:

    Sorry, I didn’t read carefully. It’s clearly mentionned in the tutorial where the HDRI came from. My bad

  36. Bullfrog on said:

    Sorry but I don’t get this : “Using the align tool, align the VraySun target to the Vray physical camera and then align the Vray physical camera target to the VraySun. ”

    For me, if i align the VrayPhys Cam target to the Vray sun, I will lose the orientation of the sun which was in the HDRI previously and it will be wrong afterward when I will load the HDR in the Vray dome light…


    No, I don’t get this

    • First you find the sun/bright spot in the HDRI by moving the camera target around in the viewport.

      Since the camera target is now pointing directly at the sun/bright spot in the HDRI you then position the V-Ray sun by aligning it to the camera target.

      Then position the V-Ray sun target by aligning it to the camera. This makes the V-Ray sun be at the same angle as the camera thus being the same angle as the sun/bright spot in the HDRI.

  37. Bullfrog on said:

    It makes more sense this way ;-)

    “then align the Vray physical camera target to the VraySun” seems wrong to me but maybe it’s because my native language is not english.

  38. Hello James. thank you for a great tut. Something is different now though and I’d like you POV.

    VRay 2.40 doesn’t have a Gamma Control in the VRay HDRI loader. Now it has an Inverse Gamma control in a new field called Color Space.

    How does this play up in your (anyone’s) workflow? It was so cool to turn down gamma just a bit to get stronger shadows even without VRay sun.

    Thanks in advance. Your site really ROCKS!

  39. arjun on said:

    Firstly thanks… u r doing grt job… solution for each individual questions. . Its amazing… I will send u my screen shots and zip file of my wrk.. to you… can u giv me ur mail id….

    • Sorry, the scene is not available for download. If you are experiencing any issues from parts of the tutorial, please let us know and we will happily assist you.

  40. Note that for the parameter wiring to work you need to uncheck ‘Lock to dome orientation’ in the VRayLight options, under Texture. Otherwise the texture will rotate twice as hard as the domelight.

  41. Dear james
    I have a problem while using hdr and thats some times the horizon becomes completely black or much more enlightened and cant find the reason.

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