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Make your own simple sky HDRI backgrounds!

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Download the attached file. It includes three HDRI backgrounds and instructions on how you can generate your own gradient sky backgrounds.

Edit: Fixed overbrightness and added V12 .mcd file. Note that HDRI lighting is rendered dozens of times faster in 2008 on multi-core machines than version 12 did.


Edited by Dave Donley
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A couple questions:

1. When exporting the HDRI do you need to change the pixel dimensions from the marquee default values of 362 x 182 @ 72ppi?

2. Since this is a gradient based HDRI is there any difference in quality between using a small image and a larger one?

2a. If so - what size do you recommend to get the best balance between quality -vs- speed?

3. With these gradient based HDRIs what should the Quality setting be on the Environment Lighting Options tab?

I've been very impressed with the render output of using Final Quality RW with an HDR RW background, but it is very slow. So any speed optimization techniques you care to share would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.


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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Hello Tim:

1. You might want higher resolution if you are using it as a visible background and the pixels in the gradient are noticeable.

2. For lighting there should not be much difference, if it is visible then maybe a higher resolution would help.

2a. HDRIs can result in a lot of memory use, for ones above say 2000 pixels wide. I would recommend ones that are as small as possible that don't show pixellation. This would depend on the scene and the field of view. It is common to split HDRIs into a low-res one for lighting and a higher-res one for the background. You could also use a low res one for lighting and a plain old image background.

To set the HDRI for just lighting, use the View->Lighting->Layer Lighting Options dialog or the Viewport's Obj Info->Shape pane Lighting Options button. You can set the lighting to use the current background, no background, or a selected (other) background than the one that is currently set for the layer or viewport.

3. Low or medium while tweaking lighting, and other rendering parameters, then High for final rendering. Very High would remove more graininess if that is very evident in the image. Turning off antialiasing, and reducing the number of pixels in the rendering by zooming out in design layers or lowering sheet layer DPI should help speeds a lot while tweaking the settings.

More cores helps as FQRW with HDRIs takes full advantage of any extra cores. Render at the lowest pixel resolution that will show you the details you need. Don't render at a higher sheet layer DPI than necessary for the output; sometimes 150 DPI is OK rather than cranking things way up to like 600 DPI or something.


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