How to set a BACKGROUND IMAGE in Blender – Custom Sky with Texture


In this article we are going to see how to modify the sky of the scene in Blender so that it displays a texture for the background. For this we will use an HDR texture as an environment texture. This type of texture is very useful when you want to achieve realistic lighting because when using the texture to illuminate an scene, the 3D models receive lighting of different colors and intensities depending on the direction and this highlights its geometry, especially if there are objects that reflect the environment.

First Step – Get HDR texture to use as a background texture

To modify the Skybox of the scene in Blender we will need special textures, one of the ones that can be used are the HDR (High Dynamic Range) textures, they are textures that have more information than the ones we commonly use and they are useful to illuminate scenes, because you can increase or decrease their intensity and the texture responds properly.

I usually download textures from the Poly Haven website, they have a quite interesting gallery with this kind of images, the downloads are free and you can also choose between qualities ranging from 1K to 8K textures, as you can see in figure 2.

Poly Haven

hdr environmental textures gallery for download
Fig. 1: First you need to get an HDR texture, on the page there are different categories and they can be downloaded in different resolutions.
hdr 2k texture download to change skybox in unity
Fig. 2: In my case I will download a texture in 2K resolution.

Next steps to change the Sky texture in Blender

Next we are going to see how to modify the background texture in Blender in two simple steps.

1. Go to the “World Properties” tab and modify the color node, choosing the “Environment Texture” option, as shown in figures 3 and 4.

world properties window in blender, change the scene sky
Fig. 3: In the World Properties tab we modify the color node.
properties for the color node in blender, selection of environment texture to change the background texture
Fig. 4: We selected Environment Texture from the list.

2. Using the “Open” button that appears, select the HDR texture to use as a sky.

by choosing environment texture for the background color we can assign a hdr texture in blender
Fig. 5: We use the Open button to open the file with the HDR texture.
hdr texture selection to change the skybox into blender
Fig. 6: We selected an HDR texture, at the beginning of the article there is a link to download these kind of textures.

How to see the background texture

To see how the sky looks like in the scene we go to the render mode, pressing the Z key should display the options shown in figure 7, we choose the “Rendered” option.

blender display modes
Fig. 7: We enter the render mode to visualize the scene.
display of skybox change in blender, sunset
Fig. 8: The whole scene is surrounded by the selected texture.

In figure 8 we see the result, the whole scene is surrounded by the HDR texture and the lighting of the scene comes in part from this texture. We can make this more evident if we make the material reflective.

change of properties of a material in blender, metal that reflects
Fig. 9: In the material of the cube I decrease the roughness and make it metallic.

To do this we select the cube, go to the material tab and increase the parameter “Metallic” to the maximum and decrease the parameter “Roughness”.

In figure 10 we see the result, now the cube is metallic and has a smooth surface, therefore it reflects the light of the environment.

rendered in blender, the texture of the sky is reflected in the metallic material
Fig. 10: The environment is reflected in the material because the HDR texture is being used to illuminate the scene.

Video tutorial on how to change the sky texture in Blender

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