How to load a REFERENCE IMAGE in Blender


In this arti­cle we see how to load an image in Blender to use it as a ref­er­ence for the mod­el­ling process, either to exact­ly trace its geom­e­try or sim­ply to have it there and con­sult it to help you with the mod­el­ling. We will also see how to ori­ent the ref­er­ence image in space and how to make it trans­par­ent.

I have just the perfect video for this:

In this video we see how to load a REFERENCE IMAGE in Blender

A ref­er­ence image in Blender is like any oth­er object in the scene, so to add it we can use the short­cut SHIFT+A while in OBJECT MODE, this dis­plays the "Add" menu in a float­ing way, we go to the "Image" part and select "Ref­er­ence". As shown in fig­ure 1.

A win­dow will open in which we have to choose the ref­er­ence image we need.

In fig­ure 2 you can see the result of this oper­a­tion, the ref­er­ence image was added cor­rect­ly, the prob­lem is that it was added accord­ing to the ori­en­ta­tion that the cam­era had at the moment of adding, maybe that was what you need­ed although in many cas­es one prefers to have the ref­er­ence image ori­ent­ed accord­ing to the front, side or top views. If that is the case you can delete the image, ori­ent the view prop­er­ly and add it again.

add menu in blender that allows us to add an image to be used as a reference.
Fig. 1: Adding a ref­er­ence image in Blender.

Fig. 2: Ref­er­ence image object in Blender.

Orient the reference image in Blender

As men­tioned before, the best way to ori­ent a ref­er­ence image would be to first adjust the view and then cre­ate the ref­er­ence image, in this way the image already appears with the prop­er ori­en­ta­tion, how­ev­er, as it is an object in the scene we can also trans­form it, apply trans­la­tion, rota­tion and scale. For exam­ple we can select the image, press the R key to rotate it, con­strain the Z axis and type 90, so that the ref­er­ence image rotates 90 degrees with respect to the Z axis. We can also type direct­ly its ori­en­ta­tion in the trans­form pan­el shown in fig­ure 3. Fig­ure 4 shows a ref­er­ence image ori­ent­ed accord­ing to the XZ plane (front view).

Fig. 3: Trans­for­ma­tion of the ref­er­ence image.
Fig. 4: Ref­er­ence image posi­tioned in the XZ plane.

How to make a reference image transparent in Blender

In many cas­es we will need the ref­er­ence image to have trans­paren­cy to be able to see the 3D mod­el we are mak­ing, to achieve this we first select the image. Then we go to the image prop­er­ties using the icon shown in Fig­ure 5, note that this icon appears when an image object is select­ed. In the image prop­er­ties we enable the opac­i­ty check­box and set the desired val­ue, where 1 is com­plete­ly opaque and 0 com­plete­ly trans­par­ent. Fig­ure 7 shows the result.

Fig. 5: Access to the prop­er­ties tab of a ref­er­ence image in Blender.
Fig. 6: Prop­er­ties of the ref­er­ence image.
Fig. 7: Ref­er­ence image with opac­i­ty in Blender.

Fig­ure 6 shows oth­er options to con­fig­ure our ref­er­ence image, for exam­ple we can make the image vis­i­ble only in a cer­tain view.

How to add multiple reference images in Blender

We can add as many ref­er­ence images as we need, one way to do it is to repeat the process men­tioned above, i.e. add a new image object and select the file, but we can also take the exist­ing ref­er­ence image and dupli­cate it with SHIFT+D, as if it were a 3D mod­el, fig­ure 8 shows how I dupli­cat­ed an image and imme­di­ate­ly pressed the R key to rotate it 90° around the Z axis.

se duplica una imagen de referencia en blender a partir de otra
Fig. 8: A ref­er­ence image is dupli­cat­ed from anoth­er image as if it were a 3D object.

Once we have dupli­cat­ed the ref­er­ence image, it is now time to make the object show anoth­er image, for that we go back to the image prop­er­ties tab (fig­ure 5) and in the "Image" sec­tion we click on the "Open Image" but­ton shown in fig­ure 9 and load the desired image file, the result can be seen in fig­ure 10.

Fig. 9: Mod­i­fy­ing the ref­er­ence image file.
Dos imágenes de referencia distintas en Blender
Fig. 10: Two dif­fer­ent ref­er­ence images in Blender.

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