VRay HDRI Lighting Tutorial

I recently got all the equipment necessary for creating my own high quality HDRIs (not cheap and a bit frustrating at first). This seemed like a perfect opportunity to create a tutorial on HDRI lighting in VRay.

I’ve seen a lot of methods and tutorials over the years:

  • HDRI Map in Environment slot
  • VRayDomeLight with a texture
  • VRayDomeLight + VraySun
  • VRayDomeLight with a manually painted in bright spot for sharper shadows
  • VRayDomeLight with HDRI Gamma lowered

*HDRI Map in Environment does not give a high quality result and sometimes causes bright spot glitches.
*Adding a bright spot in the HDRI is IMHO not a good option, as it is hard to control exact amount of shadow hardness/strength.

In the end I settled for a combined workflow – VRayDome Light + VRay sun for precise shadow control + Gamma changes for controlling contrast of the background.
For me this combo gives the best results and most precise control over all the aspects of lights and shadows.

This method takes a bit more time to set it up, but once you understand how it works, it’s not so hard.

If you are looking for high quality HDRIs Click Here!

40 thoughts on “VRay HDRI Lighting Tutorial

  1. Very interesting lesson, thanks!

  2. you are the best at all
    thaaaaaaaaaaaanks Austris
    but can I use this type of light in interior scenes ??

    • Yes, it’s good for interiors too! (you might need to cheat a bit and use some light planes in windows as well)

  3. Thanks a lot for this tuto

  4. Hi, Austris
    Получается, чтобы посмотреть это видео, мне надо получить премиум в Vimeo Plus? Все-таки написано, что туториал бесплатный…

    • Pamoimy net. Y menya vse rabotayet. Prablema proisxodit kogda ti vihodish imeno na Vimeo, no embed rabotayet na etoy stranitse. Hope that helps!

  5. Sorry, это у Оперы глюк, Хром проигрывает

  6. very rich sites

  7. than you for giveen this nice videos..

  8. Lots of thanks Austris. I highly recommend VISCORBEL to my friends and professional circles.
    Thumbs up for sharing this tutorial.
    Great effort!

  9. thank you very much for the for the tips and techniques


  11. your tutorials are clear your ways of explanation is superb , thank you for this tutorial.

  12. hi
    I have problem whit my BG. When I use vrayhdrimap in environmental slot my BG is not effected. So I did experiment. First I used picture .jpg and now my BG was effected. then I used just hdr image whit out vrayhdrimap and also I had hdr image in BG. But when I used vrayhdrimap with hdr image and I used it in environmental slot my BG is empty. I use 3dsmax 2012. What is the problem? way when I want to use vrayhdrimap my bg is empty and I cant see image?
    thank you

    • did u find a solution for this issue;
      im trying this tutorial just now, i had the same problem; bcos 3ds max doesnt the option which instructor clicking on menu (background )

  13. ok
    i resolved it
    but thank you for your tuts

    • hi sir i have same problem like about using hdri map in my environment i want to show it in bg but its not showing in my viewport but when i render the bg in there. i want to see my environment in viewport to align my vray sun to the hdr like sir Austris did in his tutorial. big thanks sir

  14. Is the file to start available for download?

    • sorry, i didn’t really save the scene

      • Hi… dude
        i saw ur tutorial very nice… i am working in artecture field… i know cadd,max,photoshop… will u teach me vray s/w.
        i want to give realistic output..help me frnd…
        my age 27
        i am poor family..plz help me frnd..

  15. This tutorial explains me so much about Lightning.

    Thanks so much!!!

  16. Hi. Is there any chance of sharing the settings of your glass & aluminium joinery materials? The aluminium frames look awesome. Thanks. (just rgb values, reflect glossiness and fresnel IOR would be awesome)


  18. thank u for your great tut. but my problem is that, when iam in my vray cam mode, and when i tweak it, iam unable to move the background[environment map] as you have shown. so i am unable to find the brightest point in the scene. plz solve my problem.

  19. First of all, perfect tutorial! I’ve got a little problem with my viewport background settings though. (using Max 2012). When I created an instance of my hdri (4:40 in your video)I can’t see it in my camera view when i select the “use environment background” option. So i just selected the hdri file in my filebrowser to show as my BG. Now when i turn the camera, the HDRI doesn’t move with it for some reason. Anybody got some tips for me? Cheers!

    • Hi Ron,

      It is an issue in 3ds max 2012. What you need to do is go into customise/preferences/viewports tab/then change your display driver to direct 3d or something like that. restart and it will work.

  20. To see HDRI background in the viewport (in max 2012 – with nitrous), simply update the vray.

    I installed version 2.30.1 and it worked perfectly with the nitrous. \o/


  21. its really help full thanks a ton. :)

  22. excellent thanks

  23. thank you, this is good TUT

  24. Hi,Austris!
    This tutorial very cool! But I did something wrong with dome light…Can I reset wire parametrs?

  25. Привет, Астрис. Спасибо огромное за твои уроки, не многие хотят /умеют делиться своими навыками 3 d. В России все зажаты, если и умеют делать хоть какую-то низкокачественную визуализацию, то хранят под строжайшим секретом – не дай Бог кто-нибудь узнает и научится делать лучше… Все – карьере конец!
    Мне хотелось бы узнать, как правильно делать подобное освещение для интерьеров. Все делаю по уроку, дополнительно ставлю Vray Plane (Sky Light Portal) в окно. Увеличиваю Subdivs в Dome и Plane, результат – свет очень нравится, приятный, мягкий, реалистичный, но вот шумы… Шумы огромны и время рендера увеличивается в разы по сравнению с обычным Vray Sky (Использую карту HDRI приобретенную на этом сайте). Как исправить? Подскажи, пожалуйста, в идеале хотелось бы урок на эту тему, но хотя бы в двух словах можно что-то посоветовать?

    • Hi,
      I am familiar with this secretive attitude (I’ve actually received e-mails from your Russian ‘colleagues’, saying angry things about sharing ‘trade secrets’)

      I’ll try to make a quick tut on this subject, but keep in mind that hdri lighting is always going to be slower than vraysky. Hopefully I’ll have some time next week.

  26. Thank you, Austris. I’ll be waiting.

  27. Great tuto!
    Clear, easy to follow, thank you very much for sharing

  28. thanks great tutorial
    as usual , your tutorials have new & best

  29. Hi
    Very nice Tutorial.
    I’m new to hdri/dome lighting, and I’m more an old school. I tried hdri lighting in my new project using vray physical cam.. my renders are showing purple/blue/green colours on the renders and its annoying me, as I cant get it off, even if I press the force colour clamp button in the vray frame buffer..
    Can you help me in this please.

  30. Maniraj singh

    Amazing, Excellent sir, Thank you so much..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *