How to add Environment Backgrounds for VRay 2.4+

Hey guys,

While going around finding something new to learn that could spice up my renders, I found this really easy way to add backgrounds to your models without using a Dome Light (I mentioned that method in a previous tutorial).

To get to it you’ll need, either a HDRI or a HD image with a panoramic view (Day, Night, or Dusk); you can choose anything you like or think would help with the final render/location of model.

I’m using VRay 2.4 and Sketchup 2015; if you have different versions and have questions, feel free to drop a comment.

For the 3.4+ Tutorial, coming Sunday, 11th of August 2019.

Note: Keep in mind that the overall color of the image will influence the color of the natural lighting, for example: if you use an image that has a lot of orange hues, the natural lighting will be tinged orange. So, unless you want that certain effect, choose your background wisely.

If you want over 600 MB of FREE HQ HDRIs (Sky + Background) files, then continue to the end of this post.

I’ll be adding this view:


To This Scene:

Screenshot (5)

Step 1

Open your VRay ‘Options’ window, and head to the ‘Environment’ tab, Make sure that ‘GI(skylight)’ and ‘Reflection/refraction (background)’ are checked and then press the ‘M’ button in ‘GI (skylight)’.

Note: The steps we’ll be doing should be applied to both ‘GI(skylight)’ and ‘Reflection/refraction (background)’.

Screenshot (1)

Step 2

From the drop down menu under, choose ‘TexBitmap’.

Screenshot (2)

Step 3

Brows for your desired image

Screenshot (3)

Make sure you choose the exact image for both ‘GI(skylight)’ and ‘Reflection/refraction (background)’.

Step 4

Scroll down to ‘UVW’ and set ‘UVW Type’ to ‘UVWGenEnvironment’ and ‘Mapping Type’ to ‘Spehrical’.

Screenshot (4)


Now render! It should come out looking like this

Apartment - Master Bedroom-Scene 1

If you’re rendering a day scene and want the light to show, tweak ‘GI(skylight)’ value till you get what you want. I usually go for 5.

Screenshot (1)2

It should come out looking like this

Apartment - Boys Bedroom-Scene 1
Boys’ bedroom in the same apartment as the Master Bedroom



  1. Use images above 4 MP; you can find those via Google’s image search, and from ‘Search Tools‘ choose ‘Larger Than..‘ then ‘4MP‘.
  2. Always choose an image that is actually related to the approximate location of the model, as in, don’t choose a mountain view for a down town bachelor pad..
  3. If you’re making a daylight scene and want the sunlight to play a bigger role than the other lights, uncheck ‘Exposure’ in the ‘Camera’ tab, and amp up the ‘GI(skylight)’ value. You can post-process it later in Photoshop to tweak brightness and shadows.

Hope this tutorial comes in handy for your next project!


If you encounter any issues such as a Black Background or a Transparent Background, please head over to this post HERE for a fix.

If you’re looking to fix the Shadow/Sun problem caused by the HDRI, go HERE.

Hey, don’t forget to join our mailing list before you leave.

You’ll get weekly updates on new posts and access to our library; where we have over 600 MB of HQ HDRIs (Environment Backgrounds) for FREE!

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46 thoughts on “How to add Environment Backgrounds for VRay 2.4+

  1. When i use an HDRI sky on the vray enviroment window,it appears too bold am looking at a way to reduce the scale so it appears proportional to my 3d. Pls where do i go to adjust this scale. Thanks so much

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello 🙂
    i am rendering a small house with metallic material as the finishing, so the reflections from the environment are super important
    i am using VRAY 3 for rhino and i am not knowing how to add a good night time background
    i also removed the ‘already set’ background on vray so the renders are messed up !


  3. Hi dear, nice article thanks! but I have a question

    I inserted an High Quality image both in GI Skylight and Background, increasing values as I need… but the light doesn’t come across windows!
    It doesn’t arrive inside the room.

    Just a specification: my windows haven’t glasses (so light should easily pass…)


      1. I’ll reply here and let you know, or you can subscribe and you’ll get an email right away, I have a lot of good tutorials and design articles here, and even more great stuff on the way!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. i have done one of my residence model as you said above, but.. its after i get render it will come dark.. tell me where i did wrong in that…


  5. Hi, your tutorial worked except for one thing. Whenever I render my model, the background only uses a small part of the image and not the entire one which makes it look blurry and ugly. I used an image above 4 mp and it’s a panoramic picture too.


  6. Hi! I have a slight problem when i’m doing this. I do exactly what you say, i have a high resolution picture but it’s blownup. If i change the Spherical to screen it works. What am i doing wrong? 🙂

    Then another problem. It seems that the house i’m rendering is a bit transparent. I can see the background in the building, if you understand me! 🙂



    1. Hey Joacim,
      Sometimes some panoramas or HD pictures don’t look real when bent into a spherical shape, so it’s ok to use other options. It depends on the picture; I used Spherical in tbe tutorial because most fit, but some still don’t.
      As for the building being transparent, check to see if some transparent material snuck up on your walls also check the Transparency of your wall material in your sketchup Materials window. One more thing to check for is if the exterior or back material isn’t translucent. Let me know how it went 🙂



      1. Hi again!

        It seems that it didn’t work.. well, I have a friend a can ask so I will ask him as well. Maybe it’s the background, it’s a lot of grass on it so that maybe screws with my grass in my model.

        Thanks for the help!


  7. Hi! Thanks for the tutorial. it worked very well for the night scenes. I have one question, when we add the background, if it is for a day scene, how can i add the shadows that the sun makes? I already changed the GI value, as you suggested, and the scene gets much brighter but the shadows aren’t appearing. Can you help me?



    1. Hey Mariana! Thank you for stopping by 🙂 This worked for me a while back but haven’t used the technique ever since so let me know how it turns out for you.
      Try the steps under Dome Light here:


  8. hey! Thanks for your help!
    I was wondering, i do exact as you say, but it seems that my background is too big al the time..
    The grass is as big as a mountain, do you know how i can make this picture smaller?
    I also tried to make it from 1.0 to 0.2 in size, but that doesn’t seems to work either



      1. Hi thanks again for your fast answer🙂 !! Your the best
        the HDR image got a size from 37,9 mb.. so i guess its big enough :-O or do you mean that is should install the size in the ‘’output’’ to 2mp?
        Choukran Kind regards,
        Anastasia Tasoula Kontzes

        Liked by 1 person

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