SceneSkies is an elegant solution to have realistic and beautiful skies and lighting for your outdoor scenes as easily as possible. It is a Blender addon.
SceneSkies is a Blender addon.
It contains super realistic 360° panoramic skies. That means they surround your whole scene. They serve two purposes: provide a full background around your scene, and light your scene. HDR lighting is the best modern lighting technique, as each pixel is treated as an individual light source. Any object in the scene is therefore lit from all angles, just like in real life.
Each sky is 8000x4000 pixels, for highly detailed clouds. They're also pure HDRs in 16bit EXR efficiently compressed format.
The skies give realistic lighting extremely easily (basically in one click) AND they react properly with color grading and exposure settings in Blender. The sun is as bright as the sun in real life (thousand times stronger than a car's headlights), giving sharp and strong shadows under clear weather conditions.
The skies are bottomless, they're perfect for any use, but also for large-scale shots as the viewer won't see the ground in the HDR, two meters below the camera when it was shot, while we're viewing the 3d scene from 300m high.
Different weathers, cloud types and hours of the day, so you can choose which ones best suits the mood of your scene. It's also perfect to test what lighting works best for you when in doubt.
The most direct lighting, with strong and sharp shadows, and a blue tint.
Evening light is soft and warm.
More diffuse shadows, and more ambient light, mostly gray because of the abundance of clouds.
The sun is as bright as the real sun, which gives the number one ingredient of photo-real lighting: full light brightness range.
In real life, nothing is completely black or white, that's only a limitation of our eye. Everything reflects or emits light to a certain degree, even if our eye can't see it. And the scale of brightness of light sources vary greatly. For instance compare the intensity of a torchlight to the light of a supernova which crosses galaxies!
Since the skies are saved in High Dynamic Range, each pixel contains not only color, but also light intensity. As such a pixel is never burned out, or completely black due to lack of light. As you increase exposure, black pixels come to life and reveal their hidden details, while decreasing exposure reveals details hidden in otherwise completely white pixels.
Being pure HDRs also brings the advantage of realistic and precise color grading right inside of Blender.
Apply professional looks and other film effects to your scene. Only true HDR backgrounds and lighting, capturing the whole range of brightness and color for each pixel, can give such lively results.
SceneSkies is written entirely in the Python programming language, with zero external dependencies, except for Blender itself. It is therefore very easy to install, and works everywhere Blender does, ie on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
It integrates nicely in Blender's interface, by adding a new panel in the world settings. All you have to do is choose a sky in a drop-down menu, and voilà! You have a photo-real world background and lighting.