How to Use HDRI Maps in Cinema 4D

How to use HDRI Maps in Cinema 4D

Lighting scenes realistically is one of the biggest challenges for most 3D artists. Using HDRI maps is a wonderful (and relatively easy) way of doing it. In this tutorial, I'll show you how to light a scene using HDRI Maps with Cinema 4D's Sky Object. 

What is HDRI?

HDRI stands for High Dynamic Range Image and such images contain brightness data. HDRI's are really useful for 3D applications that support them, because you can use them as the basis for the lighting in your scene.

The most useful HDRI images for a 3D artist are the 360 degree view and flattened out ones, such as the one above. These are known as HDRI maps and if you search that term in a search engine, you'll find loads of them. Some free and some which cost.


To use HDRI maps in Cinema 4D, you simply apply them to a large spherical object (such as a sky object) and then they can produce perfect spherical textures, which can be used to light your scenes in much the same was as that environment did in real life. So long as the image is of a high enough resolution, you'll also find they are great for creating background reflections on any 3D object you have with a reflective material. Here's a movie showing you how to set them up nicely in Cinema 4D:

In this tutorial, you learn how to add HDRI maps to a sky object to help produce realistic lighting and effects.

You also learn how to swap out and move HDRI maps, and use global illumination to allow that lighting to effectively light your scene for you.

Try Cinema 4D 3D Software for Yourself


Easy to use, powerful, stable and fast. We think Cinema 4D is the best 3D software for 3D motion graphics work. If you'd like to try out Cinema 4D and have a go with all the powerful features on offer, then be sure to grab yourself a free trial. The trial gives you access to virtually all of Cinema 4D's features and you can also opt to activate it for 42 days of save functionality. Simply fill out the form on the link below to get started!

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About the MAXON Blog

Welcome to the official MAXON UK Blog. This blog provides the most up-to-date official information about MAXON, its products – in particular its flagship product Cinema 4D – and the Cinema 4D community. You can expect to see posts from a wide variety of MAXON UK employees.