Lighting in Vray using an HDRI Sky & VraySun

This tutorial covers updated techniques for lighting in Vray using an HDRI Sky and Vray Sun.

Please note that I have learned much of what is presented in this tutorial by going though Peter Guthrie’s blog in detail. In addition there are some other steps which I have worked out while experimenting with the technique. I felt it would be useful to try to consolidate what I have learned into one concise video. In addition, please note that the scene is lit with one of Guthrie’s HDR images which he sells online. The settings I have used in the tutorial suit his HDRIs well but the results may vary a little with other HDRIs. Don’t be afraid to adjust the setting and experiment! It would be nice to hear what kind of results other people get with different HDRIs. I would encourage you to check out Peter Guthrie’s blog, for a lot of detail on this topic (as well as many other areas of architectural visualisation.) The webpages of Ronen Bekerman and Bertrand Benoit also provide some very useful information on the topic of lighting with HDRI.

The following steps will be shown: Creation of the vray dome light, loading the HDR/EXR image file, creation and aligning of the vray sun to the HDRI, linking of the vray sun to the dome light, the parameter wiring of the dome light to control the rotation of the HDRI and finally generating a render with an alpha channel for use in post production.

Please check out my vimeo page ( and my this blog for additional tutorials, my work and occasionally some free stuff in the future.

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  1. Picasso_777 said:

    I follow your tutorial, but I have a question :
    What is the “Intensity Multiplier” of the VraySun, please ?
    Because, if i set it on 1,0 (by default), it burns my scene.

    Thank you.

    • The intensity multiplier of the sun should be set to 1.0. If your scene is becoming over exposed (burned) you will need to check that you are using a vray camera with it’s exposure control enabled, or if you have to use a standard max camera that you are using the vray exposure control in the effects dialogue. If you are not sure how to enable this, reply and I will do a quick guide.

  2. Amr said:

    sir, is there a way to scale the hdri image after importing into 3dsmax?

    • Amr. I assume you mean scale the image horizontally or vertically as you see it in the viewport? As this is a spherical HDRI mapped spherically via the dome light, the answer is probably no. What you see in the viewport is accurate in terms of how the clouds/ sky would appear in reality. If you would like to scale the sky image that appears int he render in order to improve composition etc, I would strongly recommend you simply follow the tutorial as it is and then replace the sky in photoshop or another compositing program post-render. This will give you far more control. I don’t often do this in my private work as I’m less fussy about composition in that context but at work we do that all the time with great success.

      I hope that helps!

      • many thanks indeed

  3. T said:

    Clear, concise, accurate. I wish all video tutorials were like this. Any criticism? For something a bit more techy a better quality video would be helpful to see the figures. Otherwise excellent. Many thanks.

    • Hey T.
      No worries, glad you found it helpful. I’ll look into my video quality as soon as I get a chance.

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