HDRIs (also known as high dynamic range images) can be incredible assets for graphic designers, videographers, video game developers, and other creatives who work with digital art. These images are a bit vague and mysterious when it comes to defining them, but they are more or less panoramic photos that cover all angles from just one point. These images often contain substantial data that can be used when lighting CG scenes and other digital art use cases. They can be used for environments and backgrounds for 3D renders and 360 backgrounds, and are often used by industrial designers, architects, and for VR/AR environments and scenes.
If you’re in need of high-quality HDRI images for industrial design render scenes or 3D backgrounds, there are actually quite a few great websites out there for finding HDRIs. Check out our list of the top HDRI resources!
These websites are easy to browse and worth trying if you need HDRI images fast.
HDRI Haven is probably one of the more popular platforms for finding HDRI images. It’s 100% free to use and all HDRIs on this website are free. Each image is licensed as CC0, meaning they can be used for personal and commercial purposes without any risk of copyright infringement. You also do not have to give credit to the original creator or avoid redistribution. And a majority of the images on HDRI Haven are 16k resolution and extremely high quality.
Aversis 3D is a popular little platform that often makes the rounds in designer circles. It’s an excellent market for HDRIs and other textures for CG scene use. Unlike HDRI Haven, most of the HDRIs on this platform cost money to use or license. However, the site does host monthly freebies, though these HDRIs are non-commercial use only. Still, Aversis 3D has a pretty broad range of HDRIs for multiple purposes and they make it a point to offer discounts when possible.
This little platform has a ton of excellent 360-degree high dynamic range images. They also offer textures, footage, and special bundles as well. HDRMaps has a freebie page that is pretty generous, which is great if you’re looking for quality HDRIs that won’t break the bank. While most of these freebies are non-commercial only, there are some that are usable in commercial renders.
The portfolio and shop site of VR sculpture artist Dylan Sisson, this website has a few panoramas for sale in addition to other merchandise and physical art pieces. Keep an eye on this site if you want to use free non-commercial HDRIs, as they periodically go on sale or are listed for free.
HDRIs are used for a wealth of different lighting requirements, one of which is skies and sky lighting. HDRI Skies is an awesome resource for HDRI sky files, 360-degree HDRI skies, collections, and 3D scans. This site has a surprising amount of free HDRIs available that are of excellent quality. If you specifically need images of the sky (at any time of the day), this should be your go-to resource. Plus, their HDRI files work with most leading packages, including Maya, 3ds MAX, LightWave 3D, Blender, Modo, Cinema 4D, and many others.
This platform is great for so much more than just free HDRI sets for image-based lighting. HDRlabs also offers an in-depth handbook, design news, useful tools, tutorials, galleries, and a great community for artists to connect with one another. However, the sIBL Archive is definitely the star of the show. This huge gallery of HDRI sets is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License. This means you can use them for anything — but just make sure you credit the creator.
Paul Debevec’s website offers some free HDRI images, but it’s also much more than that. Debevec has worked in image-based lighting for years and offers course notes, tutorials, and other information on his website for new developers to learn from. If you’re just starting out in rendering, give his website a look.
Their website may be a little dated, but the HDRIs they offer are fantastic. The images and their licenses are pretty affordable, and the platform offers free samples that are also very useful and high-quality. Plus, most of their freebies are commercial-safe, as long as the sets are credited accordingly. You can also enjoy some free tips and tutorials for rendering as well.
This platform is a huge resource for all things rendering and design. From 3D scanned materials to atlas sheets to PBR materials and overlays, there are a ton of textures and high dynamic range images available on Textures.com. To use this website, you’ll need to sign up for credit packages that include your image resolutions, commercial licenses, and redownload policies. It’s one of the free pay-to-use platforms out there, but if you need a ton of textures and HDRIs, that’s simply the best way to save some money.
iHDRI is a very user-friendly platform that offers a ton of different lighting resources. The platform offers completely free HDRI skies with no paywalls or spam involved, for both personal and commercial works. It’s a fan-supported platform and completely open-source. What makes this website resource a little different from others is that it offers interactive LDR previews for each of its HDRIs, which can be really handy if you don’t want to deal with long download periods that result in an image you actually don’t really like. The HDRIs on this platform are, frankly, on another level in terms of quality, beauty, and CG scene capabilities. They’re all unclipped and suitable for a number of different use cases as well.
These websites for HDRI images really are incredible! Which platform do you use to find HDRI images? Tell us about it in the comments below.