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Color Your (HDR) World


cgcowboy writes:

Discover the power of a single RBG Curves node when transforming your HDR to transform your scene.

About the Author

Avatar image for Dale Forbes
Dale Forbes

I am a part-time CG/VFX artist doing IT work as my full-time job. I discovered Blender when I was laid up for medical reasons and stuck at my computer with the urge to do something creative. What a find! I've been hooked on Blender ever since and, after posting some of my better projects online, even been lucky enough to be sought out to do VFX for a documentary film and web site graphics. I love the Blender community and how so many people are eager to help others. It has inspired me to start creating my own video tutorials and hopefully be another valuable contributor to the Blender community. Cheers!


  1. Nice tutorial, but there is not a real limit on jpg it can be use to store HDR as well.
    The problem is only you need good software to create a good HDR.
    As a normal camera usually has good contrast in about 1.5 stops (and a film camera even less) above and under the preferred light amount.
    So in order to create a good HDR you need software to combine several pictures of the same subject.
    to combine their color depth. So you take an over exposed a normal and a under exposed picture then you get 3x1.5 around 4.5 stops of exposure range.
    Then using software you can combine it all and have images that have more color depth.
    Then you can save it as jpg (remind not loosless compression) or png.
    Jpg goes wrong on fine details, but for clouds; you're most likely safe
    Here a link to some free software so anyone can create HDR images, out of a series of normal pictures

    • JPGs can only store 8 bits of information, no matter how you shoot it. A single raw photo (CR2/DNG format) that most DSLRs can capture is usually 12 or 14 bits iirc, which is already 64x more data than a JPG. HDRs are a step up from even that - in EXR format, they can be stored as a 32-bit image, which is 2^(32-8)x more than JPG, or 16000000x more data.

      An HDR is not simply a spherical panoramic image, you can take those on your phone. An HDR is an image that stores more data, and if shot correctly can provide much more realistic lighting in a 3D scene. This gif shows the difference between JPG and HDR: (from my article that Bart linked)

      Edit: Also, there's a big difference between HDR for CG lighting and tonemapped images (what the photography world calls "HDR photos") - my article addresses that too.

  2. Wow this was great, ive been working in art for a while now and ive used levels and curves in photoshop before, but it was always more moving the curves til i got what i liked. I feel like i have a better understanding of curves in general. Super helpful!

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