Example set of sIBLings. Shown is actual size relationship.

The 3 basic ingredients of a smart IBL setup are:

  • a super high res panorama as camera background
  • a high res HDR as specular component for reflection
  • a blurred low res HDR as diffuse environment lighting
The idea is to put all these three images together in a folder, and link them together with a description file. From that point on they are siblings. Together they form a complete lighting set. We also throw in a sunlight, that matches in color, direction and intensity.

The description file is the key, because here we keep all the relevant setup information. It is in plain text format, easy to parse and well documented. You actually don’t have to care about the individual images anymore. All you have to do is choose the sIBL set you want to load. We even included short notes and a thumbnail image, so you can make an educated choice.

Easy on the artist

sIBL-GUI is our application-agnostic setup machine.
All the tedious setup steps are automated, putting the technical aspects behind the curtain. Instead, you’d just browse the collection or search by keyword (like ‘sunset’) and decide what the setup assistant should do.

For Maya, 3D Studio MAX and Softimage XSI we have a unified interface in sIBL-GUI.
For Lightwave, Cinema4D and modo we have dedicated Loader Scripts.

Software Download Section

Smart IBL is the easiest way to test your model in a variety of lighting situations. It gives you a headstart by making your renders look real, so you can concentrate on the creative stuff to make them look gorgeous.

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[ Renderings by Lee Perry-Smith ]


Pivotal point of the system is the sIBL Collection.

Technically, this is just a plain old folder with one subfolder for each set. It can be anywhere, even on a network location. As long as this sIBL Collection root path is accessible to the Loader scripts, everything is fine. When you drop a new sIBL set in there, it will be instantly visible for all the Loader scripts. Because they scan through that collection on each start, looking for the .ibl description files.

Almost like a little content management system.

Except that everything is still accessible for standard system tools. No database, no fancy file formats, nothing proprietary. Just an organized folder structure with images in standard formats.

Imagine this: A Lighting TD is done with stitching HDRIs and preparing all the ingredients, has made some test renders and they look great. Then he just moves the sIBL set folder from his local collection into the the shared one, and all the artists have it at their fingertips right away. That includes the character artists working in Maya, the Lightwavers doing the backgrounds, and the MAX’ler who make all the cool particle effects. Everybody is happy, and they all render with the same lighting.

But of course, you don't really need to edit all description files in a text editor, either. Chris Huf's juicy sIBL-Edit fits all your needs for organizing, creating and editing sIBL-sets. More about sIBL-Edit...