Gaffer - Light & HDRI Manager

by Greg Zaal in Scripts and Addons

Gaffer is a Blender add-on that helps you light your scenes by presenting all the right settings in convenient panels for quick access and experimentation.

As a lighting artist myself, I created this add-on to help me with my everyday work. Not only did it speed up my lighting workflow, but it meant I could focus on creating better lighting without getting distracted searching for buttons.

"Lighting in Blender has never been this intuitive. Gaffer is your digital assistant when it comes to giving life to your scenes. A hassle-free tool and a must-have!" -  Reynante Martinez

Simple, Fast Interface

Character by Rico Cilliers

The UI has be meticulously designed to provide you with all the settings you need, as you need them, for all the lamps in your scene at once.

You can choose to view only the basic controls like strength and color, or expand each lamp to show more advanced options like shadow size, sample count, diffuse/specular toggles, falloff type and much more.

But Gaffer isn't just a little collection of things you can already do, it includes tools that will speed up your workflow and help you focus on the task at hand. The Solo button next to each light will temporarily hide all other lights except the one you clicked on, so you can see exactly what it's doing without being distracted or misguided by other lights. When you're done, Gaffer remembers your previous arrangement of light visibility and restores it.

A Better HDRI Handler

New in Gaffer v3 is a robust HDRI manager, with the ability to quickly switch between your HDR environment maps and adjust brightness, rotation, warmth, etc. all with a simple and intuitive interface. No need to fiddle with any nodes or wait for thumbnails of giant files to load.

It's built to handle whatever HDRIs you have on your hard drive, but if you don't have that many, there's a button to download free HDRIs from HDRI Haven in a single click.

One click away is an automatically generated JPG background for up to 4x memory savings, with an optional darkened JPG to retain specular highlights in reflections.

An advanced search and tagging system can be used to organise your library and make it easier to find the perfect HDRI in your future projects.

"It's not often I invest in add-ons, and even more rare that I endorse them, but I fully stand behind Gaffer, and the work Greg has put into it. Worth every penny, this lightweight addition to my workflow has sped up the process of lighting my scenes, giving me immediate, unfettered access to all of my HDR environments whilst simultaneously taking the guesswork out of choosing the right setup. Take the plunge - you won't regret it!" - Jackdarton

Useful Visualizations

The size of a lamp controls how soft its shadow is - this is key to creating good lighting, but it's hard to imagine what it'll look like when you're just typing in numbers. Gaffer lets you display the lamp size directly in the 3D view as colorful outlines around each lamp so that you can visually understand how the light will behave.

You can also display the name of each light in the 3D view for quick identification. As a bonus, this promotes good naming standards for better organization :)

Free Updates, Forever

I'm a lighting artist myself, which means that I'm constantly adding new features and improving this add-on for myself as well as for you. So once you purchase Gaffer, you'll also be able to get all future updates without ever having to take your wallet out again.

Just take a look at the changelog below to see how this add-on has evolved over the years and how it will continue to grow in future.

Cycles and Blender Render

The lighting panel works for both of Blender's built-in renderers, so whatever your style Gaffer can help you achieve it quicker :)

The HDRI Handler only works for Cycles though.


v3.0.2 (2017/03/14)

  • Fix broken thumbnail gen when there's a space in the path to Blender.
  • Make HDRI selector smaller in toolbar.

v3.0.1 (2017/03/02)

  • Bug fixes relating to generating thumbnails..
  • Optionally ignore 8-bit images to avoid detecting example renders as HDRIs. Enable "Detect 8-bit images as HDRIs" in the User Preferences to keep the old behavior.
  • Optionally skip generating thumbnail if only a big HDRI is available to avoid long waits
    Use pre-existing thumbnail or preview files if there are any.
  • Don't include _thumb or _preview files in HDRI variation list.
  • Log some info to a text file to help with debugging if necessary. Log file only records last 7 days to avoid growing to a huge file over time.
  • Add some debugging tools.

v3.0 (2017/02/21)

Add a robust HDRI manager to allow you to quickly switch between your HDR environment maps, adjust brightness, rotation, warmth, etc. without having to use the node editor.

See all the new features explained here:

v2.6 (2016/12/22)

Note: To install this version you must first remove the old one.

Gaffer now notifies you when an update is available (can be turned off in user-prefs).

Minor improvements to the handling of lights with multi-user data:

  • When labels are shown, the name of the data is shown too so you can easily recognize which lights share the same data.
  • The name of the data (or material in the case of mesh lights) is shown in the light panel instead of just one of the object names. Clicking on the name will let you rename the data/material.

Lights with single-user data are not affected.

The add-on is also now split into multiple files instead of a single file. This is both for organizational purposes and to allow the auto-updating feature to work.

v2.5 (2016/04/20)

Support for Blender 2.77 (fix viewport update issues)

v2.4 (2015/10/06)

  • Renaming a light from the panel will no longer require a manual refresh.
  • Added support for portal lamps

v2.3 (2015/01/23)

Objects in the Blacklist are no longer affected by Soloing.

v2.2 (2014/10/26)

Fix a crash (or a bunch of errors) when deleting a lamp while showing the radius visualization.

v2.1 (2014/10/24)

Just a few minor improvements:

  • When selecting/hiding/showing/soloing a light with multi-user data, the other objects which share that data are selected/hidden/shown/solo'd as well.
  • Refreshing the light list will also refresh the 3D View visualizations.

v2.0 (2014/10/19)

This version adds several new tools to help you aim, visualize and manage your lights. Aiming:

  • Aim selected lights at 3D cursor
  • Aim selected lights at active object
  • Aim the active object at the average location of selected objects

View-port Visualization:

  • Display the radius of lights in the 3D View
  • Display a colored label in the 3D View with the light name

Add objects to a Blacklist to prevent them from showing up in the light list or 3D View visualizations. Link the vector of a sky texture to the rotation of a lamp - this can be used to make sure the appearance of the sky matches the direction of the sun correctly. Minor Improvements:

  • If multiple lights use the same lamp data (or material), only one of the lamps is shown in the list. A small label tells you how many users of that data there are.
  • Added a small gap between lights in the light list to help visual separation.
  • Added a button at the top to exit Solo Mode.
  • Hiding the world light (or enabling Reflection Only) now uses the new Volume Scatter ray visibility.
  • [Bug] Selecting a light from the Gaffer panel while in Edit Mode would force you to be stuck in some impossible limbo mode.
  • [Bug] Changing the render engine would sometimes show some errors.

All documentation (including installation instructions and feature descriptions) can be found here:

No FAQ's found for this product.

Item Rating

This item has an average rating of 5 from 14 ratings by the community.

  • niittymaa 2 months ago

    This is superb addon! There is so many useful features packed into this addon. I really recommend this to anyone who want to improve lighting workflow in blender.

  • Ryan Guy 3 months ago

    This addon has had a place in my workflow for the last five months and has worked flawlessly! Gaffer just makes it so quick and simple to set up lighting for a scene. The HDR image manager is perfect for using in combination with Greg Zaal's stunning environments from HDRI Haven!

  • Steve Masterson 4 months ago

    Perfectly Brilliant, thanks!

  • Joseph 10 months ago

    Now I understand how some of my favorite artists are getting their results. This plugin is huge if your a serious artist.

  • virgil89 about 1 year ago

    this add-on its the description of perfection. I had many un-organized HDRI that I just never used because going thru the hassle of load a big file every time just to find what I was searching it was not wort it. this add-on resolves E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G., tags, thumbnails and it gave me a prompt to go back and organize them wit proper name. do yourself a favor and just buy it

  • ezydenias about 1 year ago

    This plugin is awesome. I was even surprised when it showed me the Intensity value of mesh lights. I think everyone who like me has to deal with scenes with up to hundreds of lights will love this tool as the standard method is pretty clunky and very aggravating. So for everyone who actually has to set up a shit ton of lights this plugin is a must have.

  • gendosplace over 1 year ago

    This is one of the must have add-ons for Blender! Thank you for this Greg.

  • the3dcie over 1 year ago

    So useful !

  • pilamin over 1 year ago

    I don't use the light manager as often as I would like. I've tried. It's neat, but still doesn't come off as undeniably essential over the default way of managing lights. It's slightly more elegant over default Blender, but something about it still doesn't feel complete.

    But the HDRI manager? It's absolutely an improvement over default Blender. For that, Gaffer is a must-have if you use HDRIs.

  • morphin3 almost 2 years ago

    The HDR manager really brings this addon to life and at such a very low price. This is the perfect tool to get you concentrating on what you want to and leave the lighting to the hdr addon.

  • klusi67 almost 2 years ago

    Really great addon. Makes light setup much easier for me. Very easy and intuitive to use!

  • ninjatogo almost 2 years ago

    HDRI manager is truly handy. Saves quite a bit of time when working on projects.

  • tcwik about 2 years ago

    A nice addon.

  • Diego Gangl about 2 years ago

    Awesome addon. Over the years Gaffer has become a big part of my workflow in Blender.
    Besides managing complicated light setups, it makes a lot of settings like light falloff more accesible. The blackbody presets are also a great time saver when working on realistic scenes.

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