Pro-Lighting: Skies

by Blender Guru in Scripts and Addons

Realistic Outdoor Lighting in an Instant

Notice: Pro-Lighting: Skies is now Blender 2.8 compatible!

What if you had a tool that allowed you to instantly change your outdoor lighting to any time of the day, any weather, and be completely realistic?

The flexibility to choose any lighting style. The confidence to know that it will render. And the freedom to do what you do best: create art.

That’s Pro-Lighting: Skies: the fastest, easiest and most realistic outdoor lighting available for Blender. An all-in-one solution with:

  • Easy one-click outdoor lighting
  • Realistic lighting that’s accurate to the real world
  • HDR quality lighting, optimized for Blender

Why Lighting is Important

Just like a movie with bad audio, a scene with bad lighting is a waste of time.

All the effort you’ve put into modelling and texturing won’t matter, if the lighting is horrible.

Bad lighting undermines all your other effort and makes the whole render look amateurish.

“I can’t tell you how many demo reels I’ve reviewed where the artist’s models are beautiful, but the lighting is flat, unrealistic, and uninteresting—essentially an afterthought.” –Jeremy Vicker, Lighting Technical Director, Pixar

Good lighting on the other hand helps tell the story, effects the mood, and helps the viewer relate to it. If your lighting is good, the scene becomes significantly more believable to the viewer.

Why You Shouldn’t use Sun lamps

Many schools teach the “sunlamp” method for outdoor lighting.

But while this sounds logical, real lighting isn’t a single light source. It’s millions.

Step outside and look up at the sky, and you’ll see shades of blue from the atmosphere, reflected light from the clouds and a horizon gradient. It’s a dome of lighting in an endless variety of hues, saturations and values.

A sun lamp is only one light source, when you should be using closer to a million.

The “better” solution: HDRs

HDR lighting uses a single 360-degree photograph to light your scene instead of lamps.

This gives you that infinite dome of lighting needed to create realistic lighting. And because it’s based on a real photo, it’s accurate to the real world. Not surprisingly, this has quickly become a standard for the industry.

However, as much as I love HDR lighting, it causes a list of problems:

Problem #1: Frequent Crashes

The average high-res HDR ranges from 200-400mb in size. Which is huge!

So when it comes to rendering, Blender frequently crashes: 

While rendering an animation once, a scene repeatedly crashed despite our best efforts to optimize it. It was only when we looked at the lighting that we realized a single HDR sky was spiking the memory usage by a massive 4GB!

As an artist you shouldn’t have to worry about whether your lighting will kill the render or not.

Problem #2: Frustrating to Use

Due to their large size, HDRs can take over a minute to load their own thumbnail. 

So unless you’ve memorized what each hdr looks like, you’ll need to wait for each one to load. Few things are as tedious as waiting for 30 hdr thumbnails to load.

It’s also a burden to do even simple tweaks. Want to change the direction of the lighting? You’ll have to dig around in the nodes and try to remember that one field that allows you to do it.

All these technical burdens take you away from what you should really be doing: creating art.

Problem #3: Expensive

This is the big one.

Online HDRs range in price from around $30-$100 per sky! And since you’ll normally need a lot more than 1 to create different scenes, it quickly becomes out of reach for most artists (for example: 50 HDRs would set you back $1,500 on CGSkies).

There are some free HDRs online. But you usually get what you pay for, as many are out of focus, low resolution or just poor quality in general. 

So with this in mind, I set out to create a solution. A way for artists to light their scene realistically, be easy to use and allow them to focus on making art.

Introducing… Pro-Lighting: Skies

The tool we wish we always had: Pro-Lighting: Skies.

It’s the fastest, easiest and most realistic outdoor lighting available for Blender. 


It’s all the benefits of HDR lighting, with none of the downsides.

1. Realistic Lighting

Pro-Lighting: Skies contains a collection of 80 HDR skiesthat were captured by professional photographers around the world. Includes sunny, cloudy, overcast, morning, sunset, nighttime and evening skies.

Whatever scene you’re planning, you’ll find the right sky to suit.

2. Super Fast

No more waiting for a single thumbnail to appear. No more fiddling with nodes. Just click the sky you want and it’s done.

The process is so fast that it doubles as a tool for lighting exploration. Rapid-fire through dozens of skies in seconds, quickly exploring different moods and styles of lighting for your scene. 

3. Up to 87% less memory than HDRs

No more annoying crashes.

Pro-Lighting Skies has been optimized for use with Blender, saving up to 87% memory over standard HDRs.

It does this through a clever usage of image formats and sizes to optimize how Blender renders it.

Finally you can focus on your art, with the ease of mind that your scene will render. 

4. User Friendly

Instead of needing to open the node editor and dig through nodes just to change the brightness, Pro-Lighting: Skies makes it infinitely easier.

All the values you’ll want to tweak are right there in the panel. Easily change the sun, sky light or rotation. Or change the saturation, hue or more settings in the advanced panel.

All the control you need, with none of the headaches. 

5. Affordable

We want to make HDR lighting available to the masses.

So while we could price it at the industry standard, we’re deliberately pricing it well below.

Typically, HDRs sell for $30-$100 each. So this pack of 80 HDRs would normally cost around $2,400 ($30 x 80 skies), and that’s without the add-on.

But Pro-Lighting: Skies is available today for just $197.

That’s all you’ll pay for the piece of mind of having your outdoor lighting taken care of forever.

Alternatively, if you’re an artist on more of a budget, you can get the Lite version for just $97 which features 30 skies instead 80.

Lite vs Ultimate: Sky Comparison

What People Are Saying


Text Instructions:

Step 1: Go to File>User Preferences then choose the Addons category at the top. At the bottom of the page, click the "Install from File" button. 

Step 2: Locate the zip ending in file on your harddrive, then click "Install from File."

Step 3: Click the checkbox on right of the addon to enable it. Then click the arrow to expand the addon preferences. 

For Ultimate and Lite Only

Step 4: In the box that opens, click the Install HDRs from zip button at the bottom.

Step 5: Locate on your hard drive the zips ending in _HDR. The Ultimate version will have 5 and Lite 3. 

Step 6: A box will appear warning that it may hang while installing, just click okay.

A tick should appear in the Preferences, indicating that the installation of all 94 HDRs are successful.

If the tick doesn't appear:

-Make sure you're installing the right files for the right version. Ultimate has 5 zips, Lite has 3 and the demo only has 1.
-Try selecting and installing the zips one at a time.
-Close Blender, reopen it and re-enable the addon

Still not working? Email [email protected] and we'll walk you through it.

Feature Update for Pro-Lighting: Skies v1.1

How to Add Your Own Skies

(Note: This feature will only work in Ultimate or Lite, not the demo)

No FAQ's found for this product.

Item Rating

This item has an average rating of 5 from 19 ratings by the community.

  • Jochen 8 days ago

    So easy to use! A must have. Thank you.

  • spyrule 2 months ago

    Great stuff, but I'm not too sure if this will ever be updated to 2.8. For the price, you'd expect it would be, but I haven't heard anything from Mr. Price about an update. If you are planning to stick with 2.7x, this is great. If not, you probably shouldn't buy this.

  • jozef 2 months ago

    Thank you !

  • Giulia 4 months ago

    I am really satisfied with this product. It finally made choosing the best lighting for my scenes way easier and faster: I applied these skies to a few scenes I had been lighting with plain hdrs and it gave them new life. Even in the lite pack there are many high quality hdrs with different lighting conditions, so I can choose to set my scene in the moment of the day and athmospheric condition I want.

  • hitman17528 7 months ago

    This look amazing! I just bought and tried for myself now!

  • Thomas Milus 7 months ago

    Perfect lights for realistic rendering, fantastic extra options, a realy big help for hobby artists. Thank you.

  • HUE 7 months ago

    Expensive, sure! But time is money and this add-on saves a lot of time!

  • Povilas 7 months ago

    A must have, great time saver.

  • firman ryan lim 7 months ago

    best sky addon or environment hdri. good for exterior or interior.

  • Lionel Alvergnas 8 months ago

    Easy, efficient, very fast to use, I'm very happy with it! ;-)
    It's a very good addon!

  • Dustin 9 months ago

    absolutely fantastic. I highly recommend checking out his blender tutorial videos on youtube as well.

  • -mir76- over 1 year ago

    This add-on is positive for beginners. But we need a good update because the compression is too easily visible in the sky... I am very disappointed. I would like a refund but it's too late :(...

  • David Kelly over 1 year ago

    Perfect for outdoor scenes and quick test setups.

  • Jairo de Ara over 1 year ago

    Awesome addon for Blender. Easy to use and works incredible on ambient creation. Recommended!

  • fxswan over 1 year ago

    This is a great pack and it has every variation of sky i will ever need....there is only one problem that I have not been able to get an answer for and that is how to vary the Z component to get the horizon of the sky to dip low in 3D rendering....the quick fix is to import your HDR via normal Enviroment node and adjust it with a mapping node...then you remove the black horizon line in flat renders like ocean, etc...

  • Vavrinec Foltan almost 2 years ago

    It is very fast to use. One click to activate and another to select. In the ultimate version you get many offers. But the price hurts.

  • davide11 almost 2 years ago

    Simply amazing .. Now the ultimate version counts 95 skies!

  • booink almost 2 years ago

    This is an amazing addon, it effortlessly renders out great results both for exterior and interior scenes, and even my not-so-powerful laptop was able to render the skies without any problem. I bought the lite edition, and even though it doesn't have nearly as many skies as the full version, it has plenty to satisfy most hobbyists such as myself. Great job Blender Guru! :D

  • brent3d about 2 years ago

    A must have Addon of out door renders!

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