Using HDRI in Unreal Engine: A Step-by-Step Guide

High Dynamic Range Images (HDRI) are a powerful tool in Unreal Engine for creating realistic lighting and reflections. They capture a wider range of light and color than standard LDR images, resulting in a more immersive and believable environment. In this guide, we'll walk you through the process of using HDRIs in Unreal Engine, step-by-step.

1. Importing the HDRI Image

  1. Open your Unreal Engine project.
  2. In the Content Browser, right-click and select Import.
  3. Navigate to the location of your HDRI image and select it.
  4. In the Import window, make sure the Format is set to EXR (HDR 32-bit).
  5. Click Import.

2. Setting Up the HDRI Backdrop

  1. Open the World Settings (Edit > Project Settings > World).
  2. In the Rendering section, enable the HDRI Backdrop Plugin.
  3. Click the HDRI Backdrop button.
  4. In the File field, browse and select your imported HDRI image.
  5. Adjust the Rotation settings to position the HDRI correctly in your scene.
  6. Adjust the Intensity to control the overall brightness of the HDRI.
  7. Click Apply and then OK.

3. Adjusting Lighting and Reflections

  1. In the World Outliner, select your Sky Light.
  2. In the Details panel, ensure Mobility is set to Stationary.
  3. Under the Light section, enable Cast Shadows and Cast Static Shadows.
  4. Adjust the Intensity and Color of the Sky Light to match the mood of your scene.
  5. In the Material Editor, open the material you want to apply reflections to.
  6. In the Material Properties, search for Reflection Environment.
  7. Click the Cubemap Capture dropdown and select HDRI Backdrop.
  8. Adjust the Roughness and Metallic properties of the material to control the strength and intensity of reflections.

Additional Tips

  • You can use the Exposure setting in the Post Process Volume to further adjust the brightness and contrast of your scene.
  • You can use the Exponential Height Fog setting in the World settings to create atmospheric fog that interacts with the HDRI lighting.
  • You can create custom HDRI Backdrop materials to blend multiple HDRIs together or to add additional effects.

By following these steps, you can easily use HDRIs to create realistic lighting and reflections in your Unreal Engine projects. With a little experimentation, you can achieve stunning visual results that will immerse your players in your world.

Using HDRI in Unreal Engine A Step-by-Step Guide