Tip: Rendering with a Background Image

In this quick Blender 2.5 video tip we show you an easy way to render your scene with a background image. This technique makes use of the Node-based compositor to overlay the scene on an image of your choice.

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58 Responses to “Tip: Rendering with a Background Image”
  1. Posts: 19
    hallowedking says:

    yes but when wire frame is selected the surface doesn’t show,I think a render with the mesh surface and the actual geometry would look neat when rendered,kind of difficult to explain what I mean.Just a way to show the model and how clean the geometry is,basically a surface render mixed with wire frame render.

  2. Posts: 171
    Max Berends says:

    Jonathan, I’m working on a sword in blender,and it’s going fairly well, but it has this big Ruby/gemstone in it, and i just can’t get the material right, it just doesn’t have this shiny look, and it and my renders just turn out horrible becouse everything blends in with the grey background ( i havent finished the invoirement yet.
    could you please do a tutorial on how to create a realistic gemstone? the shape isn’t the problem 😛 it’s the material that I keep messing up :(.

    thanks anyway,


    • Posts: 4186

      I’ve actually been wanting to do just such a tutorial! Although I’ll have to actually figure out how to do it first…


      • Posts: 171
        Max Berends says:

        I’ll wait till my bones grow old and crumble to dust if I must! 😀 :) and if I might add something, combine it with jewellery, in search of information I found lot’s of unansered bloggs with questions about how to texture jewellery and stuff.
        thanks again! and goooood luck.

  3. Posts: 9
    Stefano Corrado says:

    Really great smooth tutorial there Jonathan although blender 2.56 crashed on me while doing it I managed to understand the tutorial pretty easily! Thanks. Now to just do it again :)

  4. Posts: 4
    netghost03 says:

    really cool. that exactly what I was looking for. (about over an hour)

  5. Posts: 1
    John Kingery says:

    I tinkered around with this some and instead of am image file I used a short film clip. Funny thing is, the blender objects looked better than the film…

  6. Posts: 4
    trimondi says:

    is it possible to do the same with a video?

    • Posts: 4186

      It sure is. If using nodes then you can use the “Movie” input. If you’re using a textured plane then set the texture to Image/Movie.

  7. Posts: 1
    LucarioXL says:

    Can you put up a tutorial for putting images as ANIMATION backgrounds? I ask this because this method does not work for animations… still, good tutorial; I’ll remember it if I need to render images…

  8. Posts: 1
    567legodude says:

    I did this, but when I render the image it is still the same.

  9. Posts: 17

    To do this in cycles after getting the nodes set up i had to go to Render Properties panel > Film and check Transparent.

  10. Posts: 13
    Kelly Bellis says:

    Citizen Charlie: THANK YOU!!!

    Thanks also to Jon for making this tutorial :)

  11. Posts: 1
    Gabe says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. Very helpful. I wasn’t having much luck though until I unchecked ‘Sky’ in the render layers tab.

    • Posts: 4

      I was stuck at exactly the same point ! Thanks for this, it’s solved now.

      And thanks to Jonathan for the very useful tutorial.

  12. Posts: 7

    Really cool, I was wondering If you can make a tutorial to make the samething you made here, except in Cycles Render. Because when I render it, its just a blue plane.

  13. Posts: 16
    the animator says:

    I can’t get this to work in 2.66, I have it working in previous versions of blender, but no luck in 2.66. Any one have any clues for this problem? I unchecked sky in the render layers tab as Gabe did, and it still didn’t work. I’ve tried everything I can think of!

    • Posts: 16
      the animator says:

      Okay,,,I got it working. For anyone having the same problem, what I did was have sky unchecked in the render layers tab, as Gabe said, and also before plugging the alpha from the Render Layers Node into the factor of the Alpha Over node, I set the factor at .5 then plugged the alpha from the Render Layers node in, and it worked! And funny thing is, once I did this it worked no matter how I had the factor set. Weird!

  14. Posts: 69

    I had the same issue as some others. It still did not work after unchecking ‘Sky’ in the render layers tab. I reopened the blend file, and Unchecked ‘Sky’ first, then redid the tutorial, and it worked at that point.

    I used the same background image, found at the location Jonathan refers to in the tutorial. Except the only size I could get mine to crop to was 720×480. I know as little about GIMP as I do about Blender. Mine is the user image titled “Building with Background Image”. Yes the lighting is so very horrible, but please be patient with me, I have only been doing Blender a little over a month, and there is clearly so much I have left to learn.

    The other user image has kind of inspired me to try the Ivy Tutorial….

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