HDR Light Studio running standalone

HDRI Map Creation and Editing Software

HDR Light Studio is a standalone application dedicated to 3D lighting - including authoring and editing HDRI maps. It runs on Windows, macOS, and Linux. HDR Light Studio also connects to a wide range of 3D software via our live plug-ins.

HDRI maps are a widely supported lighting file format used by virtually all 3D software and renderers. You can import your 3D scene into HDR Light Studio as an Alembic or Collada file and create the perfect HDRI map using HDR Light Studio’s in-built preview renderer to paint your light positions directly on the 3D model. The HDRI map is then saved to be used for image-based lighting inside your 3D software. The benefit of using HDRI maps for lighting is that they are easy to use, produce photo-real results and their lighting renders fast.

Make HDRI Maps with HDR Light Studio

Make your own Studio HDRI Maps

Rather than buy stock studio HDRI maps and hope they produce the effect you are looking for, use HDR Light Studio to make unlimited custom HDRI maps for yourself. With HDR Light Studio you can make a perfect HDRI map for every render and ensure the lighting design is perfect every time.

Edit existing HDRI Environments with HDR Light Studio

Edit existing HDRI Environments

With HDR Light Studio you can shape the lighting effect from existing HDRI maps and make your renders look even better by adding new lights, removing/blocking lights, making color adjustments, blurring the background HDRI and much more. HDR Light Studio allows you to take total control over HDRI maps - making image based lighting a creative way to light a render and not a limited and locked format.

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Cinema 4D Plugin
Blender Addon
3ds Max Plugin
Maya Plugin
VRED Plugin
Rhino Plugin
Houdini Plugin
MODO Plugin Kit
Omniverse Plugin
Octane Standalone Plugin
LightWave3D Plugin
Maxwell Studio Plugin
Patchwork 3D Plugin

Live Plug-ins to your 3D Software

Key features of HDR Light Studio plug-in connections*

*Features differ depending on which connection you are using.

A Dedicated Lighting Interface

LightPaint is our patented approach to positioning lights on the interactive HDRI map. Use LightPaint to position lights to illuminate, reflect or rim light the location clicked. LightPaint can be used in HDR Light Studio's Render View, the Streamed Render from your 3D software and in the Viewport of your 3D software (depending on the features of your plug-in).

Additionally, LightPaint tools allow you to change the brightness, scale, distance, and rotation of lights directly in the Render Views and Canvas. For a faster workflow, use keyboard shortcuts to switch between LightPaint tools.

HDR Light Studio's Preview Renderer

HDR Light Studio includes an interactive renderer that can load 3D scenes via Alembic or Collada files. This Render View is essential when lighting an imported scene using HDR Light Studio standalone. LightPaint is super fast when using our integrated rendering and you can drag on the 3D model to position lights. The Render view provides only a preview of the lighting effect on a single shader that has basic properties for diffuse color and reflections.

One Click Scene Export & Import

When using HDR Light Studio connected to your 3D software, simply press the play button in the render view to import the current scene and camera view into HDR Light Studio. This export feature is currently supported in the following plug-in connections: 3ds Max, Maya, Cinema 4D, Modo, Houdini, Blender, LightWave.

Stream the Interactive Render

When connected to your 3D software, HDR Light Studio can display the live interactive render from your 3D software in the HDR Light Studio interface. The LightPaint feature can be used to position lights directly on the render inside HDR Light Studio's interface. This allows you to fill your display with HDR Light Studio and concentrate on the lighting process whilst looking at the final render.

This feature is currently supported in the following plug-in connections: 3ds Max, Maya, Cinema 4D, Modo, Octane Standalone, Rhino 3D, Omniverse.

HDR Textured Area Lights

HDR Light Studio is not just for creating HDRI maps! When connected to your 3D software, HDR Light Studio can also build and control HDR textured area lights. Using a single setting, Area Lights are created by our plug-in in an instant, correctly set-up for the chosen renderer and mapped with a live HDR texture from HDR Light Studio. The area lights position is controlled using LightPaint by clicking on the 3D model with the addition of distance controls.

This feature is currently supported in the following plug-in connections: 3ds Max, Maya, Cinema 4D, Modo, Houdini, Blender, Octane Standalone, VRED, Omniverse, Unreal Engine.

Precise Light Placement

Whether lights are on the HDRI map or are area lights - lights are positioned by their handle in HDR Light Studio. By default the handle is in the center of the light but this can be moved anywhere on the light - allowing a light to be positioned and scaled from its edge. This can be very useful for precise lighting of product shots for example.

In addition, the advanced rotation settings allow lights to be locked to be vertical or horizonal wherever positioned, and also rotated in any 3D axis with ease.

Procedural HDR Lighting

HDR Light Studio Procedural HDR Lighting

HDR Light Studio is best known for creating studio lighting – especially suited to reflective materials. Procedural lights can be precisely controlled to create a wide variety of lighting effects.

Scrim Light

New in HDR Light Studio 8

Scrim Lights are easy to control, real-time, and produce very realistic studio lighting effects. The light source is easily positioned behind the scrim using the interactive top and front views of the scrim setup. Keyboard shortcuts let you change modes to manipulate the light position and its properties. It's liberating to control the appearance of a light in an intuitive physical way.

Scrim Light Tutorial


New in HDR Light Studio 8

The Polygon is a simple content type that's useful for controlling the shape of lights when it's used on Alpha Multiply. Polygon includes controls for the number of sides, edge softness, and corner radius.

Polygon Tutorial

Box Gradient

Box Gradient is a blended horizontal and vertical gradient ramp and can produce a wide range of lighting effects. BoxGradient is perfect for controlling the location and softness of the 4 edges of the light when using it on Alpha Multiply. Open up the Gradient Editor panel for a ramp to gain even more control over the ramps.


Bulb is a basic light type with a default setting of a soft round light. A ramp controls the brightness of the light from the center to its edge. The width of the bulb can be increased to fill the light width, this results in a gradient effect. The light can be chopped in half and the extent of the light can be constrained to fit within the light. Open up the Gradient Editor panel for a ramp to create a perfect fall-off of light for the bulb.

(The new Scrim Light is more flexible than Bulb. The Scrim Light can create all the effects of the bulb and more, plus the Scrim Light is easier to use)


Linear and Radial gradients are controlled with 3 independent ramps for value, alpha, and color. Vertical gradients are useful for creating a background for the lighting design. Open up the Gradient Editor panel for a ramp to gain fine control over the values and interpolation.

The Presets System

HDR Light Studio Preset System

The Presets system is a key feature in HDR Light Studio. Presets contain a huge library of lighting content types that can be applied to your lighting designs. These include HDR studio lights, HDRI maps, Light Rigs, and much more. Let’s take a look in more detail at Presets.

Presets Tutorials

Drag and Drop HDRI Lights

To add a new light to the lighting design, simply drag and drop a preset light onto the interactive render where the lighting effect is needed. The LightPaint mode will position the light on the HDRI map for you.

Hot-swap Light Appearances

Easily swap the appearance of a light with another Preset. Explore a wide range of lighting appearances until you get the right look.

HDR Studio Light Presets

HDR Light Studio includes a large library of photographed studio light sources - with most shot at 4k resolution. These HDR textures are rich in detail and lighting information that will bring your illumination and reflections to life. There is no better way to photo-real results than lighting your shots with photographic lights.

Rig Presets

Rigs are HDR Light Studio lighting projects stored in the presets system. Rigs can be an ideal starting point for a new lighting design, providing all the ease of use of an off-the-shelf HDRI map, but with total editability. You can easily add your own lighting designs to the Rig Presets. This could be a full final lighting design or a selection of light sources you like to start with. HDR Light Studio allows you to save any Rig, Light, Content setting and even ramp settings and colors into the Preset system. Watch the Presets training videos to find out more.

HDRI Map Presets

HDR Light Studio includes ready-to-apply HDRI maps from HDRI Haven. Just double-click to add the HDRI map to the lighting design.

Add HDRI Maps to the Presets

With plug-ins for all leading 3D software - HDR Light Studio is the ideal hub for storing and accessing all your HDR lighting content.

You can easily add your own HDRI maps to the Presets library where you can tag and manage them. Just drag images from your file system onto the Presets panel and follow the process to import them. The images are converted to the .tx file format, so that huge images can be loaded and handled with ease. You can also add HDR textures to use as light sources using this method.

Preset Mask Shapes for Lights

You can load images to mask a light in HDR Light Studio. This allows you to perfectly control the shape of your lights when seen in reflections. HDR Light Studio ships with a range of Preset Mask shapes that can be applied to your lights.

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Composite Lights

Multiple lights can be grouped into a single Composite Light. You can use Composite Lights to:

  • Group Lights
  • Control a group of lights (brightness, position, color etc)
  • Isolate and Edit Individual Lights
  • Mask Lights
  • Clone and move areas of the HDRI map
  • Combine different regions of multiple HDRI maps
  • Dissect and take control of light regions in existing HDRI maps
Composite Light Tutorials

Procedural Sky

HDR Light Studio includes a procedural sky shader. Replace the sky on an existing HDRI map and use an alpha ramp to control the horizon position and softness. Drag and drop the included Cloud preset images onto the sky for added realism. The sun disc can be increased in size whilst maintaining its overall lighting contribution, allowing for creative decisions about the sun scale. The sun disc has a controllable soft edge.

Light Looks

The lighting process is about creativity and experimentation. There are so many lighting decisions to make and so many different approaches you can try out. Light Looks allow you to easily store, compare, duplicate and edit multiple lighting designs in a single HDR Light Studio project - supporting your creative lighting process.

Light Looks Tutorial
HDR Light Studio renders


Filters are effects that can be applied to Composite Lights.

Diffusion Blur

Diffusion Blur mimics the diffusion of light through a material like tracing paper or cloth. Spreading and softening the light.

Diffusion key features:
Real-time - change settings with instant feedback
Energy Conserving - preserving the amount of light in your HDRI map.
Spherical option for HDRI Maps
Planar option for Area Lights

Diffusion Blur Tutorials

Motion Blurs

HDR Light Studio offers 2 filters for motion blurring of HDRI maps.

There is a simple linear motion blur. Or the advanced motion blur adds options to curve and tilt the motion path, add a noise profile, and use a second input image to scale the speed of motion at each pixel on the HDRI map.

Motion Blur Tutorials
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Spherical Color Filters

Using a color gradient with spherical mapping and color blend mode - you can color filter a HDRI map, clicking on the model where the gradient should start. This provides a great way to control the color mood for HDRI maps.

Full Sphere Ambient Lights

With a single light you can do so much in HDR Light Studio. A linear gradient light with spherical mapping will wrap around the whole scene. This is very useful for creating soft highly controllable ambient lighting effects. Click on the 3D model to position the start of the gradient that wraps around the HDRI map.

Mixing HDRI Maps

With HDR Light Studio it’s easy to make the most of your existing HDRI map library by mixing them to create new unique HDRI environments. Use alpha ramps to seamlessly blend the floor and sky areas of different HDRI maps.

Consistent Portable Lighting Format

3ds Max and Corona scene lit with HDR Light Studio
3ds Max and V-Ray scene lit with HDR Light Studio

HDRI maps are the ultimate portable lighting format. They can be used with different renderers and produce predictable and accurate results. Especially with physically based rendering.

When implementing HDR Area Lights we ensured these lights were portable too. For example, you can create a lighting design in Maya for Arnold Render (using a HDRI map with Area Lights) and then switch renderers to V-Ray, the Area Lights will be rebuilt using V-Ray lights. You can also light a shot in Cinema 4D with Arnold, and load the same lighting design into Maya with Maxwell Render to get the exact same lighting.

VFX Industry Standards

Windows MacOS Linux OpenEXR Allembic Collada OpenColorIO Aces Python

HDR Light Studio software runs on Windows, macOS and Linux and doesn't require any special hardware, such as specific graphics cards or drivers. HDR Light Studio incorporates many VFX industry standards including: OpenImageIO, OpenEXR, OpenColorIO (supporting ACES Color), Alembic, Collada and Qt for a cross platform user interface.

HDR Light Studio plug-in connections are possible due to our APIs - with a choice of C++, .NET and Python 2.7/3.6/3.7/3.9. If you are interested in connecting your 3D software with HDR Light Studio using our APIs or tailoring one of our existing connections to your studios needs, please do get in touch with support@lightmap.co.uk.


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