How to Set a Background Image for Modeling in Blender

Featured image for a blog post explaining how to establish a background image in Blender for modeling reference. The image showcases a cartoon character surrounded by various shots from different angles, along with body parts. The title "SET BACKGROUND REFERENCE" is displayed at the bottom.
How to set a background image in Blender for modeling reference

Table of contents

1. How to set a background image in Blender

Before you proceed, go to preference settings and then addons. Search for ‘Import images as planes’. Activate the ‘Import images as planes’ addon by checking the box.

How to activate Import Images as Planes addon in Blender
How to activate Import Images as Planes add-on in Blender

There are four methods you can use to set background images in Blender 2.8 and 2.9.

To access three of the four methods, go to 3D View > Add > Image menu, or click Shift + A > Image, then select your preferred option. The first three options will appear as in the image below.

Background options in Blender 2.8 and 2.9
Background options in Blender

After you choose an option, the following are settings Blender makes available to use with your background image.

Settings available using reference and background option to add a background image
Settings available using reference and background option to add a background image

Method 1: Reference

They act as regular objects, visible from both sides. They do not appear in renders.

Method 2: Background

It is set to display in front or background. It does not appear in renders.

Method 3: Images as Planes

It is a mesh with geometry and material. It appears in renders.

Method 4: Add background image on camera settings

Add background image on camera settings
Add background image on camera settings

Select your camera, then to camera settings, and then ‘Background Images’

It appears on camera view only. It does not appear on renders.

2. How to set a background image in Blender 2.79

  • Press N on your keyboard. The sidebar will appear. On the sidebar, go to the ‘Background Image’ tab. Enable it by checking on the box.
How to enable Background Images option in Blender 2.79
How to enable Background Images option in Blender 2.79
  • Press the ‘Add Image’ button then ‘Open’ button to select your background image.
Background Image options available in Blender 2.79
Background Image options available in Blender 2.79
  • By default, the background image you select will appear in all views. i.e. From Top, Bottom, Front, Back, Left, Right and Camera views.
  • If you want the background image to appear on one specific view, click on the ‘Axis’ dropdown and select the view that you would like.
How to select a specific view for Background Images in Blender 2.79
How to select a specific view for Background Images in Blender 2.79

How to add multiple background images

  • After adding the first background image using the above steps, click the ‘Add Image’ button again.
  • A second row will appear and repeat the above steps. Only this time, use a different image and view.
How to add multiple Background Images in Blender 2.79
How to add multiple Background Images in Blender 2.79
A Blender interface screen recording demonstrating the utilization of the Product Rendering Tools Addon in Blender.
Get Product Rendering Tools Addon

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