How to Add Background Images in Blender 2.8

Dec 10, 2018
Posted by Darrin Lile

When I was teaching 3D animation and game design, we used Autodesk Maya and I was never very satisfied with the system it had for adding background images into the scene. I’ve always loved Blender’s way of allowing images to be set-up in orthographic views without them being visible in the perspective view. I liked how clean it kept the perspective viewport.​

Well, now with Blender 2.8 it looks like I may have to get used to the Maya way of doing things again. Don’t get me wrong, I get why the Blender developers have made this change. The code was old, and it didn’t work in all windows, but I’m sad to see the old way of adding background images go away. From what I’ve heard, features may be added soon that will allow us to have some of the old background image functionality again. 

But for now, here’s how I’m setting up my background images for modeling sessions in Blender 2.8.​

1. Press Shift + A and go to Empty > Image


2. Go to the Object Data tab in the Properties window. ​


3. Click Open and browse to your image. Select it and click Open Image and the image will be added to the empty object. This image is a png file with an alpha channel, so I can see through the parts around the character.​


4. Now you can use Blender’s move and rotate tools to put the image wherever you want in the scene. You can also adjust the Transparency in the Object Data panel to reduce the brightness of the image.​


5. To organize the images, right-click in the Outliner to create a  new Collection. Give it a name and drag the image objects into it. Disable the object selection in the viewport so you don’t accidentally move the image when modeling.​


And that’s about it. This has been a pretty good system for me so far. I’ll update if I come across other ways to add background images in Blender. Let me know if you find a better solution.

  1. Baines

    You can still set images to only display when viewed at the desired orthographic angle. The trick is not to add an Empty>Image, but instead add an Image>Background (the option right below Empty in the Shift+A menu).

    1) Go to the desired Orthographic view angle
    2) Shift+A -> Image>Background -> select the desired image through the file browser

    This will still create an empty with an image billboard, but this image will only be viewable from the orthographic angle where you set it. Adjust its position and scale as you would for any object.

  2. Kasun Herath

    Thank you for such a useful post. I also think the old way is much better and hope it will be added again.

  3. Peter Tubil

    Thank you to your teaching skills appreciated.

    1. Darrin Lile

      Thank you, Peter! Happy New Year to you!

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