Best way to switch between paint over and modeling?


Just a quick question out of frustration: What is the best way to take a perspective picture of my model, export that to a paint program for paintovers/brainstorming, and then overlay that picture so it lines up with my model? I would like to be able to move things around in the scene to match the picture I drew from that scene, if that makes sense.

I’ve worked out my own system using cameras and image empties that works fairly well, but the image almost never comes out the right size or position and I just spend 12 minutes painstakingly lining it up by hand and figured there HAS to be a more professional method. I can give more details of my method on request. I can also phrase it another way if my question is unclear.

Please help, paintovers really kickstart my creative process when I stall but it is downright painful trying to bring those handdrawn details back into the scene.

Well I THOUGHT I had a pretty good idea for a workflow for you, but I may have discovered a bug that completely locks up Blender. Maybe you’ll have better luck or find a workaround.


  • First, if you haven’t done so already, go to Blender Preferences > File and input the file path to your preferred image editor.
  • If you want to paint over screen grabs, go to Render on the top shelf, right click OpenGL Render Image, and create a shortcut.
  • Now do an initial render (OpenGL or Regular) from the camera. Save the image. Make sure to uncheck Copy, and leave the path relative.
  • Within the image editor window, go to Image > Edit Externally and create another shortcut.
  • On the properties shelf, go to Background Images. Click the little button to the left of Open and select Render Results.


  • Hotkey to render
  • Hotkey to save
  • Hotkey to edit externally
  • Save to same file
  • Background image in blender auto updates

When I go to render a second time, Blender completely locks up. I’ve isolated the issue to saving the image as a relative pathed, non-copy. As soon as this is done, any additional renders will lock up Blender. If you leave “Copy” checked from step 3, you can render all day long, but the edit externally function won’t work.


First off, thanks for your quick reply :slight_smile:

Perhaps the best solution would be to use parts of that suggestion to talor it to my needs. You see, while speedy transition is a nice addition, what I really need is to be able to automatically line up the new picture exactly with the scene. Which steps would I use to do just that?

(edit: more explanation of my problem and desires below, but I realized afterwards the above pretty much covers my question without all these extra words lol)
My workflow really does need much speed right now. What I do lately is when I get stuck and have no idea where I’m going with a model, I take a screen grab from a perspective I like, upload that to my galaxy tab, then for a day or two I draw over that picture until I find colors and styles I like, then when I am happy I upload it back and change the existing model to match the drawing. So really this is something I switch between over several hours, not minutes.

But right now my big problem is that the picture almost never lines up just right with the model again no matter how long I spend fiddling with it. Plus, since I prefer a picture of the modeling scene rather than a render, I cannot even get my next picture to be the same zoom as last time, if that makes sense, so every time I swap I have to re-line everything.

-How can I get a particular camera to always take an image of the scene from the same zoom?
-How can I then re-insert a modified image of the same dimensions into that same camera as a background image, lined up perfectly?
-Bonus points if this can be done with multiple cameras per workflow loop (like top and side views) without them all sharing the same background image (as has been my experience)

Thanks so much :slight_smile:

(Here are some pictures to show how much paintovers help un-jumble and redirect my work. I didn’t bring the picture back to my laptop from my tablet for two days)