Is there a way in 2.8 to see background images only in specific views?

I’m just as excited as everyone else that 2.8 has arrived, one thing I missed in the beta is the background images as we knew it from 2.7x, I was hoping that with the final release a functionality similar to that would be introduced, but I didn’t find it.

So, my main issue with the way background images work now is that they are always visible in orthograpic mode, not just when the view is aligned to a specific axis. Like, in 2.7x there was an option to show an image only when in right, front, top or any other predefined view. The absence of this makes it a bit hard when modeling something using blueprints, see an example of this below:

Is there an option to achieve the same experience as in 2.7x that I missed or is there a trick to it or is this completely gone from Blender?

It is possible, Shift+A - image - background…

Yes, that is how I achieved the setup above. My problem is that the images are essentially objects now, so they are visible no matter the view. For example, in 2.7x if I set a background image to be only seen in right view, then it would disappear the moment I rotated the view. My question is if there is a way to only show background images in 2.8 when the view is exactly aligned to an axis. I know I’m not that good with words, so here is the same setup in 2.79:

When I move around or rotate the view none of the images are visible:

But when, let’s say, I press numpad 3 to align the view to right, the background image which is set to be only visible when in right view, becomes visible:

I hope it’s clear what I’d like to achieve.


Make sure you have “Display Orthographic” checked and “Display Perspective” unchecked.

Then you will have to manually align the images per orthographic view.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

  • cgi joe

I have it set up the same way as you, my issue is that the images are displayed all the time, not just when in an orthographic axis view. In 2.7 there was an option to set an image to a specific view, for example if I wanted an image to be only displayed when the view is front ortho aligned (when you press numpad 1) that could be achieved by selecting the suitable option:


This seems to be missing from 2.8, although I found this on the developer.blender site: There is a task that says “Option only to display in ortho axis view” so I assume it was intended at some point. Maybe it’s coming in 2.81 or they decided to exclude this feature.

You can also import the image as a Background that only shows in a specific orthographic view if you start in that view (in the pic below I used Right Orthographic) then Add > Image > Background. By default this will show only on that side and from that specific view, if you want that to show in both Right and Left Orthographic you’d need to click the Side > Both button in the Image’s Object Data Properties panel that cgijoe shows above.

Just FYI, I’ll also put all my reference images into a Collection – not only can I easily toggle visibility off when I need to, I keep the collection’s selectability off.

Hmm, strange, I import the images exactly that way, I have the view set to orthographic right then I go the Add > Image > Background route as well but the image will be still displayed when I rotate or move the view. I downloaded 2.8 today so I have the latest version, maybe there is some hidden setting or checkbox somewhere, I’ll dig some more into it.

Ah! When I rotate the view I drop out of orthographic into perspective, I hadn’t realized – this means the reason my reference images were disappearing as intended wasn’t because I was no longer in a specific orthographic view, but because I was no longer in orthographic. Looks like you’re right, seems like 2.80 background images can’t be made visible in only specific orthographic views.

Yes, there is a setting where you can choose if you want to stay in orthographic when you rotate the view or you want to switch into perspective. Searching some more I found an other task on developer.blender related to this: There is again this bullet point that says “Option only to display in ortho axis view” under the Changes to Empty Images part, it’s from two years ago almost, but let’s hope it gets included in 2.8 at some point.

Confirm, the auto switch to perspective was confusing me as well. Indeed it seems like there needs to be the option to only display in ortho axis view as mentioned in the other comment.

You can also move your image planes further out so they wouldn’t be visible from a rotated view but only when looking dead on top, side, front, etc.

I also put all of my ref planes in a collection that’s easy to turn on and off.

As I’ve gotten used to the new workflow I’m finding it very flexible and easy to set up. Especially if I’m using a ref image that has multiple views on it. Just duplicate, rotate, and everything stays in scale.

That’s a clever workaround, thank you for sharing it!

I hope this gets fixed. The new system is great for aligning background images, but otherwise it’s missing features that 2.79 had. It gets really messy when you have all background image outlines visible from any view. I want to limit visibility to certain axis like the old Blender, so that NOTHING is visible in any other view. No origin, no outlines, NOTHING.