Render Environment Seperately - Cycles


Maybe I’ve over thought this but I need to render my environment separately.

I have a scene set in space, I’ve got several layers with different elements on them, some reflective objects. For my world settings I’ve added an environment texture which is a massive image I created in Photoshop of stars and distant galaxies, it works great in the viewport and if I render the whole scene in one layer the environment looks good from all angles. The problem is I’m using render layers so I’ve checked Transparent on the Film panel to allow each layer to have an alpha background but I still want a layer that is just environment because as my camera flies around my scene I background movement.

Now I know I can use a sphere and do the same thing then I have to deal with bounce lighting causing longer render times (well I guess), I’ll have to set up the sphere to not receive shadows, reflect stuff etc

So is this possible?

Thanks in advance for any advice given.


I’m sure there is more than way to do this, but I had to do the same thing. but if you just want a render of what your world looks like…

  1. duplicate your current camera and move duplicate to a new empty layer. select that duplicate camera and then press ctl + numpad 0 to make it the active camera.

  2. Make sure you are on what ever layer your duplicated camera is, and that layer is the only layer highlighted in layer boxes that are to the right of where you set global, local for transform orientation.

  3. uncheck transparent for the background in the render settings, and press numpad 0 to be sure your in camera view.

  4. then just render the image (f12) but once you render it, you now need to Save that image… image—save as image.

In Compositing panel, you can do “Add” -> “Input” -> “Image” and load your environment texture and control its position with “Add” -> “Distort” -> “Transform”. Than you combine it with Render Layers with an Alpha Over node. I’m not sure it’s the best way.

EDIT : I found a better and really simple way to do it :

In Properties -> Render Layers -> Passes : check Environment so you see Environment output on a Render Layers node when you are in Compositing panel. Make a render and just combine “Image” output to “Environment” output with an Alpha Over node.

Thanks to both of you that’s great, I went with your second suggestion Manolo that’s perfect.