Download 2,600 free 2K sky images from MattePaint
Originally posted on 14 November 2021. Scroll down for updates.
Online matte painting reference image library MattePaint has released over a thousand free sky images.
The images, each of which is provided at 2,000 x 1,000px resolution, and which spans a 120-degree field of view, can be used in digital matte paintings, or as backplates in 3D scenes.
The files are available as both individual images, and as part of a PureRef library.
Sets of four 2K JPEGs corresponding to higher-resolution 360-degree panoramic HDRI skies
All of the free sky images are derived from MattePaint’s commercial library of 360-degree HDRIs.
Each commercial 360-degree HDRI has a corresponding set of four free lower-resolution images – that is, four 90-degree rotations in view – which could be stitched back together into a LDR panormama.
The free images are watermarked with filenames indicating the HDRIs from which they are derived, making it possible to use them as proxies in scenes, then ‘scale up’ to the hi-res versions for production.
MattePaint says that it will update the free library regularly, aiming add “around 500 images” per month.
Updated 11 February 2022: According to the latest MattePaint newsletter, there are now over 2,600 free sky images in the online library, up from 1,800 at the time of the initial release.
Availability and system requirements
The free images in MattePaint’s sky library are provided as 2,000 x 1,000px JPEGs. They are licensed for use in commercial projects.
You can download them either as a single .zip archive or as a library for reference image viewer PureRef. PureRef is available for Windows 7+, CentOS 7+ and Ubuntu 16.04+ Linux and macOS 10.12+. It costs €10 ($11).
MattePaint’s high-resolution HDRI skies are available at up to 50,000px in width via paid subscriptions. At the time of writing, subscriptions cost between $19/month and $49/month.