Gaffer - Light & HDRI Manager

by Greg Zaal in Scripts and Addons

Gaffer is a Blender add-on that helps you light your scenes by presenting all the right settings in convenient panels for quick access and experimentation.

As a lighting artist myself, I created this add-on to help me with my everyday work. Not only did it speed up my lighting workflow, but it meant I could focus on creating better lighting without getting distracted searching for buttons.

"Lighting in Blender has never been this intuitive. Gaffer is your digital assistant when it comes to giving life to your scenes. A hassle-free tool and a must-have!" -  Reynante Martinez

Simple, Fast Interface

Character by Rico Cilliers

The UI has been meticulously designed to provide you with all the settings you need, as you need them, for all the lamps in your scene at once.

You can choose to view only the basic controls like strength and color, or expand each lamp to show more advanced options like shadow size, sample count, diffuse/specular toggles, falloff type and much more.

But Gaffer isn't just a little collection of things you can already do, it includes tools that will speed up your workflow and help you focus on the task at hand. The Solo button next to each light will temporarily hide all other lights except the one you clicked on, so you can see exactly what it's doing without being distracted or misguided by other lights. When you're done, Gaffer remembers your previous arrangement of light visibility and restores it.

A Better HDRI Handler

New in Gaffer v3 is a robust HDRI manager, with the ability to quickly switch between your HDR environment maps and adjust brightness, rotation, warmth, etc. all with a simple and intuitive interface. No need to fiddle with any nodes or wait for thumbnails of giant files to load.

It's built to handle whatever HDRIs you have on your hard drive, but if you don't have that many, there's a button to download free HDRIs from HDRI Haven in a single click.

One click away is an automatically generated JPG background for up to 4x memory savings, with an optional darkened JPG version to retain specular highlights in reflections.

An advanced search and tagging system can be used to organize your library and make it easier to find the perfect HDRI in your future projects.

"It's not often I invest in add-ons, and even more rare that I endorse them, but I fully stand behind Gaffer, and the work Greg has put into it. Worth every penny, this lightweight addition to my workflow has sped up the process of lighting my scenes, giving me immediate, unfettered access to all of my HDR environments whilst simultaneously taking the guesswork out of choosing the right setup. Take the plunge - you won't regret it!" - Jackdarton

Useful Visualizations

The size of a lamp controls how soft its shadow is - this is key to creating good lighting, but it's hard to imagine what it'll look like when you're just typing in numbers. Gaffer lets you display the lamp size directly in the 3D view as colorful outlines around each lamp so that you can visually understand how the light will behave.

You can also display the name of each light in the 3D view for quick identification. As a bonus, this promotes good naming standards for better organization :)

Free Updates, Forever

I'm a lighting artist myself, which means that I'm constantly adding new features and improving this add-on for myself as well as for you. So once you purchase Gaffer, you'll also be able to get all future updates without ever having to take your wallet out again.

Just take a look at the change-log below to see how this add-on has evolved over the years and how it will continue to grow in future.

Unlimited Free Trial

Before you buy Gaffer, you're welcome to try it out for yourself with a completely free trial:

Download the trial version of Gaffer

There is no time limit to the trial, nor are there any feature limitations or constraints. The only difference between the trial version and a purchased copy of Gaffer is a small "Trial version" text in some parts of Gaffer's interface.

Since Gaffer is open source, you're free to remove this text if you wish, though I hope you will find Gaffer useful enough to come back and purchase it here to support future development :)

The trial version will only work in Blender 2.8.

Render Engines

In Blender 2.8:

The lighting panel is most feature-complete when using Cycles. Only basic support such as the Solo button, hiding, selecting and renaming lights currently exists for other render engines.
Full support for Eevee will come in the next major release (v3.2) once I'm more familiar with its extensive light and shadow settings.

The HDRI panel works in both Cycles and Eevee.

In Blender 2.7:

The lighting panel works for both Cycles and Blender Render (aka Blender Internal).

The HDRI Handler only works for Cycles.

Change-log

v3.1.2

2019/04/18

  • Fix UI disappearing when expanding area light
  • Show radius/labels in rendered shading mode and make them obey the viewport overlay toggle
  • Lights in nested collections were considered hidden

v3.1.1

2019/04/16

  • Show HDRI Handler for Eevee
  • Fix 'Selected Only' mode for radius display
  • Don't show 'Apply Exposure' button for unsupported engines
  • Use the same icon for Solo buttons everywhere

v3.1

2019/04/12

  • First release for Blender 2.8! This version will not work in 2.7x. If you still use Blender 2.7x, older versions are available for download.
  • Most features will still only work in Cycles, however some will also now work in unsupported engines (e.g. Eevee). Full support for Eevee will come in the next major release.
  • You can now add multiple HDRI folders instead of just one, useful if your HDRIs are stored on different hard drives, network storage or Google Drive folders.
  • Added horizon shifting tools to lower or raise the horizon while trying to keep it looking natural.
  • You can now save the current HDRI settings as the default for that particular HDRI and easily restore them later, or reset all the HDRI settings to factory defaults.
  • Added previous/next paddles to more quickly increase or decrease the HDRI resolution used.
  • Added an "Aim light using 3D view" function.
  • Added a global exposure control that lets you adjust the brightness of all lights at once.
  • Fix some harmless errors that pop up after enabling size/label visualization and then switching to another editor type.
  • Better detection of light strength value when using more complex node setups.
  • Light aiming tools now support both Quaternion and Euler rotation systems.

v3.0.5

2019/03/15

  • Last release for Blender 2.7x. No feature changes. Prevent the auto-updater from going past this version as the next version will be for Blender 2.8 and will not work in 2.7x.

v3.0.4

2017/10/16

v3.0.2

2017/03/14

  • Fix broken thumbnail gen when there's a space in the path to Blender.
  • Make HDRI selector smaller in toolbar.

v3.0.1

2017/03/02

  • Bug fixes relating to generating thumbnails..
  • Optionally ignore 8-bit images to avoid detecting example renders as HDRIs. Enable "Detect 8-bit images as HDRIs" in the User Preferences to keep the old behavior.
  • Optionally skip generating thumbnail if only a big HDRI is available to avoid long waits
    Use pre-existing thumbnail or preview files if there are any.
  • Don't include _thumb or _preview files in HDRI variation list.
  • Log some info to a text file to help with debugging if necessary. Log file only records last 7 days to avoid growing to a huge file over time.
  • Add some debugging tools.

v3.0

2017/02/21

Add a robust HDRI manager to allow you to quickly switch between your HDR environment maps, adjust brightness, rotation, warmth, etc. without having to use the node editor.

See all the new features explained here: https://youtu.be/u0ccVBvPEsA

v2.6

2016/12/22

Note: To install this version you must first remove the old one.

Gaffer now notifies you when an update is available (can be turned off in user-prefs).

Minor improvements to the handling of lights with multi-user data:

  • When labels are shown, the name of the data is shown too so you can easily recognize which lights share the same data.
  • The name of the data (or material in the case of mesh lights) is shown in the light panel instead of just one of the object names. Clicking on the name will let you rename the data/material.

Lights with single-user data are not affected.

The add-on is also now split into multiple files instead of a single file. This is both for organizational purposes and to allow the auto-updating feature to work.

v2.5

2016/04/20

Support for Blender 2.77 (fix viewport update issues)

v2.4

2015/10/06

  • Renaming a light from the panel will no longer require a manual refresh.
  • Added support for portal lamps

v2.3

2015/01/23

Objects in the Blacklist are no longer affected by Soloing.

v2.2

2014/10/26

Fix a crash (or a bunch of errors) when deleting a lamp while showing the radius visualization.

v2.1

2014/10/24

Just a few minor improvements:

  • When selecting/hiding/showing/soloing a light with multi-user data, the other objects which share that data are selected/hidden/shown/solo'd as well.
  • Refreshing the light list will also refresh the 3D View visualizations.

v2.0

2014/10/19

This version adds several new tools to help you aim, visualize and manage your lights. Aiming:

  • Aim selected lights at 3D cursor
  • Aim selected lights at active object
  • Aim the active object at the average location of selected objects

View-port Visualization:

  • Display the radius of lights in the 3D View
  • Display a colored label in the 3D View with the light name

Add objects to a Blacklist to prevent them from showing up in the light list or 3D View visualizations. Link the vector of a sky texture to the rotation of a lamp - this can be used to make sure the appearance of the sky matches the direction of the sun correctly. Minor Improvements:

  • If multiple lights use the same lamp data (or material), only one of the lamps is shown in the list. A small label tells you how many users of that data there are.
  • Added a small gap between lights in the light list to help visual separation.
  • Added a button at the top to exit Solo Mode.
  • Hiding the world light (or enabling Reflection Only) now uses the new Volume Scatter ray visibility.
  • [Bug] Selecting a light from the Gaffer panel while in Edit Mode would force you to be stuck in some impossible limbo mode.
  • [Bug] Changing the render engine would sometimes show some errors.

All documentation (including installation instructions and feature descriptions) can be found here: https://github.com/gregzaal/Gaffer/wiki

Which file should I download?

The download you choose depends on which version(s) of Blender you are using.

"Gaffer for b2.8.zip" will only work in Blender 2.8. The is the latest version of Gaffer with the most features.
"Gaffer for b2.79 nightly.zip" will only work in builds of Blender 2.79 from https://builder.blender.org (which are newer than the official 2.79 release)
"Gaffer for b2.79 official.zip" will only work in the official release of Blender 2.79, and some earlier versions.

Simply download the zip file for your version of Blender and install it from the User Preferences. You do NOT need to unzip it first.

You can install both the 2.8 and one of the 2.7 versions, they will not overwrite each other if installed from the User Preferences using the appropriate version of Blender.

Simultaneous installations for both the nightly and official 2.7 versions is possible by installing them manually to your Blender directory instead of installing them from the User Preferences.

Item Rating

This item has an average rating of 5 from 17 ratings by the community.

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  • Dorian Borremans 12 days ago

    best hdri handle for blender ever, best linked to the best hdri website on the planet, well done ! 2.8 release is a little miracle !

  • antokjawa 2 months ago

    Awesome add-on. Used since 2017. Now waiting update for 2.8

  • munsu 4 months ago

    So handy addon. Would you update for 2.8?

    • Greg Zaal 4 months ago

      Yup, I will be updating it soon :)

  • niittymaa 7 months ago

    This is superb addon! There is so many useful features packed into this addon. I really recommend this to anyone who want to improve lighting workflow in blender.

  • Ryan Guy 7 months ago

    This addon has had a place in my workflow for the last five months and has worked flawlessly! Gaffer just makes it so quick and simple to set up lighting for a scene. The HDR image manager is perfect for using in combination with Greg Zaal's stunning environments from HDRI Haven!

  • Steve Masterson 8 months ago

    Perfectly Brilliant, thanks!

  • Joseph about 1 year ago

    Now I understand how some of my favorite artists are getting their results. This plugin is huge if your a serious artist.

  • virgil89 over 1 year ago

    this add-on its the description of perfection. I had many un-organized HDRI that I just never used because going thru the hassle of load a big file every time just to find what I was searching it was not wort it. this add-on resolves E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G., tags, thumbnails and it gave me a prompt to go back and organize them wit proper name. do yourself a favor and just buy it

  • ezydenias over 1 year ago

    This plugin is awesome. I was even surprised when it showed me the Intensity value of mesh lights. I think everyone who like me has to deal with scenes with up to hundreds of lights will love this tool as the standard method is pretty clunky and very aggravating. So for everyone who actually has to set up a shit ton of lights this plugin is a must have.

  • gendosplace over 1 year ago

    This is one of the must have add-ons for Blender! Thank you for this Greg.

  • the3dcie almost 2 years ago

    So useful !

  • pilamin almost 2 years ago

    I don't use the light manager as often as I would like. I've tried. It's neat, but still doesn't come off as undeniably essential over the default way of managing lights. It's slightly more elegant over default Blender, but something about it still doesn't feel complete.

    But the HDRI manager? It's absolutely an improvement over default Blender. For that, Gaffer is a must-have if you use HDRIs.

  • morphin3 about 2 years ago

    The HDR manager really brings this addon to life and at such a very low price. This is the perfect tool to get you concentrating on what you want to and leave the lighting to the hdr addon.

  • klusi67 about 2 years ago

    Really great addon. Makes light setup much easier for me. Very easy and intuitive to use!

  • ninjatogo about 2 years ago

    HDRI manager is truly handy. Saves quite a bit of time when working on projects.

  • tcwik over 2 years ago

    A nice addon.

  • Diego Gangl over 2 years ago

    Awesome addon. Over the years Gaffer has become a big part of my workflow in Blender.
    Besides managing complicated light setups, it makes a lot of settings like light falloff more accesible. The blackbody presets are also a great time saver when working on realistic scenes.

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