How To Make Your Background Transparent In Your Renders?

When the focus of the image is a single object or character, you may want to get rid of any other distractions. If selling a 3D asset on a marketplace such as TurboSquid, then you may want to remove your background entirely so that only the asset gets rendered.

To make your background transparent for your renders, go to the properties panel and then go to the render tab and scroll down until you get to the film section, open this up and click on the box labeled as transparent. If you go into rendered shading, the background will appear as a checkerboard pattern, meaning that it will not be rendered. This option is available for both the EEVEE and Cycles engines.

There are a lot of benefits to making your background transparent, and it can actually make your renders look more professional, here is why?

Reasons Why You Should Consider Making Your Background Transparent?

The first reason why you would want to remove the background for your render is to eliminate background lighting. Your environment has a strength value that when set above 0 is going to emit light across your entire scene, but because the environment itself emits light from all angles, there will be no shadows.

The second reason for removing your background is for prepping an object for publishing on a marketplace where that asset can be sold. When listing an object for sale you need to ensure that in at least one of your images that the model is by itself with no distractions.

Tip: it’s also ideal to create renders of your objects in full scenes as well to give viewers an impression of what objects will look like in that type of scene.

The third reason why you would be looking to remove your background image is when you may want to overlay it with another image that has its own background, or as a visual effect in animation or film. For example, you film a scene where a real-life person is talking to a cartoon rabbit character.

You create the animation of the character, get rid of the background, and then overlay the character into the film footage using the video sequence editor.

Do I Need To Use A Specific Render Engine For Transparency?

You do not need to use a specific render engine if you want to make your background transparent. This effect is the same for both the EEVEE render engine and the Cycles render engine and can be found in the same location.

For both render engines go to the render tab in the properties panel and locate the Film option, then click on the checkbox to make your background transparent.

Note that because this is a render effect, you will only see the checkerboard background, which indicates transparency, in the rendered shading mode and in the render itself.

Enabling Transparency For The Background

While making the background transparent is the same in both engines, keep in mind that the process of making actual objects transparent is slightly different between each engine, as this relates to changing the appearance of the material of the object rather than simply hiding it.

Make Sure To Use An Alpha Channel In Your Render Settings

Even if you have set up your scene correctly you may find that your background is still visible in the render. The main reason why this would be the case is that your render output does not have an alpha channel.

Alpha is another way of saying transparency in creative applications like 3D modeling and photo editing. However not all file formats are going to have the alpha channel, and so the choice of image type that you plan to render as will be an important step to the process.

For example, a jpeg, which is a common file type that does not have an alpha channel. This means that if you render your scene as a jpeg you won’t get the transparent background.

The best thing to do here is to use a PNG file, which does have an alpha channel. If you go to the output tab in the properties panel and then open up the output section, you will be able to change your file format. Simply changing it will not fix the issue though, as you will still need to enable the alpha channel.

Output Settings With Transparent Channel

If you change to the PNG file format, you will see a setting for color and the options of BW, RGB, and RBGA.

BW is black and white, so the image will be greyscaled.

RGB is the default red, green, and blue channel setting for adding color to the image.

RGBA is red, green, blue and alpha for using both color and alpha channels.

By default it will be on the RGB setting, so make sure to switch it to the RGBA setting.

You can also go through the alternative options to see which formats have the RGBA setting.

Can I Make Objects Transparent Instead?

Objects can be made transparent in one of two ways. The first method is to adjust the transparency of the material using a node such as the glass node, or a transparent node. The second method is to use the holdout node, which makes the object transparent and uses the outline of that object to make that part of the scene transparent.

What’s The Difference Between Transparency And Holdout?

There is a big difference between the two, as the transparency node is a much more commonly used node for adjusting the look of the material. If you use the transparency node by itself, the object will become completely invisible and you will be able to see objects that are directly behind the transparent object.

Transparent Cube

This is true for the Cycles render engine but not for the EEVEE engine, where using the transparent node will actually turn the material’s surface black.

This is not a permanent effect, however, as you simply need to activate an additional setting. Go to the material tab in the properties panel and scroll down to where it says Settings, then change the blend mode from opaque to alpha blend, and the object should now be transparent in EEVEE.

Alpha Blend Setting

The holdout node is different, as it uses the outline of the shape of the object to create a cutout of transparency in the scene. This means that if you use the holdout node on an object, you will see the checkerboard effect on that object, even if transparency has not been applied to the environment.

Holdout Material

It also means that you can not see through that object and that any other models on the other side of the object cannot be viewed unless you orbit your viewport camera.

When To Use Either Node?

The transparency node works best to create an alpha channel for materials when it’s working with other nodes, for example, you can mix the transparent node with the principled shader to create a balloon material.

The holdout node is very useful if you plan to edit your image or animation after the initial render. For example, you have a scene of a living room with a TV, and you use the Holdout node on the TV screen. You can then edit the animation in the compositor and import a movie clip that you can position to play on that tv screen.

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