How to import an image with an alpha channel as a plane into Cycles

In this video tutorial we show you how to use the import images as planes addon in order to quickly bring images with alpha channels into Blender while working with the Cycles render engine.

Written instructions:

Here we have an image with transparency that we want to use in Cycles. Let’s save it as a png file and then jump to Blender.

Importing images with alpha channels into Cycles is fast with the “import images as planes” addon.

Let’s go to our preferences in order to enable it.

We can click save user settings so that in the future Blender has this addon enabled by default.

Let’s go ahead and switch the render engine to Cycles.

Now we simply go to file, import, images as planes.

Let’s select our image file by left clicking on it once.

We want the alpha channel to be transparent, and the image to render in full brightness, so let’s select emission and transparent for the material settings.

Now we can hit the import button and position our plane where we want it. Let’s scale it up slightly and give it a quick render.

As we can see, Cycles respects the alpha channel.

Finally let’s take a look at the node setup that our addon created automatically for us. We have a mix shader, that combines a transparent surface with an emission surface, and uses the alpha channel of the image as the mixing factor.

Thanks for watching and see you next time on!

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