Reference Images in the viewport (Old Background images)

Blender2.8 has lost the background images tool, although it is still very much in demand by many users as it is much more useful than the current image empty tool (even if it were to implement improvements) in many circumstances. Since the developers are trying to avoid duplication, I would like to propose the return of the improved Background images to perform a different function, adding with very few changes an immense improvement for the user.

Currently if we go through the subject of workspaces request for blender2.8 we can see a constant in many workspaces… Users need references to work. But as there is currently no way to reference them all, they end up adding two or three extra areas to their workspaces so that they can view reference images.

So my proposal is: Why not leave the functionality renaming it to “Reference Images” but also adding that you can leave images in the viewport, in any view, including perspective? and let the user place the images in screen space. This would allow users to put references into the viewport for when modeling or sculpting. References that do not depend on whether you are in perspective or orthogonal view and work similarly to the current camera mode.

Also the new tool would bring several improvements over its predecessor. To begin with I would bring a new view in the menu called “Viewport” which would be the default mode for adding references.


Also for the orthogonal views it would bring a new option “Mirror image”, which can be seen in the mockup. This option would simply duplicate the image in the opposite orthogonal view, flipping it so that the same image (e.g. from the side of a car) would serve both the left and right view.

Finally, the new system would be located in the workspace tab, in the properties area, depending on the workspace, not the viewer (if possible). And it would be activated or deactivated in each viewer of the workspace by means of an option within overlays.

With these “small” changes two things could be achieved.

  • Save the background image functionality that so many people want to preserve by avoiding duplication of functionality.
  • Add a new referral system that all users would really appreciate.

Although it is not a proposal (it is simply a feedback on an existing tool already retouched in Blender2.8). I have taken the liberty of creating a proposal in RightClickSelect to share with community.


Have you tried checking the camera settings? I saw the background images tool in the camera settings the last time i tried it, and it has been there all this while after it was removed from the properties panel, although I’ve not tested it if it works exactly like the previous one we has in 2.79, but i think its worth trying.

Hi chukwudiokoro, Yes I check the camera settings, for that reason I put the proposal, because the original background images is not removed and only have been removed the usefull options.


Just to say that old Background Image in 2.79 supports movie clips, and new Add > Image Background/Reference only supports images.
A video as a reference can be useful to copy movements in animation, for example the movement of this snake.

I know that camera background image supports movie clip, but …