Poly Haven has long been known for its giant library of completely FREE 3D Models, textures and HDRIs. They’ve just made life even easier for Blender users by rolling out the Poly Haven Asset Browser. It’s made it to my list of top paid add-ons for Blender.

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The Add-On has made the entire Poly Haven library available right inside of Blender. Here’s how it works and how to get it.

What Does the Poly Haven Asset Browser Do?

Poly Haven Asset Library at Our Fingertips

Poly Haven has been around for a while. It was originally three different sites.

  • HDRI Haven
  • Texture Haven
  • 3D Model Haven

But they’ve now been consolidated. Poly Haven is a South African company that works with 3D artists from around the world to create a community-funded resource for artists everywhere.

Poly Haven currently has over 1,000 assets and – wait for it – they’re all free! Yes, they are not only free but they come with a CC-0 license meaning we can use them for any purpose (including commercial) without attribution. This is a huge resource for 3D artists and game designers.

Bring Poly Haven Assets Directly into Blender

Poly Haven is great, but browsing and downloading individual assets and then having to add them manually to Blender’s Asset Browser is time-consuming. Thankfully, the Poly Haven Asset Browser brings them all in for us. All we have to do is drag and drop them into our scene.

Where to Get the Poly Haven Asset Browser?

The Poly Haven Asset Browser is available on Blender Market. Unlike the assets, the add-on is not free. At the time of this post, it costs $30 (one time) to purchase but includes future updates forever. Proceeds support Poly Haven in their quest to provide free assets to the world.

How to Install the Poly Haven Asset Browser?

Like most add-ons the Poly Haven Asset Browser comes in a .Zip file. We download then go into the add-ons tab in Blender’s User Preferences. Click install in the top right corner. Navigate to the .Zip file (don’t un-zip it). Choose the file and press “Install.”

Then, find the add-on in the list of installed add-ons and check the box to the left of it to activate it. We can expand the arrow to the left of the checkbox to see more settings for the add-on.

When we expand the options for the add-on, we see an error message that says “No asset library named ‘Poly Haven…’ Create one in the File Paths tab on the left.”

Because the addon uses Blender’s Asset Browser, there is an additional step for setting it up. We have to add a library in our file path settings.

While in the preferences area, select the tab from the left of the screen (near the bottom) for “File Paths.”

Choose the plus icon at the bottom right to add a new library to our asset browser. I have several already made in the above example but we will need one specifically for Poly Haven assets.

Once we press the plus icon, navigate to somewhere on our computer (or cloud storage folder) and create a new folder specifically to hold Poly Haven assets. This is where all of the assets from Poly Haven will be saved.

Once we select the folder, we will have a new asset library. Be sure to name it “Poly Haven” so the plug-in recognizes it. Save the preferences.

Now if we go back to the add-ons tab in the preferences, we see the asset library has been recognized. Below this, we have an option to automatically check Poly Haven for new assets. Set this to be as often as you’d like or turn it off.

The Poly Haven Asset Browser is now installed, activated and ready to import assets. Here’s a full guide on how to install Blender add-ons if you need more information.

How to Use the Poly Haven Asset Browser?

To use the Poly Haven Asset Browser, we need to have a 3D Viewport open and we need to have an Asset Browser Editor open. From the layout workspace, we can drag the timeline up and select the editor icon in the top left corner to change it to the “Asset Browser Editor.” If you’re unfamiliar with the Asset Browser, I have a complete guide on how to use it.

Importing the Assets from Poly Haven

The asset browser defaults to the “current library” so we need to choose the drop down box on the left and change to the Poly Haven library we set up.

Change from Current File.
The empty asset browser with the new “Fetch Assets” option on the top.

Once we choose the current library, there will be nothing in it, but a new option appears above the asset browser that says “Fetch XXXX new assets” (in my case there were 1,008 assets available!).

We need to be aware that fetching 1000+ assets could take up a lot of space on our computer. So, make sure we have room on our hard drive or cloud storage. It may be a good idea to consider a portable hard drive like this 5TB one on Amazon to store assets.

We can also select the drop-down arrow to the right of the fetch option and narrow this down by asset type.

We can choose from All, HDRIs, Textures and Models. One thing I’d like to see added to the add-on if possible would be an estimate of the space needed to store each option.

If we don’t want all of the assets, we can delete them. I’m unsure if they’ll be added again when we refresh the library (they probably will…I’ll get back to you on that when it happens).

The asset browser will begin to download all of the assets from Poly Haven. I chose to download them one category at a time with a decent internet connection and it took only a few minutes.

The 1,000+ items in the Poly Haven asset library took up 3.45 GB of space on my hard drive (ouch!). The preview images appeared perfectly.

Poly Haven's automatically generated catalogs are displayed in the asset browser.

Originally, no catalogs were created, but when I checked back later, accurate catalogs were created which organized all of the assets. Very happy about that! The HDRIs were particularly taxing on the system so I later removed many of them.

But now, we can see the real power of the asset library.

Adding Assets into Our Scene

Once we’ve got it all set up, we just pick an object and drag it into our scene. For materials, drag them onto an object. For HDRI’s, drop them anywhere in the 3D Viewport. It works great.

What I Think of the Add-On

I’ve got a ton of respect for what the team at Poly Haven puts together. They’ve gathered talented and generous artists from around the world to bring us all high-quality assets we can use for free without restriction. The asset browser integration is a perfect next step for them.

The few things I’d like to see improved in future updates are:

  • Display estimated size of libraries before import
  • Add automatic catalogs THIS HAS BEEN FIXED!
  • Only 1K HDRIs are downloaded automatically

But that’s it. As Blender’s Asset Browser continues to improve, I expect this add-on will too. The $30 cost isn’t bad considering it goes toward supporting an organization that gives us so much at no cost. I recommend you check it out and support Poly Haven.

I have a list of my other favorite Blender add-ons you can check out too!

Stay creative!

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