Tips & Tricks For Space Scenes

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  • wetcircuitwetcircuit Posts: 0
    edited December 2012

    Thanks! They are fun to make, but the whole process is a little time consuming... so I'm *really* glad when anyone reads them...

    A couple more pages for additional effects using LENS FLARE:

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  • wetcircuitwetcircuit Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    Ooh, NERDALERT!!! I put it up on my site in the flipbook format.

    http://www.3d.wetcircuit.com/wp-content/plugins/page-flip-image-gallery/popup.php?book_id=2

  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 8,829
    edited December 1969

    That is awesome Holly! I've been on a mad rendering spree with a project I've been meaning to do for a long time, so I haven't had time to do the tutorial yet, but I've bookmarked the site and DLed the pages. I have a few ideas for using your technique. Do you think it would render fast in an animation?

  • wetcircuitwetcircuit Posts: 0
    edited December 2012

    Basic procedurals are very fast... Faster than acceptable-sized bitmaps. and they can be animated of course....

    But you can slow down procedural shaders when there is geometry involved ( some of the DCG shaders become slower because they have to calculate based on the geometry of the object..., like AnythingGoos, WireframePro, etc). In most cases I've found this to be a one-time calculation then it goes faster after that, but if your object morphs or animates by rig the geo-calculation happens at every frame. (Plus most procedural patterns are world-based and the model passes through them like a dancer walking through a slide projection....)

    I want to update my "window" tutorial to comicbook... I think I will make it for space scenes...

    And I have a simple beginner's tutorial for Primivol to use as an atmosphere, which it is very good at but the interface is so intimidating that's why no one uses it....

    Post edited by wetcircuit on
  • wetcircuitwetcircuit Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    That ISS animation and the two Trek-style images are all amazing...! YAY! I love SPACE!

  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 13,966
    edited December 1969

    The image with the more modern ship is just the standard renderer with no bells and whistles.

    A point I'm beginning to feel real value in. During many of my action-based animations, with a camera in motion, I'm finding that some of the higher res clarity using more time-consuming setting on each render isn't really worth the cost of time. If I compare a rendered animation with the same that took four times as long to render, I really do notice a big difference. I wouldn't want to mix and match. But Carrara does such a great job of raytracing - without using the global illum and other higher end settings that I'm debating the trade off. I don't mind waiting for higher quality shots - I truly don't. But there are plenty of way to improve a render without going for the gusto at the expense of time.

    BTW, Great, great work you guys. I love reading this thread!

  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 8,829
    edited December 1969

    Good to see you in this thread Dartanbeck.


    The render I'm working on now is only three lights. It's based on the scheme I used in my first post in this thread, except one of the lights is attached to a sun I made using Holly's awesome tutorial.

  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 13,966
    edited December 1969

    Right,
    Holly... I wish you could get a contract to and "Pro Tips & Tricks" sections to the mythical updated manual.
    I love your style! I could get into those on subjects I don't need any help in... even though I need help in EVERYTHING right now! lol
    Very entertaining AND informative. Thanks for taking the time.

    Evil, I love the job you do with lights. I've been treated to your sample and final shots for some time now. You certainly are gifted with and in Carrara. Love your work. Good eye. You too, Holly. That goes for many others here as well.

  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 8,829
    edited December 1969

    So here's the image I've been building using Holly's sun tutorial.


    For the ring on the planet I created a torus in the Spline modeler and asteroids in the Metaball modeler. I then used a surface replicator on the torus to place the asteroids on the torus. I then made the torus invisible. I had tried the alpha channel on the torus, but the depth pass doesn't respect transparencies.


    I'm still building the scene. I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet. Rather, I have an idea of what I want to do, I'm just not sure yet how I'm getting there.

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  • JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
    edited December 2012

    Evil, when I saw your rings I couldn't figure out exactly what was bugging me about the perspective and sense of scale and distance. And then I realized, it's the perspective and sense of scale and distance... :)

    Seriously, keep in mind that generally in viewing space-y images people's brains are wired to see things based on great distances. And when I saw your rings, with all of the particles about the same size from right to left, I immediately got the sense that the ring was real, real small. Not thousands of miles across or larger like you might expect. And I'll let our resident astrophysicist discuss the shape of the rings, but anyway...

    I tried to do a quick render using the built in Saturn scene, and adding a replicator set to max, and distributed a bunch of spheres on the included ring disc to show the variation of apparent size of the objects as they are farther away. Closer objects should be bigger, and farther away should be smaller. And closer should be spaced further apart, and far away should be scrunched together.

    And this example really isn't even close, because I didn't scale it up to realistic thousands of miles in scale. But I think it should get the point across.

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  • RoguePilotRoguePilot Posts: 239
    edited December 2012

    They have to be flat. :)

    and the planetary body needs to have sufficient gravity to keep them in orbit, so.... gas giant.

    Gotta give that one to Joe.

    Post edited by RoguePilot on
  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 8,829
    edited December 1969

    Thanks for the comments guys!

    You're right about the rings. I was more interested in seeing if it would work. I used a torus, but it wasn't flat, more oval. The size of the rocks is supposed to be randomized in the replicator, and when I look closely at them, they are many different sizes. I think what Joe is seeing is because the replicator is a tube, it lacks the perspective of a flat disk looked at slightly on edge. The ring I'm going for is more rocky than dusty which is probably wrong, but I like the idea of the texture, if that makes sense. Joe, your rings look very good.


    A couple questions to RoguePilot, would be, Saturn's rings have depth as well as width, but how much? A few miles? A few hundred miles? Wouldn't it be possible for a rocky planet to acquire rings, even temporarily? I thought the theory of planetary formation was that they formed from an accretion disc, wouldn't a satellite form the same way, or is the theory that our moon was a captured body? I have read a theory of a planetary collision with the earth either contributing to the formation of the moon, or blasting away the surface of the moon, if this is the case, wouldn't there be an orbiting ring of debris until the gravity of the earth and the orbiting moon took care of it?

  • RoguePilotRoguePilot Posts: 239
    edited December 1969

    The theory of planetary ring formation is still in flux but it's clear that you need a few things to combine to produce the right conditions. A key thing is the right gravitational conditions and these exist far away from the suns influence around the substantial bodies of the gas giants.

    At the scale necessary to get the planet in view you can forget about the ring thickness. (It's between 10m and 1000m)

    You're right that in a young system you would have orbiting debris around a smaller planet. That would be a very unstable situation though and would rapidly fall into chaos, either throwing it out of orbit or down onto the planet. The chunks would be pretty small and far apart. If enough debris did cluster together to achieve a high enough gravitational influence and it's at the right speed and distance from the planet it could form a moon. A moon is more likely to be formed from a body that is already substantial that gets captured though.

    It can go the other way too, a small moon could break up due to tidal forces but the ring formed would be very short lived due to those forces and would make barely any visual impact.

    I was being flippant when I said that the planet needs to be big. A newly formed planet would be a good thing to render, I'd want to see it as glowing red with massive flows of magma. How about a nice planetary impact?

    (You can get rings of very, very fine invisible dust in orbit)

  • JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
    edited December 1969

    I think what Joe is seeing is because the replicator is a tube, it lacks the perspective of a flat disk looked at slightly on edge.

    I don't think so, at least that wasn't the point I was trying to make....

    It's about a sense of distance and relative size. In order for your rocks to appear, as they do, relatively the same size (going from left to right in your render), the ring would have to be very small. Whether it's a torus or a disc or whatever, doesn't really matter. It's about the apparent size of the rocks as they get farther away from you. And when those distances are very large, the difference in apparent sizes should be much greater.

    Consider this...

    Let's say the planet was 1,000 miles in diameter. Heck, I dunno, pick a number. Which means that the rings have a lot bigger diameter than that. Let's call it 2,000 miles in diameter. That's about 2/3 the distance from NY to Los Angeles. Big.

    Now, if you had big rocks floating around in that 2,000 mile diameter ring, there would be huge distances between them. And if you pulled up in a spaceship and saw them, it would be kinda like you standing on your roof in Wisconsin (?) and looking at a house in Chicago.It would look a whole lot tinier than your house looks.

    Bad example, but maybe you get the point. My initial impression was that it was a really small ring around a really tiny planet, so much so that it looked, well, wrong. Not consistent with planets and vast distances and space stuff.

    Like I tried to mention in another post, the biggest challenge, IMO, with space images is trying to convince the viewer of size and distance. To show big planets and relatively small space ships and huge distances you need to give the viewer some perspective. Just having a spaceship next to a planet doesn't give them any clue about how big stuff is. However, as RoguePilot so clearly illustrated in a couple of his images, when you insert some additional ships that are tiny specks in the distance, the viewer immediately gains a sense of perspective and distance. Otherwise people are searching for clues, and subconsciously get confused and unsatisfied.

  • JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
    edited December 1969

    I don't think I'm explaining it real well, so let me try it from another angle....

    In the image I posted, how large do the "rocks" in the rings appear? Small, right? Like little dots. But when you consider how big the rings really are (thousands of miles across or whatever) you suddenly realize that to see that entire section of the ring, the rocks themselves would have to be MASSIVE to even appear in the image. It's like you're standing hundreds of miles above LA and seeing across to Chicago, and you actually see a bunch of rocks? Wow, the rocks would have to be massive to even appear. But in the image they appear relatively tiny.

    That's my point. To see a good portion of the rings, which are thousands of miles across, from a position that is hundreds or thousands of miles away, you'd expect rocks and stuff to be almost invisibly tiny.

  • JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
    edited December 1969

    Okay, here's an image that might help explain...

    Here's a crappy image I did before, but I added one element to it...another spaceship.

    Immediately you gain a sense of perspective, distance, and relative size. You immediately realize that the big spaceship is really far away from a big planet, solely because you have a small ship off in the distance to compare it with. How far away is the small ship? Well, actually you have a pretty good idea if you consider the ships are maybe a few times the size of an automobile. You immediately know that the ships are probably less than a mile apart, but even a fairly large spaceship looks tiny just a short distance away.

    So how would a bunch of rocks appear in rings that are thousands of miles across?

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  • CarltonMartinCarltonMartin Posts: 147
    edited December 1969

    One of my favorite movie "tricks" for instantly giving a viewer a sense of the scale is the random human figure—I notice it all the time, "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" when the Enterprise is pulling out of space dock, there's a worker waving it goodbye—there's almost always a worker somewhere in Babylon 5 external shots—it's really useful. In animated shots, there's often a pan from a human figure/scene out to full ship view, continually centered on the human, so we get that perspective of size.

    (Totally randomly connected, in medieval paintings, there's very often a figure looking out at you rather than at the scene, which serves to grab your attention and involve your eye...I love "tricks".)

  • JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
    edited December 1969

    It's one of those "rules" that people have in their heads that helps them enjoy images. A sense of distance and perspective. But being a "rule" many/most hobbyists like to think it doesn't exist, or else don't know it exists, and instead use the favorite "rules are made to be broken" line.

    It really is important, especially in space scenes where you don't have the typical reference perspective you usually get in Earth-y images, where relative sizes and distances are usually pretty clear.

    Like I've posted before, I will NEVER forget, decades ago, when 2001: A Space Odyssey came out, the first real "space" movie. And in one scene they had their CG spaceship (actually a model they built and filmed, I believe), they composited a live action shot of a tiny person walking past a window in the ship. Instantly that give you a sense of the immense size of the ship, and everyone gasped.

    I'll never forget that, even decades later. That's how impactful it can be.

  • CarltonMartinCarltonMartin Posts: 147
    edited December 1969

    To me, those tricks and rules are structure that makes it easier to communicate. Why turn one's back on centuries of artists experimenting? I don't always remember to use them, but when I do, I'm better. There's a reason I studied art history, and stare at a painting or sculpture for an hour in a museum when I find one that really talks to me.

  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 8,829
    edited December 2012

    To me, those tricks and rules are structure that makes it easier to communicate. Why turn one's back on centuries of artists experimenting? I don't always remember to use them, but when I do, I'm better. There's a reason I studied art history, and stare at a painting or sculpture for an hour in a museum when I find one that really talks to me.


    Joes's first paragraph in his last post is a dig at me, for an argument we had (some time ago) about so called rules. It's not worth going into the whole thing again. Needless to say we have different opinions on the elasticity of some of those rules.


    As I mentioned earlier in this thread, a lot of a times a space scene is the artist's conception and is not always going to be physically accurate. If you work for NASA as a graphic designer, then accuracy is in the job description based on the current science. If you work for a movie studio, or produce images that are abstract space scenes, then not so much. So much depends on the intent of the artist producing the image. Think back to the era before Hubble, before satellites, and think of some of the conceptual images artists painted of the surfaces of Jupiter's moons, or Venus. many of those images have proved to be no longer accurate in the least, but they still inspire artists to this day.


    I do have in my mind's eye an idea about what I want for the finished picture. This is the director's camera perspective of my scene. Without doing the math (which I don't know anyway, to my eye the ring is about the right diameter around the planet. The objects in the ring are large, probably too large, but then again, I did say I was still building my scene and trying to work some things out. My intention with that image was not to show the finished project, but the steps getting to the finished product. As elements are added and experimented with, the composition will change. Will it be physically accurate, probably not. Whether or not it has an emotional impact will be on me to realize my vision and if I feel successful, it will then be up to the viewer to decide if it has an impact, and will be based on what their personal biases are.

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  • CarltonMartinCarltonMartin Posts: 147
    edited December 1969

    I don't remember making any comment about your render. There was a discussion about scale, that's what I made a comment about, and if it was a dig at you, I sure didn't notice it until you brought it up. It's a frequent point of Joe's that rules help. I agree, and although I don't always remember to follow them in the heat of creation, I find they inform my decisions after 50 years, albeit unconsciously much of the time. That's all I meant. No inferences to anyone's render, no assaults on anyone's artistry, just pointing out my experience. Sorry.

  • JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
    edited December 1969

    Will it be physically accurate, probably not. .

    Keep in mind, I'm not suggesting things be "physically accurate". I'm talking more in terms of "physically appropriate". There's a huge difference.

    People want things to be "physically appropriate", but most couldn't care less if they're "physically accurate". Whether your planetary rings have the exact correct spacing and dimensions for a Class 5 pseduo gas giant with Type 5 planetary gravity or not (yeah, I made all that up...) means nothing to most people.

    But what matters is whether it VISUALLY obeys the basic rules we expect.

    We expect stuff to cast shadows. We expect far away stuff to look smaller than near stuff. We want images compsed in certain ways. We want obvious subjects in an image. And on and on....

    That leaves HUGE leeway for artistic license.

    But I've repeated the same stuff here over and over at least 150 times, so at this point trying to clarify isn't gonna make much difference.

  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 8,829
    edited December 1969

    I don't remember making any comment about your render. There was a discussion about scale, that's what I made a comment about, and if it was a dig at you, I sure didn't notice it until you brought it up. It's a frequent point of Joe's that rules help. I agree, and although I don't always remember to follow them in the heat of creation, I find they inform my decisions after 50 years, albeit unconsciously much of the time. That's all I meant. No inferences to anyone's render, no assaults on anyone's artistry, just pointing out my experience. Sorry.


    No, no, you're fine. I wasn't trying to come across as defensive either. I didn't take it as an attack. The discussion about scale started in reference to my image on the previous page (I think), which is fine, because even though Joe and I don't exactly get along, he has some very valid and legitimate points. I had assumed you had been following the full discussion, which was my mistake. I just wanted to emphasize the image is a WIP, and I'm posting it, not only for my benefit, but for others as well, and I certainly don't mind constructive criticism, as it gives me a chance to learn new things, and consider different ways of doing things. It also gives others somethings to think about as well.

  • wetcircuitwetcircuit Posts: 0
    edited December 2012

    This is an interesting turn to the topic. Scale/rings. I'm trying to build an orbital ring around a planet. Scale has been a real issue, both figuring out what would be "realistic" and what level of detail for the scene....

    One of the problems being that Carrara crashes when i try to make a torus that big. LOL

    **OK, after some scale changes, this is (roughly) an Earth-size planet with an orbital ring (just a mockup for scale) at the same altitude as the ISS... I have to figure out how thick the torus would be.

    Also the planet shader is one of the ENHANCE:C shaders "Space 3D" (just default settings).... I figured it was appropriate to start to use them in this thread.

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  • gaffer2gaffer2 Posts: 65
    edited December 1969

    Holly what program are you using for your comic book format? thanks for the tutorial!

  • wetcircuitwetcircuit Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    Thank you!

    gaffer2 said:
    Holly what program are you using for your comic book format? thanks for the tutorial!

    Comic Life http://plasq.com/products/comiclife2/mac
    Despite the cutesy look, it is a really awesome program. Very flexible and lot's of export options.... For the tutorial I am just grabbing screen captures. Everything else is part of Comic Life... You just draw it out as you go....
  • RarethRareth Posts: 1,458
    edited December 1969

    This is an interesting turn to the topic. Scale/rings. I'm trying to build an orbital ring around a planet. Scale has been a real issue, both figuring out what would be "realistic" and what level of detail for the scene....

    One of the problems being that Carrara crashes when i try to make a torus that big. LOL

    **OK, after some scale changes, this is (roughly) an Earth-size planet with an orbital ring (just a mockup for scale) at the same altitude as the ISS... I have to figure out how thick the torus would be.

    Also the planet shader is one of the ENHANCE:C shaders "Space 3D" (just default settings).... I figured it was appropriate to start to use them in this thread.

    realistically I doubt the torus would even be visible at this scale, but artistic license allows for much.

  • wetcircuitwetcircuit Posts: 0
    edited December 2012

    Rareth said:
    This is an interesting turn to the topic. Scale/rings. I'm trying to build an orbital ring around a planet. Scale has been a real issue, both figuring out what would be "realistic" and what level of detail for the scene....

    One of the problems being that Carrara crashes when i try to make a torus that big. LOL

    **OK, after some scale changes, this is (roughly) an Earth-size planet with an orbital ring (just a mockup for scale) at the same altitude as the ISS... I have to figure out how thick the torus would be.

    Also the planet shader is one of the ENHANCE:C shaders "Space 3D" (just default settings).... I figured it was appropriate to start to use them in this thread.

    realistically I doubt the torus would even be visible at this scale, but artistic license allows for much.

    You are right... Here is the "orbital ring" around an Earth-sized planet at an orbit altitude of the ISS.... and a torus cross-section diameter of about 2.5km....

    Any shot of the whole planet renders the ring at below the resolution of my screen. :grrr: making it a tiny little insignificant thread around the planet.... So do I cheat and make it thicker or do I make the fact that it seems really unimpressive part of the story? LOL

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  • RarethRareth Posts: 1,458
    edited December 1969

    Rareth said:
    This is an interesting turn to the topic. Scale/rings. I'm trying to build an orbital ring around a planet. Scale has been a real issue, both figuring out what would be "realistic" and what level of detail for the scene....

    One of the problems being that Carrara crashes when i try to make a torus that big. LOL

    **OK, after some scale changes, this is (roughly) an Earth-size planet with an orbital ring (just a mockup for scale) at the same altitude as the ISS... I have to figure out how thick the torus would be.

    Also the planet shader is one of the ENHANCE:C shaders "Space 3D" (just default settings).... I figured it was appropriate to start to use them in this thread.

    realistically I doubt the torus would even be visible at this scale, but artistic license allows for much.

    You are right... Here is the "orbital ring" around an Earth-sized planet at an orbit altitude of the ISS.... and a torus cross-section diameter of about 2.5km....

    Any shot of the whole planet renders the ring at below the resolution of my screen. :grrr: making it a tiny little insignificant thread around the planet.... So do I cheat and make it thicker or do I make the fact that it seems really unimpressive part of the story? LOL

    depends, do you need to show the whole planet? or could you do something like in the opening credits of Enterprise where they show that spacestation in orbit?

  • wetcircuitwetcircuit Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    At a scale where you could begin to see details or space traffic around the ring... the planet starts to need a LOT of detail... I don't really want to use ginormous maps... Hmmm

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