Tips & Tricks For Space Scenes

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  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 9,018
    edited December 1969

    JimDHart said:
    I've been debating trying to come up with a displacement for the land masses. I was thinking it wouldn't be worth it from a whole world view, but maybe close-ups it could work.

    I'd be interested to hear how that goes. I didn't have much luck, but still learning.

    I made a number of tweaks to both clouds and landmass this morning. Here is the latest. Still lots to do to improve the model...


    It may be awhile. I have a few irons in the fire at the moment.

  • FractalDimensiaFractalDimensia Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    The result of my first fictional planet. I want to make a number of improvements, but it captures the idea I had originally.

    Playing_Around_1b.jpg
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  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 9,018
    edited December 1969

    That looks really nice.

  • SpottedKittySpottedKitty Posts: 6,543
    edited December 1969

    That planet reminds me a bit of Jupiter's moon Io, a.k.a. The Biggest Pan Pizza (with extra hot sauce) In The Solar System. :coolsmile:

  • GarstorGarstor Posts: 1,411
    edited December 1969

    JimDHart said:
    The result of my first fictional planet. I want to make a number of improvements, but it captures the idea I had originally.

    I'm thinking, "Jackson Pollack Goes To Space!"

    Nice!

  • FractalDimensiaFractalDimensia Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    I have been making progress creating worlds, and after several miserable, failed attempts, I have settled on a basic process, though I will modify it as I continue to learn.

    Step 1: Create the planet landmass image.
    I did a search and found several apps that use fractals to generate planet landmasses. I tried all those I could run (several required compiling), and found the one that came closest to what I like was “TerraJ.” I used V0.2 beta by Martin Smith dated July 2006 (yes, too bad there wasn’t more progress made!). If you get the program, try out “Terrain Generator,” which among other things, allows you to create planet images (using a single random seed value) in “Square Projection.” This is just what the doctor ordered to build images directly usable by Carrara.
    Some suggestions if you try this app:
    1. Set the “Ocean Depth” color to pure black. This will make it easier to use the Alpha mode.
    2. Set the image dimensions where the width is twice that of the height. There seems to be a size limit on what this (old) app can handle. I successfully generated a 6k x 3k image, which is okay if you don’t zoom too close. I tried a 20k x 10k and the app went into never-never land.

    Step 2: Use an image editing program to adjust the colors.
    You may need to do several rounds of adjustments to find a color set that works. I use GIMP 2.6, which does what I need, though I am sure Photoshop is better if you can afford it!

    Step 3: Create bump and alpha maps from the image.
    I may write more about what I have learned on this sometime (when I have time), but for here, I found first working in a grayscale version of the original image, and adjusting balance/contrast (using a number of techniques available in GIMP).
    I like separating the water from the land (if there is water!), so I black out regions in the alpha image where I want the water showing through. The advantage is it allows you to adjust other properties (e.g., reflection, shininess), as water is different from land. (In fact, different types of land are different, and I am now considering splitting land types into different spheres.)

    Step 4: Add water sphere, using the same dimensions as the landmass sphere.

    Step 5: Layer additional spheres as needed.
    I have been trying atmosphere spheres, multi-layering clouds, and icecaps. A combination of all of these seems to give the final product greater realism. For clouds, I started with a basic Earth model, but have been expanding out from there. If you want clouds that look different from those on Earth (and I do!), I found the planet generator app creates images that can be used to create some interesting variations. I am continuing to experiment on this, so more sometime soon. I haven’t found anything in the Carrara shader options I like to generate clouds (including the fractal functions). Maybe someone else has had better luck with that?

    Anyway, I've found spending time experimenting has got me coming up with a ton of ideas, more than I have time to pursue.

    Anyway, below are two images of a planet I produced using this approach. The second one shows the “southern” icecaps.

    Allcorr_World_D01b.jpg
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    Allcorr_World_D01a.jpg
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  • FractalDimensiaFractalDimensia Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    Canzamar, once similar to Earth, is now dying as its single star nears the end of its life cycle. The expanding star is slowly heating the planet. With an average constant temperature nearing 140 degrees F, most animal life has died out. The land is covered completely in rich vegetation of bogs, forests, and marshes. The sea is completely filled with florescent algae that illuminates the dark side of the planet, as the first photo, taken near the southern pole, shows. The second photo shows erosion along the southern continent of Bedari and the northern island of Kali, caused by subsurface gases escaping and killing plant life near the coasts.

    Canzamar_1a.jpg
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    Canzamar_1d.jpg
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  • GarstorGarstor Posts: 1,411
    edited December 1969

    JimDHart said:
    Canzamar, once similar to Earth, is now dying as its single star nears the end of its life cycle.

    I love your description of this planet! It is so evocative and it starts the imagination churning with ideas about this world and its story. Excellent stuff.

  • FractalDimensiaFractalDimensia Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    Garstor said:
    I love your description of this planet! It is so evocative and it starts the imagination churning with ideas about this world and its story. Excellent stuff.

    Thanks, Garstor.

    I wanted to create an ice planet (called Goath), and after some experimentation, created the following image (1).

    To get frozen water, I used the same technique as before to split land from water. But here, I adjusted the water color and added a bump (blend of noise and a texture modified from the land texture). See image 2.

    Since frozen water has different characteristics from snow, I used the following shader parameters:
    Water Highlight = 15%
    Water Shininess = 16%
    Land Highlight = 14%
    Land Shininess = 25%

    See image 3 for a snapshot of the landmass shader.

    Having fun!

    Goath_Surface_Shader.jpg
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    Goath_Water_Shader.jpg
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    Goath_World_D01a.jpg
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  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 9,018
    edited December 1969

    Nice job! The ice planet looks great, although at the moment I'm not a fan of the cold.... Brrrrrr!

  • FractalDimensiaFractalDimensia Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    I'm having a go at creating my own "artist's rendering" of a terraformed Mars. Here is what I have so far.

    As part of my goal, I'm attempting to create some realistic clouds using just Carrara. Blending 2 colors using fractal noise seems to yield good results by enabling transforms and then scaling the X and Y axis by 3-5 or scaling the Z axis by 1/4. See screenshots below for the settings I used for this image.

    However, I'm running into a snag when I attempt to copy the fractal noise setting from color into the alpha or bump channel. Apparently, the "image" it creates is different, and I can't find out why. I want to use the same settings across color, alpha, and bump, but it's not working the way I expect. If anyone knows why or can offer a solution, I'd appreciate it! =)

    Terraforming_Mars_Clouds_Screenshot_3.jpg
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    Terraforming_Mars_Clouds_Screenshot_2.jpg
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    Terraforming_Mars_Clouds_Screenshot_1.jpg
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    Mars_D02a.jpg
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  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 9,018
    edited December 1969

    Those clouds look great!


    I'm not sure what the issue is. I would think that copying and pasting would work. What have you tried to correct this? For the Alpha channel, did you try checking the box to invert?

  • FractalDimensiaFractalDimensia Posts: 0
    edited February 2013

    I'm not sure what the issue is. I would think that copying and pasting would work. What have you tried to correct this? For the Alpha channel, did you try checking the box to invert?

    I copied/pasted the color blender (fractal noise) into both alpha and bump channels, and inverted the colors for alpha. =/

    I'm having another "issue" using Carrara to create the clouds.... shadows. From the image below, you can see how the clouds are not creating right shadow effects. I have full raytracing turned on, with antialiasing turned to best. The light is set to enable soft shadows and there are no lighting restrictions set for the light (a basic distant light with 100% white brightness) and "cast shadows" set.

    I think the reason for this is that the shadows are being created from the settings in the Alpha channel, but the clouds are an interaction between color settings and alpha, so this is causing a "skewing." I am continuing to experiment with this. My next experiment is to set the cloud color to white and see what shadows appear.

    If I can't figure out how to solve this problem, my backup strategy is to build a cloud map from Carrara settings, adjust the image using GIMP, and then add it back in as a map. At least I'd get the right shadowing effects.

    More soon....

    Mars_D03b.jpg
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    Post edited by FractalDimensia on
  • wetcircuitwetcircuit Posts: 0
    edited February 2013

    JimDHart said:
    The light is set to enable soft shadows and there are no lighting restrictions set for the light (a basic distant light with 100% white brightness) and "cast shadows" set.

    With the "sun" set to soft shadows, how big is the size of the soft shadows? If you start to plug in realistic numbers, the sun would be over 1.38 MILLION kilometers across.... I tried some tests with a large setting in the soft shadows area and ended up cancelling out shadows altogether (or at least to any practical shadows that I could see in my image)
    Post edited by wetcircuit on
  • FractalDimensiaFractalDimensia Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    Quick update - The shadowing problem is caused by the bump channel (which is a copy/paste from the alpha channel, with "Invert" turned off). The shadowing looks fine if I don't have bump. Will say more when I have something USEFUL to say! ;-)

  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 9,018
    edited December 1969

    Good point Holly! I was testing the shadows using the above settings and with hard shadows I was getting accurate shadows. I hadn't got to the point where I tried soft shadows.


    Personally, if you're showing a planet from space, the soft shadows are really not visible, so I don't see a point to them. If there's something in the foreground like a space ship, then I still don't think you'd need soft shadows as there is no atmosphere in space to bend the light, but if you really wanted them you could set up a light and restrict it to whatever you wanted to have soft shadows.

  • FractalDimensiaFractalDimensia Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    JimDHart said:
    The light is set to enable soft shadows and there are no lighting restrictions set for the light (a basic distant light with 100% white brightness) and "cast shadows" set.

    With the "sun" set to soft shadows, how big is the size of the soft shadows? If you start to plug in realistic numbers, the sun would be over 1.38 MILLION kilometers across.... I tried some tests with a large setting in the soft shadows area and ended up cancelling out shadows altogether (or at least to any practical shadows that I could see in my image)

    I have Shadow Intensity set to 100%, which, if I understand this setting correctly, should provide "deep" shadows.

    Also, I have indirect light setting for the scene set to 0%.

    Update: I found that copying and pasting the alpha channel settings into bump, and then turning "Brightness" down considerably, the shadows look more realistic. I'll give more details when I find out more.

    Thanks Evil and Holly for your suggestions!

  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 9,018
    edited February 2013

    JimDHart said:
    JimDHart said:
    The light is set to enable soft shadows and there are no lighting restrictions set for the light (a basic distant light with 100% white brightness) and "cast shadows" set.

    With the "sun" set to soft shadows, how big is the size of the soft shadows? If you start to plug in realistic numbers, the sun would be over 1.38 MILLION kilometers across.... I tried some tests with a large setting in the soft shadows area and ended up cancelling out shadows altogether (or at least to any practical shadows that I could see in my image)

    I have Shadow Intensity set to 100%, which, if I understand this setting correctly, should provide "deep" shadows.

    Also, I have indirect light setting for the scene set to 0%.

    Update: I found that copying and pasting the alpha channel settings into bump, and then turning "Brightness" down considerably, the shadows look more realistic. I'll give more details when I find out more.

    Thanks Evil and Holly for your suggestions!


    You're right that having shadows set to 100% creates deep shadows, but using soft shadows softens the edges of the shadows. The effect is like seeing your shadow near sunset: The closer to your feet you look, the harder the edge of the shadow. The further away you look towards the end of your shadow, the softer the edges get. You can set the light's radius in Carrara. The larger the radius, the more quickly the shadows soften.


    I'm rendering a fairly close image using your shader settings and hard shadows. The alpha settings aren't on or off. It takes into account shades of gray, so you don't really need soft shadows The pure white areas of the alpha cloud image will be opaque, hard shadows, and the edges where the white fades and transitions to black will graduate and let more light through, softening the shadows on their own. You'll find that if you don't use soft shadows it will render more quickly as well.

    Post edited by evilproducer on
  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 9,018
    edited December 1969

    This image was created using your formula- Including the bump channel. The light didn't use soft shadows and the shadows are at 100%. I just used the default scene light.

    earth_with_fractal_clouds.jpg
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  • FractalDimensiaFractalDimensia Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    JimDHart said:
    The light is set to enable soft shadows and there are no lighting restrictions set for the light (a basic distant light with 100% white brightness) and "cast shadows" set.

    With the "sun" set to soft shadows, how big is the size of the soft shadows? If you start to plug in realistic numbers, the sun would be over 1.38 MILLION kilometers across.... I tried some tests with a large setting in the soft shadows area and ended up cancelling out shadows altogether (or at least to any practical shadows that I could see in my image)

    I have Shadow Intensity set to 100%, which, if I understand this setting correctly, should provide "deep" shadows.

    Also, I have indirect light setting for the scene set to 0%.

    Update: I am not happy with any results with Bump turned on, and I've tried a number of different settings. In truth, the best results I've gotten so far is with Bump turned off.

    Attached is the latest image, with no cloud bumps. I may try the backup strategy just to see if it is an improvement.

    Thanks Evil and Holly for your suggestions!

    Mars_D04b.jpg
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    Mars_D04a.jpg
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  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 9,018
    edited December 1969

    JimDHart said:
    JimDHart said:
    The light is set to enable soft shadows and there are no lighting restrictions set for the light (a basic distant light with 100% white brightness) and "cast shadows" set.

    With the "sun" set to soft shadows, how big is the size of the soft shadows? If you start to plug in realistic numbers, the sun would be over 1.38 MILLION kilometers across.... I tried some tests with a large setting in the soft shadows area and ended up cancelling out shadows altogether (or at least to any practical shadows that I could see in my image)

    I have Shadow Intensity set to 100%, which, if I understand this setting correctly, should provide "deep" shadows.

    Also, I have indirect light setting for the scene set to 0%.

    Update: I am not happy with any results with Bump turned on, and I've tried a number of different settings. In truth, the best results I've gotten so far is with Bump turned off.

    Attached is the latest image, with no cloud bumps. I may try the backup strategy just to see if it is an improvement.

    Thanks Evil and Holly for your suggestions!


    Wait- Except for the images and mention of the bump, is this the same post from above?

  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 9,018
    edited December 1969

    I'm also curious when you say you have indirect lighting set to 0%. Do you mean ambient light?

  • FractalDimensiaFractalDimensia Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    This image was created using your formula- Including the bump channel. The light didn't use soft shadows and the shadows are at 100%. I just used the default scene light.

    Okay. I am getting similar results with these settings, but there is a side-effect that I could not work around. When you generate an image in the twilight region, you get several bands. One is where light no longer strikes the clouds directly. The other is where clouds disappear behind the planet's surface. (See 1st image below.) One way to keep bump and eliminate the band effect is to reduce shadows. In the 2nd image, I set Shadow Intensity to 10%. The problem NOW is that light strikes clouds behind the planet, so that is of no use.

    The only solution I have found so far to deal with this is to eliminate bump.

    Maybe you or someone has an idea how to deal with this?

    BTW, this has been very helpful, and I am learning a great deal in this dialogue. Thanks.

    Sample_B.jpg
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    Sample_A.jpg
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  • FractalDimensiaFractalDimensia Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    Wait- Except for the images and mention of the bump, is this the same post from above?

    Yep! Sorry. Still learning how to post.

    "I’m also curious when you say you have indirect lighting set to 0%. Do you mean ambient light?"

    Yes, I set ambient light to 0%. I also did not have any global illumination (e.g., indirect) light set either.

  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 9,018
    edited December 1969

    JimDHart said:
    This image was created using your formula- Including the bump channel. The light didn't use soft shadows and the shadows are at 100%. I just used the default scene light.

    Okay. I am getting similar results with these settings, but there is a side-effect that I could not work around. When you generate an image in the twilight region, you get several bands. One is where light no longer strikes the clouds directly. The other is where clouds disappear behind the planet's surface. (See 1st image below.) One way to keep bump and eliminate the band effect is to reduce shadows. In the 2nd image, I set Shadow Intensity to 10%. The problem NOW is that light strikes clouds behind the planet, so that is of no use.

    The only solution I have found so far to deal with this is to eliminate bump.

    Maybe you or someone has an idea how to deal with this?

    BTW, this has been very helpful, and I am learning a great deal in this dialogue. Thanks.


    I'll have to look at that later. Are you still using soft shadows?

  • FractalDimensiaFractalDimensia Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    I'll have to look at that later. Are you still using soft shadows?

    Not any more. I did a close-up comparison with and without them, and found no difference.

    Okay. I'm cooked for the day. So here's my last post until I can get back to this.

    I took the shader settings for the clouds I was rendering, dropped them into a separate scene, put a camera in the middle and generated an 8k x 4k map of the clouds, edited it in GIMP, and used the results as texture maps. I think the results look cleaner, and image editing allows some tweaks you can't otherwise do.

    Here are 2 scenes generated using the cloud map.

    Mars_D05b.jpg
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    Mars_D05a.jpg
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  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 9,018
    edited December 1969

    Looks really nice.

  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 14,776
    edited December 1969

    Agreed. Brilliant, Jim!

  • JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
    edited December 1969

    Personally, if you're showing a planet from space, the soft shadows are really not visible, so I don't see a point to them. If there's something in the foreground like a space ship, then I still don't think you'd need soft shadows as there is no atmosphere in space to bend the light....

    Well, actually...

    Oh, nevermind....

  • edited December 1969

    JimDHart said:
    This image was created using your formula- Including the bump channel. The light didn't use soft shadows and the shadows are at 100%. I just used the default scene light.

    Okay. I am getting similar results with these settings, but there is a side-effect that I could not work around. When you generate an image in the twilight region, you get several bands. One is where light no longer strikes the clouds directly. The other is where clouds disappear behind the planet's surface. (See 1st image below.) One way to keep bump and eliminate the band effect is to reduce shadows. In the 2nd image, I set Shadow Intensity to 10%. The problem NOW is that light strikes clouds behind the planet, so that is of no use.

    The only solution I have found so far to deal with this is to eliminate bump.

    Maybe you or someone has an idea how to deal with this?

    BTW, this has been very helpful, and I am learning a great deal in this dialogue. Thanks.
    You need to subdivide the sphere a bit more.

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