How To Create Realistic Planets In 3DS Max

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troy2000
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How To Create Realistic Planets In 3DS Max

Post by troy2000 » Mon Jan 28, 2008 5:57 pm

Image

A lot of people ask about this all the time on scifi-meshes, but still (amazingly) its nearly impossible to find a decent tutorial. In this tutorial, I'll explain how to create realistic planets in 3DS Max, without going through immensely complicated procedures. The end result is a great looking planet which renders quickly (depending on your PC of course) and can be modified easily :).

To start with, you'll need to open Max and make sure you have a clear scene. Create a Sphere, set the Segments to around 200, the Size 100 units, and name it "Land". Clone it twice, naming one of the clones "Cloud" and the other "Atmosphere".

We will not be using the "Atmosphere" Sphere until later, so select it and increase the Size to 102. Left click the Sphere, open "Object Properties", and under "Rendering Control"set the "Visibility" to 0. Click OK, and the selected Sphere will become transparent.

Select the "Cloud" Sphere and set the Size to 100.5 units. OK, thats your scene fully set up! ;).

For the next step, press the "M" key on your keyboard to open the "Material Editor". This is the part many people really dislike. If you're one of them, don't worry. With the right instructions it's really not at all complicated.

Now that you're in the editor, you'll be seeing the default material. Under the "Maps" rollout, click the box which reads "None" next to "Diffuse Color". In the new window, select “Bitmap” and click “OK”. You’ll now be asked to navigate to the directory you stored your texture jpegs in. Open the diffuse texture (it looks like a satellite image of the planet’s surface). This will cause the editor to open the “Diffuse” map properties. Click the “Go To Parent” button (second to the right of the white/blue tiled cube), and you’ll be returned to the “Maps” rollout. Next, you’ll be dealing with the “Specular Level” map. So click the “None” box opposite the title, and again select “Bitmap” in the new window. Find and open the specular jpeg (or whatever the format happens to be). You’ll once again be brought to the material properties section, from where you need to click “Go To Parent”. One more material to go and you’re done with this section. Click the “None” box next to “Bump”, select “Bitmap”, and open the file. Click “Go To Parent”. Great, now you’ve finished texturing the “Land” Sphere. Select the Sphere, and click “Assign Material To Selection” (look for it in that really useful icon bar!).

Lets move on to the “Cloud” Sphere. This is perhaps the easiest part of creating a planet possible in a 3D application. Select the Sphere, and in the editor, select another blank material and open the “Maps” rollout. Apply your cloud texture as a “Bitmap” to both the “Opacity” and “Diffuse” slots. That’s that, simply apply the texture to the Sphere, and you can move on to the final, and most difficult section. The Atmosphere. The is the part which many people have a lot of trouble with. No need to worry though, my method will get you through with little effort.

Select another new blank material in the editor, and open the “Maps” rollout. As an example, in this tutorial, I’ll be explaining how to create a Minshara Class (M Class) Atmosphere.

Under “Maps”, click the “None” box beside “Diffuse Color”, and select “Falloff”. When the map properties opens, you’ll see two color boxes. Set the second box down to a sky blue color (oh, alright, I’ll tell you the exact values. R: 32, G: 137, B: 255). At the bottom of this window, you’ll see rollout called “Mix Curve”. Set it according to this image:

Image

Now you can click “Go To Parent” to return to the “Maps” rollout. This next part is very simple. Set “Self Illumination “ to a falloff map, but leave the map settings alone. Do the same for “Opacity”.

Finally, select the partially visible “Atmosphere” Sphere and apply the material to it. Right-click the Sphere, go to “Object Properties”, and under “Rendering Control” set “Visibility” to 1. Now position your camera, render the scene, and you’ve got an awesomely realistic world for your renders!

If you had any trouble with the atmosphere section, not to worry, I've uploaded a couple of atmospheres for you to play around with. To load them in the "Material Editor", go to "Get Material", and under "Browse From" select "Mtl Library". Under "File", the "Open" option will appear. Use this to load the material files, and double click the loaded material to use it.

Here They Are:

Demon Class (Y Class): http://www.filefactory.com/file/efd449/

Minshara Class (M Class): http://www.filefactory.com/file/f4368c/
Last edited by troy2000 on Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

andyp
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Post by andyp » Mon Feb 04, 2008 11:19 pm

is it possible to get an image of the final result?

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troy2000
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Post by troy2000 » Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:17 pm

Sure. I've been intending to post it for a while. (Where DOES all that time go to?) :).


EDIT: Image is posted.
My Specs:

CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650 @ 4Ghz .
GFX: 2x Nvidia GTX 260 (Overclocked) SLI.
RAM: 4GB Corsair DDR2 RAM @ 1100Mhz.
OS: Vista Ultimate.
HDD: 6.2TB RAID array.

Windows 7 FTW! :D

dirkblockwood
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Re: How To Create Realistic Planets In 3DS Max

Post by dirkblockwood » Thu Oct 01, 2009 10:10 pm

I couldn't access the support textures from the Web site, but used my own with excellent results. Thanks for posting the tutorial.

teknomancer2008
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Re: How To Create Realistic Planets In 3DS Max

Post by teknomancer2008 » Sat Nov 28, 2009 7:54 pm

this is a brilliant idea, will be using these effects in a private movie effort i'm working on, will post a link (if it ever gets finished) on this site to let you guys know when it's done (probably be on you tube or something!) dave. thanks again!

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