Tutorial – Making a CGI Ringed Planet

Level – Intermediate:

Introduction:

This is a fairly old tutorial, as you may notice by the version of Lightwave used! However, the principles are exactly the same in newer versions, and indeed you should be able to apply the ideas presented with pretty much any CGI software.

Original introduction

I have seen many rather poor attempts to make convincing ringed planets, and thought it might be a good idea to tell you how I do it. I rate it as intermediate in level, as I am not going to explain mouse click and numeric values. You should be familiar with making spheres and disks, and applying image based texture maps. I have done this tutorial as one long page, so it is easier for you to print. It should work with any version of Lightwave from 5.6 onward, and the ideas should also be easy to adapt to any other modern 3D graphics package.

The planet has 2 main components, the globe of the planet itself, and the ring system. Continue reading “Tutorial – Making a CGI Ringed Planet”

Cheap and free ways to get started in CGI Astronomical Art

There’s no doubt that it is possible to spend vast amounts on graphics software – many of the industry standard packages run to thousands of pounds, and even image editors like the full Photoshop are very expensive, (and come with monthly fees too).

But provided you already have a computer, it is possible to get going for little or even nothing. This blog post will explore some of your options.

Be aware though, that this stuff is NOT easy, and whatever package you go for, it will take considerable time and effort to master.

Blender 3d.

Blender Website Screenshot
Blender Website Screenshot

This is a seriously powerful 3d package, with some highly advanced features such as fluid simulation, and hair systems. It is completely free, and open source.

You can find out more, and download it here:

BLENDER

Continue reading “Cheap and free ways to get started in CGI Astronomical Art”

My Art is now for sale on Fine Art America

I’ve set up a shop on Fine Art America, where you can buy my work in various formats, from prints to shower curtains and duvet covers! 

Here’s the link:

https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/2-nick-stevens.html

My shop on Fine Art America

My shop on Fine Art America Continue reading “My Art is now for sale on Fine Art America”

Orbiting the planet Saturn, in ultra high definition

This one was really quick to conceptualise, and took months to complete.

Mainly because I kept trying to cut corners with render settings that were not high enough, or assuming that I could fake a join between runs with different render settings, and it would not show…

Saturn, still image from the video...

Saturn, still image from the video…

Continue reading “Orbiting the planet Saturn, in ultra high definition”

Exoplanet with rings and Juno based textures.

Like many, I have been stunned by the images coming back from the Juno mission to Jupiter. Take a look here if you’d like to see some of the best.

I particularly liked the polar views, not least because these are the first views. And I decided they would make a great basis for exoplanet textures for a gas giant orbiting another star.

And because ring systems always look cool, I added a complex ring system too, and a couple of knobbly little moons. Everything done in Lightwave 3d this time around.

Here are the results of this brief project.

Pseudo-Jupiter exoplanet with rings
Pseudo-Jupiter exoplanet with rings

Continue reading “Exoplanet with rings and Juno based textures.”

Vue scenes of Mars

I’m still experiementing with Vue, and I’m begining to feel like I am getting somewhere. And somewhere a bit more interesting than just a bunch of CGI sunsets!

Mind you, this one started as a sunset with an interesting terrain. It was when I figured the scene was rather Mars-like, that I got the idea for what else to include beyond the terrain and the sky.

So I dug out my old “Mars Habitat” and “Mars Explorer” from Daz, and loaded them in.Now the habitat had some odd rendering issues in Lightwave, but seems OK in Vue, at least once I had turned off glare.

It’s also become clear that Vue does a MUCH better job of preserving halfway decent surface settings when importing from OBJ format than from an LWO format. (For some reason Lightwave 3d surfaces only seem to respond to ambient light, the diffuse does nothing?!)

Explorer walking at dusk on a Mars like world.
Explorer walking at dusk on a Mars like world.

Continue reading “Vue scenes of Mars”

Making a dwarf planet – Tutorial

I wanted to make a dwarf planet, using elevation maps from the Moon, (and maybe Mars?) for realistic craters. I thought it may be helpful to save out the steps, so that others can follow along. Tutorial time!

You will need:

  • The 3D program of your choice, it should support displacement maps.
  • A high res source elevation map, these are available online.
  • An image editor that can edit 16 bit grey scale images.

Getting started

I started with a slice of elevation map from the rear of the moon, (less recognisable), in the proportions of 2:1

This will have seams at the left and right edges. To fix this we need to first use an offset filter, with wrap, to move the whole thing 50% to the right. Continue reading “Making a dwarf planet – Tutorial”

Saturn – And the Sky and Telescope Calendar 2017!

Saturn renders:

Saturn and Ring System
Saturn and Ring System

I am extremely proud that this year, one of my renders made the cover of the Sky and Telescope Solar System Calendar! That’s the one for 2017

http://www.shopatsky.com/sky-and-telescope-solar-system-calendar-2017

Continue reading “Saturn – And the Sky and Telescope Calendar 2017!”

CGI Planet Mercury, done in Lightwave 3D

Here’s an old CGI model of the planet Mercury I did, based on some maps NASA released using information from the MESSENGER probe to the planet.

mercury-n-2

The model is in Lightwave 3d format, and available fr free to members of the Foundation 3D forums, in the file area.

Continue reading “CGI Planet Mercury, done in Lightwave 3D”