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