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mJAstro
12th Nov 2007, 03:25
Hello everyone, I have decided to post an in-depth planet tutorial since my way is significantly different that the typical way to “paint” planets. Throughout the tutorial I will demonstrate the way I come about my texture in color, bump and specular form, and then creation of the cloud map and implementation in 3DS Max. I will do this tutorial using Photoshop and Max 8. This will be on-going because I am starting a planet from scratch and moving along the tutorial as I go.

Now, on to the tutorial.

1) Decide the overall climate you would like for your planet. This is important because when we move on to creating the general water/landmass shapes we want to make sure we have enough oceans/rivers/etc. For this tutorial I am going to venture into creating a general earth type of planet.

2) Now that we have our type of planet we will go into Photoshop and use the plug-in by Flaming Pear, LunarCell. When creating texture maps I always like to work in 8192x4069. I would do higher but Max tends to not like 16k maps (if anyone knows a way around this let me know). Because it can take a long time to render an 8kmap with LunarCell on some systems, I recommend rendering a 4096x2048 (you could even go lower if your computer is not up to par) version until you find a landmass/ocean configuration you like. This way you don’t waste a lot of time and you can experiment much more freely. Also, when you render the landmass/ocean map, turn “ice” to 0 in the LunarCell settings. The reason I do this is because I like to get a full view of the “true” continents as the ice caps generated in LunarCell will not reveal what’s underneath. So, because we still want ice caps, we render a second map with just ice. I will explain later on why this is helpful.

*Note* It has been a while since I went to the Flaming Pear website, but from what I remember the plug-in was very cheap and the LunarCell/Glitterato/SolarCell package (which I bought) was a great deal and all 3 are very helpful.

Below are the maps that I chose to go with.

http://img158.imageshack.us/img158/8403/step2landmassdemozn3.jpg

http://img158.imageshack.us/img158/7269/step2icecapdemooc8.jpg

3) Cleaning time. LunarCell creates maps that can sometimes look too “computerized” so we want to go in, use your imagination, and fine tune your map. Here is what I got. For this step you really only need to fix your landmass/ocean map as the ice caps are generally fine. When you are done copy the Ice Cap map and past it into a layer in Photoshop set to “lighten” to see how it looks over your continents and ocean, Make sure it flows. The changes I made to this particular map were limited as I liked most of what I had.

*Note that for my ice map I chose not to have huge caps and for ice to simply be on the continents, this is up to you.

http://img137.imageshack.us/img137/4513/step3landmassrevisedqb5.jpg

4) Okay, so we have our basic shapes and what we want to do with them. Now we need some reference material. What I like to use, and this can be limited by your computer specifications, is take a very high resolution Earth map. The one I use is 21600x10800, and you can get it from NASA’s blue marble collection. You can also mix in stock photos of different textures for more variation later on.

5) And now we move on to the painting part. The first thing to do is to set up your base layers. Copy the Landmass/Ocean and Ice Cap maps into a new Photoshop document on separate layers. Label the landmass/ocean layer “Continents” and the Ice Cap layer “Ice Caps.” Create a third layer named “Water” and place it under the other 2 layers. Fill that layer with a deep blue, I use Red: 2, Green: 5, Blue: 20. At this stage we just want the land and ice parts from each respective layer, not the black since we have our water layer. So we use the super cool Magic Wand tool. Set the tolerance to 1 and make sure contiguous is NOT checked, then click the black. You will notice that ALL the black on the map is selected. Delete this selection and do the same to the other layer. To further define the layers we are going to fill the land layer with a deep green, for example Red: 2, Green: 43, Blue: 0. This step is important because it allows you to see where blending is needed near the ice caps. Now you should have something that looks like this.

http://img265.imageshack.us/img265/7372/step5coloredlayersic6.jpg

6) Next we want our reference material copied into its own layer in the Photoshop file, title this layer “Reference.” For simplicity I will just be using the high resolution Earth image.

http://img262.imageshack.us/img262/9144/step6layersetupcn7.jpg

7) This is the step where we really delve into the planet makeup (where we want deserts/forests/mountains/etc). Copy selections of the reference material and literally paste them onto the continents (in a separate layer). Paint ALL of the continents, even the ones that ice will be covering. This is done in case you do not like the way the ice caps turn out OR you want to do scenes where the planet will be in different seasons. Then you could just erase some of the ice away. We will refine the features later on to remove any obvious similarities to Earth.

http://img228.imageshack.us/img228/820/step7paintedlandis2.jpg

8) Now is the time to give the Ice a general paint job. Repeat step 7 for this layer. For reference I suggest one of the high resolution (same resolution as used before for consistency) winter time maps from blue marble.

http://img216.imageshack.us/img216/2383/step8paintedlandwithpaify5.jpg

And here is where I will leave off for now, here is where the planet stands.

http://img228.imageshack.us/img228/3633/testrenderpostqk1.jpg

Lonewriter
15th Nov 2007, 07:00
Since I have to rebuild my planet, I'll be looking at your tutorial as well. I really need help with atmospheres.

mJAstro
15th Nov 2007, 10:53
I will hopefully finish, or at least come close to finishing this tutorial this weekend. I have recently had some viruses invade my computer and after 4 days of nothing but running virus scanners etc I am finnally making some progress. I almost get no pop-ups now! lol. I do plan on going over how I do the atmosphere. At least someone will make use of this! :)

Naveegunner
23rd Nov 2007, 17:16
Oh wow, ohh wow.. Thank you so much!

I'm horrible at painting, so I never thought I could make an Earth-like planet. Now, I actually think I can.

Thanks!

Starship
28th Dec 2007, 15:30
I will hopefully finish, or at least come close to finishing this tutorial this weekend. I have recently had some viruses invade my computer and after 4 days of nothing but running virus scanners etc I am finnally making some progress. I almost get no pop-ups now! lol. I do plan on going over how I do the atmosphere. At least someone will make use of this! :)

Hi MJ. How your fight with viruses is going? Already killed all of them? I had a similar problem some time ago. After to clean my computer, and to install a personal firewall, never got new problems. ;)

Hope that you find some free time to finish the tut after the hollydays and the beginning of the new year.:)

Hope you the best,

raffitz
24th Jun 2008, 21:59
Don't know if you, but the latest versions of lunarcell already paint the map. It's a great improvement...

mJAstro
24th Jun 2008, 22:31
it has painted them for you for a very long time but the results are not nearly as good. its the lazy person's way out imo

Lonewriter
25th Jun 2008, 01:28
it has painted them for you for a very long time but the results are not nearly as good. its the lazy person's way out imo

I tried doing that but it didn't look as good so I had to paint in the missing areas. My planet is finally coming along but I totally messed up the atmosphere so I have to start over from scratch on it but the land and clouds are done, thanks for all the tips.