#59: SHADOWS & LIGHT (Vue)
#58: ADVANCED DIRT MAPPING (Vue)
#57: SSS IN VUE 9, AND THE "SPECKLE" PROBLEM
#56: THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAIL OF ART
#55: FIXING POSER CLOTHING
#54: MAKING "FOREST WAR - GOBLIN SHAMAN"
#53: MAKING A STUDIO RENDER FOR VUE
(and other apps)
#49: NEBULA MKIII (Vue)
#48: RENDER SETTINGS FOR VUE (Vue)
#47: POSTWORK - MAKING A RENDER INTENSE (Any)
#46: MAKING RIVERS THAT FOLLOW TERRAIN HEIGHTS (Vue or Bryce)
HOW TO MAKE PLANETARY RINGS

 

This tutorial shows how I made the rings for the planet in Man-O-War


1

  Ring planets are wonderful visions of space, but how do you create them in 3d? The particular problem being to recreate the wonderful banding.
  It's not as hard as you may fear, actually! ;)

Download and unzip this file, it contains a ring object for use in 3d, and 2 Photoshop files for textures (you can work the Photoshop files in most good paint packages)

2
  To begin with we create the pattern we want for the ring planet, here I use Paint Shop Pro, but you can also use Photoshop and other packages.

  3D textures like this are best created to square dimensions, so make a new image, 512x512, this gives good size for clear definition of finished image, the more complex the texture, the more detailed, the bigger you want the initial picture. Very fine work maybe be at 1024x1024 or bigger.

  Using the FILL tool in your paint package, you Edit its properties. Ringed planets have many bands and variations. By adding lots of different bands you can work out your overall pattern (in Paint Shop Pro, left click below the gradient color bar to add more color markers then change their color in the area to the left)

  You can also add TRANSPARENCY in the area below in the same way. White= Solid color, black=transparent, grey shades=varying transparency. You don't need transparency but it maybe nice for your finished result.

3
  Once you have the fill gradient worked out, paint it in, with the bars of colour being VERTICAL (it's easier for later on).
  As you know, the important thing about ringed planets is the rings often have transparent areas that end up looking black because of space behind it, to achieve the sharp areas of transparency (rather than fading areas), the best way is to use the ALPHA CHANNEL .

  Selections are saved into the alpha channel, and 3d packages, like Bryce, use these for making transparent areas and other effects. You can make the selections in a variety of different ways. If you use FEATHER on the selection, the edges of transparent areas in the finished image will not be sharp, but fade in and out, which maybe what you wish.

   Ths image shows the resulting Alpha Channel when the selections have been feathered, with some being thin and wipsy. A selection to the left, which wasn't feathered, stands out sharp. In Paint Shop Pro, when you have your selection chosen, use SELECTION--SAVE TO ALPHA CHANNEL. There should only be one alpha channel by the way, delete more if you make too many. You can add to a selection by holding down the SHIFT key, so you can end up with many bands. It is very important to note the selections MUST start at the very top of the image! Otherwise, thin horizontal bands will not be selected.

4
  This is a different version, with no transparency in the initial fill, and no feathering on the selections, this will provide a very clear cut, opaque set of rings.

5
  Now we can take the images into Bryce. "Import" the Ring .obj from the zip file, then click the small "M" to edit its material. We wish the main colours and transparency to come from our images, so click the buttons into DIFFUSE, AMBIENT and TRANSPARENCY, as shown in the picture to the left. next click the middle button on the bottom right, then the one on the top middle, as shown by the arrows. This will tell Bryce to use a Picture texture.

Note: click the button on bottom right to select PARAMTERIC SCALED as the mapping mode, this tells Bryce how to align the texture and is very important.

6
  
  Now you are in the Picture Editor! Click a blank spot to put your new picture into, then select your chosen image file. Your blank grey square now shows your image. If the alpha channel was set up correctly, in the middle of the three pictures, you will now see it as a black and white image. Black areas=tranpsrency, as you can see from the pic above.

7

Now you need to adjust the settings to get it to look just right, mess around to find your favourite look:

Ambience adjusts the objects self illumination.
Specularity is bright highlights.
Metallicty and bump height aren't needed, as it is neither metallic nor rough.
Transparency will adjust the overall transparency, and this ring is meant to look thin and vapourous, so we set some transparency.



8
To get the Alpha Channel to affect the rings, to cut out areas we want transparent, click the small triangle at the top of the Materials Lab. Blend Transparency must be on. Cast and recieve shadows is up to you, whether it will take shadows from objects, or cast some of its own, remember in space shadows are peculiar, especially when dealing with truly MASSIVE things like planetary rings.

9

The Button to the top left of the little area holding your picture, will let you edit the textures position, rotation etc. You may wish to adjust its scale, increasing or decreasing how much the pattern shows on the ring, or how often it repeats.

10

This is the other texture I made, note the half black half white button the arrow points to, this will INVERT that picture below, so inverting the Alpha channel.

Look at the difference this does! Giving you a radically different appearance, now there is more space in the rings, than material.

 

 
And here we can see the finished results:

LEFT has transparency in the inital image, with feathering in the Alpha channel giving a fine, partially transparent ring.

MIDDLE: Opaque, broad rings with clear well defined spaces.

LEFT: the Inverse of the middle ring, this one has very little material and is mostly space!
I hope you found this tutorial of use! :)

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All original art, writing on this site, copyright of Steven James, "Silverblade the Enchanter" ©2012