Flying Among the Clouds

I’m working on the approach scene from ESB where the Falcon and two cloud cars are flying through the clouds to cloud city. Only problem so far: I can’t seem to work out 3d clouds. I searched for about an hour here in the forums and in the forums at Blenderwars with no success. So I decided I’d come right out and ask it. I would like to show them actually flying through a couple clouds if I could. Can we get Blender to do this?

yes you can, try doing a search for volumetric mist. there was one on volumetric smoke too. it basically involves stacking a bunch of planes with an alpha texture.

a method of acheiving volumetric mist can be found here:
however I am afraid that you would have to probably use this as a starting point though.

[added later]
you can also get the planes to track the camera as hinted in this elysuin thread:

yeep, i’d add several layered planes with different alpha textures on them,

and if you want things to fly through them, use meta planes, and the clouds will look like they’re bursting. its very cool.

real volumetric clouds are impossible in blender.

in this particular things blenders quick renderer has many disadvatages.

you can use the mentioned layer trick but in certain situations this will fail as well since you deal will layers and not volumetric clouds.

you could also use an external render engine like 3delgith who support real volumetric clouds!!!

also if you like there are two other tricks:

coulds are made of water drops: create dense clumps of water drops with fractal textures and they will render as coulds. you always need to keep the size down when you close in! here is a rendering a friend did at his old company. as you can see even the structure looks real. but this only works in reyes render engines good.

trick 2:
create a real 3d object with many vertices inside no faces or edges. use the static particle system with and and apply a halo texture to the partilces. by this way you do not have the problem of linear/flat layers of clouds when you fly thourgh them. depending on blender build and res and cpu might take a while. blender cannot render halos with transparencys on my 1.25 dual g4 so fast…


Rendering an animation with particles might be impractical, could take a long time.

i know i know

blenders renderer is opt for fast rendering with low settings.
or that is the impression i get when i use halos with particles.

this is a movie and i am pretty sure that particles are used for the later cloud scene and it does not look to bad.



ok next to particles you could also build a mesh and add a halo material with halo texture to it. by this way you create circular disks always facing the cam with size different textures you could combine a nice clouds simulation and get reasonable render times.

since they always face the cam they are best for vertical cam movements since forward cam movements thourgh clouds will show that they are made of flat shapes!

You can vary the size of the halos by using the HaloPuno option and Fractal Subdivide to randomise the normals a bit.


you dont mabye know if the procedual maps in blender have local and global coordinates?

i mean in pixels 3d studio you can set a local coordinate (object) and global (scene) cooridnate. since when i render with blender all halos have the same fractal map even when they are inside on 3d object!!!


Using HaloTex, the same texture is copied on all halos (though HaloPuno might have an effect on that). Without HaloTex, the texture space of the object is used to determine the texture on each halo.


are you sure

because when i disable halotex the halo has a plain color and no texture at all. i applied a material with an image map texture to the mesh i turned into a halo object!


All great suggestions. I’m going to try alpha layers at first, cause I need to cut down the rendering time. I’ll do some tests and see what I get. Allthough I have visions of the falcon bursting out of a metaplane, with the clouds being pulled out behind them. These ideas should give me a start anyway.