Planet Tutorial

Hello Everyone.

I am trying to make a good looking planet surface (as seen from space) in Blender. I have been using this tutorial: and after almost 25 cycles through it, I can’t seem to get it to work correctly. I get stuck about the part where it talks about using the stenciling to form the continents. Is there anyone out there who knows of a better tutorial (maybe one that I can use in combination with this one) about making planets in Blender? If not, perhaps I could use some help with UV mapping/mapping images onto objects.

Thanks a ton!


It’s likely you’ve already seen this, but if not, Greybeard’s UV mapping tutorial is a must-watch.

What exactly is the problem with the stencil?


Hey EnV and bugman_2000 -

First, EnV, I didn’t mean this post to be an insult to your work or anything. I re-read my first post, and I think I came off as though I was somewhat disappointed in your tutorial. That’s not the case, I am just a beginner, and am not quite getting it.

The problem that I am having seems to begin right around the stencil step of the tutorial. I think perhaps I am applying the continent map incorrectly. I originally tried it with the rivers map that you suggested, but I have since come to use a much less fancy continent map of my own design (it’s attached in the next post). I am not even to the phase of the tutorial yet where the cloud layer is applied. I can’t seem to get my planet to look anything like what you’ve done in the tutorial. I have attached the .blend file in the hopes that someone can give me some pointers as to where I went wrong.

NOTE: The size settings (specifically for the venus colormap) are different than the ones in the tutorial, as I think I downloaded a smaller version of the colormap, thus losing some data. I used the image that was presented on the tutorial page, instead of a larger colormap image. I increased the size, and it seemed to work well. That’s the reason it’s at 6 instead of the tutorial’s 4.

Thank you for all your help, I really appreciate it.


For some odd reason, I thought I could attach files to the forum posts. No matter, the .blend file is available here:

and the continent map I used is here:

Thanks again!


Hi, I didn’t take it as an insult. :slight_smile:
Looking at the blend, I still doesn’t understand what’s the problem. You just have the normals of your planet surface inverted (Cntrl+N to recalculate them in edit mode) and so not showing in the rendering, but the stencil map you provided works perfectly. Am I missing anything?


Hey EnV:

Ah yeah I forgot to recalc normals outside. That’s why it looks wierd. Let me see if I can rephrase my question. I used a larger tga (4000 dpi, as you recommended). Previously, when I was working with the rivers map, I found that the smaller continent map doesn’t work very well. I am somewhat new to UV mapping/bump mapping, so I was wondering if this is normal when you use a map that’s smaller in size.



Ok, here is an example of what I actually was asking. I used the “rivers” map that you had on your site, EnV, (I modified it so that it had an alpha channel, though, so it’s available here: ) And used this as a mapping, shown in:

When you do the render, you can see that the “crisp” edges don’t seem to be there - it looks blurry and distorted. Is there a reason for this? I can’t seem to get it to look quite like what you have in the tutorial.

Thanks for the help -


I have not even read Env’s tutorial. I just glanced at it from the link posted here. But on thing that impressed me with just a glance was that he put in a LOT of screen shots of the blender screen. A LOT of tutorial writers do not even do that. They just type and type and expect the reader to get it.

This forum post wasn’t meant to be a critique of EnV’s tutorial. I really like it - hence the reason I have tried it over and over like 25 times now. I just want to see what I am doing wrong in order that I can correct it and learn more from the advanced Blender-ers here. :wink:


Mm… maybe I got what you mean. :slight_smile:
You can’t use a too small map for the stencil, of course the edges will be blocky and blurred 'cause there are not enough informations in the map for Blender to render defined and crisp edges. A big map (and I mean a really BIG one, i.e. 4 or 6 k in greyscale mode, but the size depends on the distance of the camera you are going to use) will work properly. In short: for the better detailled rendering the bigger image maps. The example I provided in the tutorial is not good for this, it was meant just as an example.