Planetary Darkside City Lights?

Hey all. Not sure if this should go there or in the rendering forum, but… For a first post I thought I’d ask for input on a specific problem: how to integrate the lights from large cities laying on the dark side of a planetary terminator (as seen from space, of course). See the intro to Men In Black II for a fairly good example. I know how to accomplish this in Max and C4D (via materials, hence the post to this forum), but haven’t yet come upon a good, integrated Blender solution.

The following is an oh-so-cliché earth I cooked up for a client. Using the node compositor and a little trickery with fresnel and the toon diffuse shader I was able to simulate atmosphere on the light side of the the planet. What I’m missing is the (admittedly unrealistic) dark-side lights the client wants. I can do it in After Effects easily enough, but would like to get it done in Blender…just because I’m stubborn, and think that I’m just short of figuring out how. :smiley:

Thanks! It’s good to be back into Blender, after a number of years on hiatus to other priorities and projects. It’s an almost completely different - and much improved - tool! Diggin’ it. :cool:


Attachments is your friend, as is google. there are lots of images of earth from the nightside, check out “light pollution” it’s actually a form of pollution now, screwing up sea turtles and the like.


Thanks for the input! Much appreciated. …Yup, got some nice high-res night maps from NASA…my issue was/is having the lights show up on the dark side, not on the light side, and transition at the terminator. Like this:

Here’s how it’s accomplished in C4D. Similar in Max:

I was curious if anyone had come up with a similar solution in Blender. …But, faking it is all good. Whatever gets the look I want. :slight_smile:

Thanks again!