Planets (Saturn Final)

Hello everyone,

I’m in the process of recreating our solar-system but i’m running into problems i have no solution for.

Currently I’m working on Saturn, but I can’t execute the compositing (cycles) that I need to get to a realistic result.
The rings of Saturn are transparent to some degree, and this seems to be a problem for the compositor to merge the planet itself and its rings together. ( PROBLEM SOLVED )

But there is other stuff to cover. The problem is explained in Post #14. ( PROBLEM SOLVED )

Current progress:


Thank you for your time!

Greetings from Hamburg,

Hi FastLeaD,

Looking great!!! I’m guessing that you are not getting the transparency/alpha showing through in the rings, I had some similiar problem once, I don’t know if you have done it but I see you clicked the “Use Alpha” in both the Composite and Viewer node…but in my case (shame I don’t have the example of the problem I had, due to a file corruption) but what I did was I plugged the offending’s Alpha channel (in this case the Ring’s) into the Alpha in both Composite and Viewer…it kinda worked for me!
Ahhh almost forgot, in the Render Tab under Film I checked Transparent.

Hope it helps

IMO this should be done not with textures, but particles, and mesh objects.
(edit) also a volumetric material could be interesting, though I have not tried it.

I kind of agree with Modron, and this might better be achieved with particles. Perhaps a very thin plane, where height = the thickness and width = the width of the rings. The material would control the different rings. Here is a (very bad) example

Not bad, just crude.

yes, I have made some rings around planets, with lots of failures too, don’t make the particles too notifiable.
I’d try using a mixed version of the two.

Have the original rings plus the particles for the edge shots.

Games for instance do this all the time (see the upcoming Elite Dangerous [Best Manly Game Ever])



@tommy1441: Thank you very much for the feedback! I tried to mess around with the “Use Alpha” Tabs in the Compositor and Viewer Node. Sadly the changes are barely visible in High-Def. I figured out however, that Blender seems to have issues with double alpha. In my case there is the alpha from the material node and the alpha from the Render-Layer. I will try to isolate the blacks from the Texture strips and convert it into native alpha within the png. file I’m using for the rings.

@Modron: Do you know about a good tutorial on how to turn a texture into volume? Please consider that the rings of Saturn are utterly complex. A Color-Ramp within Blender is not an option. Maybe I’ll give it a try later…but I want to try it with textures first.

@place57 & Journeyman: I’m with you there. I will use particle systems for some closeup-shots of the rings but in a very subtile way. There is a huge problem with the particle solution for the rings of saturn. The rings are way to detailed and varied to use particles for mid/far distance shots. The rings of saturn contain hundreds of billions of single objects. A texture works just fine for that.

If I don’t find a solution for this, I still have the option to cheat and use photoshop to merge the planet and ring together. Don’t want to go down that route though. I want to keep it in Blender only. I will not give up on this. There are only three planets that need this treatment. The one is Saturn and the other two are Uranus and Neptune.

I made some progress though. I’m almost done with the Cycles setup’s for Upiter and Mars. As long as I’m running into troubles with the ring-planets, I will tackle Venus and Mercury first.


Colors & Textures not final.


Colors not final.

Thanks for your reply’s and the feedback!

Greetings from Hamburg,

Mercury is almost finished. I just have to tweak to colors and some areas of the surface a little bit more.

Stay tuned! Venus is next.

Whoa. That shot of Jupiter is simply amazing. Mind if you share the node setup?

Also, what you can do is make the ring pass include the planet, but only as a mask, so you only have to add the ring to the compositing, and control the transparency.

Great stuff @FastLeaD!!! really like how Jupiter turned out, I would like to see your take on the Earth and the Moon, because I’ve done mine and would love to see how you solve the Earth’s atmosphere (If possible with node settings).

After doing Andrew Price’s tut on Realistic Earth I decided to tackle it in cycles, as his was done in BI…it turned out pretty good considering I’m still learning how to work with nodes and all it’s capabilities…:slight_smile:

BTW the lighting is impeccable, what is it??? a Sun??? or a Spot???

@SolarLiner: Keep it Simple! Jupiter is quite easy to rebuild. I don’t link my node setup here, because it’s pretty basic.
Just apply a texture to a UV wrapped sphere and make sure that the texture got enough pixels in resolution to make it bling.
The only problem is that there are no Stage 1 or higher surface-maps of Jupiter.

I had to blow up the surface-map to around 8k (8000x4000px). I also reduced the image-noise to a minimum with photoshop. It’s all just the texture. Nothing special going on within the node setup. Jupiter is super low res compared to the other two planets.

@tommy1441: The lighting is simple as well. Just add a point-light and keep a reasonable distance to the planet. Then crank up the brightness. Make sure to use some reference shots to match the lighting (adjust the lighting after you applied the textures). The size is important. The bigger the planet…the smaller the number. I hope this is helpful to you.

So, no Minaert setup on Jupiter? I thought there was one by seeing the edges …
Are the setups the same for Mars too? (I mean, besides that Mars has a topology/bump map) ? Did you bother recreating the atmosphere? Or is it just only one sphere?

No there is no Minaert setup on Jupiter. I don’t even know what that is tbh. :slight_smile:
Jupiter is surrounded by a second sphere with a fresnel shader. So that I can tweak the edge in the compositor.

Mars is a different to Jupiter. I displayed a cloudless mars. It has a barely visible atmosphere surrounding it. Two spheres, one with a modified velvet shader, the other with a fresnel shader. Merged together in the compositor, you get a very thin atmosphere. Just like mars. However I will complete the atmosphere of mars for a few shots in the final version. Adding clouds is fairly simple. It’s just another sphere basically.

But I encountered some problems with the alpha (within my node setup) as I tested some random cloud texture. The clouds didn’t draw a shadow on the surface, so i ditched them for the moment and moved on to the next planet.

There is still a lot to cover…so I don’t want to spend hours over hours to solve just one problem. I will tackle these problems when most of the stuff is done.

Just made a planet myself:

First off, you need to set the planet layer as a mask layer for the for the ring. Here is set the Atmosphere and Planet layers as the masks for the rings.

Here is the ring nodes. Pretty simple. I used a b&w version of the texture as a mask, but you can use the alpha channel if your image has one.

Then its just a matter of using the alpha over node in the compositor.

Thank you very much Rich33584!

It finally worked by the way you told me.

But there is one more problem. I need to change the color of the shadow that the ring is drawing on Saturn itself.
The problem is, that the shadow pass does not only include the shadow of the rings.

Is there any chance that I can separate the shadow mask into different passes? Because I only need to edit the shadow of the rings ( top right part of the mask )

The rest of the render turned out quite nice. There is no more distortion within the pixels of the ring alpha. I only need to change the general color appearance of Saturn. Because atm. it’s way off.

Thank’s to you all for following this project and helping me out. :slight_smile:

Just use the “Is Shadow Ray” light path node for different colored shadows.

You planet looks awesome I shouldn’t really be posting that here but I don’t know a better place to post that. Did you make the lens flare in blender?

@Rich33584: This method of shadow-coloring didn’t work out for my scene, but I found a alternative way. Thank you for the advice.

Neptune, Uranus and Saturn are done! I’m quite happy with the results so far. It was quite tricky to get the rings right, because normally there are not visible to cameras. I’m still unsure about the count of Uranus rings. Have to do a little bit more research on that.

Due to the fact that only one probe ever reached Neptune, there are no high quality pictures of it’s surface.
Therefore I had to recreate it’s surface completely from scratch. I tried to capture the likeness of Neptune as good as possible. I will try to ad a little bit more detail later on, but for the moment I’m fine with it. I don’t want to alter Neptunes general appearance too much.

Uranus was not that hard to recreate. Its “surface” is single-colored for the most part. I gave it some detail though, but it’s only visible from a certain angle. Uranus has the most radical axial tilt of all the planets in our solar system.

Venus is still in progress. Next up I have to recreate the moons of Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. It will be a lot of texture work, because most of these moons where never completely captured.

Stay tuned! :slight_smile:

Greetings from Hamburg,

I made some progress on Venus, but still don’t like the result. Titan is shaping up though.

I also finished some detailed surface shots of our moon.

Titan is completely based on volume shaders. Really nice to have this option with Cycles now.


you’re making great progress…
keep going!

Slowly I get used to the possibilities of volume shaders in cycles.
It’s all try and error atm. …but its awesome to play around with it a little bit.

Titans atmosphere is finished.

(Node Setup for the fractured atmosphere)