Realistic clouds in Max

Before I procede, I’m sorry for this thread. I was looking for the clouds thread to bump, but it seems that it has drifted far away.

I know there are a great deal of (ex) Max users Blenderheads out there. It would be cool if someone would translate this into a blender tutorial. The clouds looks very realistic.
I’ve seen a lot of effort in these forums, but none come close as this, yet the Max method seems so simple (for as far as I can understand the tutorial)

Looks like some billboard and material magic is being used there.

The only disadvantage is that for different shapes you’d need to go to a paint program.

For the most part it’s billboards with a texture and their ‘magic’ smoke option and ambient only light (maybe similar to Blender’s AO).

Plus they have a cloud tunnel, but it doesn’t quite look at if it has accurate light scattering like if you used SSS on the billboards.

Yeah, but they claim it is fast. I very sure that most of their gizmo’s has a Blender equivalent. Maybe a seasoned Max user could shed some light on this.
And the particle setup is to laugh at, it looks fairly simple. So, how could we do this in Blender???

I think their “ambient light” only would basically translate as “diffuse only” in blender.
That being said, I’ve done something similar in Max a few years ago.
As long as we are talking static particles and not moving, this should be relatively easy to achieve in Blender with some clever material setups.

In fact, didnt “Cyborg Dragon” already do this in Blender? His setup was a bit more bare bones, but it was basically the same principle:

A lot of textured plates facing the camera. The texture defines the transparency of the plates, so they basically have soft edges and are rotated randomly.
The individual plates blend into one another and are distributed in 3d Space, so in most cases any lights you cast on them should produce a nice effect.

However, since they are flat plates, you have to be careful with you place your lights. If a light is directly to the side, so the from the lights point of view you only see the sides of the plates, then the resulting shadows and lighting could be a problem.

Also, correct me if Im wrong. But it wouldn’t be possible to produce nice volumetric sun rays (or god rays) coming through the clouds, since the volumetric halo option of Spot lights only considers Geometry and not transparency of an object. Or am I wrong about that?

Strange that no-one has mentioned Alan’s Cloud Generator python script, which to me is the closest we have come to volumetric-looking clouds in Blender (but still billboard based)

wow that looks nice, Ill give it a try when I have some time

Step 1: For volume clouds to work you must first define the limits of the scene. For the renderer to know when and where
to stop rendering you must create a backdrop. A booleaned sphere or a box works fine. For my example I will use a booleaned

Make a hemisphere with a radius of 50 and 16 segments.
Click on the scale button.
Scale the sphere down 10% while holding shift. 3dsmax will ask you if you want to clone the object, select copy and click ok.
Move the inner sphere so it is offset with the outer sphere.

Step 2: Next boolean the spheres together.
Select the outer sphere.
Under geometry pick compound objects.
Select boolean then pick copy and select the inner hemisphere.
You now have made a good backdrop.

Step 3: Set up a camera inside and the sphere.
Tilt the camera so that it has the inside of the sphere in it’s view.
Select a blue material for the sphere.

Step 4: In the Render enviroment select add volume fog.
Select exponential.
Density 40
Step size 4
Max steps 100
Select fog background
Select fractal noise.
Noise threshold high =1
noise threshold low =.2
uniformity =0
levels =6
size =40
wind = front
phase =0
strength =0

Select the camera view and render. Be patient because this is very processor intensive. You can add ground and
whatever else you would like to the scene. These clouds appear to be real without adding any geometry to your scene.
You can even do a realistic fly through. If you would like to just limit them to a certain place in your scene use an atmoshpereic
apperatus in the helpers rollout.

I wish i could explain ya in graphical ways…
bt i think if u know how to work with max, u’d be able to follow the proceedures;)

As promised I’m having a look at this in blender, still cant get the billboard mapping correctly and cant get lighting done well if the lamp is behind the object but heres is a little test:

look! its a Suzanne in the sky!

ZanQdo, if the UV mapping is a problem you have to click the plane object and click ‘reset’ in the UV menu even if it seems it should be that to start with.

Usually best results come with a halo Blend as a stencil and a clouds procedural as a transparency map.

Naa its not a plane, its a billboard (a special setting in particle system), Ive already mailed Jahka about this :slight_smile:

Heres another test to see the depth effect better:

I seem to hit ‘reset UV’ on the object emitting the billboard particles when I’ve tried this before and if I remember right it worked. It would be nice if the default UV was better in the billboards.

Ahh thats weird! thanks, Im gonna report to jahka :smiley:

Hey ZanQdo, I really do think that you have nailed it. It looks like some sort of low res version of the Max clouds, but if you think away the edges, the interior certainly has that believable cloud look.

You could blur the edges, couldn’t you?

and you could read the posts instead of just looking at the images (insert obligatory smiley emoticon here)

So heres the fixed version, Ive mailed jahka about the bug, thanks again CD

Gonna play with this more to see if I can get the back lighting working

edit, got it:

edit2, now this I’m beggining to like, using the highlight trick:

Hey ZanQdo any chance of a Blender Tut on this (as opposed to the Max version)?

oww man I really hate making tuts, I feel sick just by thinking on it! what about I give you my blend and you can ask any question here?

WOW! :eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek:

Cool I’ve downloaded too …

I made a fly around:

Boy! And I thought that fluid sim was slow.