Really Really Really close-up earth surface

Hi guys,

I have a short animation piece I have been wanting to do where a bunch of ships take off and head into orbit. What would be the best way to texture a close up like that?

I thought of chopping half a UV Sphere up and stretching it out then maybe mapping an image over that, but I’m not sure I could find a high enough picture. I heard there were some insanely large ones at NASA but then I worry if my computer could take that.

Then I was thinking an image plain! What would you fine people suggest?

The kind of angle I’m looking for is something similar to these pictures below…

Thanks for looking :smiley:


Is that close enough? =b

haha, I actually lol’d.

LOL. I forgot to say how beautiful your render is btw. really amazing!

The best way (without having to go to specialized terrain software), would be to have stacks of detail textures on top of detail textures that have increasingly smaller mapping scales.

You could also utilize procedurals to assist in that detail because of how they’re resolution independent, but it will slow down the render.

Ace knows better than me so I’d go with his solution first, but you could use the nasa images and just open them in Ps and downsize the file size (not the image size) the size of the image in MB’s. That should allow for fast loading. You do this by selecting save as and choosing jpg as the file type then a dialog will pop up asking how large you want it. Just turn that down from 12 to something lower. I never make images smaller in this manner so I don’t know at what lvl it will noticeably degrade.

What are procerdurals? Sorry for being a noob.Yeah I found some nice 32k NASA images but like you guys said I’m sure I’ll have to resize.

Btw I’m using an oldish pc that doesn’t like me very much so if it slows the render down it’s no biggie, I usually have to render most scenes while I’m sleeping anyway

crazy large files arn’t always the way to go. take the nasa 32k images for example. even though they are massive they only really show the earth and not really any ground level detail. one way to do it is to use several shots. first the take off with a ground level scene. cut to mission control, cut back to a second scene where the ground is at a distance, falling away, then cut to the pilot. cut back to the rising ship. now you are using a sphere with the continents showing.then cut to a high orbit shot with your full planet in view and a tiny spaceship leaving the atmosphere.

blender shouldn’t have too much trouble with a 32k image though, it mostly worries about geometry!

I get what your saying troll. Your right. But that sweet spot where the ground is falling away ( low atmosphere ) is my hero shot. That’s what’s giving me trouble.

Is the camera rising from ground level into space? Or is it fixed up in low-orbit (say 200km or so) and tracking the ships as they ascend up into space?

Camera is sitting there in orbit, then as the ships pass it follows them up a little bit then drops down to follow the discarded fuel tank.

That makes it much easier! You don’t need a super hi-res texture of the whole planet, just a few thousand square metres that are UV mapped to the quads directly in view of a scale Earth sphere.

By giving the Earth sphere a water material (blue, bit glossy, procedural waves texture, etc) and having a larger atmosphere sphere with fresnel controlled opacity, you can get a nice fuzzy fade to the horizons.

This allows you to use a 4k or 8k texture of the just the land that will be visible.

Yeah this sounds like it! So would you just size up a sphere, chop off three quarters and then uv map it? Also I’m using cycles, might be easier to use blender internal considering there will be smoke fumes. I’ve never seen an atmosphere done in cycles for some reason.

You could chop a sphere, but you want a couple of layers for the Earth, cloud, and atmosphere, and using full spheres gives you a bit of flexibility for moving/repositioning your camera.

I started off with three full spheres and full Earth textures, but even at 21600x10800 it wasn’t detailed enough when the camera is only 300km above the surface. And at that altitude, the flat cloud layer isn’t very convincing. I played around with a normal map to try to fill out and shade the clouds, but not happy with it.

So I’ve kept the spheres, and now UV mapping only the visible ground (following pic is just a quick demo I knocked up in Cycles to show you, it can look much, much better):

For the cloud layer, at 300km altitude, it really needs some volume to it (puffy clouds), so I’ve been thinking of playing with the displacement modifier.

Anyway, you’ve probably been waiting around long enough for this reply, so I’ll leave it here for now :slight_smile:

(Oh, these images are only 700px across, just to show the idea rather than explain anything)

Another thought that might be a lot simpler, but certainly less flexible: if the camera stays in a fixed position and tracks moving objects, a very pretty equirectangular background that contains the Earth, atmospherics, star field, sun position might work.

The ships wouldn’t be visible on the ground, but become visible as they ascend towards the camera, then dump their fuel tanks, etc. Bit of glow effect and some lens flare would blend it all together.

Wow spaced, really impressive scene! If mine turns out half as good as that I would be happy.

I cant enlarge the picture to see your node setup :frowning:

spaced, can you give me some pointers on the atmosphere, cant seem to get it going. Been watching Andrew Prices earth tutorial but it’s not compatible with cycles.

OK this is what I have so far, although the colours don’t really go well.