Space Opera

Hi there,

I am quite new to this forum, so hello everybody, and thank you for being full of criticism, but not too severe :D!

Here’s the first episode of this WIP, the results of a whole weekend’s work. I am planning to complete a full “space opera” sequence. I have now reached some knowledge of Blender functions allowing to get (almost) realistic renders, and for that, latest tools added to blender 2.42 were quite helpful. I focused most of my last tries on the node editor for compositing. Amazing how you can achieve nice camera FX with that!

It all began with rendering a planet properly :

Thanks to Enrico Valenza for his great tutorial you can find at
I adapted his method a bit to blender’s new material node editing, but it was basically the same process. I used very large and neat planet textures map from (up to 128k!!!).

Now for the spaceship, I drew a quick sketch on paper, which I broadly tranlated into 3d in blender. Here’s a first model which I plan to make more complex, with small details to give a better feeling of size (it’s supposed to be 100 m long…). So here’s a miniature of it. I couldn’t resist making a cool global-illumination render, I wanted to do that for a while :D.

Only blender’s internal renderer here, no Yafray, which I am afraid to never understand. So, thanks to blender nice radiosity thing (the one with the radioactive icon), and using compositing node editors to render the depth of field, you can get a nice little render.

Last thing for that productive week-end, here’s a test at rendering powerful rocket engines. Again, thanks to those compositing nodes to get that glow effect :

Well, I am quite happy with that depth-of-field setting. I found a way to make it vary along time, so that you can get the effect of changing the focus of the camera slowly, as it happens with a real camera. Here’s a link to a video I made using that varying depth of field technique :

Well, that’s it for today. I’ll post screenshots of those blender sessions if requested!

Wow, that looks very nice! Im more of a toon animator, so i havent done ship modeling for a while. Your work inspires me(not in any sentimental way) It reminds me how fun it is!
good luck, and good job

Wow, I’d love to see this finished!
Looks great, goodluck!

Looks great so far, can’t wait for the finished piece.

Thanks to Enrico Valenza for his great tutorial you can find at
I adapted his method a bit to blender’s new material node editing, but it was basically the same process.

I have tried to make a planet from the tut from Enrico work but I struggled with the layers :o , I would like to know how you adapted the planet tut for the new material node system.

Well I am not sure I am able to explain it clearly, but let’s try!
I did not feel too comfortable with Enrico’s layer settings, so made it rather simpler, using only one layer, and only two portions of sphere.

On the left is the material for the upper sphere, the “atmosphere”. It replaces Enrico’s cloud and fresnel materials. The cloud material node is made with a large cloud texture map, a png file that uses the alpha channel for transparencies. Strangely I had to combine one affecting the colour, and one for cutting out the alpha channel. I must have missed a simpler way to do that with just one texture! There’s a third texture for the clouds bump. The blue node replaces the fresnel, and its colour nicely blends with the clouds, making them blue on their borders, rather than greyish.

The material setting on the right is for the lower sphere. Once again, there’s a plain texture map with a satellite view of earth, and a blue material that makes it bluer on the edge : I wanted to get that “atmospheric blue” that shoul add, get bluer and bluer when getting farther from the camera, right?

That’s all folks!

It’s been a while (one year!), and I am feeling a little ‘slow’ right now… Anyway, I had almost NO time to spend on that little personnal project, work’s been crazy, and I did not spend my holydays on my computer so… And finally, I managed, spending 10 min from time to time, to get something far better than my previous attempt to render Earth. So here we go, here are two nice stills and a big animation.

Comments and crits most welcome!

Wallpapers (1920x1200):


Video (20 meg, 720p, 32 sec., I hope my host won’t be too slow…):

Movie - Earth to Moon

That animation is so awesome. Induces vertigo on the way to the moon with the spinning and stuff… very nice. I got 2 crits for ya: The first is that the land masses on the earth are really really blue. Should be more green, me thinks, even taking atmosphere into account. Second crit: The shadow is moving across the earth as the camera goes around it… about 4 hours passes on earth in about 15-20 seconds of video. I imagine that took a while to render :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks! So you did watch the animation, and every detail. I totally agree with you on the unrealistic details you noticed. On one hand, I tried to make the whole thing quite realistic, but on the other hand, I really had that kind of blue in my mind. It must be some memories of 90’s scicence-fiction films (remember Earth in Alien 4?). And you’re right about Earth spinning too fast, of course. Even if I can’t say I totally planned that (rotation speed), I feel quite happy about the gradual darkening effect at the night/day border, it makes the beginning more dramatic in a sense. But it also was the hardest part to light properly, so it is a way to show off “how nicely the shadows move”, even if video compression did not help in the end.

I thought maybe nobody click on text links, and the thread would be nicer with a few thumbnails… And I finally figured out how attachments work! :smiley: Larger versions a few posts above…

Wow those are nice clouds! (and I have been working at this a while).
What setting did you use for the cloud texture and how big is your map?


Clouds have been a little tricky. I am not sure if I used the most straightforward way to do them. Actually there are:

  • one sphere for earth itself (sea, land)
  • one sphere, slightly larger, for ray-traced atmosphere
  • the same atmosphere sphere, on an other layer, for “buffer shadowed” atmosphere.

I used two atmosphere spheres because I needed two effects at the same time which I did not manage to get with just one raytraced atmoshere : with that, the shadows on the land and sea were ok, but the frontier between night and day was a hard, solid line, very unrealistic. That’s why I used a second atmosphere sphere, on a separate layer, with a “buffer shadow” sun that provided the nice bump effect (layer button activated not to affect the first atmosphere sphere), lighting the high clouds at the night/day frontier, with exactly identical material settings (see the screen captures a few posts earlier for the atmospheric blue node setting).

The atmosphere and the land textures have the same resolution : 8192 x 4096. That’s all I managed to feed my computer with (MacBook Pro Core2Duo, 2Go RAM), even if I have a 16384 x 8192 land earth texture available! Maybe I should try at work, where I can use a quad-Xeon with 4Go RAM. :slight_smile:

The atmosphere texture is a PNG providing an alpha channel, which I duplicated and adapted for bump mapping (a little sharpening), set here at 2.48, but I guess it all depends on the mesh size…

great work so far! :yes:

I started (re)working on the spaceship, 'cause I was not too happy with the first one. This time, I wanted to make it with care, as I usually tend to skip some essential steps. I started from some sketches, to find general shapes and style.

Then I did some modelling. This is just the basic structure, on top of which I plan to add some details.

As I am only starting to learn UV mapping, I made some test on a small mesh, as it seems I’d rather be careful with mesh topology. Well… not in these tests, but I was kinda stuck on material choices, and did not know where I was going. Now I feel a little more comfortable, so it’s time for proper modelling! :smiley:

reminds me of starwing… nice ship concept

wow, you are showing good potential for spaceships! keep it up