Lightwave and Photoshop tutorials:
Modeling, part one
Lighting, part one
Surfacing, part two

8. Clouds
How did we do environments before we had Skytracer and Hyper Voxels and Steamer? Well, the same ways i often do them nowdays. One good way is to get an actual image of, say, a cloudy sky and map it to a plane, sphere or a 360 panorama inward facing disc around the scene. There's nothing as real as real.

But let's try something a bit different. Can you say fractal noise? ;-)

Let's go back to the modeler. Make a 500m X 500m X 500m ball. (Yes, it's the same size we used for the water disc.)

Select and delete the polygons that are below 0.0 in the Y axis. Flip polygons. You should now have a dome like this:

Notice that the polygons are facing inwards.

Give the object "Clouds01" surface and export it as "Clouds01.lwo" to the layout.

Set the object "unaffected by fog".

The default surface is a good starting point.

Enable smoothing. Set transparency to 100%.

Give the object the following transparency surface:

A good texture size is about 100 m / X,Z axis, and 50 m in the Y. Put the texture center to the top of the cone, 500 m Y, and give it a falloff of 0.2%.

The clouds are a bit flat, so let's add some bumps to them. Just copy the transparency settings to the bump channel, without falloff and set the value to -500%.

I decided to have a bit more detail after looking at these tests, so I set the frequencies to 10 in both transparency and bump. Also, i wanted the clouds to have more depth, so i imported the cloud object back to modeler, copied it to another layer, sized down to 90%, and pasted back, to have two diffrent sized domes.

Remember to really IMPORT the object, unless you want to loose your surface settings.

With the dual domes there was a bit too much detail, so i reduced the transparency small power value to 0.6. There were a bit too much clouds in the scene, so i reduced the transparencu texture value to -150%.

Allright, these are good enough. Remember, that you can animate the clouds by giving the texture some velocity, just like with the water surface. Also, if you make the surface double sided, the clouds actually cast shadows too.

*DOH!* Save!

Next there will be light.

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