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Creating a Photo-Realistic Earth


Goonfella
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This is what we will be making -

Earthtut.jpg

This tutorial was inspired the excellent Blender Earth tut by Andrew Price - http://www.blenderguru.com/create-a-realistic-earth/

The textures I used are from his tut , although they are freely available from NASA`s website. I did reduce them further in size to 4000x2000 to make them more manageable in PDN.

As the textures are so large , if you have a less powerful PC you might want to reduce them in size even further to ease the strain . Just make sure you have the `Maintain Aspect Ratio' button checked.

Before you start this tutorial please remember that each planet turns out differently, as I found out when testing this tut to make sure it was ready to post. I made two more Earth`s using the settings here but each one still required some adjustments to the settings to get the finished image. Therefore please consider my settings as a guide only and work from there.

It has come to my attention(thanks pdnnoob) that some people might struggle with the size of the original textures so here are some smaller ones that I used. ImageShack would not upload The Cloud Map at 4000x2000 because the file was still too big! But 3900x1950 should still be fine. -

earthcolormap.th.jpg

earthbumpmap.th.jpg

earthcloudmap3900x1950.th.jpg

earthnightlights.th.jpg

Plug ins needed -

Shape3D -

Alphaspace - http://forums.getpaint.net/index.php?showtopic=13061

Grim Color Reaper - http://forums.getpaint.net/index.php?showtopic=15595

Heightmap 1.3 -

(I just realised that my version of Heightmap used here is v1.2.I need to update! The settings should be similar though.)

OK lets get started.

1. Load up colour map image of the Earth.Name it Earth day.

earthtut1.jpg

2. Go to Layers>Import From File and load Bump Map .

earthtut2.jpg

3. Effects>Stylise>Heightmap. Leave settings at default.

earthtut25.jpg

4. Change Blending Mode to Overlay and reduce opacity to how you like it. I set it to 200. Allow for the fact that some of the bump will be smoothed out by S3D. You should have this -

earthtut3.jpg

5.Layer>Import From File and load the Clouds Map

6.Now we need to remove the black areas. I used two methods. First - Effects>Alphaspace to remove the bulk of it. Settings- black , adjust Tolerance to 175, click OK. Then go to Effects>Color>Grim Color Reaper - tolerance 0.80, alpha 170, color black. Using the alpha adjustment you can choose how many, or how few, clouds are showing.

earthtut4.jpg

earthtut5.jpg

7.Merge bump map with Earth Day layer. Hide cloud layer if preferred and add a black background. This will come in handy to check how the planet looks in space.

8.Effects>render>Shape3D Full Sphere Map (this setting is needed so you can rotate the planet as you wish)- Angles I used x- 10 , y- 6 , z- 18, turn on Anti aliasing - 1 or 2 should be fine. You can use the lighting in S3D if you want but I turn it off because I add my own lighting later. Everthing else at Default.

IMPORTANT! - save your S3D settings using the XML button at the bottom as all layers will need to be at the same angle/rotation ( apart from the clouds which you can do separately)-

earthtut6.jpg

9.Layer>Import from file and load Earth Night Lights above the colour map.

10. Effects>Shape3D . Now you can see why keeping the same settings was necessary.

11.Now make sure colours are a default black/white. Click on the Gradient button. Change to transparency mode, Linear or radial gradient whichever you prefer. Right click and draw a transparent gradient. This should reveal the daytime Earth underneath while still showing night lights where you want them to be. You will probably need several gradients to properly clear the night . Also you might want to duplicate this layer a couple of times to strenghten the effect.-

earthtut7.jpg

12.Now unhide the cloud layer and use S3D again . Use the Object Rotation settings to get your preferred view of them.Try to keep dry areas cloud free as they would be in real life to get as accurate an image as possible. At this point you MUST ensure the lighting is unchecked or you will get the clouds at the back showing through as black.

Optional - now that all the images have been loaded and S3D`d you can reduce the width of the image if you want to.

earthtut8.jpg

13.Move Earth Night Lights layer above the Earth Day layer and reduce the opacity slightly , I chose a setting of 240. I found this to be a nice balance , but you can always choose your own settings.

14.For this step it`s best to hide the cloud layer(I forgot as you can see!).On Earth Day layer, using the Magic Wand select anywhere outside the planet, then press Ctrl-I to invert the selection. Next create a new layer,called Earth Night, move above the Night Lights layer and fill with black. Then use the Move Selection tool to move it up and to the right. Then delete the selection.

earthtut9.jpg

15.Still on the Night layer go to Effects>Blurs>Gaussian Blur. Set to approx 70. Reduce opacity to approx 175.This layer is used to adjust the darkness . You want it to be dark but still be able to see the city lights. Play with the settings until you are satisfied.

earthtut10.jpg

16.Do a few transparent gradients on the clouds layer to match the dark areas.

earthtut11.jpg

17.If you want to you can add an Inner and Outer glow. If you do I recommend this excellent tutorial by Commander Sozo -

18.Once it is done , on each layer use transparent gradients and/or the eraser to remove any unwanted glow from around the dark edge of the planet . Keep playing with settings, opacities etc until you are happy with the result.-

earthtut12.jpg

19. Add starry background /planets/moons etc..

20.Sit back and admire your work - this part is compulsory! ;)

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial , I look forward to seeing some of your results. ;)

Edited by Goonfella
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I was hoping this was a tutorial on doing this from scratch, but no luck I guess :P Nicely done. I've tried to do this before, but I missed the bump map step so it looked odd. Now I have to go back and try again...

 

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Thanks Welshy,and pdnnoob.

If you go to the website of the Blender version of the tut(which is at the start of the tut) you will find all the textures, including the bump map. I actually downloaded them to use in Blender but then thought `Hang on. Couldn`t I do that in PDN as well?' So after I had worked out how to do it I made this tut.

Thanks for the reminder about the Heightmap plugin Welshy. I get it added. ;)

pdnnoob I`ve made plenty of planets from scratch before but I don`t think I can compete with NASA imagery that`s for sure! :)

 

 

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What a pain...the bump map image was so large I didn't have enough memory to resize it in pdn (2 gb of ram has been enough for everything else I've done so far >.<). Since my computer somehow didn't come with MS Paint, I had to shut off my browser and use a buggy version of photoshop elements to do it. Would it be alright with you if I asked you to post links to smaller versions just in case someone else has the same problem? :D

EDIT: If you look at the clouds map, you can tell that all the "continents" are in the same position as they are in the other images, so actually, it is already as accurate as it can be and rotating in S3D makes it less realistic. (in step 12)

EDIT2: Is there a way to delete the clouds that are supposed to be on the other side of the planet?

Edited by pdnnoob

 

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Much better yellowman.Which method was that? Well done.

pdnnoob, I`m surprised that you couldn`t load the bump map , but managed the clouds. The cloud map is the largest of the file sizes . I`ve uploaded a smaller version of each one anyway which I`ll add to the start of the tut.

As for the clouds, they are always constantly changing in real life anyway so it doesn`t really matter which clouds you have showing, as long as you make sure the drier areas of the planet remain less cloudy it should be OK. I prefer to have a bit more land showing through the clouds so I rotated them accordingly. It also means, of course, that every planet is different instead of just being the same as the others.

Why would you want to delete clouds that are not showing anyway? The nearest thing I can suggest though is to use Half Sphere Map in S3D .

 

 

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Goonfella, this is the method that I used for the glow:

1-Make a small rectangle selection in the center of left edge of the planet, and fill it with white/transparent Linear Reflected gradient. :LinearReflectedGradient:

th_inner-outerglow1.jpg

2-Deselect and run kaleidoscope with full Quantity of Pieces, run the radial Blur if it needs for bigger planets.

3-Transparent gradient the resulted ring as usual, then AA's Assistance "adjust the Sharpness and Gamma of the plugin for better tapered ends of the glow"

th_inner-outerglow2.jpg

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Why would you want to delete clouds that are not showing anyway? The nearest thing I can suggest though is to use Half Sphere Map in S3D .

After removing the black parts of the cloud image, running S3D allows the clouds on the other side of the sphere to show through, so I was just wondering if there was an easy way to remove those.

Also, the bump map has the largest dimensions. The reason for the file size, I guess is the number of shades of color.

 

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I`m sure you must be doing something wrong with the Earth Day layer below. If you follow the tut , using S3D just wraps the clouds around the planet sphere, and from there you can use the S3D Object Rotation settings to adjust them. You should only be able to see the clouds at the front of the sphere.The only way the ones at the back could show through , that I can think of, is if you have reduced the opacity of the planet texture layer below.I have not had this problem and I have made three Earth`s while testing out and making the tut.

You could try using Half Sphere Map in S3D I suppose and rotate the clouds to the front. Maybe if you posted some images of the problem it would help.

Edited by Goonfella

 

 

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I did mine by using just half of the cloud layer, by selecting half and deleted the other half, then S3D.

But you can also do this:

-Change the Blending Mode of the clouds layer to Screen

-Run S3D with Light disabled, adjust the Rotation, when satisfied enable AA

-Change the Blending Mode to Normal, and remove the black with Grim Color Reaper plugin, and add your own effects like DropShadow....etc

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I`m sure you must be doing something wrong with the Earth Day layer below. If you follow the tut , using S3D just wraps the clouds around the planet sphere, and from there you can use the S3D Object Rotation settings to adjust them. You should only be able to see the clouds at the front of the sphere.The only way the ones at the back could show through , that I can think of, is if you have reduced the opacity of the planet texture layer below.I have not had this problem and I have made three Earth`s while testing out and making the tut.

The S3D won't wrap the clouds around an existing "sphere," it just turns the clouds layer into a sphere. I'm not sure why you haven't had the issue. The only way the clouds in the back can't show through is if they are on a layer below the planet, and they are not, so they show through. I'll try yellowman's layer blend mode suggestion though, since I'm trying to put the planet at an angle that makes deleting half the clouds inconvenient.

 

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Ah- I finally see what you are getting at pdnnoob.I had another go from scratch and had this problem as well. Have you turned off the lighting in S3D for the cloud layer? I had some black patches over Africa, which were obviously the clouds at the back,when I was using the lighting from S3D but as soon as I turned it off the clouds appeared white, as if they were on the front. This might be your problem.

It would seem that you have to turn off the lighting at this stage. As I had already turned it off earlier in the tutorial I never realised there was a problem.As far as I was concerned the clouds were just being `wrapped' around. Thanks for pointing this out, sorry it never sunk in earlier. I will amend the tutorial to make this point clear. ;)

 

 

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Well, I was going for a cloudier earth, so I didn't use alpha space. However, when I did this, the clouds that showed from the back looked odd because they were so small compared to those up front, not just because they were dark. Yellowman's suggestion worked out quite nicely, however. I will post a picture in a few minutes...

EDIT: the turnout

http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx228/pdnnoob/earth1.png vs http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/image/planetary/earth/apollo17_earth.jpg

A few more tweaks on the S3D settings and it might as well be the real thing! great tutorial :D

Edited by pdnnoob

 

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It isn't quite as good up close, but thanks! :D I'll very likely be using this tutorial multiple times in the future ^_^

 

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