One way to put a planet/moon in the sky

Skill Level: Intermediate / Views: 935 / System Requirements: Carrara

This is a tutorial designed to show you one possible way to make a "splat" that can be hung in the sky for moons or planets.

Kixum on 9:04PM Wed, 22 September 2010

Part 1, Step 3, Generatig the base planet image (Lights)

Now we get to sort of a crazy part.

I have used four lights in this scene.  You can see I have a group of three lights and a single light.  The group of lights is used to generate more of a crescent shaped moon and the single light is for a more realistic shaped moon phase result.

The point is, that when I was working on this tutorial, I realized that having a more "artistic" crescent shaped moon is what some people might have wanted so I set up a way to do that.

So here are some important things to know about these lights in general.

1.)  These are distant lights.
2.)  They have a behavior set on them to point at the planet (just makes my life a ton easier).
3.)  They have the raytraced soft shadows turned on to best with a radius of 100 ft.  This is important.  The later versions of Carrara (especially this latest 64 bit version) is now a bunch more accurate than it used to be.  Now you would think that would be a good thing but dang if it isn't sometimes.  Now, C will put a very harsh edged shadow on the planet if you don't soften up those shadows (so, soften them).

Now for some specifics.
As you can see, I have four lights.  I've grouped three of them into a group titled Crescent Light Sources and I've left one out of the group.  What we're shooting for is an image where part of the moon is lit and part is completely black.

For Realistic Moon Shapes -
The one light I've left out of the group is used when I want to do a more realistic lit moon.  I turn off the crescent light group.
So, put your light somewhere in the scene, check to make sure that it updates itself to point at the planet and render.

For more crescent artsy Moon Shapes -
I've put in three lights, moved them off to the side of the planet and spread them out (one high, one low, and one in between.
I turned down the intensity of them to somewhere between 30 and 50.  You don't want a lot of light overlapping so you need to cool the lights off a little bit.
Then I grouped them.
Then I put the hotpoint for the group at 0,0,0.
Now I have this cool group that I can rotate these three lights around the planet willy nilly.  Having these three lights allows me to light the planet from more of an angle and I can get more of it in crescent shape when I render.
There are drawbacks.  When the group is lighting the planet a lot, the three lights make themselves apparent and the overlap looks stupid.  So to be clear, this lighting group is really to just render crescents and not for phases which are more developed.
(Oh yeah, I turn off that other ungrouped single light).

Tutorial Comments

t-techniker  10:10AM Sat, 15 June 2013

very nice done. I read it, I understand everything. Well represented.

Euxeb007  12:21AM Mon, 20 February 2012

That's what I call a good tutorial ;o)

ptsulli  3:00PM Thu, 06 January 2011

Kixum; great tut, I'm going to have to try some variations, but an altogether straight forward presentation. Thanks

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