Clouds Parameters



The Clouds Parameters rollout is where you build and manage all of the cloud layers you want in your scene. The parameters within this rollout will let you fine-tune the look and feel of your cloud layers, as well as add motion to each cloud layer independently of one another.









Create Cloud Layer

This first area is where you create and name the various cloud layers as well as activate them as needed. By default, there will always be at least one cloud layer present in the list window, and it is not able to be deleted. However, it can be turned off using the Use Layer checkbox.



Add - Clicking on the Add button will create a new cloud layer that will appear within the list window to the left of the button. DreamScape 2.0 currently allows you to create up to 99 unique cloud layers for your Sky.


Remove - The Remove button will remove the currently highlighted cloud layer.


Note: Cloud layer 0 cannot be deleted and should be turned off by using the Use Layer checkbox.


Layer Name - Here, you can specify a unique name for each layer. It will be appended to the end of the highlighted Cloud layer's name and is a good way to differentiate between cloud layers, especially when you are using localized clouds for special effects.


Use Layer - The Use Layer checkbox toggles the selected Cloud layer on or off.




Type - There are two types of clouds: Stratus and Cirrus. This dropdown menu let's you choose which type you want to use for any Cloud layer.


Stratus - A heavy rain-bearing cloud that covers almost the whole sky.

Cirrus - A very wispy cloud type that can be found at high altitudes.


Stratus clouds

Cirrus clouds


Color - You can use this option to determine the dominant color of the cloud layer. Simply click on the color swatch to open the Color Selector menu. In addition to Color, there is a spinner that controls the Color Multiplier next to the color swatch. It determines the overall brightness or intensity of the color applied to the cloud layer. Higher values will produce brighter clouds, while lower values will yield darker clouds.


Random Seed - This spinner controls the random seed generator. Different random seed numbers result in different cloud shapes.


Altitude - This spinner controls the altitude of the selected Cloud layer. All altitudes are determined in meters. High clouds will look smaller than low ones, and the influence of the Atmosphere Color settings will be stronger.


Altitude = 1000m

Altitude = 2000m

Altitude = 10000m


Density - With this parameter, you can change the cloud density. Higher density values will produce thicker cloud layers, while lower density settings will result in thinner cloud layers.


Density = 0.05

Density = 1.0

Density = 2.0


To get the best results always combine your Density value with an appropriate Shadows Thickness setting. In other words, when you use Density values, you should use lower Shadow Thickness values to get the correct and believable cloud shading.



3D Clouds

3D Clouds allow you to create significantly more complex cloud formations that have the true 3-dimensional property of thickness. As a result, the output from this new set of options is incredibly realistic. However, you should be aware that using this option can significantly impact your rendering times and it is generally recommended that you use 3D clouds for "hero" cloud formations that are localized and not visible across the entire sky.


3D Clouds - Enabling this checkbox makes the currently selected Cloud layer a 3D Cloud layer.


Step Size - In contrast to the default (2D) clouds, 3D clouds have another property - thickness. Because of thickness, DreamScape needs to perform many Raymarching steps through the cloud's volume to determine the cloud's shape and color. This process is similar to the calculation DreamScape does to calculate the sky color. The smaller the step size, the more detailed the clouds will be. Unrealistically high step sizes such as a value of 100 when the thickness is only 200 may cause flickering during the animation.


Scattering - This spinner controls how light entering a cloud is dispersed and seen by the camera. In the real world, clouds have a tendency to scatter light due to the density of water particles that make them up. This phenomena results in cloud illumination variations that are based on the angle between the observer and the Sun and the density of the cloud itself.


Scattering = 0.3

Scattering = 1.0


Thickness - 3D clouds in DreamScape are very similar to those in nature. Thickness gives clouds a distinctive volume for each cloud type (Cirrus clouds are very thin for example). Just to be clear, you define the base altitude of the cloud layer with the Altitude spinner, while you define the where the top of the clouds will be through the Thickness spinner. Just remember: Altitude + Thickness = Thickness of clouds.


Regularity - With this parameter you can control how wispy the clouds will be. Higher values will produce clouds that are more solid.




Detail - This spinner controls the clouds' detail level. Higher values produce more detail in the selected Cloud layer.



Note: If the Detail checkbox is left unchecked, DreamScape will choose the best detail level for your scene automatically. The automatic level calculation is based on the clouds height, sharpness, overall sky coverage and other parameters.


Detail = 2.0

Detail = 5.0

Detail = 10.0


Scale - This spinner controls the relative scale of the selected Cloud layer to the camera view. If the cloud Scale value is less than 1.0, your cloud layer will show more cloud shapes at the same altitude. If the scale is greater then 1.0, the cloud layer will be magnified.


Scale = 0.2

Scale = 1.0

Scale = 4.0


Scale X - This spinner controls how the current Cloud layer scales along the X-axis. If the Scale X value is less than the 1.0, then the clouds will be compressed along the X-axis (effectively stretching them into the distance). If this setting is greater than 1.0,  then the clouds will be stretched along the 3ds Max program's X-axis.


Coverage - This spinner determines the percentage of the sky that is to be covered by clouds.


Sharpness - This spinner controls the edge sharpness for the currently selected Cloud layer. Low values will produce soft edges, while very high values it can produce rendering artifacts.


Sharpness = 0.1

Sharpness = 0.4

Sharpness = 0.7




The localization group of controls is used to limit the effect of selected Cloud layers to specific areas of the screen. To use the localization controls effectively, you will want to use it in concert with the DreamScape Sky Preview Window to see what parts of the cloud layer are visible.


Localized - By clicking on the Localized checkbox you can enable localization of clouds. Localized clouds do not cover the whole sky but are grouped within a circular perimeter defined by the Radius parameter. This perimeter is visible within the Sky Preview Window as shown below. It is displayed in green.



Add Localize - Click on the Add Localize button to add a new localization area for your selected Cloud Layer. You can add up to 99 localization areas for a Cloud layer.


Remove Localize - Click on the Remove Localize button to delete the currently selected localization area.


Radius - This spinner represents the radius of the localization circle. Outside of that circle there will be no clouds. You can preview this setting easily by using the Preview window.


Regularity - This spinner controls the localization perimeter softness for the currently selected Cloud layer. Higher values will produce much softer cloud edges.


Regularity = 0.2

Regularity = 0.5

Regularity = 1.0


Center x / y - These two spinners represent the center of the cloud localization. The radius for the localization will extend out from this point.


Static - When active, the Static checkbox tells DreamScape that the localized center should be left static, even if the cloud layer motion is animated. Also, if the Static chekbox is used it will work in concert with the Motion settings.


When this checkbox is disabled, the Center x and y values will be animated automatically to follow the clouds' motion.  




The Motion parameters allow you to animate the clouds gliding across the sky, as well as their formation.


Phase - With this spinner you can create the effect of the clouds' evaporation and condensation, which occurs normally over time in nature.


Offset - These two spinners represent the Clouds Offset in 3ds Max scene units. By animating these values, you can produce the effect of clouds moving across. By using the Preview window, you can also animate the cloud motion interactively.




These options are related to self-shadowing and shadow casting characteristics of the clouds.


Thickness - This spinner will make the cloud shadows darker or lighter. Higher values will create thicker, thus darker clouds, while lower values create thinner, brighter clouds.


Thickness = 0.1

Thickness = 0.5

Thickness = 1.0


Ground Shd. - When the Ground Shadow checkbox is active, the selected Cloud layer will cast shadows on other objects in the scene. Use the associated spinner to control the overall darkness of the shadows.



Indirect Lights

These are indirect light options. Click on the checkbox to enable your specified indirect light color. The Multiplier parameter can vary the strength of the indirect light.


Multiplier - This spinner controls the strength of the indirect light on the selected Cloud layer. Higher values produce brighter clouds while lower values produce darker clouds.


Multiplier = 0.2

Multiplier = 0.7

Multiplier = 1.3


User color - When this checkbox is active, it lets the user select the color that is to be used for the indirect lighting. This is an excellent way to tint the selected Cloud layer.