Tutorial 2: Clouds at Sunset

In this next tutorial you will take your basic knowledge of the DreamScape Sky and learn how easy it is to create great sunsets using DreamScape. In the process you'll add clouds to give your sky more depth.


In 3ds Max, select File->Open, and from your \Scenes\DreamScape\Tutorials folder, select the Tut2-start.max file.


This file already contains the Camera01 object and the DreamScape Sun light object. The first thing we need to do is create the DreamScape Environment entry.


Go to the Rendering->Environment menu, then from the Atmosphere rollout click Add.

From the Add Atmospheric Effect dialog choose the DreamScape entry then click OK to add it to the Effects list.

Click on the Preview  icon to open the DreamScape Preview window.

Inside the Preview window go to the Views dropdown menu, and make sure all of the options have checkmarks next to them.



Next, click on the Refresh menu option to redraw both panes within the Preview window.



On the left, you can see that we already have the beginnings of a nice sunset, even though we haven't changed any parameters so far. Within the right preview pane, you can see a noise pattern. This represents the cloud cover that is to be applied to the sky.


Within the right preview pane you'll also see what looks like the letter "V". This represents the camera in your scene and it's field of view. In this preview window it will always been in the center so that you can see the noise patterns that represent the clouds in front of and behind it.


Now, before we add the clouds, we're going to tweak the sunset effect a little bit.


Within the Atmosphere Parameters rollout, under the Sky group of controls change the Glow Sharp spinner to 0.85 to make the Sun glow wider and not so tall.


With smaller Glow Sharp settings, the Sun glow will automatically become weaker. Now it's time to add some clouds to our sunset.


Inside the DreamScape menu, go to the Clouds Parameters rollout and activate the Use Layer checkbox.



This checkbox will activate the selected Cloud layer (currently named Cloud layer 0 - Stratus). Effectively, this tells DreamScape to add the clouds to the final output. As a result, you should see clouds cover most of the sky in the Preview window as shown below.



Next, under the Shape group of controls, change the Coverage spinner to 0.5 and the Scale spinner to 0.6.



This will thin the overall coverage so you can see the sky itself and reducing the Scale spinner makes the clouds relatively smaller.


To create a different set of clouds, change the Random Seed spinner to 24.



 Now we have clouds that we like, but we want to position them differently as well as remove the unwanted parts of distant clouds.


Inside the Preview window select the checkbox beneath the <- sign.


This checkbox will update the left preview window when you move the clouds in the right window.


By holding the left mouse button down and moving the mouse within the right Preview window, you can move the complete cloud layer. These layers will also become animated if the 3ds Max Animate button is enabled.


In the DreamScape rollout, within the Clouds Parameters rollout, activate the Localized checkbox to enable the Cloud Localization parameters.


A green localization circle should be seen in the right Preview window. This green circle represents the perimeter within which clouds will be generated. If you left-click and drag your mouse while over the right Preview window when holding the Ctrl-key, you will move the green circle and can position it.


Move the cloud localization circle away from the Camera by holding down the Ctrl-key and left-clicking and dragging your mouse.



Effectively, what the localization circle allows you to do is place your clouds layer anywhere you need it. This can be especially handy when you need to precisely control where clouds are located within your frame.


Back within the Dreamscape atmospheric set the localized Radius spinner to 40000 and Regularity to 0.8.



You should notice that the entire localization circle grows in size and the cloud noise pattern adjusts.


Move the green circle in the right Preview window away from the Camera icon.



That looks okay, but if you wanted to move the localization circle any further away, you would have problems. Fortunately DreamScape comes with the ability to zoom in and out of the right Preview window pane.


Change the Scale spinner beneath the Right preview window from 50000 to 150000.



The entire window zooms out so that you can see and move the localization circle away even farther if needed.


Activate your Camera01 viewport and render the scene.



By now, you should be beginning to understand how helpful the DreamScape Sky Preview window is in effectively building complex skies and backgrounds.


Now that you've had a taste of creating clouds, the next logical step is to get the sky moving! In the next tutorial, you'll learn a number of ways to create animated environments with moving clouds.