PLANETARY PROJECT    - A REALSOFT LIST RECAP      (beginner level)      by Garry Curtis
      Man , that was a hectic but productive June , so much going on , on the Realsoft List . Not even sure where it all began ... seems it started with a search for realistic clouds , landscapes and many other interesting things related . I do remember Jyrki Hokkanen posting images of his basic clouds and then a simple mpeg1 animation of evolving clouds using Mark Heuyman's new Volumetric Cloud material  cloudanim1  . Mark was also working away on renders of Earth from space ... somewhere along the way I started to get inspired and involved .  
     Checking my RS Mail archives , I see now that it was  Karl R. Petterson's Noise Controller Material that tweaked my interest . Karl had graciously posted that material to the list as a 2004 Christmas present  Karl's Readme.txt  but so many irons in the fire led to it being placed on my back burner . In the meantime Matthias Kappenberg had also shared an awesome example of something quite unique  ... Mathias K's  ALIEN EGG  Realsoft project . Not only was this a very creative project but also a very good example of Displacement Mapping with Realsoft .  
    I used KRP's noise on "The Egg" and came up with this  Bumpy Egg  and this  Scratchy Egg  and also this  Super Scratchy Egg   Poor alien , that last one must have hurt like a bastard !  
      Sorry for the long preamble but credit is due and must be given when the opportunity arises , I think . Hopefully you will find the time to explore a little yourself with the help of this web page , and then maybe even jump on the Realsoft list and shout out a thanks or two yourself to Mathias , Mark , Karl and the many other Realers (too numerous to mention here) who contribute so much so often , who assist nonstop actually , and even share their own personal and unique tools and creations .  
      "So when do we get to the Planetary stuff Garry ?"   ... Let's go ! As a Matter of fact , if you are getting a little impatient and just want to start rendering (good for you !) then grab The Planetary Project (600KB) unzip and load it into Realsoft . You can always catch up to us later . Projects Readme.txt  
    How it Started .  
     For those of you hanging in , late one night I ranted on the List how I could not make Displacement Mapped craters . Terribly frustrated I carried on about the hair I was pulling out in fistfulls ! Matthias kindly posted that all I had to do was simply make the bumpheight a negative number ... and bang , Craters ... ... Hey ! ... I knew that !  
  Craters .  
    Not a Planet .  
      No it's not a planet , but I kinda dig that image . Rendered so quickly on my dual processor machine with awesome quality and is really a perfect example of what can be done so easily with Realsoft displacement mapping , and a little VSL (the Realsoft Visual Shading Language) .  
      This one single SDS sphere has been the target of our KRP VSL Noise Material . SDS ? Well , if you don't know about Realsoft SDS modelling you simply have to download the fully-functional demo and have some fun . The below image is a screenshot of the RS interface ... Realsoft Home Page  . Just head to the Download section .  
      As the readme.txt indicates , this entire project has the SDS sphere's displacement set to 0.10 . The resulting displacement , or non-displacement is then controlled directly from the procedural material itself . That is to say a 'Bump_height' of 0.00 results in zero displacement and a '2D' mapping only , much like a color+bump mapping might if there was a 0.00 displacement map setting on the Special Tab in the SDS sphere's Property window . Simply double click on the SDS Sphere in the 'Select' Window to open it's Property Window . Select the Special Tab by clicking on it .  
     Displacement Control Setting on the SDS Sphere's 'Special' Tab .  
     Pulldown Menu  
     Assuming you've downloaded the project file   (  , decompresssed and loaded it , all you have to do to see a few humble examples of simple displacement mapping is just do what the above screenshot suggests . That is , click on the default mapping (in the "Select Window") and observe how RS magically presents a new menu "Material" above , and how that menu is also a drop-down menu featuring many other materials that you can simply select and then just hit the render button , with totally different results . What could be easier ?  
     Example 2  
      Easy, Eh ? Just select a new Material and Render , with totally new and perhaps unexpected results . Carry on rendering away while you grab a Budweiser .  
     Too easy ? Well , maybe we could delve deeper and actually explore the Material that lies beneath , but above the actual VSL code of Karl's . To do that we'll just click on the second icon , or tab along the top of the Select Window (Flyover help indicates "Materials") .  
     Customised Material Page  
     *** note : the above screenshot may not resemble the Material Tab that you are used to looking at on your monitor . The default settings are great for presenting the many , many materials available to any user , but if you would like to know how to adjust your Material Preview , surf this way to a Robert Den Broeder/Garry Curtis collaboration-tutorial on customising this Tab using the many many options available . Customising your Material Previews   
     Now , before we switch to the Material Tab make sure that the default mapping is selected on the first page in the 'Select Window' (flyover help says Geometric Objects) . That way , whenever you click on the Materials Tab you will notice that the list of materials available can still be chosen using the pulldown menu at top . This feauture will now come in handy as we start to explore the actual parameters of each one of these slightly different "Planet" materials . Thanks again to Karl for giving us a nice GUI interface with many sliders to manipulate .  
     Material Property Window Opened  
      Above we see a new Window (Material Property Window) opened to reveal KRP's Noise Control Panel . To get to this point just double click on any one of the VSL Materials (at left) to open it's Properties window , then simply click on the 'Preview' box at it's very top-left and you will see a new preview pane open on that window . You may not notice it but RS is actually rendering that material preview (it's not just a snapshot) . You'll notice that I have a nice big Preview of that material on this window as well , but if it's too big for your machine , surf on over to Roberts tutorial linked above to customise it .  
      Well , it may seem like we're just getting going , but I'm afraid this is where I leave you . I won't go into exploring this Noise Material's huge panel , but will let you do so on your own . There isn't any documentation regarding this material (except Karl's Readme.txt linked above) so now it's up to you to just try this-and-that and see what you can come up with . That's exactly what I did to come up with the dozen of included moons and asteriods and planetary materials in just one evening . I have included a large readme.txt file in the Project's .zip however , with some tips and comments .  Projects Readme.txt  
      I know you can easily come up with much more elaborate and interesting creations of your own . Hopefully this simple tutorial will help you to get started . Cheers !
  Garry Curtis