Rocks, Oxygen and other Natural Disasters
making more planet surfaces, plus adding an atmosphere with the alpha glow technique


You may have seen some of our earlier tutorials on making planets and celestial bodies.  Some of these were based on  the older version 2 of Project Dogwaffle, or the freeware version 1.2. You can do already a lot with these.
Now there are more options once again with the newest version, PD Pro Digital Painter, to explore new filters and special FX features.  For example:  Lightning, Twirl, and others.
Related Tutorials:
In this tutorial we'll explore some features such as :
1) a new displacement method which creates excellent rocky planet's surfaces such as martian surfaces with a variety of sand dunes, scattered rock fields and river bed erosion artifacts.
2) Using the Alpha Channel's "Alpha Glow" feature to add a homogenous atmospheric glow around the globe

3) The Twirl Filter for Cyclones and anti-cyclones (hurricanes, taifuns,...)
1) Using Displacement for rocks, marble textures, and whole planets
Start by going to the Render submenu of the Filter menu group. Select the Plasma noise...

Use the default or a similarly high value to get fairly large cloud patterns
Next, jump to the alternate buffer (the Swap buffer). Use 'j' to j)ump or use the 'Swap buffers' option from the Buffers menu.

Either way you're now looking at the alternate buffer, which is likely blank.

Use the  same filter, i.e. the Plasma nopise filter, but this time use a lower value to produce smaller cloud noise.

Note that this is a classical starting point for a star's surface like the sun in ebulition. You just need to throw a color map at it, essentially.

We won't do that here though.

When done, j)ump back to the Main buffer.

First Displacement by swap...

Use the Displace by Swap...  menu from the Filter menu. There are several options, i.e. various methods of displacing the image. They all use the image from the swap buffer content to control the displacement of the main buffer's image.

In this case, there are fairly large "features"  (shapes) in the main buffer, by comparison with fairly small features in the swap buffer. This produces large areas with fine details and changes.

click the image for a larger view>>>

Next, try a different method of displacement. Such as the Cloaked displacement method. Undo the prior thing, or continue from it to compare the results. Either way it's getting interesting, trust me on this one.

Here's the cloaked displacement result. Well, one of them anyway.

Obviously this one could be great for marble textures or other rocky sediments, and perhaps we'll want to keep it for compositing into another planet surface, perhaps to insert an area where there's striped features created by wind.
<click to enlarge
you'll also notice another feature in the Filters menu, near the bottom of it. It's to use the image in the Swap buffer to emboss the image in the main buffer. In this case it adds a bit of a rugged look to the surface when applied to the original large plasma noise.

Here's a new method of displacement: the Color Twirl method.  (not available as of this writing July 18 - it's coming soon, and is part of the upcoming retail edition!)

Here are a few samples
produced with Color Twirl
Displacement tool.

(click for larger images)
c.t sample 1

c.t.sample 2

c.t.sample 3

Compositing Parts of several images...
We may want portions of one image blended within parts of another. Load one image into the main the other into the swap buffer.  The use the Rubthrough Mode to select parts of the Swap buffer's pixels and paint them through into the main buffer.

Or use Control-B to select the whole image from one buffer as a brush, then set an alpha selection mask with the many Alpha tools like Paint on Alpha or Magic wand with tolerance or with other tools, and stomp the first image partly over the second where the alpha mask allows it to.

click to enlarge

Here's an exmaple of something obtained in this manner using two of the prior results above.

We can then also work some magic with a different color map over it. This helps when we have features that look like sand dunes.

The next step of course is to take textures of planetary surfaces like the ones shown so far and map them onto a circular region with the spherize tool. Some of the tutorials mentioned at the top of this one do in fact show more details about that Sphereize tool, which includes two light sources that can act as a yellow-red giant Sun or giant red star, and the other light could be blue for a nearly dwarf blue like often found in setllar matters.

Just add Oxygen
An important step in making a planet look natural and realistic is the addition of an atmosphere.

Here are some examples. This first one has a bleish tint a bit like an oxygen-rich air mix.

Note how there's a thickening of the blue tint effect as you look closer to the edge and thus through more air, starting from the inner center and moving out until reaching the edge of the planet. Thereafter, the atmosphere quickly thins and disappears as it fades away.

In this example we used a few fill tool tricks to flood some parts with white stuff (snow? glaciers? ...)  With another color, dark or red hot, it could pass for lava flows and magma.  Especially with a phosphoric green airbelt like this one.

Here's another one.

So there.

compare notes, visit Mars
Ok, so how do you add a glowing effect like these to a circular outline, or any shape for that matter?

You need to start from a simple selection.

Take for example the rectangular selection tool, click-and-drag a rectangular area and let go, to complete the creation of a selection, showing through the marching ants animation along the edges.


Now use the Alpha glow tool from the Effects menu item.
Apply the glow and if your primary color is black you'll see it like this on a white background. The effect appears on the inside of the selection.
Invert the alpha, to switch to the outer area of the selection.

You can apply the same again and again for thicker appearance.

Since you'll probably be using the alpha glow a few times, it makes sense to make it accessible from the floating Alpha tools. Just right-click on any of the 4 alpha mini-icons to see the options.

Here we have applied the Alpha glow several times.

and here's the same idea, starting with a black background, and working on a circular alpha mask. And of course on the outside of it.

The inside of the planet should receive a bit of glow as well. In fact you could also do a Clear Select to primary color and then fade last action (top of Filter menu) to reduce it to the desired level.

can you guess what's next?

Coming soon....

- finishing the atmosphere

- lightning