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Free Autodesk Maya Tutorials: Texturing and Rendering Tutorials

Creating Earth

Creating a planet is very easy in Maya. In this tutorial I will show you how to do that and also give you suggestions on what you can do with your planet afterwards.

The first thing we need are textures. I found to be an excellent source for free high quality planetary textures. For this tutorial we will need the colour map, the bump map and the specular map.

First we will create a NURBS sphere. You can create a polygonal sphere as well of course, but I'll create a NURBS sphere for it causes some problems that I will show you how to resolve, which a polygonal sphere won't do. So, if you don't want to encounter any challenges and just create your planet, create a polygonal sphere. Everything is the same, you're just less likely to encounter a problem ^^

But let's get on with it, shall we? Here is our NURBS sphere:

In order to get a better preview you should have "Hardware Texturing" on, if you don't have it by default you can change it by going [Shading] -> [Hardware Texturing]

Now assign a "Blinn"-shader to your object. You do that by holding down your right mouse button while you are hovering above your sphere and going [Assign New Material] -> [Blinn]. Release your mouse button when it hovers over the word "Blinn". Your sphere now should look like this:

Now the Blinn-shader's details should be displayed on the right. If they are not, select your sphere and chose "blinn1" or however your shader is called in the Attribute Editor. Click on the tiny chess-board on the very right of the word "Color" and the menu that is shown on the right should pop up. Click "File".

You should now be in the Tab (again in the Attributes Editor) "place2dTexture1". We will deal with this tab later, for now go to the tab "file1" (or whatever the name that is displayed is)

Click on the little folder-button where it says "Image Name" and select the color map. You should now see something that resembles our planet earth in the view port. If the polar caps look ... well ... stretched, go back to "place2dTexture1" and set "Rotate UV" to 90 (or whatever works for you).

If you hit the render button now, the planet we just created will look like earth, but not entirely, for it will look more like a globe than an actual planet. This is because the surface is entirely flat, where in reality there are mountains and valleys and such things.

We do this by adding a so called "bump map". Go back to where you clicked on the wee checkerboard next to "Color" (if you can't find it anymore, click on your planet and "blinn1" should be in the Attribute Editor) Now look for where it says "Bump Mapping" and one more click the little chessboard next to it. Again click file, and just as last time select the image you want to use, this time the bump map.

If you had to rotate the UVs before you will have to do it again now, and every time from now on when you add an image to your scene.

Click render. You should get something like this:

As you can see the mountains seem way to big. To fix that you have to set the Bump Depth Value in the Attribute Editor for "bump2d1" to 0.2 or something. If you can't find bump2d1, go to the imagefile of the bumpmap and click on the little box with the arrow coming out of it near the top, next to "Presets". Now render again.

Look much better now, doesn't it? But one thing is still odd: The landmasses are reflecting the light as much as the water is. But we can fix that as well :o)

Chose "blinn1" and now click on the chessboard next to "Specular Color". Again chose file, and now load the specular map.

Now render again and you have your very own planet.

Added: 2008-02-01 by Lollylan

Do you have a question about one of the tutorials or are stuck somewhere? Feel free to contact me. I am always glad to be able to help!

Latest update

28.11.2010: An all new videotutorial is up and running (3 parts so far): The Domino Effect (Dynamics) 2