International Space Art Network

Welcome to a place of vision and beauty. Welcome to the world of space art.

Here we can talk about the tools and techniques for creating fantastic space art.

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OK! I'll kick off with some digital stuff!

There are a surprising number of free or very low cost tools for the 3d artist, and in my view they are well worth trying out, if you have an interest in the field.

DAZ Studio is basically a free version of Poser. Daz work by giving away the software, and charging for add ons. The base figures are also free, and their Michael 4, and Victoria 4 figures are extremely impressive in my view. If you are up to digitally modelling a full human figure yourself, you may well do better, but it's a great way to get started.

You can find it here: http://www.daz3d.com/

Blender is a full 3d application, and even has hair and fluid systems. The fluid system in particular has a good reputation. The program interface has less of a good reputation, but it is worth noting that it is developing VERY fast, with regular updates and new releases.
Blender 3d

If you use multiple 3d programs, then it can be a real pain moving objects between them. The best value I know of is Accutrans 3d, which is fully functional shareware, and a real snip to register. It has good support for formats for landscapes in particular.
Accutrans 3d

3dem also specialises in converting landscape data.
3 Dem

Terragen, the shareware landscape program, has been stuck in beta hell for version 2 for what seems like years... And is in danger of being overtaken by other applications, but version one still has it's uses, and there's no denying that the previews of Version 2 look as good as anything else out there.
Terragen

Not a graphics utility, but well worth a look is HALOSIM. This lets you generate atmospheric halos accurately, allowing for crystal types, sun elevation, and so forth. It can even generate accurate halos for methane atmospheres. In fact the whole of Les Cowley's Atmospheric Optics is inspirational, with some stunning shots of ice haloes, and all sorts of unusual rainbows and so forth. You will find it here

Anyone got any others?
Nick
Greetings NIck,

Thank you for sharing these interesting sites. I have previewed them briefly and I am sure they will be useful to various members. I plan to have a closer look at each one.

Regards,
Michael C. Turner
Some people might know about them already, but here are two useful FREE sites:
(1) www.solarvoyager.com/tutorials.asp (or just google solar voyager). Mostly 2D a la Photoshop. Painting planets, asteroids, starfields, ringed planets etc.
(2) The Hard SF 3D group - www.jiawen.net/hardsf.html - a lot of 3D stuff but also some 2D
I'm debating learning Maya as an alternate renderer...

-DD-
Don Davis said:
I'm debating learning Maya as an alternate renderer...

-DD-

So what renderer are you using at the moment?
Nick

So what renderer are you using at the moment?
Nick
Electric Image animation system. It's great but the newer versions seem to be less compatible with importing dxf files, and 'point' models, useful for making star clusters, etc. don't seem to import at all.

-DD-
Ah, I'm not familiar with that one. I tend to stick to Lightwave, but mainly because I know it well, and find it very difficult to get started with other packages.
How time flies. Back in 2002 I did a survey of IAAA members as to what graphic software they used and what platforms they worked on.

You can read the review at:
http://artsnova.com/software_IAAAsoftware.html
I use only three software programs: Photoshop, Terragen (1 & 2) and (solely to generate spheres with maps wrapped around them) Strata Pro. Terragen D is indeed a real pill to use, largely because of its current in-development interface, but so far I've managed---often after several days of effort---to create some pretty interesting images. I should point out that it does clouds that are just astonishing.

So far all of the art I've posted to the gallery have used one of more of these programs.

I'm glad to see HaloSim mentioned: I use it to generate all of my halo effects. One can even fine-tune it to the extent of generating the halos produced by the ice crystals of specific substances, such as methane, CO2 and ammonia. Doing this can create some pretty bizarre effects!

I have serious doubts about suggesting that people use Daz or Poser for their figures: I've yet to see a really convincing one generated by either program. Neither of them should be used as a substitute for knowing how to draw. If you do plan to use Daz or Poser, at least teach yourself something about drawing figures and the basics of human anatomy. Even you are not good at it, it's still a better basis for using this software than not having any prior experience at all.
Ron Miller said:
I have serious doubts about suggesting that people use Daz or Poser for their figures: I've yet to see a really convincing one generated by either program. Neither of them should be used as a substitute for knowing how to draw. If you do plan to use Daz or Poser, at least teach yourself something about drawing figures and the basics of human anatomy. Even you are not good at it, it's still a better basis for using this software than not having any prior experience at all.


I know that many people much better than me agree with this point of view. It's just that my own attempts are so far below what I can get out of these programs it's embarrassing. And there are so many things I want to learn to improve my work, most of which i think I can pick up a lot faster, that I'm reluctant to set off down that road...
A very handy resource for Lightwave 3d users, Preset Central

There's a huge selection of surface presets covering everything from cell shading to human skin. It's a niche site, but pretty much essential if you use the program.
I downloaded the free version of Teragen today, it looks complicated but if I can learn Lightwave, I guess I ca learn it to, I want to learn to make landscape scenes I can use with my space art. I am also trying to blend a photoshop layer into a render but haven't had much luck.

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