This article describes how I managed to get one of the basic requirements for a realistic earth rendering which is making the clouds cast shadows over the terrain.
I started by setting up a simple scene with two planes illuminated by a distant sphere with an emitting material (the white sphere on the top). The two planes represent the terrain and the cloud cover separated by a very small gap.
I used two high resolution images to texture each of the planes:
Separate renders of both terrain and cloud layers:
Rendering with both layers. The shadows cast by clouds over the terrain are clearly visible.
This was done using the following settings for the Terrain and Clouds materials:
Please note that an additional clouds_inverted.jpg image is used. This is an inverted image of the clouds.jpg image to drive the transparency of the cloud layer: high (white) areas on the cloud cover are transformed into low values driving reduced transparency and projecting shadows over the terrain.
Next step will be modeling how a giant Suzanne will look like from orbit…
For my project to create a 3D model of the BMW E46 I want to model how the suspension works and how it reacts dynamically. The following picture shows a clear view of the front axle suspension and steering linkage. The boomerang-shaped bright parts are the aluminum suspension arms which pivot around the line that passes trough the rubber mounting and the pivot point on the top center of the arm and support the wheel hubs.
The challenge is to create blender objects and rig them correctly to represent these components and the way they move and articulate. For that I created a small blender project with a suspension arm (orange) and shock absorber linked to a wheel hub. You can download this project and play with it.
The key interpolation method Elastic with Amplitude and Period parameters seems particularly interesting to simulate the behavior of an elastic system. This is something to explore later.
Anyway, here it is a small rendering of the suspension action: