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Bryce Optics can be your friend – mini-tutorial

Posted in Bryce-related, Sources of Inspiration
A scripture in the Bible quotes an well-known saying "One sows and another reaps". This mini-tutorial is the result of someone else sowing and me reaping the benefit. If it wasn’t for a question posed by "Ludwigs" in the BryceTalk forum of the DAZ3D community, and Horo’s answer that mentioned the use of Bryce optics to solve the question, this mini-tutorial might never have been blogged at all. My thanks to Horo for his idea, and full credit goes to him. I just tweaked and refined the idea and made it pretty. Of course if anyone out there can add to this idea and improve on it please feel free to contact us at the BryceBlog.

The original question was why the horizon (either the water or land plane) in Bryce was always flat and not curved like a planet should be in real life. The reason is simple: The Bryce "world" is essentially a flat surface that goes off to infinity in all directions and thus will not show a natural curvature. Horo’s suggestion was to use a glass sphere as a "lens" near the camera to distort the image to give a natural curve. I took it a bit further and placed the camera inside the glass sphere and let the glass refraction bend the sky into a planetary curve. There’s how I did it:

Create a new Bryce scene and choose a sky that will suit a planet’s atmosphere
Something like Brinnen’s "Gritty Turbulent Sky" is ideal for this sort of scene with enough haze and fog to give a nice atmospheric layer.
Then select the ground plane and set its material to black (in Bryce 6.1 it is under the "Misc" material library) also set the Diffusion and Ambience channels to 0. This will create lovely velvety space above the planet.
Now for the magic. Create a Bryce primitive sphere and move and scale it so the camera object fits within it.
The apply the "Glass, Standard" material found in the default materials library of Bryce 6.1. (it is also in earlier versions) The natural refractive qualities of the glass wil act as a "lens" to distort the sky.

Just a quick render will already show you the magic starting to happen. I left the grid lines in the screen capture so you can see where the ground plane is and where the glass sphere is in relation to the camera viewpoint.
Now you can add your own extra magic. I browsed the Internet and downloaded a free 3d mesh of the "Orion" shuttle from the science fiction classic movie "2001 – A Space Odyssey". It can be found at the 2001: A Space Odyssey 3D Modelling Archive . I imported the model into Bryce 6.1 and added a couple of lights. (set with a zero falloff to give a harsher outer space lighting effect)
Now the render is almost complete except for one thing. I prefer the planet to be below but it cannot be because the sky is above and the sky is the "planet".The Banking Camera gadget comes to the rescue. It is off to the left just above the Trackball control. Just drag this gadget to the left or right to bank the camera.tutcurve08
Bank the camera 180 degrees…
…and render your final image. Very simple to do, but very impressive results! The positioning of the glass sphere is quite tricky, and lots of glances at the Nano Preview window will be required, and there will be some distortion of any objects like spaceships especially if there are lots of straight lines and geometric elements with straight edges
Save the image (and the scene file!) and import it into your favourite image editing program and add any special effects – like stars, nebulas, laser beams etc.

Here is the final result. From beginning to end this scene took 35 minutes to set up , tweak and render!
I am sure there are many more uses for Bryce Optics. Be sure to let us know if you have discovered something. Horo said himself "Bryce can do everything!"

  1. 13 Responses to “Bryce Optics can be your friend – mini-tutorial”

  2. By bobbystahr on May 29, 2008

    very cool…and well thought out.. …

  3. By dhama on May 29, 2008

    What a wonderfully simple idea, and well tut’ed.

  4. By Corrie on May 29, 2008

    I have been playing with this tut and the results are fantastic!

    What I do:
    Make sure the sky you pick has a dark bottom.
    Because that becomes the sky, together with the groundplane.
    Now you can put something else on the groundplane.
    I use mats, made from fractals.
    Looks fantastic!

  5. By hamfast on May 29, 2008

    I’d like to see what sorts of effects you can get with this method. Be sure to post some images if you want that I can include on the Blog…with full credit.

  6. By Corrie on May 30, 2008

    I have posted an image here:


    The ship is from Gendragon.

    I love the results I am getting! 🙂


  7. By David Wiles on May 30, 2008

    Excellent start! Congratulations! Adds to my argument that a program’s interface and operation should NEVER get in the way of creativity!

  8. By Fran C on May 31, 2008

    I like the result that I got with your mini tut. You can check it out at http://www.renderosity.com/mod/gallery/index.php?image_id=1684536

    Okay, so I didn’t exactly followed your tut word for word but I did improvise along the way once I understood the basics. I really like the feel I had gotten. What do you think?

  9. By Corrie on May 31, 2008

    Thank you! 🙂
    I agree completely!

  10. By Tr1GGa on Jun 11, 2008

    this really is a good tute for bryce and its something that I can use I just have one question the sky that was used where can it be found at?

  11. By hamfast on Jun 11, 2008

    Tr1GGa, If you have Bryce 6 or 6.1 installed (with all the content that came with Bryce 6+) the this sky preset can be found under the “Brinnen” category. In this category there is only one sub-section – Brooding. “Gritty Turbulent Sky” is the 3rd row on the far right…


  12. By Fran C on Jun 23, 2008

    Well, I re did the tutorial and got it done better. You can see the result at Renderosity (http://www.renderosity.com/mod/gallery/index.php?image_id=1698022)…

    Just one thing tho… When you try to do the distance mask, all you’ll get is the slate gray area… nothing else… I would rather do the dof in Photoshop rather than Bryce…
    Any suggestions???

  13. By hamfast on Jun 23, 2008

    Fran C, reason why you are only getting a grey area in your distance mask is because Bryce doesn’t know how to deal with the transparent glass globe that you are using to do the distortion for the planet. As a test just delete the glass sphere (it will ruin the final effect) and run the Distance Mask render again. You will see that it now does the distance mask correctly…

  14. By Fran C on Jun 24, 2008

    I have tried it with and without the transparent glass globe and I know it works without the globe but the effect disappears since the optic distorts viewpoint within the globe. The resulting mask is flat and smaller without the globe than with the globe.

    Also tried the object mask and the result was similar to the distance mask. It just doesn’t work…

    I will try to play around with it some more and see if I can come up with a suitable solution…

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