Bryce Optics can be your friend – mini-tutorial
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.
…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!"