Rick "Flatness" Grossenbacher
About now, you might be saying, "well, great. Now how do I make an entire screen of them?"
As with everything else, there are several ways you can go about this. You could just hand draw a few and start placing them where you want them. Then copying sections and flipping them vertically and horizontally (so they look different than the section you just copied), and pasting them here and there. This works fine, but takes a while. Also be very careful so that you donít start to pattern the stars. Besides the stars patterning, also try not to make the distance between stars too consistent. When plotting individual stars the tendency to try to plot randomly, but your hand tends to move the mouse same amount of distance. I think itís just a human thing -- itís quite hard for humans to think purely randomly. Make some stars so close that they are almost touching, and some that have a good inch or so of distance apart. Ok, before I start waxing philosophical on you, let me explain another method of creating stars.
Itís called Video Post, and itís in 3-D Studio MAX. The way that Video Post works is somewhat complicate to the new user because it works by rendering in a series passes. When you normally render a 3-D image in MAX (of say a mesh or NURBS object), it just puts a window on the screen and draws it out in sort of a linear fashion. But Video Post works with several renders -- sort of like stacking different parts of the render on top of each other like you would if you were stacking plates. Iím not going to go into it much because there are plenty of tutorials and books out there that deal with Video Post. Or, better yet, just go into MAXís help file and follow the examples they provide. Itís fairly straightforward. But, if learning Video Post is in high demand, Iíll do a tutorial on it in a future Painting on Polygons.
Inside Video Post there is a filter called Starfield. Itís a neat little submenu that algorithmically generates a starfield based on the coordinates you give it. Here is what the star generator looks like in Video Post.
Click the thumbnail to see a larger image.
I highlighted a few key parts in red.
1. Dimmest Star
This value tells what the dimmest star will be. 0 is black. I almost always keep this at 0 because I like my stars to fade darker and darker into infinity.
2. Brightest Star
This value tells how bright you want the brightest star to be. 255 being white. Okay, 255 looks like crap. I usually set it somewhere around 180 or so.
3. Star Size (Pixels)
Pretty self explanatory. You might want to mess with this and see the difference it makes. You may also want to set it to a few pixel sizes so you can save the render, then cut them out and paste them into your scene so you will have multiple sizes to work with.
It defaults at 15,000, and you would think: "Good lord, 15,000 stars! That will look nuts on the screen!" But because it is generating the number of stars from a random seed specified from the count spinner, the value 15,000 is very misleading. I set mine somewhere around 75,000.
Credits: Painting on Polygons is © 1999 Rick Grossenbacher. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, so don't do it, or we'll paint you white against a white background.