Create Realistic Clouds
Blender 3d tutorial
To create clouds in Blender 3D, we will be utilizing the Cloud Generator add-on. You will learn how to activate Blender add-ons, create lighting and sky with a sun lamp, use metaballs to create the basic cloud shape, and finally how to change the appearance of your clouds.
Turn On the Cloud Generator
To create our clouds we are going to use an addon called Cloud Generator, therefore, the first thing we must do is make sure that the add-on is enabled in Blender.
Enabling any add-on requires us to go into the User Preferences via File->User Preferences. When the new window opens up, click on the Addons tab. Typing 'cloud' into the search box will reveal the Cloud Generator. If it is not turned on already, do so by checking the box on the right. After that, we are ready to start working on our scene.
Before we begin working on the clouds, we will set up the sun and sky. Let's start with the sun.
The sun is simply created with the use of a lamp. You can add a Sun lamp by going to Add->Lamp->Sun in the main menu. You can also change any existing lamp to a Sun lamp by selecting it, going to the Object Data settings in the Properties Panel and selecting Sun in the Lamp section.
When you have successfully added the sun lamp to your scene, you can position it how you like. When we render you can play with it some more to see how different angles look.
Adding a sky is easy once you have a sun lamp. In the Object Data settings for any sun lamp, there is a section labelled Sky & Atmosphere. All we have to do is check the box next to Sky and we are ready to go!
Of course, feel free to play around with any of the settings to see what they do. For this tutorial, I will be using the 'Classic' preset.
With our scene set up, we can now begin work on the clouds. The way that the Cloud Generator works is quite simple. You add a mesh to the scene, shape the mesh however you like, and then choose the type of clouds you want before letting the Generator work it's magic.
Obviously, there are many ways you can shape a mesh. What I am about to show you is not necessarily the right way or the best way, but it is what I like to do for clouds. If you want to try other ways or like other methods for manipulating meshes, by all means, feel free to do so.
I start by going to front view (Numpad 1) and adding a metaball to the scene (Add->Metaball->Ball). Then I duplicate, resize, and position new metaballs into the shape that I want. In this case, I made a simple fluffy cloud shape. Feel free to make any shape you like.
Generating the Clouds
Now for the fun part! If you used metaballs, then we have to convert our cloud object to a mesh, because the Cloud Generator only works for meshes. To do so, select the cloud shape we just made and press Alt-C. In the popup, select 'Mesh from Curve/Meta/Surf/Text'.
With the mesh selected you should be able to see a Cloud Generator section at the bottom of the Toolbox on the left side of the 3D view panel (press T to open the panel). That section contains all of the options for making our clouds.
I typically only ever change the 'Type' setting. After you hit 'Generate Cloud' your mesh will be turned into a containing box, with the cloud on the inside, as shown in the image. Other than that, you are ready to render!
Tweaking the Appearance
There are many different ways that you can go about changing the way your clouds will look. Obviously, you can change the type of cloud that you use before generating, as shown in the image here. While this allows you to get the right type of cloud it doesn't really effect the coloring.
The easiest way to change your whole scene is to mess with the sun lamp. Changing the angle of the sun will also change the sky so that, in a sense, the angle of the sun adjusts the time of day.
Other than that, you can use the compositor to make changes to your clouds. Unfortunately, that is beyond the scope of this tutorial. So, with that, I will leave you hanging and let you play with your clouds!
No single tutorial will cover everything, so if you want to dig deeper, here are some resources for you to check out. If you have other resources you think I should add to this list, feel free to let me know!
- Clouds with Cycles, BlenderGuru
- Clouds with a Sky Texture, EnigmaToots
- Quick and Easy Clouds, Ben Amend
- Volumetric Clouds with Smoke Sim, kilbeeu