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Tutorial: Cycles Displace Planet


Atom is using the new displacement mapping feature in Cycles to create a planet with a layer of clouds.

This is a short video to show how you can leverage the Experimental displace feature of the Cycles render engine to produce a material managed procedural planet. You can use Color Ramp nodes to sculpt and colorize certain height ranges. The final output is generated from a single Noise texture node.

Cloud Layer For Planet

This is a continuation of the Cycles displace planet tutorial. In this video you will learn how to add a cloud layer, rendered in Blender Internal, along with the Cycles displace planet. This video also demonstrates how to use the Blender Compositor to combine final images from Cycles and Blender Internal into a single composited image. Also a quick tip on how to render a Cycles material inside Blender Internal to create a matte material for masking out unwanted objects.

About the Author

Avatar image for Bart Veldhuizen
Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.


  1. Zauber Paracelsus on

    Does this come at a higher resolution? I can't read anything on the interface, it looks like blender does when I try to use it without wearing my glasses.

  2. Thanks for using my cloud generator... boy it's been some years since I wrote it and it's nice to see it still in use:) If cycles gets point densities I'll update it for that. A little known fact about the cloud generator is the cloud texture doesn't actually do anything. I regret having left it in from early attempts at clouds in the scripts and it can be used to subtract or do other things, but it's basically unused. The point density does ALL of the heavy lifting.

  3. great tutorial. makes good use of the cycles displacement features. although I noticed you forgot to use the "To Sphere" modeling tool. a subdivided cube is not a perfect sphere there is a small difference at first glance but does appear in the surface shading and becomes noticeable in the silhouette. It is an easy fix just hit Alt+Shift+S in edit mode and type 1 in the factor and it morphs it into a sphere.

    • My planet is kind of a late entry. It is not 100% how I wanted it to turn out, but I found some useful tricks along the way. I came up with my own Procedural Cloud Texture Setup with terrain intersection falloff, used volumetric emission with Fresnel falloff for the atmosphere, as well as for planet rim lighting, and a used a custom hybrid Voronoi-Cloud setup for the ocean waves as well as a double component glossy shader for an added rim lighting effect.

  4. Nice tutorial (and ultra cute result) but if I may put forward just a tiny criticism/suggestion — I would have built up the effect one part at a time (e.g. just build out the displacement to start with) and do it slowly and clearly the first time, The way you've structured it you just build up a whole bunch of stuff with no explanation of why (or indeed how — took me ages to figure out how to insert a multiply node). This would make what you're up to much clearer — then you could add the color and glossiness etc. afterwards.

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