Sky Dome Tutorial

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Contents

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This is a tutorial for how an artist can create and export a Skydome asset and an area designer can then configure it for use.

Overview

A Sky Dome, or Sky Box, is essentially just a Static Asset with a sky texture on the inside. So to create one, an artist simply needs to take a big box, dome, or any other shape desired and place an appropriate .dds Texture on it.

This tutorial explains in detail how to create a Sky Box:

Skyboxes VS Dynamic Sky

The choice between using a skybox and using HeroEngine's Dynamic sky system is mainly one of artistic control, though Dynamic Sky is a slightly greater burden on the client. But as of build 1.69, skyboxes can now be used in conjunction with Dynamic Skies using alpha channels.

The use of skyboxes allows an artist to create the exact look of the sky in an area. Also, surrounding scenery, such as buildings and mountains, can be included in the skybox. To achieve the same effect purely with Dynamic Sky, scenery would need to be applied to billboards placed in the area.


Technical Art Notes

There are a few important technical art characteristics with regards to skyboxes.

Creation by the artist

First, decide what shape to use for the "box". Domes, or hemispheres, are often preferable because they lack obvious corners that must be disguised. Also consider how the texture will map onto the "box". Some sky textures look distorted because they are a panoramic picture, formatted to map perfectly to a dome or sphere.

Then, simply create that shape in Maya or 3ds Max and reverse the normals of the shape so that they face inwards.


Multiple Layers

Skyboxes may contain more than one closed polygon hull. By using a smaller dome inside a larger one, an artist can create effects like a scrolling cloud layer by utilizing transparent textures and scrolling UVs. Each polygon shape will require its own HeroMaterial.


Creating a Sky Material

Create a Hero Material, 'Shader' if you are using Maya, using the appropriate texture file and apply it to the "box". Remember to use .dds formatted textures!

Skybox max.jpg
Adjusting the options of the Hero Material will greatly improve the appearance of a skydome. It has been found that the following settings on the material really help make the sky look bright and hot:


Export


Use by the area designer

Skybox add.jpg
Skybox set.jpg

Now HeroEngine understands that it is a skydome and treats it accordingly. The dome will follow the camera and render behind everything else in the world, creating the appearance of a vast, encompassing sky, despite the small size of the skydome.

Skydomes can be added to an area using the Environment Panel.

See also

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