I thought it would be good to share my work on creating nebula effects in Blender and make an adjustable Blender node called “Nebula” that Blender users can download and create different effects with, seeing as I don’t have much time to create the images myself.
With the “Nebula” node you can produce a range of effects, such as:
What follows in an overview about how to use the “Nebula” Group Node and a selection of other example .blend files you can download with the group node in it. I’ve also added for upload some samples from my previous post on the subject.
The tutorial assumes that you have a working knowledge of Blender and how to install a group node in it. If you’re new to Blender, it’s all open source and is definitely worth spending the time learning it.
Here is a screenshot of the Nebula Node in Blender’s Cycles Compositor:
The node works by overlaying a series of different noise effects to produce the clouds and the stars. The clouds are produced by overlaying 3 coloured noise layers, and the ambient large “suns” are layered on top. Finally, the smaller stars are mixed in.
Here is a sample node setup that adds the nebula to the background environment in blender cycles (this is also in the sample .blend files):
The options for the Nebula Node are as follows:
The first set of options define the position of each layer. They are separated out because the key to producing a good effect is offsetting the vector (position) of the layers:
- Small Stars Vector: The position of the small background stars.
- Large Stars Vector: The position of the larger ambient stars. Note that these aren’t exactly star-like, and more produce the ambient lighting of the nebula.
- Clouds 1 Vector: position of the first cloud layer.
- Clouds 2 Vector: position of the second cloud layer.
- Clouds 3 Vector: position of the third cloud layer.
You will find that offsetting the cloud vectors using Blender’s mapping node will produce different cloud shapes and effects.
As noted, the key to getting different nebula effects is by adjusting the 3 layers of cloud noise. Each layer, labelled Cloud 1-3, has the following settings:
- Color: The individual colour of each cloud layer, mixed in by the rest by the Screen layer effect.
- Mix: How strongly mixed the cloud layer is with the overall effect (Default: 1.0)
- Scale: The size of the noise in the cloud layer.
- Distortion: The distortion effect applied to the cloud layer.
- Detail: The amount of variation in the cloud texture. Higher levels do produce more detail, but be careful not to overly distress the cloud effect.
- Detail distortion: Applies a distortion effect to the detail.
There are then some more global settings you can play with for the clouds:
- Cloud darkness: How dark a contrast the overall nebula effect is producing.
- Cloud Dark Start: The position in the noise where the dark parts of the cloud begin.
- Cloud Light Start: The position in the noise where the light parts of the cloud begin.
Sun and Star settings
The following settings control the intensity and position of the ambient light (suns) and stars.
- Large Suns Mix: The intensity of the ambient light of the nebula.
- Small Stars Mix: How much small stars shine through the nebula.
- Large Sun Scale: The size of the ambient light on the nebula.
- Large Sun Ramp Pos 1: The position where the light that brightens the nebula starts.
- Large Sun Ramp Pos 2: The position where the darker part of the ambient light tails off.
…phew! That’s it.
Below are some of the effects you can get using the Nebula Node and the associated .blend file to load into Blender:
Other Nebula Blender files
Finally, here are some .blend files of earlier effects I’ve done using the same principle but not in a group node. You might find them useful to adjust for your own projects:
And finally…. Any questions, let me know and I will do my best to respond.