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    on November 25th, 2009, by soenke

    Some weeks ago I was looking into clouds and whether we need to paint them or if we can use actual 3d clouds. My first try was more an accident than an attempt.

    hair_cloudsWhile looking into methods to create massive amounts of trees for far away shots with hair, a simple render showed up after pressing f12. Slight tweaking of materials revealed that it might be possible to do clouds with hair but doing a quick 4k render showed that the number of hairs would need to be much too high.

    volumetric_cloudsSome time went by and I tried out doing clouds with volumetrics, which I should have done in the first place… It looks much more promising, is quick to set up and it’s animatable, perfect for our project.

    The file bellow shows the volumetric clouds. The scaling is too big and will be different in final shots. The colors are a result of a simple rgb-curve in the render compositor.


    Have a nice day.

    27 Responses to “clouds”

    1. Davis Says:

      I had been wondering how you would do clouds, there’s a lot of demand placed on them as the script calls for “wispy” clouds and you’ll be rendering it at 4k.

      I know some people have experimented with using the smoke simulator for clouds, you could get a more physically accurate (Somewhat anyway) result from that maybe.

    2. Allan Brito Says:

      This is a great result! Congratulations

    3. Mark__T Says:

      reminds me of that:

    4. rogper Says:

      …And it renders fast too 🙂 It’s great! Thanks for charing!

      I suppose Smoke applied to cloud simulation will be very useful for having, for instance, a plane passing trough clouds (when smoke supports animated objects).

    5. mcreamsurfer Says:

      interesting shapes – it doesn’t render for me – it just crashes on blender 2.5 alpha 0 64bits. too bad.

    6. wayne Says:


    7. MeshWeaver Says:

      pretty cool 😀 that system will be useful… the volumetric clouds reminds me of something, but i can’t find what…lol

    8. Mpu.Bater Says:

      pretty cool!

      be sure to make the tut latter ;p

    9. D Says:

      “Hairy clouds” conjures up fantasic images in my imagination!

      It’s sort of cool how blender makes volumes look acrylic-painted, but I can’t wait to see if you’ll start making clouds more solid and tangible. 🙂
      So far, great work!

    10. Snapai Says:

      @rogper: or say, a dragon, for that matter!

    11. Jack*RED Says:

      thx for the file 🙂

    12. Nixon Says:

      Hey there,

      cool result with the volumetric clouds looks very good and i bet will work well in the final shots:)
      renders quite quick even on my smaller than average machine, clever use of the nodes!
      thx for sharing this cool .blend!!!
      happy thanksgiving and a great weekend to you and the whole blender/ Sintel team!
      Best regards

    13. sid350 Says:

      renders well and fast on blender 2.5 alpha 0 64bits on Linux, thank you, this volume materials are awesome!

    14. wiki@ Says:

      :::::::::::::::::. video editing, it is with blender???? :::::::::::::::::

    15. JustinBarrett Says:

      I am interested in seeing your hair aproach, I’m aware that volume is an ovious boon, but this is a very unique approach(using hair)…I would love to see it!

    16. Lancer Says:

      Fast? Yeah – I guess so… I’m getting around 2min 20 seconds per frame on a Dell Latitude D620… not the fastest computer I admit. No doubt this would be good with a renderfarm though.

    17. ZanQdo Says:

      Soenke: I think you have to press the RGB to Intensity in the texture in order for them to work nicely in volumetrics

    18. D Says:

      Is it just me, or does it not really look good when the cloud is animated? Blender crashed about 27 frames in, though.
      Well, I hope there’s a way around it, in any case.

    19. Blendiac Says:

      Love how they look rendered at the full 4k resolution. Took about 22 seconds on my AMD quad core (64 bit Linux). 🙂

    20. ndee (Andreas) Says:

      Hi Soenke,
      it took me a while to fully understand your blend! But now I have! Here is my attempt to create some nice Volumetric Clouds!! Thanks alot for sharing! I’ve learned some nice new Feature of Blender 2.5!!!!

      Keep it up!!!

    21. AzP Says:

      I recommend you to check out the work of Harris et al at

      Even though that is supposed to be in real time, I think their approach could be done offline, with much higher amount of detail. I think they will be interested in a discussion if you contact them as well!

      Hope it help! /Peter

    22. Coobas Says:

      Awesome. I’ve been wondering for some time now how to do simple clouds and not to render it for 5 years. Thanks a lot!

    23. JustinBarrett Says:

      I tried to kick up the resolution and smooth the resulting noise out a bit, but no go….seems that this would work very well with particle driven metaballs.

    24. tntermini Says:

      Awesome! nice job, soenke.

    25. KonradHaenel Says:

      Now that I understand your approach to giving the clouds those nice fuzzy edges I am intrigued and disappointed at the same time. Doing it through the geometry gives absolute artistic control, but the level of detail is severely limited.

      I’m still hoping for a volumetric-texture plugin that will automatically create fractal 3D-noise based on object boundaries at some point in the future.

      Incredible work so far, though. The clouds as they are will be sufficient in a lot of scenarios. Playing with the 2.5 alpha0 takes up huge chunks of my time now.

    26. nrk Says:

      I have been working on clouds for months and posting it. I also created two tutorials on how to create them. I look forward to seeing your solutions as well 🙂

      Please add comments, sorry I am late to post here been on vacation.

    27. vincseize Says:

      Don twork with Blender 2.49 ????