Ah yes, the ubiquitous sphere. Almost as big a staple of ray-tracing as the checkered floor, there's just no primitive better when you've got to produce a planet lickety-split. And conveniently, spheres render smoking fast.

from POV's "basic scene example"

Café Venus used to have some nice spinning animated buttons, you can check one out on the animations page. The clouds on the planet (well, what was decided looked like Venutian clouds) are just a simple pattern function called the "bozo" pattern, with a slew of white, gray, blue, purple, and turquoise-y values plugged in. The POV-Ray documentation defines it thusly: "The bozo pattern is a very smooth, random noise function that is traditionally used with some turbulence to create clouds." It was scaled up laterally, and down from top to bottom to produce the thin striations.

Less than thrilling background added quick with some 2d software.

While basic patterns can create stylized versions of lesser known planets, when it comes down to home-planet Earth one desires a higher degree of realism. This is where image maps come in handy.

An image map is a 2-dimensional picture which can be mapped through the wonders of mathematics to the surface of a 3d object. Fabulous high resolution pictures of the earth abound on the internet, as well as some really nice pix of other planets at places like the NASA website.

Thinking that's the weak background run through the renderer this time? A lot less contrast, right?

See what happens when we add some more spheres here.

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©01.19.10 ABCdzyne