Blender Planet Textures

From Elite Wiki

Blender Generator File for Oolite Planet Textures

NOTE: This page (2016-17) predates the major changes to planetary possibilities in v.1.88 & v.1.90: See & and for more detail see A Description of the Improved Lighting and Materials System (2018+). But see more recent links below.

here are two things I can say about this technique right away:

- it's still valid, but only with an (quite) old version of Blender (max 2.79b to be more specific). This is about the material configuration used to generate the textures -- what was presented there was valid only for the Blender Internal renderer engine, which was removed since.
- although what's presented there can be extended to create the additional textures for the improvements you mentioned, the effort would be quite high, and without too much value (someone would have to (re)train on an obsolete version of Blender in order to make use/sense of it)

I've concocted a different method usable with the latest versions of Blender for my initial attempts in BPlanets, and that could be a sort of upgrade to it, although I've placed it on a dusty shelf since I switched gears by trying the shader approach.  Commander_X » Wed Jan 12, 2022

This file: planet_oolite.blend can be used to generate planet textures in Blender. Made by Commander X together with the following notes and tutorial.

Couple of extra comments:

  • don't left click in the 3D View window, or the UV/Image Editor. Left click originally changes the position of 3D cursor. Selection is done by right clicking.
  • the generated textures are cube mapped (this avoids the nasty pole distortion the "latlong" textures expose)
  • the blend file can be used to generate the 2048 (or more) textures you wanted. The most challenging part is to come up with enough gradient variations for different planet types and also define a way (shouldn't be that hard) to procedurally generate the crater-ed barren planets/moons. The horizontal distortion for the gas giants should also be trivial.

With proper animation settings (i.e. changing various texture parameters frame based), each frame of the animation would become a different planet texture.

1. Scene Presentation

There are 3 added objects:

  • Sun - a sun light used for being able to see the specular maps (not used in Oolite)

   - present in both layer 1 and 2


  • bge - a cubemapped sphere to test the generated textures in the BGE (Blender Game Engine)

   - present only in layer 2


  • gen - a cubemapped sphere to generate the textures

   - present only in layer 1


2. Generating Textures

I. Viewing

The textures are generated by using the "gen" object. To see it with texture settings:

a) in the "3D View" viewport select layer 1

3D 001.jpg

b) in the "Outliner" viewport select the "gen" object

Outliner 001.jpg

c) in the "Properties" viewport select the "Material" tab, and confirm the "gen" material is visible

Material 001.jpg

d) in the menu view, select "Blender Render" as engine to use for rendering

Menu view 001.jpg

e) in the "3D View" viewport select "Rendered" as the viewport shading method

3D 002.jpg

You should be able to see the textured "planet" in the "3D View" viewport.

II. Changing

The "3D View" viewport should show how the textures defined on the "gen" material will look on the planet object.

To change the generated texture parameters:

a) (having 2.c) above performed)in the "Properties" viewport select the "Texture" tab

Texture 001.jpg

b) in the list of textures, the following are of interest:

  • gen.clouds - used to generate the cloud pattern atop of all the other textures
  • gen.clouds.shadow - used to generate a shadow for the clouds texture
  • - used to generate the main land layout of the planetary texture
  • gen.rivers - used to generate rivers across the continents
  • mask.stencil - used as a stencil for placing variation of the initial relief color as defined in
  • - used to put through the mask.stencil more variation of the relief layout

There are more textures, but they can be ignored (and keep unchecked in the list)

In order to change the layout of the generated map for each texture there are 2 main places in the "Colors" section (below the texture list) to modify:

  • in the colour gradient (Ramp), the colours for each colour stop
  • in the colour gradient the positions for each colour stop

Ramp 001.jpg

Some position values are interconnected -- e.g. in the mask.stencil texture, the colour stop at position 1 should have the same position value like the colour stop at position 1 in, in order to place the extra relief on the continents and not in the oceans.

III. Generating

In order to generate the texture:

a) make sure your textures for the "gen" object look good in the "3D View" viewport

b) in the "UV/Image Editor" viewport click the "+" button in the viewport menu at the right of the "cubegrid.png" in order to create a new texture (or click the " + New" button if no texture is visible in the viewport), with the following (mandatory) parameters:

  • Name: e.g. "land"
  • Width: 1024
  • Height: 6144

UV 001.jpg UV 002.jpg

HINT: if you want to change the size of the generated texture, you can enter the new width (e.g. 512) and enter the width value times 6 in the Height field (e.g. 512*6); Blender will put in the result.

c) select the "gen" object in the "Outliner" viewport

Outliner 001.jpg

d) select "Edit Mode" in the "3D View" viewport

3D 003.jpg

e) select all (menu)"Select"/"(De)select All" (might be needed couple of times)

3D 004.jpg

f) make sure the newly created texture is selected in the "UV/Image Editor" viewport under the highlighted UV grid (you should see the highlighted UV grid as a result of e) action)

UV 003.jpg

g) save the file (maybe as a different name -- you can click the + sign at the end of the file name in order to quickly add/increase the file number)

Save as 01.jpg Save as 02.jpg

h) in the "Properties" viewport select the first tab, "Render"

Render 001.jpg

i) in the "Render" tab scroll down to the "Bake" section, select "Textures" as "Bake Mode" and make sure "Clear" is checked and the "Margin" is set to 0 px

Render 002.jpg

j) click "Bake" button -- in the "UV/Image Editor" viewport you should see how the texture gets generated.

UV 004.jpg

k) in the "UV/Image Editor" viewport you can save the generated texture as an image to test in-game; you can also pack the image as a PNG to easier test it in the BGE.

UV 005.jpg UV 006.jpg

3. Testing the Generated Textures

In order to make it easier to see how the textures would look in-game:

a) the generated images (in the "UV/Image Editor" viewport) should be (menu)"Image/Pack as PNG"

b) switch main "3D View" viewport to layer 2 (you might need to switch back to "Object Mode" -- see 2.III.d) above). You also must make sure you shading is set to GLSL and Viewport shading to texture.

3D 005.jpg

3D 006.jpg 3D 007.jpg

c) in the menu view, select "Blender Game" as engine to use for rendering

Menu view 002.jpg

d) select the "bge" object in the "Outliner" viewport

Outliner 002.jpg

e) select the "Material" tab in the "Properties" viewport, and confirm the "bge" material is visible

Material 002.jpg

f) select the "Texture" tab in the "Properties" viewport

g) uncheck the "cubegrid" texture

h) check the "land" texture; select the "land" texture

Texture 002.jpg

i) in the "Image" section below the texture list, select the image name (as given when generated) in the list opened by clicking at the left of the "New" button

Texture 003.jpg

You should see in the "3D View" viewport how the texture looks in BGE mapped on the "planet". The quality will differ, though, from how it will look in-game in Oolite.

Once the texture is in the file, only the a)-d) steps above are necessary to see the new texture. NB: you'll have to do 3.a) (pack as PNG) after you generate a new version of the texture, to be able to see it in BGE.


  • Planets can now (v.1.90) have differently coloured atmospheres & city nightlights! See here.
  • Lave Texture Creation (2014 how-to essay in Russian by Stranger)

Other software:

Textures for planets




  • Libnoise (2017) A portable, open-source, coherent noise-generating library for C++ (Windows, Gentoo Linux)