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Enhance your sky with Natural clouds

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Now available in Firestorm Viewer ( Version 4.4.0 )

No need to manual install, just apply setting via "Firestorm" Tab > "Windlight" Tab > drop down menu for Cloud Textures.


Big thanks to Cinder Roxley who did the code work.


Natural Clouds                                                                                                                                     

A great way to improve your Machinima videos and snapshots.



I've been meaning to do this for a while and finally got the time. During Windlight Beta testing, I couldn't help but notice there's a TGA texture file called "cloud2.tga" in

"C:\Program Files\(any viewer installed)\app_settings\windlight".

I've been hoping LL or any other Third Party viewer developer make a in-world editor input to change this texture, like the water texture. I dunno why that never happened, but there's a very good reason why there should be one. Take a look at the picture below.


The texture in red (left) box is the default cloud, which actually look more like something generated from a cheap height map editor.  It's ridiculous.


After replacing it, it may not come out perfectly with any existing sky settings to be honest, but some do work pretty well with it. It may require a little tweaking between "Cloud XY/Density" and "Cloud Coverage" sliders to avoid light peaking through the gaps between cloud's "pluff" section.  Messing with Cloud color may improve as well from dark to light.  As you may notice I've created my own cloud texture more horizonal than having it evenly spread across the area. Because the skydome (or skybox if you like to call it that way) is hemisphere and the texture scroll across. Seem to work well when it's "blowing" in the right direction as to cloud having its common shape you see in the sky.



Along with some updates in many different viewers, the cloud texture can be broken because Linden Lab have not worked on it for a while, few codes was changed. Quick work around, just change sky to something else and back. Repeat till it come through.


Link: Clouds #1: Basic Series of Cumulo-Nimbus Formations.



Two more textures are up for grab!

Altocumulus cloud formation.


Link: Clouds #2: Altocumulus.


Layered Formation of Clouds.  With type of formations, Cumulus, Nimbo-Stratus, Cirrus, and Cumulo-Nimbus.


Link: Clouds #3: Layered Formation of Clouds.


PS:  You can also grab my Natural skies and daycycle here.

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I may plan on some reversion of this as the more I realize it could be improved by putting layers of clouds at their own shade level.  Problem is getting image result of a actual cloud in depth mapping instead of some photograph of a cloud applied in grey-scale.  ...which is what I've had done.


Only way to get an actual depth map of a cloud in clear details by talking to NASA or NOAA folks for some fancy laser/radar data.   Hmmm...

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Sweet tweak. *squees and gives kudos* I had forgotten about this. Backstory, because I'm glad you brought it up: YES, long ago, I discussed with Zen Linden about the possibility of adding a swatch to change the sky texture, much as you can do it with the water texture (normal map). I changed the clouds to all sorts of ridiculous things like smiley faces (I can't believe I have a pic of that), too. Sigh. Sure would make it a lot more user-friendly and flexible per-setting. Since that hasn't happened yet, the next best thing must be your overhaul that goes beyond Perlin noise, Vincent!

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Thanks Torley, doesn't surprises me that you'd have tried something other than clouds. (I figured you would had sky filled with watermellons.)


I've decided to redo the cloud texture but correct them in a proper layer. The way Windlight intercept the value shading from Black to White but they have two sliders to change the range and coverage. So I'm thinking that I could set up layers that reveils more "pluffy" clouds as you increase the coverage before it become a full coverage.

From bland to big pluffy clouds.  At least I'm hoping...

PS: Still waiting for a reply back from NOAA.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've updated First post with two more cloud textures.  Enjoy!

PS: No response back from NOAA but I've managed to get some data pointers from NASA's Earth Observatory department after explaining them what was my small project was about. Surely enough, my brain was overloaded with everything they gave me.  Too bad I couldn't do more with them as Windlight's shader is extremely limited to one flat layer.

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This was done with the first file:


Irish coastline_001 1024.jpg



The next step would be the ability to change the active cloud texture from within the (running) viewer as a function of Environment options instead of juggling the files in our various Windlight settings folders.  Has anoyone opened a JIRA yet?

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  • 2 weeks later...

JJ, I'm not a techie, but let me explain as best I can....

The viewer can't use a regular photo to render clouds.  These files (see the downloads graciously posted above) are a bit like sculpt maps, RAW files, or alpha masks.  While they are tga format, they are not photos that are simply rezzed in the sky as a texture might be rezzed on a prim.  Rather, they hold information for the viewer to help it render--make--the clouds you see.  These files determine the relative shape of the clouds; other settings (found in your environment settings) determine things like density and repeat of the clouds across the sky.

If you want a picture of the sky from your back yard rezzed in world, at this time the only way I know how that can be done is to put that picture on a prim or prims.  [As an aside, a webcam streaming sky might be a cool thing to do on media in world.]

So far as your viewer crashing, I'll also bring up that mine did, too, even with these files, until I decreased the file size to 512x512.  I'm in Kirsten's; currently 21 (5), but have been in 21 (6) as well.  Try downloading one of the files above, resizing it, and see whether you get better results.

And, if a more tech-minded person can elaborate or correct me, please do!

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  • 4 weeks later...

jjccc Coronet wrote:

ok i may have done some thing wrong found a cloud i want turned it into a tga clouds2 file in windlight folder started pheonix viewer and it crashed over and over so i put it back to how it was and it work again,  but i still want to do this. like i want to be able to go into my back garden take a pic of the clouds that day up load it to second life and there it is on screen clouds done, :smileymad: but no i have to wait till it becomes possible 

The requirement for Cloud2.tga is 8-bit channel Grayscale with image size to square of time 2.  ex; 32x32 or 256x256 or 512x512 or 1024x1024. Image with any Color channel mode will cause the viewer to crash on start up.

However, Windlight process the image differently as posed to be basic texture layer.  White pixel have prolonging statement than black pixel to stay appear in sky. (Basically like a heightmap texture.)

PS: Sorry that I didn't reply soon as possible.

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  • 4 weeks later...
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  • 1 month later...

Hi, Where exactly can I find the setting to change the cloud texture? I found them all in a folder inside the windlight folder but I don't see any way to change them on the fly on the viewer :/

edit-- woops..never mind. I saw the first pic in this post now :| It never loaded earlier when I was browsing through this. Ty!

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  • 6 months later...

Bonnii Hendes wrote:

Hi I just ran acorss this post and I'm a little confuse on how exactly I do this? Do I save the textures you have here and uploaed them?

You'd either have to use the Firestorm viewer, which has them pre-installed or replace the "cloud2.tga" file with the ones provided by the OP, which is going to be in your viewer's program folder under "app_settings\windlight".  Unfortunately, I just checked and it seems the links to the files given by the OP are no longer working, so Firestorm is your only hope.

If you don't wish to use Firestorm you could download it, install it, go to "Firestorm-Release\app_settings\windlight\clouds" (in your Program folder), get them and install them in the viewer of your choice, as directed in the first post of this thread.

...Dres *doesn't know if any other viewers now include this option*

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