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Chapter 15: Building a Scene

This chapter explains how to use the hierarchical structure of a Carrara scene to add objects and determine their behavior.

You start building a scene by adding, deleting, and replacing objects.

Adding and Deleting Objects

You can add existing objects to a scene (from other scenes or from clipart folders) in several ways: by using the Scene Browser, by dragging between windows, or by using the Copy and Paste commands. You can even import an entire scene.

When you add an existing object, its shading, position, orientation, and size characteristics are brought with it. You can, of course, change any of these in the new scene.

For more information on importing objects from other 3D modeling applications, refer to Importing 3D Objects. For more information on using the Sequencer tray, refer to Using the SequencerTray. For more information on using the Browser, refer to Using the Browser.

To add an object from another scene by dragging:

  1. Choose File menu> Open to open each scene file.
  2. Drag the name of the object you want from the source Hierarchy (either in the Sequencer or the Properties) to the destination scene window

Drag the object's name to copy the object to another scene.

To add an object from the Scene Browser:

  • Drag the object's icon from the Browser into the scene window or into the Hierarchy.

When you drag into the Hierarchy, you can drag directly onto an object or a group. The object you dragged becomes a child of the object it is dropped onto.

To delete an object:

  1. Select the object in the scene window or Hierarchy.
  2. Choose Edit menu> Delete or press Delete/Backspace
Note When you delete a parent object within a group, you automatically delete all of its child objects. If you want to delete an object but not its children, drag the children to the Universe level before proceeding. For details on parent and child objects, refer to Linking Objects.

Jumping into Groups and Editing Objects

You can select an object or group and “jump into” it. Editing an object opens the object in its native modeler, where you can further modify the object.

Editing an object allows you to modify it using a modeler.

Jumping into a group allows you to rearrange the objects within the group. After you jump out, the objects remain grouped.

To edit an object:

Do one of the following:

  • Double-click the object in the scene window or the Hierarchy.
  • Select the object in the scene window or the Hierarchy, then click the Model button to move to the modeler.

To jump into a group:

  • Double-click the group in the scene window.

Carrara opens the group in the local universe. The coordinate system of the local universe is parallel with the walls of the group's bounding box, with its origin at the center.

Note Usually, the Universe level is the root of the Hierarchy section of the Sequencer. However, if you jump into a group, the Hierarchy displays the group as the current root and the contents of that group as the only elements of the Hierarchy section of the Sequencer.

To jump out of a group:

  • Click the Jump Out button in the local universe.

Editing an Object in a Different Modeler

Normally, editing opens the object in its native modeler, or the Minimum modeler for primitives and imported objects. You may prefer to open the object in a different modeler.

Working with an object in a different modeler changes its type. This may limit your options for future editing. For example, you can't edit a Spline object in the Vertex modeler, then take it back into the Spline modeler. Also, some modification options may not be available under certain modelers.

Note Carrara constructs 3D surfaces using facets and patches. Facets are triangular. Patches are polygons derived from Bézier curves. Some objects may be entirely facets, others may be a mix of facets and patches. When you open a 3D primitive, Metaball, Text, or Spline object in the Vertex modeler, all patches are converted to facets.

To edit an object in a different modeler:

  1. Select the object.
  2. Double-click the object to open it in its modeler. Choose Edit menu>Convert To Other Modeler. Carrara opens a dialog that shows your modeler options.
  3. Select the modeler you want.
  4. If you select the Vertex modeler, drag the slider or enter a value to set a fidelity level for creating facets from patches. More facets creates smoother surfaces, but increases the file size and memory required for the model.
  5. When you have set your options, click OK. Carrara opens the object in the selected modeler.

Building a Hierarchical Structure

Working primarily in the Hierarchy, you can structure a scene by grouping and constraining objects. This simplifies arrangement operations and can save you time and trouble.

Tip You'll find it easier to keep track of objects that you've individually named than it is to manage generically named objects. For information on naming objects, refer to Naming Objects.

Every object in your scene appears in the Hierarchy section of the Sequencer and in the Instances tab of the Properties. The Hierarchy is shown as a tree of objects, each represented by a listing. The hierarchical structure of a scene changes as you introduce and group objects and create constraints.

In addition to primitives and modeled objects, hierarchy elements include groups, cameras, and lights. The highest level of the scene's hierarchical structure is its Universe list, which encompasses your entire scene. Beneath this level, there may be any number of branches and sub-branches

The object Hierarchy.

Navigating the Hierarchy

You can expand and collapse the items in the Hierarchy to view more or fewer elements in your scene. You may need to open a series of groups to find a particular object deep in the hierarchical structure of a scene.

To return to the topmost view, close the group at each level until only the Universe level is displayed.

An expand or collapse arrow appears to the left of every group. When the group is closed, the arrow faces to the right. When the group is open, it faces down.

The expand icon is a small arrow pointing to the right. The collapse icon points down.

To open or close a group:

  • Click the arrow beside the group.

Once a group is opened or closed, the arrow changes direction.

Changing the Structure

You can combine multiple elements in the Hierarchy in two ways: grouping and linking. You can nest groups within other groups or create a chain with multiple links.

You can reorganize your groups and links by dragging them from one location in the Hierarchy to another. Don't worry about making a mistake. You can drag an element to another level at any time.

You can drag objects individually or select several and drag them at once.

To select multiple items in the Hierarchy:

  • Hold down the Shift key and click the items you want to select, or drag a selection marquee around the items you want to select.

To remove a single object from a multiple selection:

  • Hold down the Shift key and click the item.

Selecting elements in the Hierarchy applies not only to the selected object, but, in the case of a group, to its contents, and in the case of a parent object, to its children.

Groups and Links

Groups and links are similar–both let you combine multiple objects in your scene so that you can manipulate them as a single unit–but their usage is quite different.

Grouping creates collections of objects that make structuring and navigating your scene more manageable. Groups are static in that they don't change the relationship between the objects in the groups; they only contain them. This is similar to the group function in 2D illustration and drawing programs.

Links let you define a parent-child relationship between objects. By applying various types of links you can tie such objects together so that moving the parent affects the child, but moving the child does not affect the parent.

The exception to this is the Inverse Kinematics behavior applied to a child object in a linked chain. For more information on Inverse Kinematics, refer to Inverse Kinematics.

Grouping Objects

As you build your scene, you'll want to group related objects. Grouping allows you to control a set of objects as a single unit.

You can arrange a group just as you do a single object. During any positioning or orientation operation, the objects in a group retain their spatial relationship to one another.

How you organize your groups is up to you. You'll often create groups based on the logical context of a set of objects–for example, “bench side, boards, and bolts.” When arranged properly and grouped, the set of objects becomes a single object you could name “bench,” which you could duplicate, move, or otherwise manipulate as a single object.

You can group all objects into a single object which can then be named.

You can also create groups based on the proximity of a set of objects–for example, “all objects on a city block.”

You can also group objects based on their proximity to one another.

You can nest groups within groups to as many levels as you like. As you build a complex scene, you'll find nesting groups helps manage the multitude of elements.

Don't worry about perfecting the shape of an object before putting it in a group. You can always open the group, then open the object for further modification.

To create a new group:

  1. Select the objects you want to group. You can select the objects in either the scene window or the Hierarchy.
  2. Choose Edit menu> Group.

A group listing appears in the Hierarchy under the current root object.

A Group listing in the Hierarchy.

By default, groups are named Group x, where x is a sequential number (1, 2, 3…).

Note You can rename a group by selecting it and changing its name in the Properties tray. For more information, refer to Using the Properties Tray.

To add objects to a group:

  • Drag the listings of the objects you wish to add onto the group listing.

Drag the object listings onto the group listing.

Tip You can bring an object into the scene and immediately place it in a group. Drag the object from its source (Browser tray or other scene's Hierarchy) and drop it directly onto a group listing.

To remove objects from a group:

  • Drag the selected objects to another level in the Hierarchy.

Opening and Closing Groups

You can open and close groups while you work. When the group is closed, you can manipulate the entire group as a single object. When a group is open, you can select and move each component object independently.

This is a great time saver and gives you maximum flexibility. You can easily adjust the objects in your groups, but maintain their places in the scene's hierarchical structure.

Note Opening a group is different from Ungrouping. Ungrouping dissolves the group so that all the components appear at the same level of the Hierarchy.

To open or close a group:

  • Click the arrow beside the group listing in the Hierarchy.

A group listing is the root of the group's contents. While you open a group, its contents are displayed on a sub-branch. When you close a group, its content listings collapse into the group listing.

Group Bounding Boxes

In the scene window, the elements of a group are enclosed in a single bounding box, which is visible when the group is closed. When you create a group, the group bounding box is set parallel to the planes of the working box. The group maintains this orientation until you change it.

Group bounding boxes are created parallel to the working box.

The group bounding box is the smallest box with the same orientation as the working box that encloses all bounding boxes of the group's contents. If you add objects to the group or remove them from the group, the dimensions of the group bounding box may change. The orientation of the group bounding box, however, does not change as you add or remove elements

Jumping In and Out

You can jump into a group to modify the positions of its objects. When you jump into a group, the Hierarchy displays the group listing as the current root and its contents as the only elements of the Hierarchy. Simultaneously, the scene window redraws to display only the contents of this group.

Within a group, a coordinate system called the Local Universe is used. This system's axes are parallel to the walls of the group's bounding box, with its origin at the center.

To jump into a group:

  • Double-click the group in the scene window or the Hierarchy.

When you jump into a group, the working box is oriented parallel with the group's bounding box. This enables you to orient objects to the group's Local Universe.

To jump out of a group:

  • Click the Jump Out button in the local universe.

When you jump out, the Hierarchy and scene window return to the Global Universe.

Linking Objects

Linking creates a physical connection between objects. In a linked pair, one object is the parent and the other is the child. When you change the position or orientation of the parent, the child moves with it. However, you can still move or rotate the child independently of the parent.

Linking is used to create articulated structures, such as an arm. The hand is linked to the forearm, which is linked to the upper arm, which is linked to the shoulder.

Use linking to create articulated structures.

For information on how to constrain the child object's movement, refer to Applying Constraint Properties.

To link an object to another:

  • In the Hierarchy, drag the object or group's listing onto the listing of the desired parent.

To attach an object to a parent that is off screen in the Hierarchy, drag the new element on the first or last visible line of the Hierarchy while holding the mouse button. This automatically scrolls the window's contents to reveal additional elements.

To link an object, drag the object's listing onto the parent.

Note Duplicating a parent object also duplicates all of its child objects.

To break a link:

  • Select the child object's listing and drag it to another level in the Hierarchy.
Note You cannot link a child object to a simple group. To do this, you must first promote the group to a Master object. Then you can link the object (child) to the group (parent). For more information, refer to Master Object Operations.

Grouping: Tutorial

The following section is a step-by-step tutorial that shows how to link and create a group out of several objects. Here, you'll use simple primitives to create a group called “Jack-in-a-box.”

To create a group:

  1. Use the object primitives pop-up menu to drag two spheres, a cone, cube, and cylinder into your scene.
  2. Use the Resize tool to scale one of the spheres as shown in the following illustration.
  3. Arrange and align the objects as shown. For details on alignment, refer to Aligning Objects.

The object primitives used to create a jack-in-a-box.

  1. Open the Sequencer, if it is not already open. The objects are listed in the Hierarchy.

The objects in the scene are listed in the Hierarchy.

  1. Click the small Sphere to select it.
  2. In the Properties tray: General tab: General panel, change the name of the smaller sphere to “Pom Pom.”

The sphere is renamed “Pom Pom”.

  1. Click to select the Cone, and change its name to “Hat.”
  2. Click to select the Sphere, and change its name to “Head.”
  3. Click to select the Cube, and change its name to “Torso.”
  4. Click to select the Cylinder, and change its name to “Box.” The new names appear in the Hierarchy.

The objects' new names appear in the Hierarchy.

  1. In the Hierarchy, drag the Pom Pom onto the Hat, to make it a child of the Hat.

The Pom Pom is made a child of the Hat.

  1. In the Hierarchy, drag the Hat onto the Head, to make it a child of the Head.

The Hat is made a child of the Head.

  1. In the Hierarchy, drag the Head onto the Torso.

The Head is made a child of the Torso.

  1. In the Hierarchy, drag the Box onto the Torso.

The Box is made a child of the Torso.

  1. Shift+click the Torso, Head, Hat, Pom Pom, and Box. All these objects are selected.
  2. Choose Edit menu> Group. A group listing appears in the Hierarchy under the current root object.
  3. In the Hierarchy, click the group.
  4. In the Properties tray: General tab: General panel, change the name of the group to “Jack-in-a-box.” The objects are now linked and grouped.
  5. Click the right triangle next to “Jack-in-a-box” to expand the contents of the group in the Hierarchy.

The group “Jack-in-a-box” as it appears in the Hierarchy.

The Jack-in-a-box is surrounded by a single group bounding box.

Applying Constraint Properties

Linked objects have properties that constrain the child's movement relative to the parent. An excellent real world example of this is the human hand. The hand is linked to the forearm. Its range of motion (relative to the forearm) is limited–you can't bend it forward or back more than 90° or side-to-side more than 45°–anything more would break the wrist. These are the kinds of limits you can impose with constraint properties.

Once you have created a link, you can apply properties for setting limits.

Links become a more powerful tool for creating spatial relationships between objects when you apply a Constraint Property. This is especially true when setting up your scene for animation. Not only can you use constraints to constrain the movement of objects, but by applying the Inverse Kinematics behavior, you can create kinematic chains that allow you to manipulate the parent by moving the child.

Kinematic chains allow you to manipulate the parent by moving the child.

For more information on using Constraints and Inverse Kinematics in animations, refer to Animation Techniques

To apply a constraint property:

  1. Position the child object or group where you want it in relation to the parent.
  2. Position the child object or group's hot point where you want it.
  3. Select the child object or group.
  4. In the Properties tray: Motion tab: Constraint panel, choose the type of constraint you want to apply from the list. Each is described in the next section.
  5. Choose your options for the specific Constraint Property. For information on doing this, refer to Setting Constraint Controls.

Types of Constraints

There are several constraint types available: None, 2D Plane, Axis, Ball Joint, Custom, Shaft, Lock, and Slider. For information on setting rotation controls, refer to Setting Constraint Controls.

Note You may have difficulty setting up some constraints on joints. As the constraints work in local space, you may have to orient the joints first. See Orienting the Joints.
None

None is the default constraint property. You can position the child object anywhere in your scene.

2D Plane

The 2D Plane constraint restricts the movement of your object to a specific plane. This plane is relative to the child object's axis, not the Global Universe. For example, if you rotate the object, the plane that the object moves on tilts. Click the radio button for the plane you want: XY, XZ, or YZ.

The 2D Plane controls are used to control constraints on a specific plane.

Axis

The Axis constraint lets a child object rotate around its hot point on one of the three axes. Examples of the limited axis constraint in the human body are the elbow and the knee. The rotation options are:

  • Locked prevents any movement on the selected axis.
  • Limited allows you to place limitations on movement in both directions.
  • Free lets the object move anywhere along that axis.

The Axis Constraint allows rotation around a single axis.

Ball Joint

The Ball Joint constraint lets you rotate the child object around its hot point. By default, the child object can rotate freely around any axis, but you can limit or even lock the rotation on each axis. An example of a limited ball joint constraint in the human body is the shoulder.

The Ball Joint Constraint allows rotation around all the axes.

Custom

The Custom constraint lets you build your own combination of constraints using sliders and axis rotation controls.

The Custom controls are used to create your own constrains.

Lock

The Lock constraint locks the child object to the parent object. You cannot select the child object and move it, but it does move in relation to the parent when the parent is moved.

There are no options for the Lock constraint.

Shaft

The Shaft constraint lets the child object both rotate around one of its axes and move up and down the same axis. One way to think of a shaft constraint is to visualize a firehouse pole. The firefighters can slide down the pole while rotating around it.

Choose the axis of rotation and set both rotation and slider controls. For details on setting these controls, refer to Setting Constraint Controls.

The Shaft controls are used to rotate on one axis while sliding up and down on it.

Slider

The Slider constraint sets constraints for the child object's movement along its X, Y, and Z axes. The axis movement options are:

Locked prevents any movement on that axis.

Limited allows you to place limitations on movement in both directions.

Free lets the object move anywhere along that axis.

Slider Controls.

Setting Constraint Controls

All constraint properties use two primary types of controls– slider and axis rotation.

The constraint slider controls are found in the Custom, Shaft, and Slider constraint options.

The Axis rotation controls are found in the Axis, Ball Joint, Custom, and Shaft constraint options.

To set a constraint slider control:

  1. In the Properties tray: Motion tab: Constraint panel, choose Custom, Shaft, or Slider from the list.
  2. For the constraint you've chosen, select the type of slider control–Locked, Limited, or Free. Carrara displays the controls for the chosen constraint.
  3. Drag the slider controls to set position limits and a new position.

In Free mode, the slider has one control. Drag the control to move the object along that axis. You can double-click the slider to set the current position numerically.

A slider in Free mode.

In Limited mode, the slider has three controls:

  • The control on the left sets the outer constraint in the negative direction away from the object's hot point. Drag the control to change the limit.
  • The control on the right sets the outer constraint in the positive direction away from the object's hot point. Drag it to set a new limit.
  • The control in the middle sets the current position of the object. Drag the control to move the object along that axis between the limits you have set.

Limited mode allows you to set negative and positive limits along the slider.

The text field to the right displays the position of the currently selected control.

  1. If you want more precise control in the slider range, click the plus (+) magnifying glass icon to zoom in on the scale.
  2. If the slider range is not large enough for you to set the constraint limit where you want, click the minus (-) magnifying glass icon. Click it as many times as necessary to zoom out on the slider scale.

To set axis rotation controls:

  1. In the Properties tray: Motion tab: Constraint panel, choose Axis, Ball Joint, Custom, or Shaft from the list.
  2. For the constraint you've chosen, select the type of axis rotation control–Locked, Limited, or Free.

Carrara displays the controls for the chosen constraint.

The axis rotation controls are found in the Axis, Ball Joint, Custom, and Shaft constraint options.

  1. Drag the controls to set position limits and a new position.
  • In Free mode, the angle ring has one control. Drag it to rotate the object up to 360° around the chosen axis.
  • In Limited mode, the angle ring displays three controls.
  • The top control defines the rotation constraints on the positive side of the axis. Drag the control to change the limit.
  • The lower control defines rotation constraints for the negative side of the axis. Drag the control to change the limit.
  • The middle control sets the current position of the object. Drag the control to rotate the object between the limits you have set.

Limited mode allows you to set limits for the negative and positive sides of the axis.

Controlling Constraints Directly

The Direct Manipulation option for Constraint properties provides an onscreen description and control of the objects’ motion and rotation range. You can drag handles on the wires to control these properties.

Note There are no Direct Manipulation controls if the constraint type is None.

To use the Direct Manipulation controls for constraint properties:

  1. Follow the previous instructions to apply a Constraint property to an object and set constraint controls on it.
  2. After you've chosen the constraint type, click the Direct Manipulation button in the Properties tray

Click the Direct Manipulation button to display the object controls.

The controls appear on the object as a set of wires with “handles” at certain points. The appearance of the wires depends on the type of constraint.

The Direct Manipulation controls appear at specific points.

For slider controls, you'll see a straight wire. If the constraint is Limited, the handles at the ends determine the limit for sliding on that axis.

Note If you don't see the wire, it's probably inside the object. Use the constraint slider to extend the range.

To set slider options directly:

  1. Drag the handle at the end of the wire to change the limit in that direction.
  2. Drag the object to change its position along the wire. The object's hot point slides along the wire until it reaches the end.

Drag the wire handles to change the range limits for motion on this axis.

For rotation controls, you'll see a wire arc that describes the object's angular rotation range. The line within the arc describes the current rotation.

To set rotation controls directly:

  1. Drag the handles at the end of the arc to change the rotation limit.
  2. Drag the center handle on the arc to rotate the object within the range.

Building Chains of Constraints

The parent-child constraint enables you to easily manipulate multiple objects from a number of reference points by creating chains of constrained objects. This feature is useful for creating articulations, especially when used in conjunction with the Inverse Kinematics feature.

For example, if you want to create a fully articulated arm–one that could bend at the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and each of the five finger joints–you should arrange the objects to construct the arm, then constrain them into a chain with the fingers at the deepest level of the Hierarchy and the shoulder at the root.

A chain of constraints allows you to create fully articulated joints.

The Constraint Browser

The Browser tray: Constraint option lets you save constraint settings that you can later apply to your objects.

To access the Constraint Browser:

  • Click the Browser tray: Constraint button.

The methods for saving to the Browser tray and using saved settings are common to the several browser categories. For complete information on using the Browser tray, refer to Using the Browser.

Working with Master Objects

Whenever you add a new object to a scene, you create a Master object. Most scenes use one or more duplicates of Master objects. These duplicates are not independent objects but Instances of the Master object. For example, you may create a chair using one Master object called “chair leg” and three Instances of it.

Using Master objects allows you to create variations of an object while maintaining control of the object through the Master object.

The position, orientation, size, hot point location, and shading of each object Instance may be unique. The shape, however, is common.

Creating an Instance of a Master Object

Every time you add a new object to a scene, you create a Master. You create an object Instance of the Master in one of three ways:

  • Use Edit menu> Duplicate.
  • Use Copy and Paste.
  • Drag the object from the Master category into the scene window.

For information on special duplicating features, refer to Duplicating Objects.

Objects and Masters in the Hierarchy

The Hierarchy in the Sequencer contains three categories that change your view of the objects displayed in the Hierarchy. The Universe category displays all the objects and object instances in your scene. The Master Objects category displays only the Master objects. The Scene Effects category displays any rendering effects you may have applied to your scene.

The Hierarchy's Universe category lets you display all objects and Instances of the objects.

The Hierarchy's Master Objects category lets you view your Master objects.

The Hierarchy's Scene Effects category lets you view your Scene Effects.

Unlike the Universe category, the Master Objects and Scene Effects categories do not let you structure or group objects.

Editing an Instance

When you edit an object Instance, Carrara displays a dialog in which you can modify the Master object of this class or create a new Master from this Instance.

Note You may have multiple Instances with the same name, but you may not have two Master objects with the same name. When you create a new Master object by modifying an object Instance, Carrara names the new Master object by appending a number to the old name.

Master Object Operations

When you modify a Master object, all object Instances are automatically updated to the new form. Their individual position, orientation, scale, symmetry, and region shading remain unchanged.

If you modify an Instance when you had intended to modify the Master object, you can easily get back on track by replacing the Master with your modified Instance. Refer to Master Object Operations.

To modify a Master object:

  1. In the Hierarchy, click the Master Objects category.
  2. Double-click the listing of the Master object you wish to modify.
  3. Modify the object using the modeler or the set of controls that appears.

To use a group as a Master object:

  1. Select the group.
  2. Choose Edit menu> Promote to Master.

A Master group operates under the same rules as a Master object. If you jump into a Master group and modify its contents in any way–the number of elements, their relative positions, or orientations–those changes will update to the group Instances. If you jump into one Instance of the Master group and modify its contents, you separate this group Instance from its Master, thus creating a new Master group.

The Scene Browser

The Browser tray: Objects category lets you save objects, groups, and full scenes that you can use later.

The methods for saving to the Browser tray and using saved settings are common to several Browser categories. For complete information on using the Browser tray, refer to Using the Browser.

Scene Effects

Carrara provides some environment options to help complete the appearance of your scene in renderings. These options include Ambient Light, Atmospheres, Backgrounds, and Backdrops.

To apply a scene effect:

  1. In the Properties tray, choose Scene from the Find pop-up menu.
  2. Click the Properties tray: Effects tab.
  3. Select the effect you want: Ambient, Atmosphere, Background, or Backdrop.

The available choices for scene effects.

  1. Set the options for the effect in the panel that drops down.
Note The results of Scene Effects settings are visible in the final rendering or when you render an area with the Test Render tool. You can return to these settings, make changes, and render again.

Ambient

Ambient light is the overall, diffuse light of a scene, like daylight. Ambient light is uniform throughout a scene. It has no specific origin, casts no shadows, and radiates in every direction.

For general information on ambient light, refer to Ambient Light. For information on setting ambient light characteristics, refer to Setting Ambient Light Characteristics.

Atmosphere

Carrara offers two fog effects–Distance Fog and Cloudy Fog–and two different simulations of sky –Sky and Realistic Sky.

Cloudy Fog

Cloudy Fog produces an effect that simulates the irregular clumping of clouds.

To use Cloudy Fog:

  1. In the Properties tray, choose Scene from the Find pop-up menu.
  2. In the Properties tray: Effects tab: Atmosphere panel,chooseCloudy Fog.

Use Cloudy Fog to create clumps of clouds in your scene.

  1. Set the Distance Fog settings as you like.

•Click the color chip to set its color. For information on Carrara's color picker, refer to Color Pickers.

  • Top and Bottom define the vertical range (along the Z axis), where fog appears. When you are setting this option keep in mind that altitude Z=0 runs through the center of the working box when the working box is in its default position.
  • Density determines fog thickness.
  • Lumpiness determines how much the fog clumps together.
  • Global Scale determines the spacing between the wisps of fog.

Distance Fog

Distance Fog produces an effect like a haze, which is more apparent across greater distances. This fog has uniform density.

To use Distance Fog:

  1. In the Properties tray, choose Scene from the Find pop-up menu.
  2. In the Properties tray: Effects tab: Atmosphere panel,chooseDistance Fog.

Use the Distance Fog to add depth to your rendered scene.

  1. Set the Distance Fog settings as you like.
  • Click the color chip to set its color. For information on Carrara's color picker, refer to Color Pickers.
  • Start Radius sets the distance from the camera to where the fog begins.
  • Extent Radius sets the distance beyond the start of the fog where it becomes so thick that visibility becomes zero.

Sky

Sky simulates the interaction between light and the earth's atmosphere. Based on a physical model of a real atmosphere, Sky creates a realistic surrounding for objects in your scene.

With the Sky effect, you can create various haze, fog, rainbows, cloud, sun and moon effects.

To use Sky:

  1. In the Properties tray, choose Scene from the Find pop-up menu.
  2. In the Properties tray: Effects tab: Atmosphere panel,choose Sky.

Use Sky to add 3D cloud effects to your scene.

  1. Adjust the Sky settings as appropriate:
  • Ground Height defines the altitude of the ground in your scene.
  • Maximum Altitude defines the overall size of the Sky atmosphere. This value scales the atmosphere in every direction. For example, if Maximum Altitude is set to 200”, the haze, fog and cloud layers altitudes can be set from 0” (the ground) to 200”. Generally, you should set the Maximum Altitude to a value greater than the overall size of your scene.

For special effects, you can set an Maximum Altitude that is smaller than your scene. This makes cloud layers appear below the highest object in a scene, simulating the effect of an airplane or mountain going through the clouds. The atmosphere always starts at altitude zero (z=0). Objects below z=0 are invisible.

Note The camera must be at an altitude greater than zero. If your camera is below zero, you'll see the atmosphere from below the ground, which leads to interesting but unpredictable results.
  • Shuffle resets the random shape of the clouds.
  • Completion defines when clouds start to move and when they stop. Use this slider in an animation. Typically, you would set the time to 0% at the first frame of your animation and 100% at the last frame.
  1. To quickly and easily set up an atmosphere, choose a setting from the Use Preset pop-up menu. Carrara automatically sets all the parameters for you. Or, to control each effect, click the Edit button. The Atmosphere Editor appears. For details, refer to Using the Atmosphere Editor.

Using the Atmosphere Editor

To access the Atmosphere Editor:

  • In the Sky workspace, click the Edit button.

The Atmosphere Editor appears.

The Atmosphere Editor.

The Atmosphere Editor contains:

  • Preview section
  • Sky Editor
  • Sun Editor
  • Moon Editor
  • Layer Manager
  • Layer Editor
The Preview Section

The Preview section renders the atmosphere based on the current settings. Each time you modify a parameter, the preview updates to show the result. What you see in the Preview is exactly what you get in your scene.

The Preview has two display modes:

  • Standard Camera Mode
  • Fish-Eye Camera Mode
  • Standard Camera Mode gives you a view of the atmosphere using a conical camera looking to the West.

The Standard Camera preview mode.

Standard Camera Mode only renders a small area of the atmosphere but it is perfect for setting up a sunrise or a sunset.

To simulate Standard Camera Mode in your final rendering:

  1. Set the rendering camera to Front position.
  2. In the Camera Palette, set the lens type to Conical.
  3. Raise the camera (Z=8 in).

Fish-Eye Camera Mode renders the whole atmosphere as viewed from the ground through a fish-eye lens. You can use this mode to preview the entire sky, not just the western horizon.

The Fish-Eye Camera preview mode.

The Sky Editor

The Sky Editor lets you change the color of the sky and the ground. You can also add or remove rainbows.

The Sky Editor.

To set the sky or ground color:

  1. Click the Sky or Ground color Swatch. You can also click the arrow next to the swatch.
  2. Choose the desired color.

The Rainbow slider controls the intensity of the rainbow in your atmosphere. By default, the rainbow intensity is 0% (invisible). Dragging the Rainbow slider to the right to change the intensity of the rainbow.

The rainbow rendering is made of two parts: the primary rainbow and the secondary rainbow. The intensity of the primary rainbow is about ten times greater that the intensity of the secondary one. By adjusting the intensity setting you can make the secondary and primary rainbows appear or disappear.

Note The Sky rainbow reacts just like a real one. To see a rainbow, you must carefully move the sun behind the camera.
The Sun Editor

The Sun Editor lets you change the position, color, aura (or halo) color and size of the sun.

The virtual trackball at the center of the Sun editor lets you set the position of the sun.

The Sun Editor.

To set the sun's position:

  1. Click anywhere on the trackball and drag in the direction you want to move the sun.
  2. When the sun is in the desired position, release the mouse button. The sun's position and sky color are updated automatically.

Sky uses the convention illustrated below to map geographic directions to the Carrara perspective window. To predict where the sun will appear, keep the convention in mind.

The Sky positioning convention.

Tip To see the sun in the Dynamic Preview, drag it to the West.

To switch between day and night:

  • Check the Night check box in the upper right corner of the editor.

This moves the sun from one side of the Earth to the other. When the Night check box is selected, the Sun is not visible in the atmosphere (since it is on the other side of the Earth) and the sky darkens.

To set the sun's color:

  1. Click the arrow next to the Sun color swatch to open a color palette. Or, click the swatch to open a Color Picker.
  2. Select the desired color.

To adjust the sun's aura size:

Use the Aura control to adjust the size of the sun's aura.

  • Drag the Aura control to the right to increase the aura or halo size, or to the left to decrease it.

To select a color for the sun's aura:

  1. Click the arrow next to the Aura color swatch to open a color palette. Or, click the swatch to open a Color Picker.
  2. Select the desired color.
The Moon Editor

The Moon Editor lets you change the position, color, phase, aura (or halo color), and size of the moon.

The Moon Editor.

The virtual track ball at the center of the Moon editor lets you set the position of the moon.

To set the moon's position:

  1. Click anywhere on the trackball and drag in the direction you want to move the moon.
  2. When the moon is in the desired position, release the mouse button.

The moon's position and sky color are updated automatically.

Sky uses the convention illustrated below to map geographic directions to the Carrara perspective window. To predict where the moon is going to appear, keep the orientation of the directions in mind.

Tip To see the moon in the Dynamic Preview, drag it to the West.

To switch between day and night:

  • Click the Night check box in the upper right corner of the editor.

The Night check box moves the moon from one side of the Earth to the other.

To set the moon's color:

  1. Click the arrow next to the Moon color swatch to open a color palette. Or, click the swatch to open a Color Picker.
  2. Select the desired color.

Use the Aura control to adjust the size of the moon's aura or halo.

To adjust the moon's aura size:

  • Drag the Aura control to the right to increase the halo size, or to the left to decrease it.

To select a color for the moon's aura:

  1. Click the arrow next to the Aura color swatch to open a color palette. Or, click the swatch to open a Color Picker.
  2. Select the desired color.

To change the moon's tilt and phase:

  • Click the Moon Phase and Tilt selectors and drag each one in the direction you want to tilt the moon.
The Layer Manager

The Layer Manager lets you edit the layers in your atmosphere and display or hide them.

The Layer Manager.

To display or hide a layer:

  • Click the Enable check box next to the layer. When the layer is displayed, there is a check in the Enable check box.

To edit a layer:

  • Click the layer's icon. The settings for this layer are displayed in the Layer Editor.
Note When you edit a layer, you must display it to see the result in the dynamic preview.
The Layer Editor

The Layer Editor lets you edit the various types of layers you can add to an atmosphere. Its appearance varies, depending on which layer is selected for editing.

The Layer Editor types are:

  • Haze layer
  • Fog layer
  • Cloud layer
//Haze Layer Editor//

Haze is a light fog that appears due to the humidity found in the atmosphere.

The Haze Layer Editor.

To edit the haze color:

  1. Click the arrow next to the color swatch in the upper left corner of the Layer editor to open a color palette, then choose the desired color. Or, click the color swatch to open the Color Picker.
  2. Adjust the sliders to the appropriate settings.
  • Intensity sets the intensity of the haze.
  • Altitude sets the altitude of the haze. The value set in this slider is the height of the ground.
  • Distance sets the distance at which the haze begins to be visible.

The altitude and distance percentages are based on the Maximum Altitude. For example, if you set the Maximum Altitude to 200”, the haze layer altitude can be set from 0” (0%) to 200” (100%.)

//Fog Layer Editor//

The Fog Layer editor lets you set the color, intensity, altitude, and distance of fog in your atmosphere.

The Fog Layer Editor.

To edit the fog color:

  1. Click the arrow next to the color swatch in the upper left corner of the Layer editor to open a color palette, then choose the desired color. Or, click the color swatch to open the Color Picker.
  2. Adjust the sliders to the appropriate settings.
  • Intensity sets the intensity of the fog.
  • Start and End define the altitudes where the fog starts and stops.
  • Distance defines the distance at which the fog begins to be visible.

The distance, start, and end sliders use percentages based on the Maximum Altitude. For example, if you set the Maximum Altitude to 200”, the fog layer altitudes can be set from 0” (0%) to 200” (100%.)

//Cloud Layer Editor//

Your atmosphere can have up to four layers of clouds. The Cloud Layer editor lets you set the color, size, altitude, and density for each cloud layer. When adjusting these settings, keep in mind how the cloud layers you use will interact. You can see this interaction in the Preview.

To edit the cloud color:

  1. Click the arrow next to the Clouds color swatch to open a color palette. Or, click the color swatch to open the Color Picker.
  2. Choose the desired color.

The Cloud Layer editor provides seven graphic cloud controls for adjusting the density and altitude of clouds in the layer.

The Cloud Layer Editor.

To adjust a cloud control setting:

Use the three first sliders to set the cloud's contrast, thickness and coverage. Together these settings determine the quality of the weather.

The Thickness control lets you set the cloud thickness from almost transparent clouds to thick clouds in a heavy storm.

Tip The cloud thickness setting is the most important of the settings because it controls the density of the clouds and this affects how light interacts with them. Like in the real world, thin clouds scatter light and thick clouds absorb light. To create beautiful sunsets, drag the sun near the horizon and add several layers of thin clouds.

The Coverage control determines the cloud coverage. Use this control to choose between a blue sky and a completely overcast sky.

The Lumpiness control sets the cloud's contrast.

The next four sliders are used to change geometry of the cloud layer.

The Rotation slider affects not only the appearance of clouds, but the direction they move in an animation as well (refer to Cloud Animation Sliders.)

The X and Y ratio controls control the size of the clouds in the layer.

The Altitude control controls the altitude of the cloud layer.

Note By default, Cloud Layers are arranged with Layer 1 set to the lowest altitude and Layer 4 at the highest.
//Cloud Animation Sliders//

The two sliders on the right let you control the animation of the cloud layer. Use the first slider to set the speed of the clouds. If you do not want the clouds to move, set the slider to 0%.

Use the second slider to control the transformation of the clouds over time. At 0% the shape of the clouds remains the same.

Rendering Sky

After you're satisfied with the settings in the Atmosphere Editor, click OK. Render the image as usual. You'll soon see the atmosphere surrounding your objects.

Animating Sky

The Sky effects can be animated. Just by dragging the sun, you can create a photo-realistic sunset. Carrara handles everything for you, including the reddening of the sun as it approaches the horizon, moving clouds, darkening skies, and scattering light through the clouds. You can even modify the atmosphere parameters to render alien planets.

To use Sky in an animation:

  1. Create your animation as usual.
  2. With the Current Time Bar at 0:00:00, select Scene from the Properties tray.
  3. Select Effects tab: Atmosphere panel: Sky.
  4. Edit the Sky parameters.
  5. Set the Completion slider to 0%.
  6. Jump to the end of your animation.
  7. Set the Completion slider to 100%.
  8. Render your animation as usual.

You can also use various Sky parameters over the course of an animation. To do this, apply different parameters to different key frames. For example, you could make the sky seem to become overcast over time by setting the Sky parameters in the first frame to create a clear day, and then creating a key frame and adjusting the Cloud density parameters to create a cloudy day. When animated, the sky appears to become overcast. You can animate any of the Sky parameters in this way.

Realistic Sky

Realistic Sky enhances the simulation offered by Sky, using an even more accurate model to simulate the optical phenomena created by the atmosphere. You have probably noticed that the color of an object changes slightly with its distance from the viewer (e.g. remote mountains appear bluish). Realistic Sky enables you to create this natural effect (called aerial perspective) on your scene. Additionally, the physical model involved is used to render the sky and the clouds, which makes them more realistic than in previous versions of Carrara.

To use Realistic Sky:

  1. In the Properties tray, choose Scene from the Instances tab.
  2. In the Properties tray: Effects tab: Atmosphere panel,choose Realistic Sky.

Use Realistic Sky to provide your scene with the natural effects of the atmosphere.

  1. Adjust the general settings of your Realistic Sky:
  • Use the checkbox to specify whether or not to display an infinite plane as the Ground and modify its basic color by clicking the color swatch.
  • Set the Horizon Altitude in relation to the working box.
Note Enabling the Ground is a good idea if you don't have yet a terrain in your scene. Notice that a camera located below the horizon altitude doesn't see much!
  • Control the Clouds Animation by giving each keyframe an elapsed time value.
  1. To move on to the Atmosphere Editor, click the Edit button.
Using the Atmosphere Editor

To access the Atmosphere Editor:

  • In the Realistic Sky workspace, click the Edit button: The Atmosphere Editor appears.

It is very similar to the Sky Atmosphere Editor.

The Atmosphere Editor.

The Atmosphere Editor contains:

  • the Preview section in the top left corner.
  • the Sun Editor and the Moon Editor in the top right corner.
  • the Atmospheric effects section in the bottom half.
Creating a Realistic Sky in No Time

The following sections will guide you through the fast and simple process of creating a realistic sky in Carrara 6.

To render the preview:

  1. Choose between your scene or a default scene for the preview.
  2. Click the Render button, on the right side. The preview shows the Realistic Sky.
  3. If you want changes to any parameter to automatically refresh the preview, then check Auto Refresh. If not, you will have to click Render each time you make a change.

The preview section lets you choose between your scene and a default scene.

To get the correct aerial perspective:

You must first specify the size of your world to get the correct aerial perspective effect on your scene:

  • Indicate, in the preview section, the scaling factor of your scene by giving an estimated correspondence between the distances in the scene and what they stand for in reality.

You can tweak these values to get more or less aerial perspective effect on your scene.

Note This scaling factor also takes into account the cameras. Thus, a big scale can make them go out of the atmosphere.

To put the Sun in place:

Now that you have visualized the default settings and applied the desired aerial perspective, you may want to adjust the Sun settings:

  1. Click the trackball and drag in a direction. The correspondence between the cardinal points and the working box orientation helps you position the sun in your scene.
  2. Check Night to be able to put the sun behind the Earth.
  3. Click the color swatches to set the color of the Sun and of its aura.
  4. Move the sliders to set the size of the Sun and of its aura.

The Sun Editor.

To set the sun position with more accuracy

Carrara 6 can automatically position the Sun at a given date and according to the viewer's location on Earth.

  1. In the Sun section, click the Advanced button which pops up the following dialog box:

The Sun Properties dialog calculates the Sun's position at a given date and location on Earth.

  1. Type in the year, the month number, the day number and the hour (decimal format).
  2. Type in the location information: latitude (from -90 in the South Pole to 90 in the North Pole) and longitude (from -180 to 180, negative (positive) in the West (East) of Greenwich).
  3. Click Compute Sun Position which displays altitude and azimuth angles as a result.
Note Hour is specified in GMT. Therefore, you need to know the time zone of the location you will provide AND take into account a potential local clock change. For instance, September 10th, 6:45 PM in California is September 11th, 1.75 GMT (because 6:45 PM is 18.75 in decimal format and California is at GMT-7 during Daylight Saving Time). More information at: wwp.greenwichmeantime.com.
Note You can also directly specify the altitude (from the horizon) and azimuth (positive and moving clockwise) angles.

To put the Moon in place:

  1. Enable the Moon by checking Show the Moon.
  2. Position the Moon with the same technique as for the Sun.
  3. Click the color swatches to set the color of the Moon and of its aura.
  4. Move the sliders to set the aura size, the phase and the tilt of the Moon.

The Moon Editor.

Modifying the Atmosphere

You may want to change the visual impact of the atmosphere on your scene. For this purpose, you have several options in the Atmosphere Layer, which is displayed by clicking the Atmosphere icon (the top one) on the left side.

The Atmosphere Editor.

To adjust the luminosity:

  • Move the Global Exposure slider to adjust the luminosity of the scene.

To modify the sky color

The sky color mainly depends on the effect of the air molecules on the light and the default color is calculated for our planet's air. If you want to modify the sky color, you can either:

  • Move the Red, Green and Blue Intensities sliders, or;
  • Pick up a color by clicking the Color swatch, which will automatically calculate the associated Red, Green and Blue Intensities.
Note The Sky simulation is based on a physical model and the default Red, Green and Blue Intensities stand for measured values of the air properties.

To set the haze:

The haze lies at the bottom of the atmosphere and adds a visual effect that doesn't exist on the top of the atmosphere. Control this effect with the Atmosphere Layer.

Example of a high density haze sky.

  1. If you want the haze more dense where it lies, increase the Haze Density slider.
  2. If you want the haze to be more present in your sky, increase the Haze Altitude slider.
  3. You can modify the haze color by using the Red, Green and Blue Filters sliders: the more a color is filtered by the haze, the less it is present in the horizon (but still present up in the sky).
Adding Some Fog

While you can change the color of the sky at the horizon thanks to the haze settings, you may also want to add some fog that affects your objects in the scene. For that purpose, click the Fog icon (the second one) on the left side, which shows the Fog Editor. To be able to use it, check Enable.

The Fog Editor.

To set the fog:

  1. The fog will appear in the region between the horizon altitude (the ground) and an altitude that you control with the Altitude slider.
  2. If you want your fog to be more opaque, increase the Intensity slider.
  3. Finally, apply a Fog Color by clicking the color swatch.
Adding Some Clouds

Realistic Sky provides you with four independent cloud layers. To use a cloud layer, make sure you have its Enable option checked. To modify the settings of a cloud layer, click its icon on the left side, which shows the Cloud Layer Editor.

The Cloud Layer Editor enables you to shape, position and animate the clouds.

To shape the clouds

  1. If you want big thick clouds, then you can move up the Thickness and Coverage sliders. If you want thin Cirrus-like clouds, you must have a small Thickness value.
  2. If you want your clouds to be more uniform, you can decrease the Lumpiness value.
  3. Control the amount of intricate details of a cloud with the Micro Details Level slider.
  4. Apply scaling factors to the clouds by moving the X Ratio and Y Ratio sliders.
  5. If you want to change the clouds' distribution, click Shuffle to compute a brand new one.

To position the clouds

  1. Increase the Altitude slider if you want this layer's clouds to appear higher in the sky.
  2. To adjust the clouds' position to your scene, you can rotate the layer around the z axis with the Layer Rotation slider.

To animate the clouds

  1. Set the Movement Direction of this layer's clouds by moving the circular slider. If you want them to move in the East (y axis) direction, move the cursor up to 90 degrees from the South (x axis).
  2. Set the Movement Speed of this layer's clouds by typing in the distance they traverse in one hour.
Note Type in a distance in a certain unit and Carrara automatically converts it in miles if you prefer Imperial units or kilometers if you prefer metric units.
  1. If you want the clouds' shape to evolve quickly over time, move up the Transformation slider.
Tips and Tricks

To speed up your workflow

  1. Unless you want to check the effect of Realistic Sky on the objects located under the Horizon Altitude, you can enable the Ground option to quickly render this region.
  2. Clouds are mainly responsible for the computation time of Realistic Sky. You may want to start by setting the other features without any cloud layers and then add the clouds.
  3. Check Auto Refresh if you want to immediately visualize each of your changes.

To get beautiful (realistic) skies

  1. In the Insert menu, choose a Sun Light or a Moon Light to lighting your scene accordingly to the Sun's or Moon's position.
  2. The Red, Green and Blue Filters sliders for the haze should have about the same values. It comes from the fact that the light scattering (and absorption) processed by the haze is almost independent of the wavelength. Increasing their values makes the haze thicker.
  3. The Red, Green and Blue Intensities sliders for the sky color stand for the amount of light scattered by air molecules. Since these are measured physical values, you should not change them too much if you want your sky to keep looking terrestrial. The Reset Button allows you to restore the original settings.
  4. If you want a beautiful sunset, set the Sun near the horizon and see how realistic the sky color looks! Add clouds and see how their lighting is nicely affected by the Sun.
Tip A very hazy sunset has a big bright halo around the Sun. Reproduce this effect by increasing the Haze Density.

A simple example of a realistic sunset.

  1. If you want overcast weather, you can use several cloud layers, with high values for Thickness and especially the Coverage parameters. Use the Layer Rotation and Altitude sliders to have the different layers superimposed as you like. Decrease the Global Exposure of the Atmosphere Editor.
  2. You may observe some artifacts in your sky if you use some unusual settings. To correct them, increase the Accuracy slider, on the top right corner of the Atmosphere Editor.
  3. Combine Realistic Sky with other environment effects:
  • Volumetric Clouds (refer to Volumetric Clouds).
  • Background or Backdrop (refer to Backgrounds and Backdrops): You can load a map as a background and apply Realistic Sky on it.
To create a nice animation
  1. Every parameter can be modified from a keyframe to another to create an animation: the Sun's position, the fog intensity, the clouds' color and so on.
  2. If you want your clouds to change direction during the animation, create a keyframe with a different value for the Movement Direction. You will see the clouds turning in the sky.
  3. You can control the speed of your clouds animation by attributing each keyframe a number of run out seconds. This way, you can choose to simply follow the Time Line or have a time control (and not necessarily linear) dedicated to the clouds.

Backgrounds and Backdrops

When you render your scene, regions where there are no objects are considered background areas. By default, or by selecting None, these areas appear black in the renderings. Carrara offers two features for filling in the space between objects–background and backdrop. Both of these choices have the same options:

  • Bigradient creates a paired gradation for the backdrop. Bigradient controls are covered later in this chapter.
  • Color sets a solid color as the backdrop. Open the controls and click the color chip to choose a color.
  • Formula creates a color pattern from a formula. You can devise your own formula to create a new pattern.
  • Map uses a bit-mapped image file, movie, or sequenced image file as the backdrop. This is the best choice when you want specific images behind your objects. Loading an image as a map and using map controls are covered later in this chapter.
Background

The background gives you control over the scene environment. The background is sometimes called an environment map.

During rendering, the background is projected on the inside surface of a giant sphere that surrounds your scene. Any region of a rendering not occupied by an object will show the background. The background is also the environment reflected by reflective objects.

You can choose the type of background you want: Bigradient, Color, Formula, HDRI or Map.

Note An isometric camera cannot record a Background. If you are using an isometric camera for your final rendering, use a Backdrop instead.
Backdrop

The backdrop is a 2D plane placed behind your scene, and that stays perpendicular to the camera. The backdrop appears in regions of the rendering where there are no objects.

The backdrop does not appear in reflections or interact with the lighting.

You may want to use both a backdrop and a background. In this case, Carrara uses the background for the reflection environment and places the backdrop behind the objects.

Bigradient Controls

A Bigradient Background or Backdrop creates a paired gradation for the background. This is an easy way to create a sky and horizon.

To use a bigradient for the background or backdrop:

  1. In the Properties tray: Effects tab: Background/Backdrop panel,choose Bigradient.

Use the Bigradient controls to set up a simple two-color backdrop.

  1. Set the Bigradient settings as you like.
  2. Select colors for Start Sky, End Sky, Start Ground, and End Ground.
  3. Use the Horizon slider to set the height of the horizon.
Color Controls

Color sets a solid color as the background.

To use color background or backdrop:

  1. Choose Properties tray: Effects tab: Background/Backdrop panel: Color.
  2. Adjust the color in the color chip.
Formula Controls

The Formula control creates a color pattern from a formula. You can devise your own formula to create a new pattern.

The formulas for a Background or Backdrop differ. The Background is projected onto a sphere, so it uses a 3D system. The Backdrop is rectangular, so it uses a 2D system.

To select a formula for the background or backdrop:

  1. In the Properties tray: Effects tab: Background/Backdrop panel,choose Formula.

Use the Formula controls to create unique objects.

  1. Double-click the object. The Formula controls appear.
  2. Enter a formula into the editing panel on the top, or edit the existing one.
  3. Set the Formula controls to create an object of the shape you want:
  • Parse tests and compiles the formula. If there are any errors, Carrara gives you an error report.
  • Animatable Parameters increase and decrease the value of parameters.
  • More displays the Formula Editor.

For more information on creating Formula objects, refer to Using Formulas in Carrara

HDRI Controls

The HDRI background uses a High Dynamic Range Image (HDRI) as a background (Note that there is no HDRI backdrop). Using the HDRI background is especially useful if you want to create realistic reflections on your objects or simply create complex lighting (using the sky light option of the renderer).

What is HDRI? A HDR image (.hdr file) is a special file format that stores an image with a lot more precision than a regular bitmap format (such a JPEG). In the real world, the intensity of the light varies a lot more than on a regular photo. You can see this when taking pictures of scenes lit by the sun: the areas in the shadows appear black whereas the areas under the sun appear almost white. An HDR image will contain details in both the bright areas and in the shadows.

What type of map is supported? There are several types of HDRI maps (cube maps, sphere maps….). At this point, only one type is supported: simple spherical maps. They are easy to recognize: if you look at the image the contains the map, it should completely fill the rectangle of the image.

The HDRI background controls

To use a HDR image for the background:

  1. In the Properties tray: Effects tab: Background panel,choose HDRI.
  2. Click on the button to open the file dialog and select a.hdr file to use as your background.
  3. Adjust the following settings:
  • Intensity: Increase or decrease the intensity of the map.
  • Flip Horizontally or Vertically
  • Rotation: Rotates the map
  • Tile: Repeats the image. (You can use the Horizontal and Vertical sliders to select the number of repetitions).
  • Seamless: Creates tiling where the map is flipped so that the side of each tile is continuous.
  • Interpolation: Use to create a smoother map
Map Controls

The tools and methods for using a map are the same for the background or backdrop.

Map uses a bit-mapped image file as the background. This is the best choice when you want specific images in reflections.

Ideally, images for the background should have an aspect ratio of 2:1 (twice as wide as they are tall). Images for the backdrop should have the same aspect ratio as the final rendering and be equal or greater in resolution.

To select a map for the background or backdrop:

  1. In the Properties tray: Effects tab: Background/Backdrop panel,choose Map.
  2. Click the folder icon to locate and open a bitmapped image file. When you've opened an image, a preview appears in the right panel.

The Map controls let you use an imported image as backdrop.

  1. Set the Map controls:
  • The directional buttons under the folder icon change the image's orientation.
  • Tile causes the image to repeat. The Horizontally and Vertically sliders set the number of tiles in each direction.
  • Seamlessly tiles the image without visible seams between tiles. Carrara flips adjacent tiles vertically and/or horizontally as necessary to avoid seams.
  • Invert Color inverts the image's colors.
  • Interpolate gets cleaner results in your rendering.
  • Brightness slider increases and decreases the image's brightness.
  • Filtering determines the quality of the render:
  • Sampling produces the fastest but lowest quality render.
  • Summed Area Table produces a better quality render, but uses more memory. You may want to avoid it for large texture maps.
  • Gaussian Filtering produces the best quality render.
Tip You can apply a filter to the map. For more information, refer to Rendering Effects.
Movie Controls

You can use a sequence of images in the background of your scene. Use movies only when you create an animation.

Use the Map Controls to import a movie as a backdrop.

To select a movie for the background or backdrop:

  1. In the Properties tray: Effects tab: Background/Backdrop panel,choose Map.
  2. Click the folder icon to locate and open an AVI or QuickTime movie file. When you open a move file, a preview appears, with a preview player below it
  3. Set the Movie controls as you like.
  • The directional buttons change the image's orientation.
  • Tile causes the image to repeat. The Horizontally and Vertically sliders set the number of tiles in each direction.
  • Seamlessly tiles the image without visible seams between tiles. Carrara flips adjacent tiles vertically and/or horizontally as necessary to avoid seams.
  • Invert Color inverts the image's colors.
  • Interpolate gets cleaner results in your rendering.
  • Brightness slider increases and decreases the image's brightness.
  • Filtering determines the quality of the render:
  • Sampling produces the fastest but lowest quality render.
  • Summed Area Table produces a better quality render, but uses more memory. You may want to avoid it for large texture maps.
  • Gaussian Filtering produces the best quality render.

Post Render Filters

Rendering with an Aura

Aura lets you render true glowing objects with an outside aura. The light emitted from the glowing objects can interact with fog or turbulent smoke.

Use the Aura filter to create glowing objects.

Aura automatically detects which objects have a glow shader, letting you create impressive effects like laser beams, neon signs, or LEDs.

Aura uses the shader Glow channel to know which object are glowing and which are not. Only objects that have some degree of luminance in the Glow channel receive an aura.

To set up the glow channel for an object:

  1. Select the object you want have an aura.
  2. Click the Texture button to go to the Shader room.
  3. In the Shader Tree Editor window, make sure the top shader is a Multi-Channel shader.
  4. Click in the Glow channel.
  5. Adjust the Glow settings as desired. For details on using the Glow channel, refer to Glow.

To apply an aura to a scene:

  1. In the Properties tray, select Scene from the Find pop-up menu.
  2. Click the Filters button.
  3. Click the plus (+) sign, and choose 3D Aura from the pop-up menu. The 3D Aura editor window appears.
  4. Drag the Radius slider to set the radius of the aura. Radius describes the number of inches before the aura fades out.
  1. In the Turbulence section, check the Enable box if you want swirls in the aura medium (smoke wreaths).
  2. Drag the Turbulence Scale slider to set the mean size, in inches, of the wreath of smoke.
  3. Drag the Lumpiness slider to set the contrast level in the wreath of smoke.
  4. Enable the Animate option if you want the medium to move (change over time). This option slows down the rendering. Use it only when doing animations.
  5. To change the color of the aura, click on the color chip under the preview window. Carrara opens the system color picker so you can choose a color. The color of the final aura effect results from the interaction of the object's glow color and the aura color. Higher luminance values result in a brighter glow and, therefore, a stronger aura.
  6. Drag the Intensity slider to change the strength of the aura effect.
Rendering with Glare

To set glare options:

  • Height and Width controls the size of the effect.
  • Intensity controls how much glare is added.
  • Shape defines the shape of the glare pattern.
  • Algorithm specifies which algorithm is used to calculate the glare.
  • Color controls the color of the halo when the Algorithm is White.
  • Background Accept Glare controls if the glare bleeds over to the background.
Motion Blur

When you take a family picture and someone moves at just the wrong moment, that person's image is blurry. In films, fast moving objects like the wheels of a car will often be blurred. This effect is called Motion Blur. See also, Motion Blur.

The Motion Blur post render filter combines successive frames of an animation to achieve that real-life blurred effect on moving objects.

Use the Motion Blur filter to enhance moving objects.

To add the Motion Blur filter to your scene:

  1. In the Assemble room, select the Instances tab of the Properties tray.
  2. Click on the first line of the hierarchy to display the scene properties.
  3. Select the Filters tab then use the Plus (+) button to add the Motion Blur filter.

To set Motion Blur options:

  • Intensity: controls how many frames will be used to compute the effect
  • Blur: enables the blur of the frames used for the effect.
  • Blur Radius: controls the strength of the blur
  • Render First Frames: renders or not the first frames of the animation. When unchecked, the first frames are replaced by a black image until enough data has been gathered.
Cartoon Rendering

Toon! is a post-render filter for Carrara that changes your rendered output into a cartoon drawing. Here are some of the features of Toon!:

  • Fully supports shaders
  • Plays well with other filters
  • Can group multiple objects together for the purposes of tracing the outline
  • Mixes traditional rendering and Toon!ing in the same render

To set Toon! options:

  • Line sets the color of the lines. Shadow sets the depth of the shadows.
  • Base adjusts the base color. Highlight adjusts the highlight color.
  • Toon Effect controls the mix of how much Toon! obscures the original render. While Line Effect controls the mix of how much Toon!'s lines obscure the original render.
  • Shadow Size controls the size of the shadow. While Highlight Size changes the size of the highlight.
  • Object Edge traces the edges of your models, Sharp Edges traces the edges of objects, and Edge in degrees controls how sharp the edge must be before drawing a line.
  • Distance puts a line where there is a change in distance from the camera.
  • Distance Threshold controls the difference in distance from the camera that pixels must be before drawing a distance line.
  • Shadow Edge traces the edges of shadows. While Highlight Edge outlines specular highlights.
  • Algorithm reduces the jaggies in Toon!'s lines. Selections are None, Toon 1, Toon 2, and Custom.
  • Toon 1 is the original Toon! algorithm. It's slower, but doesn't fatten lines.
  • Toon 2 is newer, faster, and smoothes better, but fattens the lines. Custom with the default filter smoothes better than Toon 2, but doesn't stay as dark.
  • When Custom is selected, you can adjust how it smoothes using the nine values below the Algorithm popup. The values control how much line, shadow, or highlight effect from surrounding pixels is mixed with the middle pixel's effect.
  • Passes controls how many passes of smoothing are applied when Algorithm is set to Toon 2 or Custom.
//Getting started with Toon!//

Toon works like any other post-render filter.

To add a post-render filter to your scene:

  1. Select the scene on the Properties palette.
  2. Select the Filters view.
  3. Use the Plus button to add the Toon filter.

To Group things together:

Toon can group items together for the purposes of tracing an outline. It's not always convenient to build your models from one giant mesh. But if you want Toon to treat it as one mesh, you can use Toon Group.

  1. Select the items you want together.
  2. Use the Edit|Group menu to group the selected items.
  3. Select the new group in the Object Hierarchy or in the 3D View.
  4. On the Properties palette, select the Effects view.
  5. Check the Toon Group checkbox.

To mix Raytracing and Toon:

Toon! can mix Raytracing and the Toon effect. The Toon Override Effect allows you to control the Toon and Line Effects on an object by object basis.

To make Toon! go faster:

Every effort has been made to make Toon! as fast as possible, but there are some options you can set when you really need the speed.

  • Turn off the Smooth Lines option. On animations with compression, Smooth Lines may not be necessary.
  • If you do use line smoothing, Toon 2 is much faster than Toon 1.
  • Lower your Line Widths - each time you double the line widths, Toon! must examine four times as many pixels.
  • On your render settings, turn off Adaptive Oversampling.

Casting Shadows on Background Objects

The Shadow Catcher feature allows you to generate true shadows for 3D objects, so they appear on background imagery in a realistic way.

The surface you apply to the Shadow Catcher object provides the color and transparency level of the shadow. A Shadow Catcher object is rendered only in the areas where it is in shadow. All other parts of the object display the background color or image. Objects behind a Shadow Catcher object are not visible.

Note Shadow Catcher objects work with Ray Tracing or Hybrid Ray Tracing rendering only. In all other rendering modes, they appear as normal objects.

To cast a shadow on a background:

  1. Create a simple model of the background object. Use the background image to align the objects and the camera's point of view. In the following example, we want to cast the shadow of the saucer on a cityscape background image. A stand-in cityscape is created as the Shadow Catcher object.

Shadow-casting object and stand-in (Shadow Catcher) objects.

The background image.

  1. Select the object or objects to which you want to apply the Shadow Catcher.
  2. Position the object that is casting the shadow over the Shadow Catcher object.
  3. Go to the texture room and change the top shader to Shadow Catcher (in the lighting model category).
  4. Disable the Cast Shadows checkbox. Otherwise, Shadow Catcher objects that cast shadows on other objects can create an undesirable effect.

During rendering, the background becomes visible, as though the image itself is shadowed.

The final rendered image.

Adding Sound to Your Scene

Carrara provides tools for adding a sound track to animations you create. The sound track can have any number of individual channels, each with sounds placed at times you choose. When Carrara renders an animation, it saves the sound track to the final movie file.

Sound can be integrated in your workflow in two ways. First, you can synchronize sound effects to events in your animation. For example, if you have an explosion in your animation, you can add an explosion sound effect and place it in the sound track at the appropriate time.

Second, you can create a sound track for your animation in an audio production package, and then add the sound track to your animation so that you can synchronize the events in the animation to the sound track.

Creating Animations With Sound

When you create a new file or open a file saved with an older version of Carrara, the Sound track is empty and the document has no sounds loaded. You can add sound to an animation by first loading sound files as master sounds, and then placing instances of them in the sound track. Currently, Carrara supports sound files in uncompressed Microsoft WAV and Apple AIFF formats. See Animation Features of the Sequencer Tray for more information about using the Sequencer tray.

To load a master sound into the document:

  1. Click on the Sounds tab in the Properties tray.
  2. Click the Add button.
  3. Select the sound file to load, click OK.

When a master sound is loaded, a small preview icon appears in the Sounds tab. This preview icon of the master sound can then be dragged and dropped into the soundtrack to create an instance of the sound. When you no longer want to have the master sound in your document you can remove it. For example, when you want to replace it with another sound. Removing a master sound removes all instances of that sound in the soundtrack.

To remove a master sound from the document:

  1. Click on the Sounds tab in the Properties tray.
  2. Select the master sound icon to be removed.
  3. Click the Remove button.

The Sounds tab in the Properties tray.

When you create a new document, or open an existing document without sounds, the soundtrack has a single, empty channel. The soundtrack can have any number of simultaneous channels, each with multiple sounds.

To add channels to the soundtrack:

  • Click the + button next to the word Soundtrack in the Sequencer tray.

To remove channels from the soundtrack:

  1. Select the channel to be removed by clicking on the channel's name.
  2. Click on the - button next to the word Sound track in the Sequencer tray.

To add sounds to the soundtrack:

Drag a master sound preview icon into the sound track and release it.

The Soundtrack section of the Sequencer.

A preview of the sound will appear, beginning at the cursor location when you released the sound.

Sound instances can be positioned within their channel by clicking and dragging them.

Note When you remove a channel from the soundtrack, all sound instances in that channel will be deleted with it.

Rendering Animations With Sound

When rendering animations with sounds in the sound track, the sounds are automatically written to the resulting movie file after all frames have been rendered. If you abort a render in progress, sounds will be written to the animation up to when the render aborted.

Note Not all of Carrara's output file formats support sound writing. A warning message is displayed if you try to render an animation with sound to a format where the sound track would be lost.