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Snowing animation; With a little help of Photoshop.

Author: Omid

Tools Needed

  • Bryce 5 or Bryce 5.5

Support Files


You can design fantastic snow scenes in Bryce. No need for particle systems or thousands of small objects. All you need is few good image objects that can cover the whole height of your scene and a high quality texture that can be applied on this objects.


Step 1 - Prepare the Snow Pattern in Photoshop


Use the above settings to create a new document in Adobe Photoshop. Then select Brush tool, and draw many white spots, using three different Brush size; 9, 11 and 13 pixs. Save this image in Windows Bitmap format (BMP).


Step 2 - Prepare the Snow scene in Bryce


In a default Bryce scene, select the Camera view (Click on the icon of “Director's Chair” at the left side of “View Controls”, or simply chose it from the camera selection list by pressing the small triangle at the right side of the “View Controls”). Then change it attributes according to the above picture.


select “Ansel's Evening” from Sky Presets, by clicking the small triangle at the right side of the “Sky and Fog” located at the top of tools' palette.


Step 3 - Fill the background


Create a “Terrain” and press the star key (Shift + 8) two times to make it big enough. Do not forget to click the arrow icon at the right side of its mesh, to bring it at the ground level. Then either by using the UP arrow key or by entering the appropriate numbers in Terrain “Attributes” send it back to fill the main part of the background space. Render your scene few times to place the terrain in a good position. When you are happy with the general composition of the background, apply the “Mid Winter” material in order to give this terrain the look of an impressive snowy mountain.


In “Sky and Fog” Palette, change the Haze Value to 13.

Step 4 - Be Creative: Make use of infinite plane in a new way!


You can use an infinite plane for the Snow “Picture Object”. Although you may think that Bryce has already a “Picture Object” icon which can automatically take care about the things you want to do with a picture, but there are several advantages for using Infinite Plane (IP) instead of Picture Object. For example IPs has no limit in dimension, and there is no need for tiling theme. Based on dimension, there are two types of IPs: “Ground Plane” that its dimension is 163.84 x 163.84 and, “Water Plane” and “Cloud Plane” that their dimensions are 81.92 x 81.92. For this tutorial we are going to use the bigger one. You can use the smaller size whenever you like but then you should adjust the texture size and tiling according to that smaller dimension.


Click on the “Ground Plane” icon on the “Create Palette” to make a 163.84 x 163.84 Infinite Plane. Then click the small “M” icon at the right side of its mesh to call the “Material Lab”. Now click the first empty hole at the first row and the first column (Color section, Diffuse channel, Column A). A random material appears in the “Texture Preview Area” at the right side of the Material Lab. Here, click the middle gray button with a “p” on it at the button of the texture preview to tell Bryce that you want to apply an image to this IP. Then Click the middle pink button at the top row of the same texture preview to call the “Picture” window. Here, click “Load” at the top left corner of one of the three main squares. Find and then select the “Snow Pattern” bitmap file that you made in the first step. Repeat this for other square until you've got the same bitmap file in the two first squares, and the result in the third square (at the right side) is a transparent picture with small black dots. Now click OK sign to go back to material lab.


Step 5 - Fine tuning the "Snow" texture


Still in the Material Lab, adjust all the values and options according to the above picture to bring a more natural snow to your scene. Then click the OK sign to close the Material Lab.

Now call “Attributes” of the Ground Plane and change its name to “Snow”. Then enter the values in the following picture in appropriate sections to stand up the plane, and also bring it exactly in front of the camera. If you would like, you can make a preview render to see how the “Snow” plane looks like.


Select the “Multi-Replicate” command either from Edit menu or by pressing Shift + ALT + D. Copy the values in the following picture to make 9 copies of “Snow” Plane, each 20 units far from each other in “Y” axis. Press “Enter” to create the copies.


Step 6 - Irregularly reposition the "Snow" planes


Select the Top view and from there rearrange “Snow” planes in “X” direction, one by one to give them a random look (Except the original Snow plane). Repeat the same adjustment in the Side view to alter the planes “Y” position (Except the original Snow plane).



Step 7 - Animation Settings


Double click on the time line slider to open the “Animation Setup” dialogue box. Set the animation length to 20 seconds, leave the rest values to default and click OK.


Now with the help of “Selection Palette” select Snow Plane (the first plane that you have created). Call its “Attribute” by clicking the small “A” icon at the right side of its selected mesh. Then use exactly its dimension values for its “Y” position. Look the picture bellow. Click OK and then press the “S” key on your keyboard to switch the “Selection Palette” to “Animation Palette” (or simply click on the sphere mesh at the right bottom corner of the Working area to “Toggle time/selection palette), and now click on the small “Plus” sign at the right side of the yellow key icon to assign a keyframe.

Please remember that when you press the “plus” icon you assign keyframe for everything in the scene. You can keep your Bryce file size smaller, and your keyframe management more organized if you assign the keyframe only for the position of “Snow” plane. For doing this you simply need to click on the “Plus” icon and hold down the mouse key until a list appears. Then from this list chose “Snow” and then chose “Position”.


Now go to the last frame by pressing the VCR controlling buttons. Call the “Snow” plane “Attributes again, and use the same number for its “Y” position but this time with a negative value. Press OK and assign a keyframe.

Step 8 - Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!


Now you should repeat the step 7 for all the snow planes one by one. The difference is, these planes are dispersed differently. So you need to calculate their displacement in a way that, while give them a good movement, keep their speed harmony with the rest of planes. This task is very easy: as we already know all the planes dimension is 163.84 x 163.84, we have used this very value to adjust the first snow plane (163.84 in the first frame, and -163.84 in the last frame). In other words the first snow plane moves 2 x -163.84 (-327.68) units during 20 seconds. Now it is very obvious that the rest of snow planes should move as much as the original plane to show the same speed.

Simply assign keyframes for all the snow planes at the first frame. Then go to the last frame and call their “Attributes” one after the other, then set their last “Y” position by calculating it from this equation: YL = Yf - 327.68 where YL is “Y” value at the last frame, and Yf is the “y” value at the first frame.

Step 9 - Optional final touch

You can add some vapors and bumpy clouds by using “Sphere” object and assign a Cloud or Fog material to it. Sometimes a good material and a “Taurus” around the mountain can give a very good effect for a heavy storm scene.

You can alter haze and fogs, or even use the volumetric world settings, but remember that we came all this way to keep the file size low, the structure simple and our work organized. When you master this three very important skills, then you may add the heavy duty settings to your scene.

At last, but not least, you can link the snow planes to your camera. To know how to do this you can refer to my previous tutorial “Forest with 2D trees”.