Architecture - A space station

For this project, I want to focus on procedural texturing and composition.
And less on modelling. For me and my PC, a difficult thing because working with the material node editor crashes Blender and it’s a slow process. Even more to estimate how all the node combinations and properties, make something I want. Still learning here, out of my comfort zone …

This is my rough sketch.

Currently, I have 4 render layers active. Blending them together in the compositor.

  • Space background
  • Planet (is a quarter of a sphere to preserve memory. So choosing a new layout can be a problem.)
  • Planet sky
  • Space station
  • and maybe a spaceship if I have the time.

See Blender collab, week 40 Architecture


Ohhhh, I’ll definitely be watching how this progresses. :wink:

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No idea about any of that, render layers, compositor, etc. item I might enter is currently over a million verts lol. So much more to do.

OUCH!! Heavy man, heavy. :wink:

Oh I’m jealous of this idea! So cool. Will you be making the planet texture procedurally too? I’ve tried that before but was never quite satisfied with the result. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

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Yes, I will. But you don’t need a planet!
The planet can be an architectural space thing.

Just re-use the idea. No problem with this.

As usual, I didn’t want to participate. But then a brainwave …

It’s like working in Photoshop or GIMP. Images (but then rendered) layering on top of each other. And applying filters on each layer and merging them. You could use photoshop for this. But I do it in Blender, which is called compositing.

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The blue sphere has the size of the planet. It is generated in an additional layer.
Then blurred using the blur node in the compositor. This blue haze will be the blue (air) halo around the planet.

Merging with the planet surface will be like this.
A blue haze, totally under control of Blender.


What makes a universe …? A starry sky.
I am using a particle system, emitting light dots in random intensity and color.
Using weight paint to cluster/group star light.
Not sure if this will do the trick. reference images on the web are also manipulated or enhanced in color.

Playing with some texture nodes. Which is for me, a lucky guessing game.

Improved a bit
Everything here has an emission shader. Because I have no world lighting and only one sun lamp.
The stars (particles) and the dust cloud emits light, just to make it viewable.


Implementing a procedural planet surface.
I am using a displacement setup. That’s why I’ve modeled a quarter planet sphere, for the high subdivisions I need to make this work. I’m using a noise texture for this. With a less then node to cut the noise off, make it flat as needed by the sea/lakes.
I will add a cloud layer too.

The real problem will be the space station. It is too small to add distinctive details. What is the size of the architectural object? Funny I thought this would be the easiest object, but now I’m in doubt. Because it must be the subject of the challenge.


Looking good background. Have you not included your planet atmosphere yet?

Guess you could increase the size of the station as though an astronaut outside it on an eva. Maintenance work etc.


Increased size of the station, trying to look like it’s massive … buildings (look-a-likes) on top.
Including a test run to add lit windows, which is done using a texture bitmap. While I am looking for a procedural trick.

I had a brainwave to combine two generated brick textures. Each with a different repeating dimension. Creating rectangle tiles, which I could use as window light sources. As concept it works. probably need more tweaking. But I like this first setup.

Mapping goes wrong, I had to create a good UV-Map. Also a lot of work … but it getting closer to my imagination.


Added clouds and change the land texture. Flattened the sea-land border. This part could use also some colour variations. And the clouds must have more structure or thickness.
So much to do and to tweak. If I render a full-frame, to see details better. It takes 2 hours of Cycles 512 samples render time. I could lower this and still thrust on denoising. But fine details are missing.

Efficiency of the render is also a problem. I have four layers to be rendered. But most of the time I working on only one layer, the others stay unchanged. So for every full render, 75% is useless render time, because it was already render in e previous run. I could easily take a screen shot and re-use it.
I need to find out how to stop individual layers to be rendered. Learning time :wink:


I think I’m gone delete the buildings. to much.


Looking pretty good. However, I don’t know if I like the chosen backround. The red and purple seems a bit much, maybe a simple black, dotted with stars will look better. The planet is looking really good, especially with the added atmosphere and clouds.


Bigger is better. The houses never really worked for me. That may be just past expectations of space stations. But separated ‘tower blocks’ seem to make no sense. Perhaps solar panel arrays? Or bubble domes. Oh or a ring dome, all round. Containing spaces people could move about in or even be ‘biomes’ growing plants etc.


Approaching final composition.
I started with a small space station in mind. Less to do with modelling. Now zoomed-in, needing more details. Scope of things is changing. I still didn’t find a good composition. It’s a slow process. with closeups I need more detail like the greenhouses and textures … Rule of third is gone.
There are no guiding lines for the viewer … what’s the subject/story …

I think I need another week or so


Always the problem :rofl:

How about making that spacecraft bigger and the eye catching center point, add a docking bay. That could be your ‘story’ focus.

I had the same train of thoughts, but the change of one item leads to many others.
To make this docking station more the centre of attention, it needs to be at the light side.
Or rearranging the sun but that changes also the earth and overall look.
Which will increase overall render time. Currently, I only render the space station. The other parts were saved as bitmaps. So I need more time …

I learned a lot, it was for me it was a fun project.
Owning new objects and shaders which I can use in other projects.
Still debating with myself to buy new faster hardware.


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