View Full Version : How to show great distance in outer space?

04-16-2007, 06:46 PM
I'm workin on a scene of the solar system here, and I have everything just about where I want it except for one thing: everything looks about 1/2 millimeter deep!

my shot in reality would prbly span a billion miles or so, but there's no feeling of great distance.

I thought maybe an asteroid belt or some kind of hazy space dust might do it.

I'm not going for Astronomical accuracy here; other elements in the illustration are primary. but I need to do a better job of showing what are truly enormous distances.

any suggestions?


04-16-2007, 06:52 PM
Can you show us where you are at the moment?

04-16-2007, 08:53 PM
Having the milky way in the background would help. Put the camera close to one of the planets to set scale.

Mark The Great
04-17-2007, 01:00 PM
Use a wide lens on the camera and keep its motion relatively slow.

Captain Obvious
04-17-2007, 04:13 PM
A suggestion regarding huge scenes, by the way: Animate around the origin. If at all possible, keep the subject at origin and animate the world around it. You get horrible precision errors only a few dozen miles from origin.

04-17-2007, 04:18 PM
Hey, thank you all for the responses...I'll post a pic of what I've got soon (still doing a test render)

this particular project is a still image (tho I'll prbly animate it down the road).

basically I have: planets from Mercury to Saturn, in order, but not in astronomically-correct relative size, and the distances are..well..heh..

you know how you must alter "reality" in a 3D illustration sometimes to suit the purpose.

I have a large poly surface with a home made star field to indicate "space," but no galaxies, no debris fields, no asteroids, no haze no nothin.

I can see how a putting a galaxy in there would help greatly.

but maybe haze and "dirt" would help, too..

I'll post as soon as render allows.

thanks again.


04-17-2007, 06:57 PM
A couple other things that are involved in depth attenuation are a slight blur (but not depth of field) and desaturation - those are of course in-atmosphere effects, but they might help make it look more real to the viewer.

04-18-2007, 09:07 AM
In regular still photography, it helps to think "foreground, midground, background". By placing something with a known scale or aspect ratio in the foreground, and using a wide-angle lens that gives the foreground object a bit of spherical aberration, you provide the viewer's eye with hints regarding the "vanishing point" in your composition, which sets the scale. Having something immense in the background (like a galaxy) can confirm the vanishing point.

So, having the planet in the foreground and galaxy in the background (as suggested by IZZE) might be your best bet. A model of a satellite, spaceship or probe in the foreground might also work, again using a wide angle lens so it's slightly distorted. I like to compose space scenes from the surface of a "moon" or "asteroid" to give the viewer some perspective.