Custom Skydomes in Stingray

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  • Design Visualization
  • 1.2
  • Lighting and Rendering
  • Stingray
Skill Level
  • Beginner
20 min

Start by creating a Shading Environment entity in your project’s scene. The Shading Environment is responsible for multiple effects. Take some time to get familiar with its parameters, as you will need to fine tune them later to truly make a believable atmosphere. In the following scene I changed the fog parameters to demonstrate the influence of the Shading Environment.

To customize your sky, you need a different skydome image than the default image provided. The image should be twice as wide as it is high; if not, it will be stretched or squashed to fit onto the sphere. To keep your skydome texture crisp, the image size should be quite large (the default is 4096 x 2048). Use a high dynamic range (HDR) image to get the best results with image-based lighting, as you will later be able to adjust the intensity or brightness without losing detail. Open the HDR file in image editing software and save it as a .DDS file inside your project wherever you store textures; making sure to set the properties to ARGB format, 2D Texture type, and No MipMaps. These settings are very important for the skydome texture to appear properly in your scene.

Once saved, you can directly import your new DDS file in Stingray and use it as the Skydome map in your Shading Environment.

There are now a lot of conflicting elements in the scene (fog, ambient lighting, as well as the directional sunlight). To improve the lighting, you need to replace the Global Diffuse map and Global Specular map in your scene. These two maps influence the diffuse lighting as well as the specular reflection of everything in your scene, and they are currently reflecting as if it was midday. Luckily, there’s an easy way to create new Global Diffuse and Global Specular maps in Stingray.

Create and save a new empty level. Place a reflection probe in the middle and create a Shading Environment with the same Skydome map as your main scene. In the example below, I wanted my maps to reflect the surroundings of the initial scene as closely as possible, so I set the scene up in the exact same way except for the main objects in the center stage. You can place as many details as you like in this scene as long as they are just surroundings. For example, you wouldn’t want your house to reflect itself.

Bake the reflection probes in the scene. The resulting cubemaps can then be used as Global Diffuse and Global Specular maps. Relocate and rename them properly so there is no confusion regarding their use, and then import both maps.

Some parameters in the Texture Manager have to be set in order for the maps to work properly. Double-click one of the maps to open the texture manager, then clear the Apply Processing checkbox and select Keep Original from the Generate Mip Steps. Do the same for the other map. Your new maps are now ready for use and can be applied to your shading environment.

Tweak the different parameters tofinalize the process. Be sure that any directional light in your scene matches the light your skydome would emit, and the fog color goes well with your sky.

Now you can create your own skydomes - big and small, indoors or outdoors!

Posted By
  • Stingray
  • 1.2
  • Lighting and Rendering
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