Chris341

Realistic Sky Textures

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Hi all,

 

In more recent months, I've been slowly moving from oldie goldie FS9 to P3D 3.3. Although I'll miss a lot of my FS9 addons, I have to say P3D is an absolute blast, and with things like PTA and the NGX, flight sim has never looked so real.

 

Except for one thing, that I just can't seem to get right...

 

Sky textures.

 

For a while, I tried REX 4 for my sky textures. The day time textures were... alright, at best, not hugely realistic to what I've ever seen anywhere in the world, but the sunrise and sunset textures were largely attrocious, of the sets I tried. Sure, they look good or create interesting screenshots, but they are far from realistic in any sense, especially at altitude. At least, that was the case with every single set I tried (not all, but certainly I tried the majority before giving up on it...)

 

So then I went on to freeware solutions... I don't yet have the money for the new AS so unfortunately I cannot try that one.

 

I first tried the old FSX set 'Sky Textures for use with ENB' which I had used long ago many times. However, while sunrise and sunset were "better", they still weren't realistic, and the day time was even worse than in REX.

 

So then I moved on to HDEv2, which has so far been the best I can find, but it still not satisfying me... 

 

The majority issue is all the day time sets I can find include a rather bright horizon, almost white or grey in colour all the way up many degrees in the sky, 30 or 40. 

 

Sunrise and sunset just don't look like real sunrise and sunset...

 

Some pics of what I'm shooting for below, anything like these would be brilliant, or if someone knows how to make your own sky textures, I'd be glad to learn how :)

 

Cockpit2.jpg

 

maxresdefault.jpg

 

maxresdefault.jpg

 

Sky_30000_feet.jpg

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Have you tried Navid's sky textures?

http://navidh.se/misc_navids_skyset_2016_v3.html

+1 on those. You should defenitely give them a try. I use them together with the HDEv2 clouds (unless I am using ASCA... Still note sure about that one yet. And certainly not adviced for the OP.)

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Didn't know about those. Will certainly try them later after I finish this next flight! Thanks for the pointers.

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You need to try AS16+ASCA (need them both) to see some awesomeness

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I can make you sky textures using the photos you posted here. Your sky will look extremely similar to the one on the photos. Are you interested? 

 

Also have you tried my sky pack. It's based on photos as well:

http://vrcreations.webs.com/apps/photos/album?albumid=15994072

 

Hi Victor,

 

I have not tried your sky set either. I will do so!

 

If you could make me a set, I would be forever appreciative!!

If I may say on a personal request, if you so kindly choose to create one for me, my biggest point of contention with sky textures is the bright horizons and the fact that they stay relatively the same color from high altitude. The real sky darkens significantly as you fly higher, and I sorely miss that in P3D.

 

Thanks a billion!

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Hi Victor,

 

I have not tried your sky set either. I will do so!

 

If you could make me a set, I would be forever appreciative!!

If I may say on a personal request, if you so kindly choose to create one for me, my biggest point of contention with sky textures is the bright horizons and the fact that they stay relatively the same color from high altitude. The real sky darkens significantly as you fly higher, and I sorely miss that in P3D.

 

Thanks a billion!

:) here's a set for you. It's based on these 4 photos you have posted here. 

Since the photos are 4, just 4 periods of the day are included. They are as follows:

-afternoon

-2nd phase of the pre-sunset

-sunset

-1st phase of the postsunset

 

Let me know how you like them :)

 

https://mega.nz/#!Oog1wZjZ!iHVmUksCBdCE8GdLRbMKWMd6d1bnBu5OcSBlCFdWCeI

 

 

This is what you'll get with the set, created by your photos:

 

Prepar3D+2016-08-18%2014-48-27.jpg

 

Prepar3D+2016-08-18%2014-49-44.jpg

 

Prepar3D+2016-08-18%2014-52-23.jpg

 

Prepar3D+2016-08-18%2014-53-34.jpg

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You can also try sky textures from Ultimate Realism Pack v0.9, posted yesterday.

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I'm not able to see what you've produced, but if they replicate the colours and texture posted in the real shots, then  I definitely want them.

The screenshots are on post #8 :)

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The screenshots are on post #8 :)

 

I know, but all images linked back to image websites are blocked on my work pc.

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I know, but all images linked back to image websites are blocked on my work pc.

Does it work now?

 

gPl6er.jpg
 
CgjSMC.jpg
 
lMAiJe.jpg
 
Ifbl6d.jpg

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Does it work now?

 

No but Ive just seen them on my phone.  Looks super.

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No but Ive just seen them on my phone.  Looks super.

Thanks :)

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Wow looks awesome, could you make a set for X-Plane by any chance?

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Wow looks awesome, could you make a set for X-Plane by any chance?

Many thanks, Aaron. I'm doing one since at least a month. Unfortunately, RealTerraHaze doesn't allow much changes to be made as it brings a lot of "it's own" colors. I'll try to do my best and will upload it both here and the org :) 

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I see, because the default sky colors in X-Plane looks bad for me, especially at dusk/dawn... its too yellowish/orangy at sunset and too blue and purplish at sunset... Your's is just perfect and looks very realistic.

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I agree that X-Planes default sky colors are terrible at dusk/dawn.  Will be nice to see leghorn's when done.

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Hello leghorn.

I use REX Essential Plus Overdrive and REX Texture Direct for sky textures, but I used your sunset textures and they are very good.

The best sky colors I remember was in FSX Shade 1.2. You could customize every color in the spectrum from predawn1 to midnight.

Thank you for these and I'll be flying these for awhile definitely!

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Hello leghorn.

I use REX Essential Plus Overdrive and REX Texture Direct for sky textures, but I used your sunset textures and they are very good.

The best sky colors I remember was in FSX Shade 1.2. You could customize every color in the spectrum from predawn1 to midnight.

Thank you for these and I'll be flying these for awhile definitely!

Thank you for the kind words. Much appreciated

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Hello, Chris! Thanks for the post. It's a great feedback for anyone who creates this kind of stuff.

 

 

Sky textures were always a problem for me too -- and I don't think I solved it with my little addon, actually. Talking about my project, specifically, I guess some words about its goal can help you understand its faults.

 

 

It's worth mentioning that I could never imagine people would actually be interested in something that I made to answer some very personal tastes. I was in the same position as you: kind of unsatisfied with sky textures out there.

 

Back then (and until now, for that matter) I was using ENB Series. It was a injector that seemed to cover what I considered to be two of the big flaws FSX had: 1. its lack of contrast. Sky is way brighter than terrain, but in vanilla FSX, we get a somewhat dull visual. 2. lack of the possibility to detail subtle color transitions in sky. (I will explain this better in a second).

 

But ENB was a solution that caused other problems. Most sky textures, being designed for vanilla FSX, don't get along well with ENB, which I was using to improve contrast in my sim. ENB uses the brightness of pixels to manage its "bloom" effect -- which just turns everything that's bright... brighter (and sometimes turns dark areas darker). Overall contrast is improved, but sunset and sunrises suffers a lot from this: the bright pixels from a sunrise / sunset texture become too bright with ENB acting; it appears that there is a nuke exploding in the horizon. :P

 

Personally, I wanted to actually see the sunset or the sunrise. So I started to design my sky textures from scratch to work with ENB series. My textures would necessarily lack some brightness because the whole set would be working with ENB, which would then give the level of brightness I was seeking. ENB was also solving that second flaw, which deserves a better explanation now.

 

To put in few words: FS9, FSX, and any sim based on this platform is severely limited in terms of sky design possibilities. This is related to a. the very size of the sky textures and b. the way the sims renders the sky.

 

As for a., we can only work in a 32x32px texture. It's actually less than this, discounting a pixel line in the textures used only for light / haze / shadow coloring information and the two bottom pixel lines, that manage color ground in the distance when your visibility isn't set to "max" (which is the case in 99,9% of flights -- any weather program will limit visibility for realism). So we have exactly 32x29px to make the whole appearence of the sky. Now, if you look at any photograph of a sunset or a sunrise, you will notice the big problem we have: there are a lot of colors in a single instant of a sunrise. We just can't replicate this in our sims working with 32x29px.

 

ENB was able to help here, too. Being an injector that works directly on the final image rendered by the sim, it can actually surpass these limits and, if well adjusted, create little color nuances that wouldn't be possible in vanilla FSX. This is exactly how my set works, when used with ENB. You can also refine the effect by taking advantage of some parameters from the sun effect -- which I did, and that's pretty much why my "Simple Sun mod" exists. :P

 

As for b., the way the sim uses the sky textures is somewhat clever, but it's also a limitation. The principle is easy: at ground level, you see one sky. At FL400, the sky is different: it has a deeper blue. I don't need to explain the reasons for this -- you guys know better than me... what you need to know is how FS9/FSX (and P3D, I guess) handles this. At ground level, they actually use just a portion of that sky texture, until the level of "blue" we normally see from ground. As you climb in the sim, the portion of the sky texture being used is increased. The sky textures are designed in a way that the blue in the texture becomes deeper in direct relation to how the sim will load them, thus creating this difference in the sky coloring between ground level and FL400. Well, it's hard to understand this by text, so I'm showing an image I did for a fellow simmer that wanted to understand why my sky textures did not have that deep blue in high altitudes.

 

 

V3kodDd.png

(Sorry for some mistakes in the text...)

 

 

To complete the difficults in doing a set of sky textures: you have to design, say, an afternoon texture with your sunset texture in mind. The sim makes an almost imperceptible transition between one texture to another, but the looks of your afternoon texture will directly affect your sunset effect.

 

 

...

 

 

So making a "realistic" set of sky textures is a job for heroes (and they exist). I wasn't able to do it using just vanilla FSX; I had to design with ENB in mind. I simply couldn't antecipate that so many people would use my set, especially without ENB. It is possible to design a good set for an injector-free sim, but to a certain point. I guess P3D changed things a bit with its HDR settings etc., but the limitations concerning the textures itself, the rendering of the sky and the overall lightning effect are still there, as far as I know. Some developers can do incredible stuff given the difficults (HDE is a good example; Navid's too). But to achieve a photographic level of realism? In this plataform, for now, I'd say it's impossible.

 

 

PS: I won't even enter the photography-to-reality-differences discussion here because if I do, I'll write a book and not a post. :P

 

 

 

Best regards,

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Some great info above B)


 

Personally I've yet to find better sunset/sunrise textures than Navid's in P3Dv3 and I've tried them all, payware and freeware. This gives a very natural sky colouration along with very good shadow depth, along with cloud shading and colouration etc. Some of REX4 sky textures are very good too, but you do have to pick carefully, and some benifit some changing the shadow and cloud colour tabs. I'm hoping REX's new products really nail some good sky's and shade values.

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