JUAN EXPLAINS THE CREATION OF NEBULAS IN THE NIMBUS GALAXY

Hi everyone! I’m Juan, a Technical Artist on Homeworld Mobile. In a previous transmission I described the process that we are using to create the planets of the galaxy. Now it is time to talk about elements that are less solid, like Nebulas. 

Our backgrounds were smooth and soft in the past. We wanted to break some of these patterns and add more details in a way that would not distract from the main action of the game. 

The new shapes needed to have more structure, but also blend well with the backgrounds. Nebulas were a great fit to solve this. With the guidance of our Art Director, we checked real references of nebulas to find the right amount of detail while avoiding a noisy look. 

Unlike other elements of the game, like the planets or asteroids, Nebulas shouldn’t feel solid. This makes it hard to model Nebulas by traditional methods like polygon modeling. Instead, we chose to model these shapes as volumes with different degrees of density.  

After many iterations playing with volumes of gas, we arrived at the following process. First, we created an initial rough volumetric shape or a low-resolution approximation of our intended shape. On top of this volumetric data, we added some velocity vectors to describe the motion and distortion that we want to use to shape the nebula later down the road. We then save the result for later use.

Next, we filtered the denser areas of the volume to find a more defined structure and we increased the density even further. You can think of this part as the skeleton of the Nebula. This is also where the most light will be absorbed. After all of these steps were done, we created a light shape that encloses the entire Nebula . A shape that reflects most of the light from the stars. 

Once these three elements were ready, we added them together into a single volume and dotted the result with star lights. We did this in both low and high-density areas to achieve different lighting across the shape. 

One of the biggest joys of creating these shapes was to find new ways to combine and distort the volumes to obtain unexpected results. When the result is baked, lit, and finally added to the game, it can be fascinating to see how the Nebulas blend with the different backgrounds. 

I hope you enjoy the nebulas in Homeworld Mobile. See you next time with more updates on the environments of the game!

_Juan_

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