How to Make a 3D Model of Planet Mars

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If you are creating a website related to astronomy, like most people creating any website you want to get visitors to the site. And you would like people to return frequently (especially if you are getting revenue from the page visits). One way to increase your traffic is to provide interesting and fun features. One feature you might want to add is rotating images of the planets. And the most interesting (in the public mind) of these planets is Mars. But if you want this animation you will need a 3D model of Mars that you can then animate. Fortunately, you can use Vue Infinite and the freeware program GIMP to create your own 3D model of Mars.

Things You'll Need

  • Vue Infinite
  • GIMP
  • Go to the NASA.gov site and browse through its galleries to find a full map of Mars. You are free to use them without penalty, fee or royalty. The images are generally offered in a tiff format. Select this and download it to your computer.

  • Download GIMP image program from .gimp.org/downloads. Open GIMP. In the menu select "File" and click "Open." A dialog box will open. Browse to the tiff image you saved and select it. With the image on the canvas click on "Image" in the menu, then "Mode" and select "Grayscale." Then click on "Colors" and select "Brightness/Contrast." In the dialog that opens, increase the contrast to 100. Select "File" and choose "Save." Save the image as a high resolution JPEG called "Bump Map."

  • Start Vue, available from e-onsoftware.com. Select the "Ground Plane" in the view and hit "Delete" on your keyboard. Select "Atmosphere in the menu and click "Load Atmosphere." A dialog will open with a large number of atmosphere categories. Choose the one called "Black Back" and click "OK."

  • Go to the toolbar on the left. Right-click on the second icon down and select the "Sphere," which will appear in the scene. Right-click on the "Material Editor" on the upper right and select "Edit Material." Click on the "Color" panel and select "Mapped Picture." Now select the "Load" icon and browse to the Mars image you downloaded from NASA. Then select the "Bumps" panel and load the "Bump Map" image you made. Make the "Depth" .1 and click "OK." You now have a 3D model of the planet Mars you can animate in Vue to create a video you can place on your site.

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