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How to build your own Solar System

Step 4. Build Textures for planets and moons cont...

Method 1. Use ready made textures

You may get some planet textures off of the web. There are several links from Planet Engine that you may find helpful. Look for the largest files you can get for free. A texture that has 1024 X 512 resolution is only level 5 in Orbiter. But for learning it is easier to work with then the larger ones. Reference the chart in section 18 Planet surface textures in the Orbiter manual. This shows you what size file will be produce for different resolution.

Here is a Mars texture I pick off the web at 1440 X 720 but I reduce the size for this web presentation. You can take it as is or play with it some in a graphics program like Photoshop. After doing a quick color change I came up with this.

If you haven't already you need to get a copy of Orbiter SDK. In the utility folder you will find the pltex tool used to turn a 2:1 photo into a planet texture. It only accepts bit maps so you need to convert the picture from a jpeg to 24bit bmp file format. Then drop the planetname.bmp in the same folder as the pltex tool. In this case we will name our planet Charlie.bmp.

Double click the tool to run it in a DOS window. Just answer the questions one at a time.


    pltex tool
    >> File name <.bmp>: Charlie.bmp

    >> yes/no [y|n]: n

    >> Resolution range <1...8> [min max]: 1 8

Notice the 1 space 8, in my case I only had a 1024 X 512 bmp ( level 5 ) so I could have typed 5 for max but when you type 8 it stops chugging when it reaches the end anyway. By the way it does chug a little so give it a moment to make all the mesh patches. When it finishes the DOS window will go away leaving you with a planetname.tex file ( Charlie.tex ).

That's all there is to it. Drag and drop Charlie.tex into the Orbiter/Textures folder. Open the Peanuts_Charlie.cfg and make sure the name is Charlie. Launch that scenario you made and take a look.

Now if you really want to feel like God >> Method 2. Make your own custom planets


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