Firestorm clouds

One thing I neglected to mention in my recent review of Firestorm 4.4.0 is the inclusion – by Cinder Roxley – of Vincent Nacon’s alternative cloud maps, which can be used to change / enhance the rendering windlight clouds.

The default cloud layer seen over Extropia, using the
The default cloud layer seen over Extropia, using the AnaLutetia-outdoor windlight setting and the sun adjust to around 10:00.

I’ve no excuse for this, given Cinder actually nudged me on the matter prior to the release; just blame it on me having a blonde moment…

So, what is it all about? Quite simply, Firestorm now includes additional cloud maps made by Vincent Nacon, and which Cinder has added to the Preferences > Firestorm > Windlight tab for easy selection.

The Windlight cloud options
The Windlight cloud options

This presents you with four basic cloud types – the default map, Altocumulus (a middle altitude cloud, usually characterised by globular masses or rolls in layers or patches), Cumulonimbus (the familiar towering cloud formations associated with thunderstorms) and a “Layered” map. Do note that selecting any option other than the one already in use appears to require a viewer re-start in order to take effect.

Exactly what effect these different maps will have on your in-world view is a matter of experimenting with the various available windlight settings within Firestorm (a task made easier thanks to William Weaver’s Phototools). However, they can be used to produce some stunning effects – the images here are simply to provide some form of comparison.

Extropia
Extropia seen under the same windlight setting as the first image in this article, but using the Layered cloud map.

What’s more, as Cinder indicated in her little nudge to me, you can create (or obtain) cloud maps of your own and add them to Firestorm to create your own unique cloud looks. “Drop any 8-bit grayscale tga with a power of 2 size you make or find under app_settings/windlight/clouds,” she comments, “And they’ll be automatically added to the list.”

For those wishing to try the cloud maps on other viewers, Vincent provides forum thread in which his discusses the maps and provides guidelines and caveats on their usage in viewers. Links to download the maps are also provided.

The Cumulunimbus map applied to the sky, using the same windlight setting and time of day - note the "stacking" effect visible in the formations on the right of the image
The Cumulonimbus map applied to the sky, using the same windlight setting and time of day – note the “stacking” effect visible in the formations on the right of the image, given the impression of some additional vertical height

The maps appear to be particularly well-suited to sunrise / sunset images, where the combination of sun and clouds can be particularly dramatic and result in some incredible images.

Why not have a play yourself?

With thanks to Cinder Roxley.

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