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Pretty much all cloud tutorials show how to make Cumulus clouds, or some random blob of a cloud, but I'm looking to create high altitude clouds, which you can see below.

enter image description here

I'm most interested in the cirrus and cirrocumulus clouds, of which you can see some bigger pics below.

enter image description here

Any way to create these as a procedural volume material or as a world shader perhaps? I would prefer a volumetric material though, as I need a transparent background behind the clouds, and lighting in the scene to affect the clouds.

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    $\begingroup$ I have found these higher cloud formations are a good place to back away from volumetrics and rely on the world shader. $\endgroup$ Jan 24, 2022 at 17:24
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah I thought about that, but I still need them to react to lighting. In either case, if you could help either way, I'd be very grateful, as I haven't managed to get realistic results. $\endgroup$
    – Geri
    Jan 24, 2022 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ I haven't tried this free addon but Simon Thommes' work is usually worth investigating $\endgroup$ Jan 24, 2022 at 23:31

2 Answers 2

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To get the best looking volumetrics you needs to increase the Max Bounces for Volume as well as look at the settings under Volumes a few panes down.

Also worth noting make sure your Principled Volume is set to pure white.

enter image description here

The optimal settings here will depend on the size of your object, for example in my scene a fairly large object renders like this with the above settings.

1024 samples clouds low quality settings

By decreasing the Step Rate you slow down the ray as it passes through the volume and allow for more accurate detection of the edges of the volume. It's essentially the same as increasing the number of volume slices in Eevee, but for Cycles rays.

Increasing the max steps is maybe not necessary, but... it's an option. Using these settings we produce this image from the same volume.

1024 samp high quality settings

Fairly detailed, reactive to light, but the downside is render time.

Here's the node group I used to make this:

enter image description here

Wave texture seems particularly suited to making an array of clouds if you spend enough time messing with Detail Scale and Detail Roughness. Be sure to turn Detail up to 4 or higher but beware of performance considerations.

enter image description here

I'm sure with some masking and modifications you can get close to some of these formations. I'm completely lost on how to achieve the swoosh shape right now, but hopefully this gives you a starting point.

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  • $\begingroup$ I apologize if the images are a little hard to see on some screens. On my main monitor it wasn't that hard to distinguish. $\endgroup$ Jan 25, 2022 at 22:45
  • $\begingroup$ Not problem, and thanks. It's a start, but it still needs lots of work to approximate those clouds. $\endgroup$
    – Geri
    Jan 26, 2022 at 7:55
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This reply might be a bit late, but I figured out a way to at least approximate cirrus clouds using purely volumetric modeling with noise and gradient textures. To begin, I tabbed into Edit mode and scaled the default cube by 4 on X and Y, leaving it at 1 on Z (final dimensions are 8 x 8 x 2, but the scale is still 1 — make sure to apply scale if it isn't 1). Then I applied the material setup pictured below.

enter image description here

If you then add a plane, give it a hair particle system with a low number of particles, choose the cube as the render object, choose a scale of 1, and give it appropriate rotation and rotation randomization. This gives you a field of cirrus clouds. Paired with the Physical Starlight and Atmosphere addon for the sky and sunlight, it looks like this in EEVEE (with best volumetric tile size of 2 px):

enter image description here

Obviously, more work is needed to finesse them and give them some more random variation, but it's at least a start. I'll update with any further improvements I make.

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