How to Create a Stained Glass Window Using Bryce

I have become a great fan of the symmetrical lattice option in Bryce. By using similar techniques described in the water tutorial, one can create complex objects that interact with each other. The stained glass window is a perfect example of this possible interaction between two lattices.

In 2d media, artists speak often of working with a limited palette to set the tone and mood of a piece and to narrow the focus of the work. I find the same holds true for Bryce. The easiest way, I find to decide on my palette or colour scheme is to do the sky settings first. For this tutorial, I decided on a warm palette.

By setting the sky first, I find that I have a better sense of what the final image will look like and I can better select materials to render well under the conditions I have set. Of course, omni lights do come in handy for some extra light.

For every image I create, I create a new sky. Sometimes I will work from a preset sky created for another project but most times I start from scratch with the pulldown custom sky tab on the main sky window (before going in to the sky editor).

Then I go into the sky editor and refine things. I have now started to pay more attention to the cloud editor as well (although for this tutorial, I did not).

The first step in creating the stained glass window is to create a symmetrical lattice and edit it in the terrain editor. For a better range of control and detail (if you plan to draw the lattice shape in Bryce instead of importing a pre-drawn gray scale image), bump your grid size up from the default 128 to 512 ultra-fine.

Now you are ready to draw the frame of your window which will serve as the "lead" supports for the panes of glass you will be creating next. Set your brush size to the smallest available.

Then while holding down on the SHIFT key, you can draw in straight lines. I did this first to create the basic rectangular outside shape and then the inner cross. To add some irregularity to the piece, draw some scribbles inside your rectangle.

**For Bryce 5 users, this SHIFT key method may not work for you in both directions. If that’s the case, your best option is to draw the lattice in a graphics program such as Photoshop, Painter, Paintshop Pro or the like.

You will find that your lattice will have some strange bumps or spikes here and there. By drawing over the worst of these bumps with a darker gray and then by lowering the lattice as a whole, you can even out these spikes. For complete control, you can, of course, create the pattern for this lattice in a program like Photoshop, Photopaint, etc.

You will have to rotate the window along the X or Z axis by 90 degress to get it to stand up as shown in the image on the left.

The next step is to duplicate the original lattice. You can do this either from the Edit menu or by the key combination Command D (Macintosh) or Control D (PC). Then take the duplicated lattice into the terrain editor and invert the lattice (one of the selections at the top left hand side of the terrain editor window).

Now hold down on the SHIFT key and carefully paint around the outside of your inverted lattice to get rid of the excess white material. As you can see from the image on the right, I also used the gradient on the right to help remove most of the unwanted background once it was painted down to black. When you are done, all that should remain is the white areas inside your window.

**For Bryce 5 users, Unpatched versions may see a line of white at the top of the inverted terrain. You can clip that section out.

You will then have to position the glass lattice inside the window frame lattice. I did this with the aid of the right view camera. The final step is now to create a suitable glass material.

Thanks to a tip from Susan Kitchens, I learned how to select pieces of terrains by what they look like. In the materials editor, SHIFT click on the name of the terrain and this window will pop up. Another advantage to this window is, that you can do the same thing with your own Deep Texture Editor gems and save them in the User folder for later uses.

Anyway, go through the list and pick a material that looks like it might make a good stained glass material.

I chose BlackWhite not for its colours but for its shapes. I clicked on the check mark to make my choice and then went into the Deep Textures Editor to modify my selection.

I added some colours (sticking with the reds and oranges I had selected for my sky) and altered the phase settings of the second component to give the material a different look than the original BlackWhite. To get to the Phase box, I clicked on the green spot on the top hand corner of the first phase box.

I then went back to the materials editor, increased the transparency, the refraction and the ambience of the material. You can see the result at the top of this page.