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What are the methods/tools for generating realistic skies with clouds and atmospheric shading?

FOSS alternatives and spherical projections get extra points.

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closed as too broad by Byte56 Mar 2 at 21:40

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
get a camera ;) /cheeky off – Cubed2D Jul 14 '10 at 21:22
    
Terragen Classic is free for personal and non-commercial use. There are tutorials how to do it around the net. Then, of course, there is Terragen 2, e-on Vue. – Keyframe Jul 14 '10 at 23:02
    
http://blenderartists.org/forum/showthread.php?96131-Tutorial-Creating-Skybox-T‌​extures This tutorial might be useful. – user7488 May 20 '11 at 6:45

I've seen someone generate impressive skymaps by modeling a scene in Blender, complete with elaborate particles, shaders, post processing, etc., and then use six 90-degree cameras to render out the skybox (which you could then convert to spherical, if you wanted. Might even be able to render directly to spherical.) This is of course most useful if you've got some kind of fantasy or surreal environment that'd be difficult to capture with photography.

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If the 3D package you are using supports render-to-texture functionality you could always unwrap a sphere/hemisphere and bake an environment (your skybox in this case) to the unwrapped sphere texture. You can do this with a 6-sided box as well. I've played around with this in 3DS Max but I think Blender can do it too.

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Try using Bryce to generate sky bitmaps for use with your skydomes. There is a lot of variation in Bryce's generated imagery.

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