I spent countless hours trawling the Internet for a photo-realistic Earth tutorial in Maya. I managed to find many in 3DS Max, Cinema 4D and After Effects but nothing for Maya. My tutor decipher a tutorial for 3DS Max into Maya language, he later showed me how he made it, afterwards I reproduced one of my own form memory, adding some of my own content whilst I went along. I then went on to document the processes in a 21 step guide Maya tutorial.
I will admit that there is proberly a few improvements that could me made to this tutorial and the end product so if you've got any thoughts on this feel free to comment. By the way, I am a bit of an amateur and this is my first tutorial so excuse my lack of technical terminology.
A quick word of advice to any newbies in Maya, make sure you edit all the names of polygon shapes and nodes as you go, otherwise things will soon get messy.
If you get stuck at any point in this tutorial comment on one of the posts explaining the problem and leaving a point of contact, and I will get back to you asap.
For this Project you will need an Earth Colour Map, an Earth Night Map, a Cloud Transparency Map, a Specular Map and a Bump Map. These can all be found and downloaded by clicking this link; http://planetpixelemporium.com/earth.html
If you want some higher res maps, check out Nasa's Blue marble/visible earth collection
1. Start by creating a polygon primitives - sphere, adjust the subdivision to 50 and scale by 250.
2. Apply a new lambert to this sphere.
3. Add a directional light, under attributes uncheck emmit specular and rename diffuse_directional_light. Duplicate and do the opposite to step three, name this specular_directional_light.
4. Now apply a ramp shader to your earth_shader. Use a bright and a dark colour to replicate how the light falls on the sphere. Set to V Ramp and facing angle.
5. Once the ramp shader matches the directional light, replace the day map file to lighter colour and the same with the night to the dark.
6. Create a blend colour node from colour utilities in the hypershade, plug the day map into one colour and blue as the other, set the blender to 0.9.
7. Apply the blend colour to the specular glow of the earth_shader.
8. Place a new file call it specular_file, then plug the specular map into the colour and plug the specular_file.outcolour to the earth_shader.specularcolour.
9. Create a bump map using the bump file plug into the bump map on the earth_shader. Set the Bump value to 0.1.
10. Attach the Luminance.outvalue to the earth_shader.glowintensity.
The last image shows how your Earth Graph Network in the Hypershade should be looking.