Advanced 3D Planets

Advanced 3D Planets

Posted on 21. May, 2008 by in After Effects

I bet you’ve seen a gazillion tutorials on creating 3D planets, but I also bet you’ve never seen it done this way before. Find out on your own.

This tutorial is unlike any other 3D globe tutorial. Of course there Tea Cups With Lids Amber Rings Wholesale Tea Trays Toddler Sleeping Bags are strong similarities like using CC Sphere, but this tutorial pushes this subject to it’s limits. This subject is as old as the Earth itself. How to create 3D planets? Simple. Just apply CC Sphere onto a texture, right? Wrong! If you want to make it cool you need to do a couple other things as well, which I’m going to show you in this upcoming tutorial.

Since you seem to enjoy the “live” tutorials, like [intlink id=”123″ type=”post” target=”_self”]HS: Bad chroma key[/intlink] I thought I’ll do this one a Live tutorial as well. Unfortunately after I finished recording my AE crashed, so theres no project file at this moment. I should have save it while I was still working. Then I’d have some auto-saves, but I didn’t – sorry. I recreated the project file for you, but be aware that it is a little different from the tutorial. Anyway, I hope you’ll enjoy it.

There’s also a bigger plan behind this tutorial. Read about it in the [intlink id=”127″ type=”post” target=”_self”]blog section[/intlink].

Download: Tutorial project file (After Effects CS3)

Tags: ,

75 Responses to “Advanced 3D Planets”

  1. bogdan bucur

    22. May, 2008

    I think i know Kung Fu

    tutorial it’s super…i like how u do things on the fly…


  2. LifeType

    22. May, 2008

    maltaannon your the greatest .. soon as i get some money im going to donate you a carton of smokes… lol ..
    very very usefull tutorial .. thanks

  3. Tim

    22. May, 2008

    Maltaannon is the best!!!!!!!!!

  4. Chompiras

    22. May, 2008

    Grate tutorial Maltaannon.
    The clouds efx with the shadows looks incredible

    Keep up the great work, cheers.

  5. delight

    22. May, 2008

    Süper tutorial thanks Maltannon :))

  6. krajstof

    22. May, 2008

    You can find those planet textures
    I guess there’s about 12 textures over there, including mars, and moon textures.

  7. Maltaannon

    22. May, 2008

    Yeah I already found them and included them in the project file, which is now available for download. Thanks!

  8. LifeType

    22. May, 2008

    Thanks for the earth maps and the project file ..

  9. Travis

    22. May, 2008

    Awesome tutorial man.


  10. HornedGod

    22. May, 2008

    Totally cool man !
    tnx. :D

    bytheway – can you try and make a tutorial recreating the Stargate teleport rings effect ? if so it would be really grate ! tnx again.

  11. Frank C.

    22. May, 2008

    Thanks for this most excellent adventure! Great stuff! Your “live” tutorials are interesting and I know they save you lots of work, but I prefer your edited versions as they are easier to follow along with. But whatever you do is appreciated in any case. Thanks again!

  12. Maltaannon

    22. May, 2008

    Thanks Frank. I think that if I’ll do a few more “live” tutorials I’ll get around it and they will be shorter. I hope. It really saves me a lot of time. Like… Just a lot. Thanks for your appreciation.

  13. Mike

    23. May, 2008

    This is awesome. Thanks for your hard work.

  14. Delgadeth

    24. May, 2008

    Good tips Maltaannon, but check this out:

    The quality is not the best but is enough, please comment

  15. Jay

    24. May, 2008

    That was amazing, I only have AE 6.0 so I can’t do this yet, but that was really great. Thanks alot

  16. Ricky

    25. May, 2008

    Really cool effect George!
    Adding layers of effects like lights and clouds makes the typical after effects earth much more deep! ;)

    Just a note about the city lights, rather than using the wiggle on the threshold I’d rather put a fractal noise layer over the city lights with a contrast at about 50% and a scale of 1% then use it as luma matte.
    Then I’d wiggle it’s evolution. ;)
    Looks a bit more realistic to me, as if the air makes the light flicker.
    Great tute though!

  17. Maltaannon

    25. May, 2008

    Cool idea! Thanks for sharing. But of evolution would be used, I’d rather just go with time * factor, rather than with the wiggle, but of course I’d have to check what works better. Thanks for your opinion and for your suggestion.

  18. udin

    26. May, 2008

    gookiiiilllll(cool n brilian tuts) maltaannon, thanks for all tuorial, keep smart

  19. habesha

    26. May, 2008

    you are so SMART and best not only that important person for all over the world. And helping me your Best tutorials coz i don’t have internet connection in my home but i download in the internet cafe, and the i see your all tutorials in my home computer so your tutorials is helping me so much, i try to be best computer GR designer in the world and i can! coz i try to work in maya 3D software and AE, including your best tutorials ,so no body stop! but you are my hero sir, 10Q so much for your free tutorials, you helping all over Africans i’m in Addis Ababa

  20. Jake

    26. May, 2008

    Awesome tutorial, once again.
    I think the original image of the earth came from Visible Earth (– also, I’ve been wondering how to take this same technique to create the sun….I’m afraid I may need a true 3-D app—ideas?

  21. Seth

    27. May, 2008

    Another great tut.
    i learn a lot from your tutorials, you definitely take things inside AE to a higher level.
    smoking is very bad!!!!!!!!

  22. dx

    27. May, 2008

    Nice ideas George.
    i’d like to point out a small tip tho, as Mr. Aharon lately mentioned in one of his podcasts on CC: Edit -> Copy Expression Only would have saved you some time in this project.

  23. Janus

    27. May, 2008

    Haha 42 plus a unicorn horn :) That’s just silly. On the subject though, the more I work with computer graphics, 3d mainly, the more I see it’s possible that we live in a created world. Nurbs, particle systems, and all the math… yeah.. :)

    Great tutorial, the night map and shadows on the clouds came off very nice, I appriciate you making this(and all the others).

    Peace to you Maltaannon.

  24. LifeType

    28. May, 2008

    Coming back to watch this again .. and pick up anything i didnt the first time .. thx maltannon . i like the live videos better .. you get to see you thinking and figuring out problems .. great stuff

  25. Les Lanphere

    28. May, 2008

    Jerzy, yer the freakin man! Hey you mentioned you were gonna do a tutorial devoted to the circle effect. That got me really curious, because I’m not aware of any magical ways to use it. Were you pulling my leg, or do you really have something for us?

  26. Maltaannon

    28. May, 2008

    I do, but I think that I’ll do the 3d things and brush engine first. Check out the blog section if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

  27. mavi2

    29. May, 2008


  28. Craig Hellen

    29. May, 2008

    legend!!!! i have a question though, you know the skybox tutorial you talked about… am i wrong or does this do the same thing as the new trapcode horizon plugin? i know we all love trapcode but if you can beat them with your effect preset i will sing it from the hills!…. or am i wrong


  29. Maltaannon

    29. May, 2008

    Well… theoretically it does exactly that, but as far as I know Trapcode plugins, it’s going to be great with many useful features.

  30. Willem

    30. May, 2008

    you rock man. First time visit. Great site. Great CSS too on WordPress.

  31. Shkaa887

    30. May, 2008

    OMG !!!



  32. Pascal

    03. Jun, 2008

    As usual very nice job !! Thanks !
    You said you wanted to give credit for the pics: I think it is located here:

  33. RxR

    14. Jun, 2008

    Wonderful tutorial! I showed the results around the video department where I work. Even the seasoned graphics guys who have been churning out globe animations for 20 years were impressed. The way you supplied controls mean this project can be easily modified and used again and again. Love your site. While my family watches TV, I sit around and do your tutorials for fun & relaxation! Thank you so much for this wonderful resource!

  34. Maltaannon

    14. Jun, 2008

    Thank you RxR, and thank all of you boys and girls. Your comments mean a lot to me, especially when you say you have good time watching them, so thanks again, and stay tuned for more. I’m in the middle of a project right now so I don’t have much time for myself nor for the tutorials, but I assure you… more cool stuff is coming soon. Cheers.

  35. FloDaHo

    20. Jun, 2008

    Don’t worry that the tutorials come across as disorganised, that doesn’t matter to me. In fact I like it that way. This is one of your best tutorials ever! Keep up the good work.

  36. Eugenio

    27. Jun, 2008

    Hi Maltaannon. It´s a very beautiful tutorial. One of the best world tutorial in the Internet and inspired me to create a little video.

  37. Nkolev

    07. Jul, 2008

    i like ur tutorials but maan this that u make the things looks like u are thinking at the moment is very annying also ur voice is terrbile or the way as u record i dont know , but anyway great job

  38. An Onimo

    08. Jul, 2008

    Just one word: Beautiful.

    Thank you so much.


    10. Jul, 2008

    I think you’re not a Human Being! You must not from planet Earth. You’re too: nice, good, honest, wise, clever, smart, intelligent: I’d think maybe you’re a Super Human? NO! You’re absolutely the SPIRIT of After Effects. Thanks GOD for “releasing” the “AVATAR” from Heaven. I’ve seen “Heaven on Earth”. Merci beaucoup!

  40. bla

    14. Jul, 2008

    k***a, przestań kopiować Kramera!!!

  41. Aldie

    18. Jul, 2008

    Your work in this is much better in the other site tutorials…the clouds, bumps, etc. thanks for the great job Bro…I wish you will make a tutorial for those effects that are not commonly use…cheers!!!

  42. Blake

    22. Jul, 2008

    Awesome, thanks! I’m working on it now. I found some similar texture here:

  43. shaGa

    17. Aug, 2008

    YOU ARE A FREAKING WANNABE!!!!!!!! This tutorial is from the Great Andrew Kramer,, such has many other tutorials that you have in your blog…….you should be ashamed…..FUC**NG POSER!!

  44. G-10

    19. Aug, 2008

    shaGa… Could you pls STFU. This is one of the best resource sites for After Effects Users. This is an awesome tutorial and i think Maltaannon’s tutorials are way better than Kramer’s since he does not use as much 3rd party Plugins.
    Maltaannon, ur the best i know for AE, I’m a broke college studnet right now but once i start making money, I swear i’ll donate 5% of my first years paycheck!

  45. Maltaannon

    19. Aug, 2008

    I’m really counting on your promise, and everyone else’s as well. Keeping this site not only costs money, but also keeps me from work. I’d rather be making more tutorials but unfortunately I do have a day job, I have to pay bills and do all that nasty stuff. I also trying to run my own company and that costs even more money and time – thats why I usually record tutorials late at night and I don’t edit them anymore.

    In other words, a nice donation from time to time would solve a lot of my problems, even for a short while.

    Thanks again, and enjoy the free tutorials!
    Happy AfterEffecting.

  46. CristalCube

    30. Aug, 2008

    Great tutorial George, thanks for that and thanks to Pascal to provide the links to the nice maps.

    Cheers!!… CC³.

  47. Tomek

    06. Sep, 2008

    Spoko tutorial…no i pozazdroscic angielskiego…Pozdro

  48. Martin

    15. Oct, 2008

    You are soo cool man, why you done make tutorials wiith polish languge?

  49. Antônio

    18. Oct, 2008

    Hey man, you’re brilliant!
    More than many professional guys we have on the net. We all know who is.

    Thank u so much
    Antônio from Brasil

  50. Bully

    04. Nov, 2008

    hi. is there a tutorial on how to make this earth into a real 3D space in after effects?

  51. Bully

    13. Nov, 2008

    you said at the end about sky box tutorial in creative cow? i could not find it. could you post the link?

  52. putera_aura7

    31. Dec, 2008

    Maltaannon is the GREAT! im so appreciate for all your guide line…so many many thank to maltaannon

  53. tiffer

    05. Jan, 2009

    great tut ill get u some cigs for that

  54. tiffer

    05. Jan, 2009

    and ohh yeah these tuts arent stolen Maltaannon just shows u how to do everthing in after effects verry verry cool Andrew Kramer
    is still 1 of the best too that i have seen i think its good that thay show us there stuff u can learnalot from the 2 of them.

  55. eduardo

    07. Jan, 2009

    el tutoral es bueno pero no tengo el plugins sphere donde puedo encontraro gracias

  56. bruno

    12. Jan, 2009

    is better if animate the rotation with a motion tile on the original equirectangular map, because then you will be able to do an advanced 3d planet for the camera to with the expresions below

    · Rotation X
    · Rotation Y
    · Rotation Z
    + 3Dlayer + Transform / auto orient / orient towards camera

    and parent all the cc sphere shadows to be the same!

    then you will have to rich an expresion to animate the shadows when the camera moves or animate manualy… i don’t rich it to.

    sorry.. my english its a shame.

  57. bruno

    12. Jan, 2009

    (please, if you rich the shadow expresion towards camera moving please let me notice via mail!!!)

    thanks for all

  58. Will

    22. Feb, 2009

    Very cool tutorial.. I didn’t notice anyone else mention it, and I’m sure I can’t be the only one who noticed.. my only criticism, is that the city lights rotation got linked to the cloud rotation settings, so that layer was ahead of where the actual ground layer was. Minor issue, easily corrected, but in case anyone else didn’t see it I thought I’d mention it.

    I totally understand though, that’s the kind of thing that can go wrong at 5am. ;)

  59. James

    07. Mar, 2009

    ^^^ yes I noticed it too. The city lights rotation is linked to the clouds so the lights are always ahead. I’M HAVING TROUBLE FIXING THIS, COULD ANYBODY PLEASE HELP ME?? thanks in advance!

    And thank you Maltaannon, I appreciate the hard work

    • Ed

      25. Jan, 2011

      The fix is really simple. Simply take the +(time*thisComp.layer(“3DC”).effect(“Cloud Speed”)(“Slider”))
      Off the end of the Y rotation on the Lights layer.

      So rotates following the earth texture with no added time, the expression will be: comp(“earthTexture”).layer(“earthmap.jpg”).effect(“CC Sphere”)(“Rotation Y”)

  60. Maltaannon

    07. Mar, 2009

    Oh sh!t. That’s embarrassing. Sorry for the bug. Sh!t happens.

  61. James

    09. Mar, 2009

    ^^ no problem! any advice on how to fix it…Ive tried a couple of things but cant get it to work…even tried it the way you have it on the project file, which is different from the tutorial… but no luck yet

  62. Kevin

    24. Jul, 2009

    HI Maltaannon,

    Thanks for a great tutorial, really helped me out.
    @James: Link the lights to the earth texture rotation and it should work for you. I spotted this too but will forgive Maltaannon as the previous steps about linking the rotation were clear enough to figure it out.

    Thanks Again!!

  63. Marcelo Menezes

    06. Aug, 2009

    Hey mam!!! Great tut!! Just amazing tips!
    I am from Brazil, and i’m updating my knowlledge in AE and i am thankfull by your bearing of spend times to give us these free stuffs!

    Oh!! this is one url of the site that i got all jpg maps used in this tutorial. Hope that be usefull:

  64. Wesley

    11. Aug, 2009

    Excellent site with textures of all planets:



  65. ali

    31. Aug, 2009

    thank, thank, thank,

  66. Jim

    26. Sep, 2009


    you’re the greatest ! i’m so proud that you’re polish. i miss warszawa. dzienkuje bardzo.

    big fan.

  67. Simon Nicol

    31. Dec, 2009


    That was beautiful man, thank you so much for sparing your time to make these tutorials. I’m new to AE and you’ve opened my eyes as to what it can really do.

    The stuff you’re doing here is better than any other work with AE I’ve seen – I’m now not going to stop until I become an AE master!

    You’re an inspiration and I thank you for that.

    All the best


    Happy New Year!!!

  68. Jim

    27. Feb, 2010

    Ur AWESOME!!

  69. Julian Gill

    11. Mar, 2010

    I likez! Good stuff man!

  70. Vincent

    24. May, 2010

    Loooove your tutorial! This earth rocks! Thank you so much for sharing this with us, and I am looking forward to more stuff learning from you ;-) Switzerland sends you greetings!

  71. Bob R

    25. May, 2010

    I totally enjoyed this tutorial!!! While it was a bit difficult to follow because it was “live”, it was interesting to see your thought process as you worked through the project. Having the project file available made it easier to see what you did. I was inpressed with your idea for adding dimensionality to using the bump layer and cloud elevation. Definitely over the top. I also like the use of linked controls for the various properties, such as cloud spped and elevation. I haven’t created any procedures yet, but I have a better idea on how and when to create them. THANKS!!!!

  72. Duael

    06. Dec, 2010

    Great tut.

    There is a collection of free high res Si-Fi planet bitmaps @
    that readers might find useful.

  73. Sharjil

    24. Dec, 2010

    Süper tutorial
    thanks Maltannon!

  74. swork

    05. Aug, 2012

    GREAT Thanks…