These are some of the skydomes I created for the GoW3 levels. I do like extreme weather to begin with, so it was pretty awesome to be able to make this skydome. I finally had some use of not missing any of the Tornado Chaser episodes on TV ;)
Most of the work went into creating the matte itself, but to make it look more alive, I added some distortion maps to the shaders. The lightning fx is made out of one additive shader, that I mapped to
separate polygons, and to make it look more random, as if it'd emerge from the clouds and down to the ground, I added a small ambient map to it all (transparent if additive) that animates along the Y axis.
I was able to control the timing of the lightning really easy from Photoshop, instead of using other, more expensive techniques. Click on the picture to view the ingame version.
The tornadoes are made of just one poly card each (or 3 cause I added a small fade at bottom and top). To make them look the way they should, I added a scrolling texture to distort the movement and did an
animation to make them behave more realistic. I also animated a small cloud texture to add an illusion as if it'd be rotating at the same time. Simple trick but it worked.
When you make effects like this, you always do RnD, and sometimes your RnD ends up giving more interesting effects than you aimed for. The tornado fx ended up better than I aimed since
it looks like it pulls the dust/water from the ground. Considering it's just a simple shader and assigned on one polygon, it runs pretty fast aswell.
This one below is a pretty simple one compared to the one above and was used all over the Hades levels. Most work on this one too went to the main background texture, but I used the same technique to make it all move as on the one above.
It's a matte painting with another layer on top of it that has the fire fx and clouds with distortion on them. I made the fire animations so they look like a lava pool, throwing molten rock up in the air.
A distortion fx adds the heat to the whole image, a pretty simple fx, but the end result worked well as a background. This one has two test animations that you can see by clicking on the top or bottom.
That's all about the Skydomes...