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Happy International Moon Day! In order to raise awareness about the importance of the Moon in our lives, and to highlight the scientific and cultural significance of the Moon, the General Assembly adopted resolution 76/76 on "International Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space" in 2021, proclaiming July 20 of each year as International Moon Day.

Moon created with Blender - XRender

From observe the Moon and appreciate its beauty, to participate in events and activities related to astronomy and space exploration, there are many ways to celebrate International Moon Day. As a cloud render farm, XRender bring a tutorial on how to quickly create Moon effect in Blender to express our tribute to the past and expectations for the future.

Search CGI Moon Kit

Search "CGI Moon Kit" and click on the first link that leads you to the NASA's website.

Download color and displacement map

Download link:

Download the color texture and the displacement map that "created from data assembled by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter camera and laser altimeter instrument teams" by NASA.

Download color and displacement map in different resolution

Note that the resolution is an important factor especially for displacement map, so it is recommended to choose higher resolution map so as to create more highly detailed moon effect. In this tutorial, we chose a 1024*512 color map and a 5760*2880 displacement map.

With the maps needed prepared, now we can launch Blender and create a new scene (press A and delete all objects in the scene) to officially getting start with creation.

Here are steps of the Moon creation:

Add a UV Sphere in Blender and smooth

First, let's create the geometry form of the Moon. Click Add (or press Shift A) and choose UV Sphere in Mesh, then right click and select Shade Smooth to smooth the surface of the mesh.

Add modifiers to sphere

Select the sphere and add a Subdivision Surface modifier to the mesh In Modifier Properties.

Change the world color to black

Add light

Now add light and world color of the scene. Change the view to Rendered, set the world color to pure black in World Properties and add a Sun light in Add (Shift A) – LightSun.

Add material in Shader Editor

Then let's create the material of the Moon. Open the Shader Editor and click new to create a material for sphere.

Enable Node Wrangler add-on in Blender

Select the Principled BSDF and press Ctrl T, to quickly call a node group with an image texture and nodes controlling coordinates. The shortcut only works when the Node Wrangler add-on is enabled. You may enable the add-on in PreferenceAdd-on or learn more details in the article we shared before: How to Add Materials in Blende.

Load color map to sphere in Shader Editor

Change node settings

For the color map, click Open in the Image Texture node. Then connect the Generated of the Texture Coordinate node to the Vector of Mapping node, set the texture interpolation to Smart and the project method to Sphere, as the image show above.

Load displacement map

As for displacement map, you may add one more Image Texture node to load the map. Add Bump node and Displacement node and connect them as the image show above.

Moon in different colors

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