Making your 3D Skybox

Posted Mar 12, 2014
Last Updated Mar 12, 2014

As noted in an earlier article, Wall Worm allows you to start designing your 3D Skybox from the very start of your project. This offers more versatility than traditional Hammer methods because you can get an idea of how an environment will look early on and find potential problems that can be a nightmare to modify if you wait until the end to finish.

As noted in the previous article, you should make a habit of putting all of your 3D Skybox objects into a layer called 3D Skybox.

Your 3D Skybox objects should never be scaled down as they are in the Hammer method. Instead, all you need to do is tag objects in Anvil as Skybox objects. You can do this two ways:

  • Anvil > Tags > Add
  • Wall Worm > Wall Worm Level Design > Set Selection as Skybox Item

When you call that function, all objects currently selected will be tagged as skybox objects. You can call this on entities, WWMT helpers and brushes. Remember that brushes need to be tagged as World Geometry which is located in similar menus as the skybox functions. Brush geometry has a special function to tag as both world geometry and a sky object at once: Add as Sky and Brush (in Anvil).

Now, one last thing to do is add your Sky Camera. Do this in Anvil by pressing the Get/Set Sky Cam in the Tags tab.

This will create a sky_camera entity in the scene. You should move this entity off away from your level to wherever you want your 3D skybox to export to in scene. That is the only entity that you should ever place outside your level. As long as you have properly sealed your 3D skybox and tagged all 3D skybox brushes correctly, you will now have a fully functioning 3D skybox in your level when you export and compile.

That's it.

Since you never have to shrink and move objects, you can make changes that effect your scene and skybox any time you want. And if you incorporate parametric design principles, the system can be highly efficient. For example, if you are using CorVex, you can control the boundaries between layout and skybox with single splines. But those techniques are beyond the scope of this article.



Making Your Sky

Series on making your 2D Sky and 3D Skybox in 3ds Max for the Source Engine.

  1. Getting Started with your Sky
  2. Making your 3D Skybox
  3. Your 2D Sky and Sky Writer