ArtMatic Voyager CTX References

Interface Basics & Conventions

Almost everything that you can see in the user interface is active, including the text, icons and glyphs. Pretty much every graphic item can be clicked or dragged to perform a task. Like all U&I Software applications, most tools are accessible directly from the user interface.

  • Tool Tips :
    The Tool Tips area found at the bottom-center of the main window provides useful information about whatever is under the mouse. Move the mouse over any user interface item to display helpful information. Often the tip will include shortcuts keys if any.

  • Numerical controls and slider:
    Numeric controls allow you to change values by typing or by clicking and dragging. When typing, complete entry by pressing return or entry key. Selecting another field should also validate the entry. You can change the number with smaller increments when pressing the option key while dragging a slider horizontally or a number field vertically.
    * ( times 2) changes the field value to twice its value
    / (divide by 2) changes the field value to half its value
    i (invert) changes the field value to 1/value ,
    d (degrees) interpret the entry as degrees converted to radians and shall be used at the end of keyboard entry. for example to get exaxtly Pi type 180 then 'd'. d should validate the entry automatically.

  • Color Pickers
    Color swatches allow you to change items such as the sun and sky color. Click and hold a swatch to pop up the color picker. The cursor becomes an eyedropper that picks up the color beneath it when the mouse is released which makes it easy to grab color from anywhere in the background. Unfortunately Apple in recent OS makes the reading of screen pixel subject to Authorization so you will have to grant Voyager the right to access the screen otherwise the color picker won't work. Keep in mind the picker can read any color anywhere on the screen which is extremely useful as you can pick a color from a picture unrelated to Voyager on the desktop for example.

  • Inspectors and Dialog
    Introduced in Voyager 5 Inspectors allows to edit deeper settings in a non modal way unlike dialog. Thus we keep the name "dialog" for modal windows that prevent main UI to operate while we use "inspector" for UI that pops up in certain areas but don't prevent controls, menus and main preview to be functionnal. The most important UI tools to control objects, sprites, lights, animation, render options and environment controls have been reimplemented as "inspectors".
    Inspectors will appear on the side without hiding the main view. The main UI that control the Camera, Environment and Positions is still accessible while using a specific inspector. Modeless "inspectors" are used for Objects, Sprites, Lights, Animation and deeper Environmental options and parameters. They can be opened using the icons on the top right of the UI. The one specific to timeline 'Animation parameters' is located in the timeline area.
    Some functionality that were in the dialogs were moved to the main UI because the non-modality make them usable even when a particular "inspector" is open. For example a new section 'Positions' below the 'Camera' handle the positioning of every elements in a VY scene which meant the position slider became redundant in the dialogs. 'Positions' can apply to objects, lights, clouds, textures and even the main planet terrain. In general the target will be set automatically when selecting an object or a sprite or a terrain but you can use the mode pop-up at the left of the section to decide to move the cloud layer, even if you are placing sprites or objects at the same time.
    So practically if you open the object inspector to import various objects you can still move the sun or change the camera view.
    Keyboard entries can't be assigned to several windows simultaneously. Thus a selection click is needed on Main UI before keys input can be redirected to it when an Inspector is Open. Likewise click on the Inspector area to redirect keyboard entries to the inspector.

  • Adaptative resolution
    Most of all sliders gives you real time preview at an adaptive resolution. You can click and drag on any control while seeing in real time the result of camera or object changes. When the scene is slow this real time preview will be at a very low resolution but enough to have a useful feedback. As soon as you release the mouse a better rendering is starting, a rendering that can be interrupted at any moment to tweak another parameter.

  • Context variables
    ArtMatic Voyager provides you with a great deal of control over the planet's environment. The light, haze and other environmental parameters can dramatically change the planet's appearance. Most of the environmental controls are found in the lefthand toolset and in the Environment settings dialog. The environmental variable with the camera and the built-in lights constitute what we will call the Voyager Context variables.
    It includes

    Context variables can all be animated as each Voyager Keyframe will store a copy of the entire Context. You can disable the animation of a particular variable with the Animation Parameters inspector. Note that Planet mode and Sky mode and some global settings (Mist, Atmospheric color shift, Underwater color shift and various rendering modes) are NOT part of the context and can't be changed while animating.
    Context variables are stored in Places as well. You can use the main Edit menu to copy and paste the entire context or choose to replace only part of it using "Paste Context Camera" or "Paste Context Environment" menu items.
    Learn more about environment variables

  • Sprites inspector (x)

    Opens the Sprite inspector. Sprites are very fast to render and can provide a lot of cool visual effects for animation when using animated ArtMatic systems: meteorites that cross the sky, various light effects, even reflective water flakes. Static PNG sprites can be used to add people in your architectural or landscapes scenes, a city in the background, or some trees in the foreground etc...
    The Sprite inspector gather all tools to open, scale, orient, activate and shade sprites.
    You can use the main Sprite menu to copy and paste sprites between different voyager scenes.

    DF objects inspector (o)

    Opens the the Objects inspector. The objects inspector gather all tools to open, scale, activate and shade DF 3D objects.
    You can use the main Edit menu to copy, add or paste objects between different voyager scenes.

    Lights inspector (l)

    Opens the Lights inspector. The Lights inspector gather all tools to setup and shade built-in additional lights. Lights are fully animatable and can be treated as additional suns so Voyager CTX can have multiple-sun worlds. Lights positions and settings are context-dependent so places and keyframes can have different lights.

    ArtMatic params & shaders

    Opens the ArtMatic params & shaders inspector for Quick Editing within Voyager (a deeper ArtMatic Tree editing requires using ArtMatic Designer). This inspector gives you a direct access to "Published" parameters from the selected tree and can set the shading options associated with Extra Outputs.
    ArtMatic Designer since version 8 can "publish" up to 6 parameters from the tree even if they are located deep inside Compiled Trees. "Published" parameters are accessible for modification directly within this inspector without having to open ArtMatic Designer.
    If no particular parameters were published it will present the first 6 founded parameters found in the tree.

    As ArtMatic trees are used for many things in VY you have (on the top-right of the inspector the wheel-gear icon) a dynamic popup that lets you choose which tree you want to modify. You can also rename the tree which is often useful after modifying an existing one or to create variations.

    Environment Context

    The left tools in Voyager UI are dedicated to Environment control variables that are part of the current Context variables.

    Sun direction sphere

    The sun direction sphere allows you to set the position of the sun that illuminates the planet. The sun's angle realistically influences the color, the shadows, and reflections. Click on any point to focus the sun's light at that point. The bright spot indicates the sun's position relative to the planet's sky dome which is represented by the sphere. When the illuminated spot is in the center of the globe, it is noon (i.e. the sun is directly overhead). When the illuminated spot is at the edge of the globe, the sun is dipping towards the horizon. In Voyager 5 it is possible to put the sound below the horizon. In no planet mode, this allows for the sun to light objects from below.

    Sun color box

    To change the sun color, click and hold the sun color rectangle to pop up the color picker. Sun color affects all colors in the scene and the clouds. The sun provides directional lighting and is the primary source of illumination whereas the Ambient slider provides diffuse non-directional lighting. To decrease the sun's contribution to the lighting, lower the brightness of the sun color. If you set the sun color to black, the ambient light from by the sky and the haze will provide the scene's illumination and shading. Varying sun color along with the haze color and sun position allows ArtMatic Voyager to simulate a wide variety of light conditions.

    Sun/Atmosphere mode pop up

    Sun/Atmosphere pop up menu is located to the right of the Sun direction sphere. It will set various aspect on how the atmosphere and sun are rendered.
    The modes are as follow:

    Cast shadows

    When this option is on, the surface will cast shadows on itself, and any clouds will cast shadows on the ground. This greatly increases the realism of the scene (and also rendering time). This setting is ignored in Draft quality. Computing shadows is computationally intensive and turning this option on can cause rendering to take many times longer than when it is turned off. Terrain self shadows have been improved in voyager CTX 1.5.
    The render quality setting affects the accuracy of the shadows. When the setting is better or best or sublime, Voyager uses very refined sampling which can take a very very long time but will yield the very best results. You may want to start with good quality and increase the quality if the shadows seem wrong or incomplete.

    Haze slider & haze color

    The haze setting determines the amount of atmospheric haze (caused by moisture and suspended particles in the air). With low values, the haze is only visible at a distance. With high values, visibility is reduced dramatically. The Atmosphere Height preference also affects the density of the haze and determines how high the haze will go . The haze color can be changed by clicking (and holding) the mouse on the Haze Color picker. ArtMatic Voyager models the scattering of light that causes a blue shift of dark colors and red shift of bright colors that increases with distance. Changing the haze color has a dramatic impact on the way that colors are attenuated and shifted in the distance. Setting the haze color to gray enhances the red shift. In Voyager (just as in reality), a low sun will appear more red than it is.
    Note that the Atmospheric Color Shift preference also has an influence on how distance influences color.

    Ambiant slider

    This slider controls the amount of ambient light provided by the diffuse scattering of light from the sky dome. The ambient light is an overall illumination predominantly provided by the sky when in Automatic mode and is non-directional (unlike the sun's). When ambient light is strong, the colors of the sky will "bleed" noticeably on the surface. Ambient light can be eliminated by setting the slider to its minimum value (0). Without ambient light, areas that are not directly lit by the sun will be very dark.
    The Ambiant slider affects the level of ambiant for all objects and terrains in the scene. Objects and sprites have their individual ambiant level and the maximum is taken between the gloabla and particular ambiant level value.
    Environment settings inspector offers five options for the ambient light mode:

    Wetness slider

    This setting determines how much the sea and snow and areas near the shore reflect the sky color. It also accentuates the water's reflectivity. When the wetness is high, you get fuzzy specular reflections in the areas affected by the setting. It also may change 3D object wetness as the renderer takes the maximum of the global wetness setting and the object own wetness setting.

    Atmosphere height slider

    The Atmosphere Height sets the altitude at which atmospheric gazes becomes insignifiantly small. It affects the density of the haze and determines how high the haze will go and how much scattering is going on in the sky shading model. The slider range is between 1 meter and 8000 meters. Note that when no Planet mode is used there is no longer any Atmosphere.

    sea (level) & sea color

    Sea level determines which elevations are filled with water. It is expressed in meters. Everywhere below sea level will be covered with water. Use the color picker found next to the slider to choose the sea color. In scenes where most of the sea color comes from the reflection of the landscape and sky, use a dark color for the sea since the sea color is added to the total light coming from the water and can easily get too bright if its color is too light. The sea color is also modulated by the depth of the sea. It is darker where the water is deeper.
    Note: the Camera is not allowed to go below the sea level.

    roughness slider

    This slider controls the surface texture of the sea by controlling the wind speed which makes the sea rough. The wind speed also affects the speed with which clouds move automatically when time flows. Roughness influences the sea reflectivity and usually the amount of foam as well. Rough seas are less reflective than calm sees. The sea appearance can be modified with the various options available in the Environment settings inspector .

    Transparency slider

    This slider controls water transparency. The appearance of underwater features is also influenced by the Underwater Color Shift setting in the "Environment settings" inspector .

    snow (level)

    Snow level determines the elevation above which the planet terrain is covered by snow. The amount of snow is influenced by the steepness of the terrain and the elevation above snow level. The range is from -500 to 10,000 meters. You can generally eliminate snow by setting the snow level to 10,000 meters since it is rare that you will have peaks that high.
    Note that snow level has no effect on DF based surfaces or objects.

    Environment Settings...

    Opens the Environment Settings Inspector.
    The inspector provides higher precision sliders and numeric fields to set parameters that are often present in the main UI. For example you can set the sun direction more precisely than with the sun ball controller.
    It gather
    Context variables and global scene parameters that are independant of places and keyframes like the "Atmospheric color shift".
    Some rendering modes like how ambiant light is computed or the behavior of the sea can be adjusted in there as well.

    Atmosphere and clouds :

    Ambiant Model: Water and Sea Model:

    Main View area

    The main view area is not only the place you will preview the current scene. It can act as a controller as well if you click and drag on it to move the camera. The amplitude of the motion depends on the Map Scale radius. The resolution of the preview is adaptative and will change to allow quasi realtime feedback when sliding parameters or previewing animation. Many single shots commands display a low res preview before starting a finer calculation.

    Planet And Sky Settings

    The right tool sets provides most controls for setting up the current scene : the Surface that defines the planet, the Texture that shades the planet and the Sky settings that handle sky rendering. Various UI elements and sliders may appear depending on the chosen modes for Skies and Textures.

    Map Overview

    The surface map shows the portion of the planet that surrounds the current camera position. The default dimensions of the area covered by the map can be set with the Map Scale (radius) button below. The map reflects the current sea and snow level settings as well as the surface color mode. Click and drag on the Map Scale controllers to zoom in or out on the map. The red lines indicate the view visible at the current zoom setting. The blue line indicates the current compass heading.
    Click on the map to move the camera to clicked location. You can also click AND drag while keeping the mouse down to move the camera on the Map : the main view will render the camera view in fast preview mode interactively.You may even go outside the Map area while dragging which gives you a much larger virtual region to explore. This offer a very efficent way to position the camera.
    Notice that the latitude and longitude absolute camera position are displayed in the Tool Tips region at the bottom of the screen while dragging and on mouse overs.
    You may set the "snap to ground" preference to ON if you want the Camera to automatically stay near the ground when using the Map to position the camera.

    Map Scale (radius in km)

    Click on the Map Range control and drag left or right to increase or decrease the area visible in the MAP overview. You can zoom in to see fine details of the landscape or zoom far out to get an overview of the planet's terrain. As you drag, the Tool Tips area displays the dimension visible in the map overview. Large ranges (100 km. or more) are useful for seeing large-scale features and to facilitate large location jumps (by clicking on the Map overview). Smaller ranges are useful for fine camera adjustments or to navigate inside a DF volumetric city.
    The default range of the map will define the amplitude of the various relative camera sliders as well as the amplitude of motion when you drag the main view.

    Surfaces mode pop up

    Use the Surface mode popup menu to choose a planet surface. You can use one of the built-in planet models, an ArtMatic file, or combination mode which allows several ArtMatic systems to be combined with each other and/or a built-in planet. Many examples of various types of terrains are provided in /Voyager Examples/Terrains & Landscapes/ folder.
    modes :

    Elevation gain

    The Elevation gain slider controls the surface amplitude which acts as a multiplier to the elevations found in the planet's source definition. Setting the amplitude high exaggerates surface features. Setting the value low flattens the features. Defaults is at 1. Negative surface amplitudes invert the surface and turn mountains into canyons or oceans.

    Open ArtMatic terrain

    Select an ArtMatic file to be used for the current terrain. The surface mode will be set to ArtMatic Surface unless already set to ArtMatic Surface or Animation. The ArtMatic sytem that defines the terrain should be a 2D (2 inputs) tree with 1 output (terrain elevation) or 4 outputs RGBA (RGB color + elevation).

    Edit ArtMatic terrain

    Opens the current ArtMatic terrain in ArtMatic designer for further editing. In combination mode "edit" will invoque the Combination mode dialog.

    Browse Terrains library

    The Voyager Library provides a collections presets terrains and planets directly available with the browse pop up. The scaling mode will be set automatically according to which folder is used. 'Absolute' mode is recommended. You may add your own terrains in the following folders but keep them consistent. A non-texture surface function shall be put in Absolute Surfaces, while a fully textured RGBA planet in Absolute Colored terrains or Worlds.
    Terrains/Absolute Surfaces
    Terrains/Absolute Colored Terrains
    Terrains/Absolute Worlds
    Terrains/Colored Terrains
    Terrains/Absolute Bedrocks

    Add 3D ArtMatic DF object...

    Usually management of DF objects is done within the Objects inspector. This button was kept for convenience to import a DF object from the main UI.

    Colors mode pop up

    The color mode determines how Voyager texture-shade the terrain. The options are:

    Open ArtMatic texture

    Open a new ArtMatic file for texturing the current planet terrain.

    Edit ArtMatic Texture...

    Opens the current ArtMatic texture (if any) in ArtMatic Designer for further editing.

    Browse Textures library

    The Voyager Library provides a collections of presets textures directly available with this pop up. Available folders :
    Textures/Color & Bump
    Textures/RGB Alpha
    Textures/MFD Textures
    Textures/Multi Channel

    Textures can have several outputs. Learn more about texture shading in
    ArtMatic Textures Xouts and Xouts naming conventions

    Edit gradient

    Available in 'Altitude gradient' mode this buttons calls the standard U&I Gradient editor.

    Select gradient

    Available in 'Altitude gradient' mode this buttons lets you choose among a list of gradients.

    Terrain shader Settings... (t)

    Invoque the Terrain shader settings dialog.

    Sky mode pop up

    The sky modes sets the various options to render and shade the sky. There is a Sky Color picker that permits setting the sky background color. Below the sky display there may be one or more sliders visible. Their function is determined by the sky mode. The sky appearance is also influenced by the Sky Illumination Gain setting found in the Image section. This setting can have a dramatic impact on the sky appearance.
    To control clouds in various forms a Scale and a Density slider becomes available when needed. The reference cloud elevation is set in the Position area when mode is clouds & Sky. It is the reference altitude at which layer clouds or volumetric clouds starts.
    The clouds illumination model (volumetric or not, built-in or ArtMatic based) is quite different in Voyager 5 than before : while more physically accurate it is more sensitive to various parameters. The "Cloud & fog color" controls the amount of light emitted within the cloud by scattering which is added to reflections from incoming lights. So when the "Cloud & fog color" is white or very bright you will have more total light. Set it to black to see the response that only depends from sun(s) light. Alternatively you can set the sun to black and play with the Cloud & fog color to see how ambient light is transmitted through the cloud.
    The role of "Cloud & fog color" is more important. You can shade a cloud only through scattering (light coming from every direction) using a bright "Cloud & fog color". In that case the thickness of the cloud will determine how much light is blocked by the cloud particles. The Sky Illumination Gain control affects only the directional light reflected from the sun(s). So in general darkening the "Cloud & fog color" and changing the Sky Illumination Gain is the way to adjust. When the two are high the cloud may emit too much light. In extreme case you may need to use the global illumination gain & Gammas to further equilibrate the image.

    Open ArtMatic Clouds or Environment texture

    Use this button to import a new ArtMatic Sky file.

    Edit ArtMatic Sky...

    Opens the current ArtMatic Sky file (if any) in ArtMatic Designer for further editing.

    Browse Skies library

    The Voyager Library provides an extensive collections of Skies, Clouds and & 360 environment that can be imported directly using the Browse pop up. Folder are organized by themes and contains : RGB Sky plane, Absolute Clouds, Scalar clouds, Underwater shaders, Volumetric clouds , Volumetric lights , MultiLayer Clouds, BackDrops, Custom Suns, Environments 360. In general choosing from theses folders will automatically set the sky mode to the proper mode and eventually set cloud type and cloud scaling mode as well. Custom Suns folder holds alternate sun shaders. When choosing from this folder 'link to sun' is activated automatically.

    skycontrol sliders

    Available in Backdrop and 360 Environment mode theses sliders offsets or rotates the sky coordinates.

    Clouds Density slider

    Controls an offset to the cloud density function. It affects avery kind of clouds and can be used to make the sky completely overcast and will growth volumetric clouds as well.

    Clouds Size slider

    Controls the overall size of the built in clouds or ArtMatic defined clouds/skies.

    Edit current ArtMatic system

    Available with ArtMatic defined clouds/skies this button will open the ArtMatic tree in ArtMatic Designer for deep editing.

    Camera controls

    This area gather controls and buttons dedicated to the Voyager Camera. Any scene is viewed through a virtual camera whose position is user-controllable and animatable. The Camera can use Cylindric, Perspective or Spherical projection. The camera's latitude and longitude, elevation above the terrain, the vertical tilt, and the rotation are usually set with the sliders below but you may use the Map to directly move the camera over the top Map view as well as a click and drag on the main Image preview to move the camera view directly. For small adjustments you may also use the arrows keys.

    Camera Settings...

    The button invoque the Camera Settings dialog.
    The Camera Settings let you choose the projection mode and set the Camera position in absolute coordinates. It also provides a slider for camera orientation in degree and camera tilt (vertical angle).

    Random place (r)

    The Random place button picks a location at random within the 60 000 square km of the current planet to put the camera. Direction of the camera is randomized as well. It is a fun way to explore the gigantic worlds provided by Voyager.
    Shortcut: 'r' key.

    Reset view

    The Camera home button will in most case place the camera at a default world center position. It can be use to find an object or sprite as well : If a Sprite or Object is set as target (see browsing scene picker below) the camera reset view (home) button will move the camera to focus on the selected object starting Voyager CTX 1.2. Otherwise the reset view button will return the camera to the origin: Latitude -1 km and Longitude 0 with a north-facing orientation and the default altitude and zoom angle (about 53 degrees). Home is often used after choosing an ArtMatic file as a surface since the most interesting features often occur there near origin.

    Land Camera (z)

    The "Land Camera" button puts the camera slightly above surface level wether the surface is a planet terrain or a 3D volumetric DF object.
    Shortcut: 'z' key.

    Lateral move

    This slider lets you move laterally in respect to the camera orientation. The range of the displacement depends on the current MAP view scaling. For small adjustments use option key (option will divide the slider range by a factor of 1/50).
    The slider is relative to current position meaning it will be set at zero after each use, zero representing current position. You can also use the left/right arrow keys to move laterally.

    Depth move

    This slider lets you move forward and back with respect to the camera orientation. Since the motion is relative to where the camera is pointing keep in mind that if pointing up this slider will make the camera go up as well as forward. If you need East/West or North/South displacement without changing altitude use the absolute coordinates numbers in the Camera settings dialog. Use option key for small adjustments.
    Key equivalent: up and down arrow key.


    This slider controls the camera's elevation. The slider is relative to current altitude position. The range of the displacement depends on the current MAP view scaling. Altitude is displayed in meters. If you need to set camera elevation to a precise altitude use the Camera settings dialog absolute altitude and set the altitude numerically.
    Key equivalent: Page Up/Page Down or control up/down arrow.

    Keep on top

    This checkbox ensures that when you are traveling over the surface of the world that you don't end up inside of a mountain. When this option is on, the camera elevation will rise above the terrain if you move to a place where the terrain is higher than the camera's elevation. When DF objects, terrains or DF cities are present "Keep on top" also activates collision detection to avoid the camera moving inside features. You may have to turn it off in cases there are structures higher and you still need to place object below, like if you are in a room and don't want objects to be moved to the roof...

    View Direction Compass.

    Click anywhere on the compass (located on the right of the camera area) to rotate the camera. The camera will rotate and point at the position where you clicked. You can also click and drag to rotate the camera.
    Shortcut: Control + left/right arrow.

    Vertical Tilt

    This slider controls the upward /downward tilt angle of the Camera.
    NOTE: When the camera is in Cylindrical mode the virtual lens is cylindrical and does not curve verticals. This allows for very efficient optimizations but causes the y axis to have no curvature while the horizontal axis can curve up to 360 degrees. It also prohibits looking straight downward as there is no downward perspective possible with this projection. The vertical tilt is actually a vertical offset in the image space and does not modify the camera's position or the perspective.

    Focale angle slider

    Zoom in or out on the landscape without moving the camera. Notice that the Surface Map reflects the zoom setting by showing the angle of view visible through the camera when the angle is below 180 degrees. Zoom changes the effective focal length of the camera's virtual lens. Low zoom values correspond to wide-angle lenses and high values correspond to telephoto. The minimum zoom level provides a full 360 degree view angle and can be used to render full panoramic pictures. The maximum zoom level provides a viewing angle of about 22 degrees. Spherical projection is advised with wide angle focals.

    Position area

    Every Voyager entity has now coordinates that can be moved using the new 'Position' section in the main UI. The old "ArtMatic sky coordinate" is thus no longer needed as clouds coordinates are now common for any kind of clouds and can be directly changed in the 'Position' section when in "clouds and sky" mode. Even main planets terrain can be moved. Suppose you have a great sky at some point but the foreground of the terrain is annoying. You can use the position sliders to offset the planet laterally or in depth, or the absolute coordinates numeric fields to completely change the terrain position. Inversely you can have a great scene but the clouds cast an unfortunate shadow. Just move the cloud layer until the problem is fixed. Layer and VL clouds do cast a shadow even in fast preview low res mode so you can interactively move the layer and see the shadows move.

    Warning : Terrain and Texture position are global to the scene (only one value for all places and keyframes). Changing the position of the planet origin will make all saved Places and Keyframes invalid.
    Sprites and DF Objects position are also global to the scene and changing their position will affect all Places and Keyframes. Only Lights and Clouds position are part of the voyager
    Context variables that can be keyframed and stored in Places.

    The "Mode" pop up menu on the left sets the target of the position controls. Usually it is set automatically when editing a particular type of object but at times it may be necessary to set it manually.

    Browse scene elements

    Objects, terrains and sprites used in the scene can be selected (and made target) directly using this pop up picker. Note that if a Sprite or Object is set as target the Camera home button will move the camera to focus on the selected object.

    Lateral displace

    The slider displaces the target lateraly in the camera view space. With SHIFT pressed you can force a world space displacement in longitude (x axis only).

    Depth displace

    The slider displaces the target forward or backward in the camera view direction. With SHIFT pressed you can force a world space displacement in latitude (z axis only).

    Vertical displace

    The slider displaces the target vertically relatively to current vertical position.

    Longitude (km)

    Sets the absolute longitude coordinate in Km. Since the Voyager worlds are immense, setting absolute coordinates is rarely used but it might be very handy to center or align various object to specific point in space. If you need to offset objects East/West independently of camera view this field is the answer, probably with option key down to avoid going too fast as the range is huge.

    Latitude (km)

    Sets the absolute latitude coordinate in Km. You may use this field (likely with option key down) to offset objects, clouds or terrains North/South independently of camera view.

    Elevation (meters)

    Sets the absolute elevation coordinate in meters. Quite useful for setting cloud layers or various DF object altitude. When target mode is clouds & Sky this slider sets the reference cloud elevation which is the reference altitude at which layered or volumetric clouds starts. In Underwater sky mode this will set the water surface level.
    Elevation is just the y of Clouds & sky coordinates origin. As part of
    Context variables it can be keyframed.

    Timeline area

    This area is focused on Animation controls. It provides the Keyframes UI, the main timeline slider and various buttons. Nice animation can be created with a motionless camera by animating the sun position and colors and rendering with shadows on (be aware that turning shadows on increases render time dramatically). Moving clouds will cast moving shadows on the landscape, and the sun can set with the shadows getting bigger and the colors reddening. Power

    Animation parameters inspector (a)

    Opens the Animation inspector window.

    Time slider

    This is the main slider that controls global Voyager time. The time flows from 0 to the given duration. You can use the time slider even when no keyframes are present as many Voyager elements are automatically animated over time. In particular when any ArtMatic tree is used for texture, terrain, sky clouds, objects, it may have its own keyframes and will respond to time changes (Keep in mind that the entire ArtMatic animation will always map to the Voyager timeline duration).
    You can click and drag on the time slider to preview the animation in non real time or simply click at a particular time to see a frame preview at that moment.

    Tip: The time always flows in Voyager, and the timeline can be used to select a particular position in time. This is useful because some elements (water waves and clouds, for example) move automatically at their own speed regardless of the animation duration, and you can use the timeline to find the perfect moment. Thus, a nice trick to change the appearance of the clouds is to set the global duration to 10 minutes or more with the watch icon and use the timeline to find the best cloud positions. In a 10 minute time span the clouds can change dramatically. You can also use the timeline to pick a particular moment within a sky, texture or surface ArtMatic Animation. This is a powerful way to find interesting settings since many parameters can be animated at once with ArtMatic keyframes.


    Keyframes let you store locations and environmental parameters that can be used to render QuickTime animation. Keyframes are not required for animation if you are using ArtMatic animation for the surface mode or if you use preset clouds and water – whose movement is controlled by the Sea Roughness setting. The ArtMatic system's keyframes will be mapped so that all the keyframes play back over the course of the animation. When selecting a keyframe by clicking on it the keyframe Context variables will be copied to the current context, with the exeption of parameters that were set specifically to not be animated within the Animation parameters inspector.


    Click on this button to see a realtime preview of the animation. The preview will be a low resolution approximation of the animation and will appear blocky as even the fastest machines are currently much too slow to calculate a high resolution realtime preview. The preview won't show some aspects of the final rendering ( shadows and reflections for instance). So, it is often useful to do several small renderings at low frame rates to fine-tune the camera motion and animation parameters before the final rendering that can take days or weeks.
    Shortcuts: Press the spacebar on your keyboard to start and stop the animation preview.

    Duration (MSF)

    The watch icon is used to set the animation duration. Click and drag left or right to change the duration. Duration is displayed in MSF format (minutes, seconds, frames)

    Add (keyframe)

    Add a new keyframe with the current Context variables Shortcut: you can also click on the first blank keyframe to add a new keyframe.

    Continue (keyframe)

    Continue will add a new keyframe without changing the absolute time of existing keyframe by changing duration accordingly.

    Replace (keyframe)

    Replaces selected keyframe with the Context variables. You may also use command click on a keyframe slot to perform the replacement. .

    Insert (keyframe)

    Calculates a new keyframe that is halfway between the selected keyframe and the keyframe after it.

    Delete (keyframe)

    Delete the selected keyframe. Shortcut: option-click any keyframe to delete it.

    Places area

    Places provides a simple an easy way to store locations on a planet along with the entire Context variables of Voyager. You may use Places not only to remember and go back to places already visited but also to store atmospheric and lighting conditions.

    Add place

    Saves the current Context variables into the first available Places slot.

    Delete place

    Deletes the selected active place. As with keyframe you can use option click to delete a particular slot, selected or not.


    Not all changes in Voyager will re-render all places preview thumbnails. 'Refresh' is useful when global changes makes the preview no longer accurate. All places thumbnails will be re-rendered according to the latest settings.

    Image Settings area

    The Image Settings area collects all controls that globally affects the rendering : the quality setting, various illumination gains and the gamma sliders. The Gamma filter is applied at the last stage of the rendering while the illuminations gain are taken into acount at the shading phase of various elements. Theses setting, except the quality setting, are part of the current Context variables and are thus both keyframable and can be stored in Places.

    QUALITY pop up

    This popup menu determines render quality (of both the image on the canvas and any pictures or movies rendered to disk). Generally, you will use Draft quality while exploring and switch to a higher quality setting when rendering images and animation to disk. The higher the quality setting, the more computation that Voyager must perform in order to calculate the image and the longer it takes for Voyager to render the image. In some cases you may encounter strange artifacts at the lower quality settings due to insufficient sampling steps in particular for terrains with steep peaks or tiny features (a tiny steep spike can fall in-between samples and be missed). A higher quality setting will increase the amount of samples and will make features misses less likely. When performing draft renders, you may want to use the lowest quality that provides acceptable results. For final animation rendering, it is recommended that you use Better or Best quality as misses can cause flickering where fine details occur and make small peaks appear and disappear unnaturally.
    NOTE: When Draft quality is selected, Voyager ignores the cast shadows setting.

    global illum gain

    global illum gain controls overall illumination gain. It is rarely needed but can be used to compensate for particular lighting conditions. High gamma values will darken the image while adding contrat so it might useful to compensate with the global illumination gain.

    Ground Illumination (Gain)

    Controls illumination gain for terrain and objects only.

    Sky Illumination Gain

    Controls illumination gain for sky shaders only. It mostly affects clouds and atmosphere shading. This slider is often used to enhance the clouds contrast or to make them darker if the various illuminations makes the clouds too bright.

    Gamma R (Red color filter)

    The gamma sliders use an exponential range where 0 means no change is taking place , 1 means power 16, -1 means power(1/16). Gamma values above average (0) will contrast the image.
    Using gamma can greatly enhance the visual impact of a rendering and may also be used to control the color balance of your image.
    Note that Voyager renders colors in 64 bits per components and the gamma and range adjustment is done before final 8 (or 16) bit quantization allowing a much better accuracy and quality than doing these adjustments as a post process in photoshop or any graphic application.
    TIP: Shift-click the Red gamma slider to move all the sliders together.

    Gamma G (Green color filter)

    Green channel of the Gamma filter

    Gamma B (Blue color filter)

    Blue channel of the Gamma filter

    Reset color filter

    resets color filter parameters to nominal default (Gamma and global illum gain at 1).

    Render pict to screen

    Resets the various image controls to their defaults values.

    Render animation

    Click the Render Animation tool render an animation. The file does not need keyframes to be animated. The clouds and waves and ripples all are automatically moved by the wind even without keyframes. Movies will take a long time to render. To stop a render, press the escape key. The duration of the complete animation is set with the Duration Tool found next to the timeline in the main window.
    Mode popup (movie or picture sequence)- The options are: QuickTime Movie, List of Pictures, List of Tiff. The "List" options render the movie frames as sequentially numbered image files (in either PICT or TIFF for- mat). Such sequences are recognized by most movie editing programs. Pict/Tiff sequences are a good idea when performing a long render since nothing will be lost if the computer shuts down unexpectedly. ( movies will be unplayable if the render is interrupted). Preset popup - The preset popup provides a list of common frame size/frame rate combinations. Choosing a preset cause the format and fps fields to be filled in with the appropriate values.

    Open ArtMatic Voyager bundle

    This command is the same as File->Open and will prompt you to locate a Voyager bundle.

    Save Voyager bundle

    This command is the same as File->Save and will either directly save the cureent scene if the file already exists or prompt you to set a name to save the Voyager bundle.

    Render pict to file

    Click this tool to render the scene as an image file. The Render Picture dialog opens to give you control over the image settings. You can choose dimensions up to 16000 by 8000 pixels. Renderings now always use dithering. Dithering introduces a tiny amount of color (RGB) noise to the image which greatly enhances color accuracy and avoids color-banding.
    NOTE: Voyager does not set a DPI in the rendered pictures which will probably be at 72 by default. Various options are availble :
    Render Mode : Single view, stereoscopic views.
    Render : Current View, All places, All Keyframes.
    Render All Places option will render a picture for each place stored in the file. Keep in mind that this can take a long time. To abort a render in progress, press the escape (ESC) key.
    Anti-Aliasing :
    Standard 2*2: Samples per pixel is set at 4. Default and Fastest AA mode but often insufficient for DF cities and textured DF objects.
    Stronger 3*3: 9 Samples per pixel.
    Double 4*4: 16 Samples per pixel. Recommended to avoid flickering, in particular with DF cities and textured DF objects.
    Adaptative AA:
    The Adaptive anti-aliasing oversampling is done only when fast changes in depth and color occurs which makes it faster than a brute N*N oversampling. For terrains it works only when the camera is set to perspective and spherical due to specific optimisation in the cylindric case. Its speed is quite variable depending on the scene, but it is often better and faster than the 4*4 oversampling.

    ArtMatic Voyager Preferences :

    Aspect Ratio

    Sets the overall aspect ratio of the canvas.

    Resizing pop up

    Window Skin

    Sets the skin of the ui among various styles:

    Snap to ground using the map (checkbox)

    When ON click on the main ui Map area will land the camera close to ground level automatically.

    Open last at launch (checkbox 1.5 addition)

    When ON this checkbox option will make Designer start with the last opened Voyager file to save time when working on a project. Turn it off if you want to start with a new scene. Note that Voyager will use the last context variables and terrains anyway.

    Map mode

    Map mode provides 2 ways of drawing the top view map :

    choose gradient

    edit gradient

    calls the gradient editor to modify the elevation color palet

    Balance light energy (checkbox 1.5 addition)

    When ON Voyager will use a new illumination model developped for CTX 1.5 that normalizes the coefficients of all type of light transport mechanism so that the sum of all stays below 1. Practically it means that all levels are balanced automatically so that light output can't be bigger than the inputs which was a problem before with reflections for example. So high reflections will lower diffuse, specular and ambiant internally.
    With "Balance light energy" ON it is easier to obtain a more pleasing and realistic illumination. Examples are provided in ../Voyager Examples/VY15 Examples/Illumination/

    Reference fps

    Pprovides the default fps (frames per seconds) for animation.

    High Freq limit

    This setting adjusts the high frequency filtering limit. Keep it at 100% to have the maximum details. If too much flickering occurs when animating you may try to lower it to 70 % or less.

    Distance of horizon (KM)

    The maximum distance of visible objects and terrain can be adjusted here. Usually at 120 km.

    Ambient Occlusion Radius (meters)

    Sets the average Ambient occlusion radius for objects

    Fractal object detail

    This setting can lower the high frequency limit of fractal DF objects. Keep it at 100% to have the maximum details. If the fractal looks to noisy you may try to lower this value.

    Sprite inspector

    There are 32 available slot for sprites images or sprite artmatic system. Click open in the first empty slot to add a new one. The Voyager Library/2D Sprites/ folder contains many sprites presets and examples, including a collection of people png.

    Map view : Click to place object

    You can place sprites on the map directly by clicking on it. This set the object x z position in world space. To adjust the sprites altitude use the y position slider in main ui and make sure the selected object is the target of the slider. All sprites position are drawn on the map using a cross surrounded by a disc. A green cross indicates the selected one.
    Note that sprites position are global and are shared between places and keyframes.

    Center Map to eye

    Center the map view to the camera eye position.

    Center sprite to current view

    Use this button to place the selected sprite in the center of the current view. If the sprite is not hidden by another object it should appear in the camera preview image.

    Center Map to sprite

    Center the map view around the current selected sprite position in world space.

    Land sprite

    Use this button to land the selected sprite to the ground. This will place the bottom of the sprite at the current ground level. When the sprite is an unbounded artmatic system this places the center to the ground.

    Offset Map view

    Use this button to adjust the map view location

    Map Scale (radius) in km

    Use this button to adjust the map view radius

    Sprite height (meters)

    This field set the sprite size. By default it is set at 1.9 meters. Depending on the scene this may be too small to see and true dimensions sometimes are not necessary so you may need to adjust it to unrealistic values.

    Replace sprite ...

    Replace the sprite wwith another file.

    Reload sprite

    Reload the sprite file from disc.

    Edit ArtMatic system

    When the sprite is a 2D artmatic system you can open it in ArtMatic Designer with this button.
    There is no specific editor for png sprites and you can use your favorite image editor application outside Voyager.


    Sets the rendering mode for the sprite. ArtMatic 2D systems : Usually the alpha output of an RGBA system provides the basic opacity. For scalar systems, the output value is treated as an alpha channel that sets the object's basic opacity. Sprite light objects are blended with the Voyager scene using an additive transfer mode and the alpha channel is ignored. Use additive mode for light or special illumination effects like flares or halos.

    Sprite rotation

    Sets the sprite orientation when "Always face eye" is OFF

    Always face eye (checkbox)

    When active this make the sprite always face the camera. Since the sprite is a flat 2D image this is often required.

    Clear reference

    Delete all references to the selected sprite from the scene. This will also remove the file from the VY bundle so use it with caution.

    ambient level

    How much the sprite will respond to ambiant colors.

    Self illum level

    Turn it high if you need the sprite to be self illuminated, that is to be shaded independently of the sun or scene lights.

    Specular level

    MFD roughness

    MFD shininess

    MFD hilights spread

    Sets the material properties of the sprite.

    max dist for shadows (meters)

    You can turn off shadows for a sprite setting this field to zero.

    shadow softness %

    Mainly for sprite png, this blurs the sprite shadow map.

    Specular color

    The Specular color will filter the specular reflections at certain angles.

    Reflection color

    The Reflection color will filter the mirror reflections if any. The amount of true reflection is set with this color alpha channel.

    DF Objects inspector

    ArtMatic Voyager can use certain ArtMatic systems to create fully-3D objects via a technology called Distance Field Ray Marching or DFRM, for short. Only ArtMatic systems that make use of the X, Y and Z global inputs can be used for 3D objects. The output should be scalar (one-output component) or RGBA with A storing the distance field.
    There are some special requirements for ArtMatic systems to be rendered correctly as 3D objects covered in greater detail in the Building 3D Objects : DFRM guide. In short, DFRM generally requires that the ArtMatic system be based on its special 3D-object DF components (which technically-speaking are Density Estimate Fields). DFRM can even be used to create 3D from 2D images as an elevation map can displace a DE field.
    DFRM objects can be designed to be influenced by the Voyager elevation. The objects can be free-standing, floating objects or integral to the landscape. They can be infinite and planet wide like a full DF city or be local like a simple DF sphere.
    You can create entire DF based landscapes for true volumetric terrains that can have overhangs, caverns and floating rocks. And, by using the No Planet Surface mode, you can use DF objects to create nonlandscape 3D images like floating asteroids in space. Furthermore 3D objects rendering can make full use of the ArtMatic Extra Outputs settings to modulate shading variables.

    Map view

    You can place objects on the map directly by clicking on it. This set the object x z position in world space. To adjust the object altitude use the y position slider in main ui and make sure the selected object is the target of the slider.
    The map view functions much like the surface overview in the main user interface. The orange lines indicate the current field of view. The blue line indicates the direction in which the camera is pointing. A blue circle indicates an ArtMatic DF object. The current selected object is marked with a green x. You can select another object by clicking on the object name list in the bottom of the window.
    Note that objects positions are global and are shared between places and keyframes.
    Clicking in the overview, places the current object where you click. Click and drag on the Map Scale button (+-) to zoom the overview in or out.

    Center Map to eye

    Center the map view to the camera eye position.

    Center object to current view

    Use this button to place the selected object in the center of the current view. If the object is not hidden by another object it should appear in the camera preview image.

    Center Map to object

    Center the map view around the current selected object position in world space.

    Offset Map view

    Use this button to adjust the map view location

    Map Scale (radius) in km 0.196

    Use this button to adjust the map view radius

    Land object

    Use this button to land the selected object to the ground. This will place the zero of the object at the current ground level.

    Open ArtMatic system

    Load another ArtMatic system to define the current object. The ArtMatic system scalar output or Alpha output needs to be a true 3D DE field (Distance Estimate Field or DF in short).

    Reload ArtMatic system

    Reload the ArtMatic system from disk. This can be useful if the system was modified without Voyager being notified.

    Edit ArtMatic system

    Open the current object in ArtMatic for further editing. ArtMatic engine versions should match. If you have several ArtMatic versions make sure to launch the correct one before using this button.

    Clear reference

    This button permanently clears the file and the reference to a particular object. Use it only when sure that you want to dismiss it.
    You can temporarily remove an object from the scene using the Active checkbox without deleting the file.

    Active (checkbox)

    Activate or deactivate the given object. Unactive object won't show in the scene.

    Object Scale %

    Set the object overall scale in percent.

    Send Terrain Elevation (checkbox)

    For the true 3D objects, Send Terrain Elevation is an available option that allows the ArtMatic system to receive terrain elevation information via global input A2. This option is useful for allowing elevation to influence objects. For example, you can add this value to the global Y input to have jittered objects or grass follow the planet's terrain. Or you can use it to allow the terrain elevation to influence the object's color or position. The elevation information is filtered to avoid having small terrain details unduly influence the objects.

    HF filter

    When Send Terrain Elevation is ON the HF filter slider alows to filter out high frequencies.

    Specular color, Reflection color

    Specular Color and Reflection Color determine the object's sheen and reflectivity. Specular Color provides diffuse reflected light and controls what you might call sheen or gloss. Reflection Color provides accurate directional reflections.
    Specular Color and Reflection Color have a color picker to choose the color of the reflections and an amount adjustment. Drag up/down on the amount adjustment to adjust the amount. The amount is displayed as a grayscale shade where black is 0 and white is maximum. Direct reflections which are controlled by Reflection Color alpha/amount are processor-intensive since they are exact reflections of the entire scene. Depending on the object material properties and the incidence angle reflected light may be colored more or less by the reflection color. In Voyager 1.5 CTX the maximum colorization occurs when object is very rough. Very shining object will reflect light without coloring it. Intermediary materials will color the reflected light more when the angle between the view vector and the normal is low (Normal is facing the view vector).


    This pop up sets the shading/rendering algorithm for the current object. For a deeper discussion see DFRM guide :Shading DF Objects. The Options pop up below sets the shading/rendering options for the current shading algorithm if any.

    Specular level

    MFD roughness

    MFD shininess

    MFD hiligths spread

    Theses sliders defines the material properties of the object which defines how it will interact with incoming lights.
    In the real world, surfaces tend not to be uniform smoothness -- even surfaces that we think of as smooth, such as a billiard ball, are not uniformly smooth. Surfaces tend to have tiny microfacets whose orientation and reflectivity determine the surface roughness and reflective properties. ArtMatic Voyager provides some control over microfacets through the MFD (microfacets distribution) parameters in order to each different looks.There are three parameters that you can adjust that provide a broad range of surface textures : Roughness, Shininess, and Highlight Spread. By adjusting these three settings and the specular level, you can achieve a great many looks.
    These three parameters have been abstracted to manipulate both the Fresnel curve response and microfacet distribution and they are actually driving the many internal parameters that these complex lighting models require.
    For more information about microfacets and specular light, see

    Specular Level sets the overall level of the MFD specular light with respect to the diffuse light.
    MFD Roughness high values create rough random microfacets that transmit specular light uniformly. The surface tend to radiate light at broader angles.
    MFD Shininess high values make the surface shiny and metallic.
    MFD Highlight Spread. The smoother the surface (low spread and shininess values), the more that the specular light will be focused. Essentially, it controls the spreading of highlights on the surface. The interaction between this setting and the specular level and other settings is complex. When Specular Level is 0, this setting has little or no effect. When Specular Level is high, use this to accentuate specular color highlights.

    Surface shade %

    Available for Transmissive shaders this controls how much the surface is shaded versus the light coming trough the medium.

    Tint gain

    Available for Transmissive shaders this controls how much the light coming trough the medium is colored by the object color.

    max dist for shadows (meters)

    You can turn off shadows for a particular object setting this field to zero. This setting allows ArtMatic Voyager to optimize shadow calculations by setting a limit distance at which the Voyager raymarcher stops scanning when calculating shadows. If the value is too low, some shadows may be cut-off.

    shadow softness %

    DF object supports fuzzy soft shadows.

    Ambient level

    Ambient Level (range: 0 to 1) determines how much influence the Voyager environment has on the object's color. When Ambient Level is 0, the object's color is not influenced by the colors in the Voyager scene. When Ambient Level is high, one can see the influence of the Sky color on the object. Now the exact color of the ambiant light depends also on the environmental ambiant mode preference. In Voyager 1.5 it is possible to force the ambiant light to a constant white.

    Light emission range (meters)

    Available for light field object this sets the range of illumination by the field.

    Ambient Occlusion

    The type of Ambient occlusion is chosen with the following picker:

    The slider below sets the amount of Ambiant occlusion.

    Lights inspector

    The Lights inspector gather all tools to setup and shade built-in additional lights. Lights positions and settings are context-dependent so places and keyframes can have different lights. Keep in mind that when you edit light you edit the current context lights. All your work may disappear if you select another Place, keyframe or simply launch a keyframed animation because the keyframed (or place) context will replace the current context. Make sure to save a place with the new lights setting and if you are working on an animation to resave a particular keyframe or use the Copy to all keyframes button.

    Map view : Click to place object

    You can place lights on the map directly by clicking on it. This set the light x z with default y. To adjust the light altitude use the light y position slider in main ui. The inspector does not prevent using main ui sliders and tools.

    Center Map to eye

    Center the map view to the camera eye position.

    Center object to current view

    Use this button to place the selected light in the center of the current view. If the light is visible and not hidden by another object it should appear in the camera preview image.

    Center Map to object

    Center the map view around the current light position in world space.

    Offset Map view

    Use this button to adjust the map view location

    Map Scale (radius) in km 0.196

    Use this button to adjust the map view radius

    Land object

    Use this button to land the selected light to the ground.

    Active (checkbox)

    Activate or deactivate the given light. Unactive object won't show in the scene.

    Type of light picker

    Size when visible %

    When light is visible and shaded this sets the size of the light sprite rendering.
    Note that the light halo is a 2D sprite and may not interact with 3D object correctly unless adjusted to avoid intersections. If you need a real volumetric light halo its possible using DF lights.

    Attenuation dist (meters)

    Adjust the distance where the light has any effects.

    light ball controller

    Like the main sun controller this tool sets the light direction for directional lights sources.

    light color box

    Click here to set the light color.


    Use this slider to adjust light intensity

    Copy to all places

    Lights positions and settings are context-dependent so places and keyframes can have different lights. To force lights to be the same in all saved places use this button.

    Copy to all keyframes

    Lights positions and settings are context-dependent so places and keyframes can have different lights. To force lights to be the same in all keyframes use this button. You may also disable light animation of position in the Animation dialog.