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Getting Started in Bryce 5.0

Part 1: Creating a scene in Bryce 5
Part 2: Creating two figures in Poser 4
Part 3: Importing the figures from Poser 4 into Bryce 5 and making the finishing touches
Keyboard Shortcuts

Before we get started into Bryce too far, let me just familiarize you with some of the common elements you'll find in the Brycian environment.

Note: This tutorial is to be used in conjunction with the Bryce Interface Map

flippy arrows These are usually located next to controls. Clicking on these will give you more options.
memory pills Memory pills allow you to save your settings/views. These particular memory pills were taken from the main document window. They allow you to save several camera views that you can quickly switch to later by just clicking on them. The top memory pill is the default setting. Other blue pills are user-created: the pill with the white dot in the center is the current selected memory pill. The gray pill is an unused pill.
cancel and accept The X means 'cancel' and the checkmark means accept. Every popup window will either have both of these icons or just the checkmark.
  double arrow Many of the buttons will show a double-pointed arrow when you hover over them. By holding the mouse button down and scrolling to the right or left you can affect various changes.
  hand tool The hand tool allows you to 'grab' the document and move it. This is actually called the Pan tool since it's panning the camera.
sliders Sliders come in two varieties. The top slider allows for a range: by moving the top green arrow you set the minimum amount and by moving the bottom green arrow you set the maximum amount. The bottom slider is the more common slider that allows you to select a value by clicking or clicking and dragging. Both sliders will allow you to click directly on the value and enter a new value.

Getting Started


Open Bryce 5. You can find it at Start > Programs > Bryce 5 (This is the default location).

After Bryce 5 is open, we'll want to set a few preferences. Open the preferences at Edit > Preferences. Make sure that 'Launch to a previous state" is selected. This will make sure that any changes we make to the Brycian environment will stick.

Now select the Maximum/Minimize icon. This will be the third item from the top in the Display Palette. This allows Bryce to use all the available screen real estate.

Document Setup (Ctrl-Alt-N)

Several things here. At the top you can give your project a name. The default is 'Untitled'.

Document Resolution is the resolution (in pixels) of the document that you'll be creating. Since Bryce can be used to both create great 3D images and animation, I might interchangeably refer to the document as a 'movie', 'scene', or 'composition' throughout this tutorial. Back to the New Document window- you can choose a 'document aspect ratio' so that the dimensions will retain the same relation as you size the document. It is important to note here that standard film uses a 4:3 ratio. This is good to keep in mind if you plan on publishing video from Bryce.

The Render Resolution is the size of the movie when rendered. While you are creating and editing objects in Bryce, you'll be doing so using wireframe representions of the objects. You won't see the finished look until you 'render'. So, the wireframe is what you work with and the render is the final output. You should be mindful that rendering the image can be very processor intensive and can take a lot of time, considering the complexity of your movie. The most important trade-off in Bryce to remember is the relationship between rendering time and detail. For the most part, the more detail you want to see, the longer it will take to render (compute) that scene. The render resolution is also the default publish size when you publish your work as either a movie or image.

On the right hand side of the Document Setup is a list of common render settings. Default will give you 540 X 405. Max Recommended will try to fill up most of your screen. Let's just choose Max Recommended so that we have plenty of space to work with. And then click the checkmark to close the window.

First Exposure

Click on the icon that looks like a mountain in the Create Palette. This will place a wireframe mountain into your document window. Notice that this is mathematically computed representation of the surface of your mountain. When you render your document, it will apply a texture to the surface and smooth out the fractal shapes to make the finished product. Click on the large round button on the left to render your mountain. Notice that it will make several passes before you image is fully rendered. Each pass makes the image more and more clear. The final pass provides the anti-aliasing. Anti-aliasing is the process of blended edges to provide a smooth image.

Hit Esc to switch back to the wireframe view and I'll introduce the controls.

The Controls


The nano-preview is a small preview of what the rendered output will look like. This gives you a real-time view of the changes that you are making. The memory dots on the left of the nano-preview allow you to save camera views. To save a camera view, click on an empty (gray) pill. Later when you'd like to return to this view, simply click on it. The top pill is the beginning view. To empty a memory pill, Alt-Click on a full one.

Camera views

There are two types of camera views: perspective and orthogonal. Perspective gives you a 3d view while orthogonal gives you a 2d view.

The Director/Camera view toggles between Director view and Camera view. The blue square in the center of the screen starting out is the camera. The director view is by default directly opposite of the camera view. By selecting the view options from the flippy arrow or by using the Select Views control, you can select either of these views or any of the orthogonal(2D) views. These include top, right, front, left, back, and bottom views. Orthogonal views allow you to control your objects with greater precision. Since these views show only 2 dimensions, they allow to align to not worry about the third axis.


This is a great time to tell you about the plane axis. I'm sure that many of you remember the X and Y axis from geometry. The X is the right and left of an object. The Y is the up and down of an object. When you're working with a three-dimensional object you also have the Z-Axis which is the front-back of an object.

X controls the width, Y controls the height, and Z controls the depth.

Here is an illustration of the XYZ axis by Robin Wood.

To better illustrate the use of the orthogonal views that I mentioned earlier, select the top view. (Remember that you can select this from either the Select View control or the flippy arrow) This view allows you to move your mountain (you still have your mountain don't you?) along the X and Z axis, thus eliminating any movement along the Y axis. This is great for when you want to move a mountain into the background without making is sink into the ground or rise up into the sky.

Camera Movement

The three camera crosses are:
The YZ camera allow you to move up and down, towards and back.
The XY camera allows you to move up and down, side to side.
The XZ camera allos you to move side to side, towards and back.

The Banking button allows you to bank the camera view as if you were in an airplane. Try it out. Click on the button and drag either left or right to bank it in either direction.

The Field of View mimics changing the lens on your camera. Clicking and dragging right with the mouse makes the scene farther away (like wide angle lens) and dragging left makes the scene closer (like telephoto lens).

The Camera Trackball allows your view to rotate around the scene allowing you to view your scene from any angle. Or if you want, you can select one object and have the trackball rotate around that one object. Select the flippy arrow to the right of the trackball and choose 'Center to Selection'. Now click on your mountain. Now when you move the trackball, the camera will move around your mountain.

The Render Controls

As I mentioned earlier, rendering can take a lot of time. Luckily there are ways to reduce that time. The leftmost button under the trackball, the Textures on/off button renders the document without the surface textures. Although this doesn't look very pretty, it can give you a good idea of how the objects/shadows/light interact. The second button is the Fast Preview button. This button removes some of the smoothing and saves is 41% faster than the regular Render. Which brings us to the Render button.

The render button is the large button under the trackball. Click it once to start rendering the scene. You can click within the document window (the main area) at any time to pause the render.

By clicking the Resume Render button, you can resume the render. This feature allows you to pause the render so that you can use your computer for other things, and then return later to finish rendering the image. You can even save the image during a render and resume the render when you next open the composition.

The Clear & Render button allows you to render just a selected area of the image.

You can access more rendering options through the flippy arrow to the right of the render button.

Display Palette

Ok, we're going to run through the Display Palette rather quickly. Since I want to get to the fun stuff quickly, I'm just going to define each of these tools quickly and tell you what they do:

Demo Marker on/off   A pen tool that allows you to write notes directly on your document.
Spray Rendering on/off  

Spray rendering allows you to render a small area of your document as if you were spraying it on.

Shortcuts for spray sizes from smallest to largest are:

Interface Max/Min   Toggles between the default document size and full screen.
Background Paper   Allows you to change the background paper.

Nano Editor on/off

  Allows you to toggle the nano editor. The nano editor a small preview of the document to allow you to move the camera view without rendering until you select your new camera view. A red outline around the small square in the icon indicates that it is on.
Plop Render on/off   Allows you to toggle the Plop Render. The plop render allows you to render a selection. Just like the 'Clear and Render' button on the control palette. During a render click anywhere and select an area to start up the Plop Render. A solid red square in the icon indicates this is turned on.
Depth Cue   Items in the back are hazy, items up front are clear.
Shadows on/off   Shadow are toggled on and off. (Used to speed up rendering time)
Underground on/off   Anything beneath the ground plane is not shown when this is turned on.
Resolution   This is the resolution of the wireframe. You can different wireframe resolution for motion, static, and selected wireframes. Keep in mind that more complex wireframes take longer to manipulate.
Display Modes   Toggles between wireframe, wireframe and render, and render.
Zoom In   Zooms into the picture.
Zoom Out   Zooms out of the picture.
Pan Tool   Allows you to grab the document and move.
Time/Selection Palette Toggle   Toggles the bottom section between the Time Palette (used in animation) and the Selection Palette which gives you a robust tool for selecting your objects.

Bryce Screen

Poser Screen

Other References

For more information about Bryce and other 3D work, check out the following links:

Robin Wood Bryce & Poser Tutorials

Digital Blasphemy

Peter Sharpe


PoserWorld extra figures