This material is going to produce the sort of effect you might see in a plasma globe, or science fiction film. Our aim is to get multi-coloured streaks of lightning, with transparent gaps between them. This material was worked out in a discussion on the RuntimeDNA Poser 6 forum.

The basic effect is nice and simple to produce, and only needs two nodes. In figure one, we have red plasma produced by plugging an unmodified Turbulence node into a ColorRamp node. The ColorRamp is doing the real work here. The ColorRamp node converts a grayscale image into a colour picture using the four colour boxes. Color1 replaces black, Color4 replaces white and Color2 and Color2 fill in the grays. Here, we have set Color1 to red, and the other three to black. This means that the dark valleys in the Turbulence node have become our red streaks of lighting, with the gray and white elements turned to black.

The final material will work on any solid object, such as the sphere or cube. On the normal two sided squares, the transparency will cause problems, so stick to the one sided square.


Fig 1: Simple Plasma

This can produce simple effects, but if we try and add a second colour, we lose most of our black. What we are trying for is something like the effect in figure 2, with red plasma outlines and white and fading to blue.

Plasma Plain
Fig 2: Better Colours

Figure 3 shows the changes we have made to produce this effect. The important changes are all on the ColorRamp node. By changing the input value to 2, we double the brightness of the turbulence node. This means that everything that is more than a medium gray is now treated as white, and turned black by the ColorRamp. That means that the three colours we've picked are concentrated into the darker areas of the turbulence, giving us more detail in the plasma lighting.

Plasma Nodes
Fig 3: The Nodes

To get the final effect, we need to make a few more changes. I've made a couple of changes to the Turbulence node (Octaves=10, Noise_Type to Improved), but the main changes are on the main PoserSurface. We need to increase the Diffuse_value to make the plasma stand out more - at the normal setting, it looks rather washed out.

To get the transparent effect, we've simply plugged the output of the ColorRamp directly into the Transparency input, and set the Transparency value to 1. In Figure 4, you can see the results of this - our plasma effect is transparent.

Plasma Transparent
Fig 4: Transparent Plasma


Try setting the Octaves setting on the turbulance node to a low figure to get smoother lightning - 1, 2 and 3 produce interesting effects.

Increase the Bottom setting to get wider bolts.

Try a Bias of 0.2 to get what I consider a fractal look (hints of Mandelbrot)

Try altering the Gain to alter the balace between the border and the center of the bolt - .99 produces an interesting effect.

Plasma Transparent
Fig 5: Plasma Cloud

Finally, try plugging a cloud node into the octaves node of the turbulance node.