Note: I haven't used Bryce in years; so these tutorials are archived "as is." I can't accept questions, because I don't remember the answers.

About the Course

Beginning Bryce 5

Intermediate Bryce 5

Beginning Bryce 5 - Lesson One, The Bryce Interface: Page One

In this set of six tutorials, originally used as an online course at Eclectic Academy, we are going to be exploring the Bryce 5 interface, and learning how to create both landscapes and indoor scenes for still pictures. (If you would prefer having an instructor for this material, it's still being taught there, although Vic Haynes is now teaching it. It only costs $20 for a six week course, and I can recommend it highly.)

Bryce is a rich program, that will allow you to do professional caliber images and animations. Although this first course will necessarily be limited in scope, you will be creating beautiful scenes at the end of this first lesson. By the end all six, you will be well on your way to rendering anything that you can imagine.

I am assuming that you have a good working knowledge of how to use your computer, and no knowledge at all of how to use Bryce.

Throughout these lessons, I will be showing the keyboard commands in the Mac Key/PC Key format. For example, Option/Alt. Just use the one that is appropriate for your platform.

These lessons are long. Take your time doing them. They were designed to require several hours each, and to keep the student engaged for a week.

Shall we begin?

Bryce 5 Interface Image, all parts labeled

When you open Bryce 5 for the first time, you will see a screen like this, surrounded by black space. Please open the program now.

(The cyan legends, of course, are things I added to help you find your way around. They won't show up on your screen.)

Max/Min Bryce Window buttonUnless you like to work in small spaces, there is no need to scrunch everything down into this area. Just click on the Maximize/Minimize Bryce Icon, third from the top in the toolbar on the far right of the window. The workspace will expand to fill the screen. (You cannot shrink the window to fit the workspace, so you may as well use all that dead space.)

Preferences DialogTo make sure that it's still like this next time you open Bryce, let's check the Preferences. Move your mouse to the top of the screen. After a moment, the menu bar will show up. Go to Edit > Preferences. A dialog will appear, with a number of choices. Make sure that "Launch to previous state" is checked.

Document Setup DialogAlright. Looking at the workspace again, you may notice that you still have a lot of "dead" space around the actual picture area. Leaving it like this will take up less memory, and if your machine is a bit on the slow side it will allow you to redraw things more quickly.

But, if you have a fast machine, you may want to increase the size of the area you have available to work in. You will also want to set this image area to the proportions of your finished picture if you are making an image that needs to be a particular size.

To change the size of the image, move your mouse to the top of the screen to get the menu bar again. Go to File > Document Setup.

This dialog will appear.

Document Setup Dialog, showing TitleThe first thing here is the title. At the moment, the document is Untitled. As soon as you save it, the name you give it will appear here.

Document Setup Dialog, showing ResolutionThe next thing is the Document Resolution. This is the real size, in pixels, of your document as it is stored in the computer. After that is Document Aspect Ratio. This shows the proportions of your document.

Both of these are text fields. You can type in the size you want your document to be. If you have checked Constrain Proportions below the Document Aspect Ratio field, as you type in a value for either the width or the height, the other will change to reflect the new size that will keep the same proportions. Try it now.

Document Setup Dialog, showing Constrain Proportions areaIf you uncheck Constrain Proportions, you will be able to type in a value for both width and height independently. Give that a try.

You can also type in whatever you desire for the Aspect Ratio, and the Resolution will automatically update to reflect those changes. Try it out.

It's a good idea to set this up before you start to create your image, because although you can change these parameters at any point, you cannot chose exactly where the new edges of the image will fall, and it might affect your composition later.

No AntiAliasing, Actual Size No AntiAliasing, Zoomed in, showing Jaggies
No AA No AA 200%
Regular AntiAliasing, Actual Size Regular AntiAliasing, Zoomed in, showing some blurring on edges
Regular AA Regular AA 200%
Super AntiAliasing, Actual Size Super AntiAliasing, Zoomed in, showing more blurring on edges
Super AA Super AA 200%

Below those two fields is one for Anti-Aliasing. Anti-Aliasing is the process of blending the edges of adjacent pixels in the finished rendering so the picture looks smooth. It is what eliminates the dreaded "jaggies." It also can take a fair amount of time.

You can turn it on or off by clicking the button to the left of "AntiAliasing." If it is on, you can choose Normal or Superfine. Superfine is used for high resolution, fine art prints. It takes a long time, but if you are making a picture for publication or printing it's sometimes worth it.

We will be exploring this more when we have something to render! <g>

Report Render Time does just that. If you leave it checked, Bryce will tell you how long it spent rendering, and some other information. If not, it won't.

Render Resolution as proportion of document sizeBelow that is the Render Resolution menu. You can choose to render a picture one quarter the size of the actual document resolution, four times the size, or several variations in between. This allows you to make thumbnails that render quickly to check your composition, or to make high resolution renders for publication. For now, leave this at 1:1, or the size of the actual document resolution.

Document Resolution PresetsTo the right, there is a menu of common sizes. If you click any of those buttons, the Document Resolution and Aspect Ratio will change to whatever you have chosen. There will be no checkmark, though. Go ahead and try it out. When you have finished exploring this, I recommend that you click the Max Recommended button if you have a fast computer, or the Default if you think your computer may be a bit slow.

Checkmark to Save Changes, X to Cancel and leave the document untouchedThen, click on the check mark at the bottom right to close the dialog box, and implement your change. To close without changing anything, click the X for cancel.

Those symbols are used throughout Bryce, by the way. Any time you want to leave any dialog or lab without accepting your changes, click the X. If you want to keep the changes, click the checkmark.

If you clicked on Max Recommended, you will see that the picture area now fills the available workspace, at least in two dimensions. How large that will be depends on the screen resolution you are using.

Good. All set? Let's move on to Page 2