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Billboard texture help needed!!!

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Hey all, I am new to gamedev.net but I was told there is a great community here and that someone here would probably be able to help me. At the moment I'm developing a real-time fluid-simulator for my masters and I need a specific 2-d texure for the rendering aspect of my application (I'm rendering the fluid using screen space meshes for more info see this paper www.matthiasmueller.info/publications/screenSpaceMeshes.pdf). My implementation of the screen space mesh algorithm differs from the one presented in the paper as I am using the GPU to generate a High Definition depth map from which the mesh will be constructed using the marching squares algorithm (yes I am hoping this will be incredibly fast). For this purpose i need a 2-d texture that will effectively represent a meta-ball. The texture needs to be a single channel floating point .png spherical texture. The texture's single channel will have a value of 1 at the centre of the sphere and the values of the pixels will decline from one out to zero at the edge of the sphere following the curvature of a 3-d demi-sphere (simple trigonmetry can be used to calculate this). The Texture's use is to convert the depth information of a 3-d sphere onto a 2-d texture that will be rendered onto 1000s of billboards. I am aware that there are software applications for creating depth maps that would do this perfectly when correctly configured and given a 3-d sphere mesh but I don't have the licenses for these software packages (I am a student). So if anyone wants to create this texture for me I will gladly include them as a reference in my paper (something for your C.V. at least). Bar that, if anyone could point me in the direction of a free depth map creator software I'd really appreciate it. For all I know this could be a very noobish request but as I am a programmer not an artist I don't much about creating textures just using them and I'm running out of time so I don't think I can afford to go off and learn all this stuff on my own. Thanks for your time, Eoin O'Grady

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