443: AS Cloud Art or REX Soft Clouds ?

HiFi Simulation’s Active Sky Cloud Art and REX Game Studios’ Soft Clouds are two popular cloud texture products that are fully compatible with P3Dv4 so far.

Although it may not justify to compare the two products head-to-head as AS Cloud Art comes with additional features rather than just pure-enhancement to the cumulus clouds in Soft Clouds, I think it would still be interesting to find out what the two products bring in terms of cumulus clouds improvement only.

This is the default cloud posture with Coverage Density set to Maximum under Orbx Weather 7 Theme.  (Click image to zoom bigger)

Same setting with Soft Clouds inclusion (default cumulus01.bmp replaced).  Cloud details are enhanced.
With Soft Cloud in place, Active Sky Cloud Art is further added to the system.   Cloud structure and layer details are further enhanced.   Note that cloud size has changed as well.
This image (after textures are restored to original P3D default) shows the cloud posture with Active Sky Cloud only.   One can see that it is identical to the previous SC+ASCA setting.   It is because in previous set up, the Soft Clouds’ cumulus01.bmp file was actually replaced by ASCA.  So adding ASCA after Soft Clouds is in fact removing the Soft Clouds texture.
Contrary to the third image, this one shows the result of adding Soft Clouds to the system already installed with AS Cloud Art.  Under such a set up, cloud details are degraded because the texture files coming with Soft Clouds are in 512 x 512 resolution only, while AS Cloud Art allows users to choose from 512, 1024, 2048 or 4096 files.

From results shown above, the differences are quite obvious.  Although it is not fair to compare the two products head-to-head as mentioned in the beginning, the choice is quite clear if one happens to have both products on hand.

Also note again that there will be no benefit of mixing the two products together.   Otherwise, worse may result.   Of course, it still depends on one’s own preferences after all.

Lastly, both products are frame-rate friendly as they claim.

P.S.
Nothing is perfect.
If one prefers something cheaper and light weight, Soft Clouds is good.
With the price of ASCA, REX’s Texture Direct is the real contender, which also comes with additional ground enhancements that ASCA doesn’t provide.
However, if you are using AS P3Dv4, ASCA does blend perfectly well with it.
So, no absolute winner here and it all depends on one’s preferences.

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7 thoughts on “443: AS Cloud Art or REX Soft Clouds ?

  1. Hi, Tom.

    Thanks for your comparison. Unfortunately, I’m away from a computer for 10 days and my phone doesn’t have good resolution. Thus, I am not able to see if one is better than the other – all the pictures look about the same. LOL! I’m curious which is the “obvious” winner in your opinion.

    Thanks,
    James

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    1. Hi James,
      Actually both are not my favorite. If you prefer something light weight to your system and quick to go, Soft Clouds is good.
      With the price of ASCA, REX’s Texture Direct is the real contender.
      However, if you are using AS P3Dv4, ASCA does blend well with it.
      No straight-forward answer.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for this Tom, bought HiFi Tech – Active Sky for Prepar3D v4 the other day, have the FSX version too, was not sure if I was eligible for a discount so bought the full version for P3Dv4, the upgrade details always seem ambiguous but the no return policy is never, if I’d made a mistake it would be no return apparently, it was not a lot more to do so so just went for a new full license for P3Dv4 as I’m starting to commit to that platform more and more now … bought it from FSS.

    Saw the update for REX Soft Clouds but cant figure how to install it in P3Dv4 yet, FSX Steam is on same PC, maybe that’s the problem? Still waiting for a full REX update/release for P3Dv4 I think, then I will be pretty much complete in what I need and want for P3Dv4 64 bit.

    Bought Pilots FS Global Ultimate – Next Generation FTX mesh too yesterday, this was hard work to download and get installed, 18 or so big downloads and FSS were throttling it seems so took a while, put them all in one folder to extract, used Winrar first and had problems, then tried again with 7zip latest version, none of them extracted properly and I had to manually extract further extracted files to get an installable folder and put all mis extracted files in correct folders of course … if anyone is thinking of this purchase I’d consider the extra for the multiple DVD purchase or download one file at a time and verify each … really big download stuff!

    Anyway, reason I made this purchase, well I have FSW, FSX Steam, FSX Vanilla and now P3D V4 over two different PC’s and this mesh supports them all with its installer, still don’t see much difference over my old mesh but still to test much more, seems to be working fine after my initial teething problems with the big download though.

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    1. Hi Colin,
      After you update Soft Clouds to the latest version, you’ll be able to see install path for P3Dv4.
      Actually, I tried keying in the path of P3Dv4 as P3Dv3 location in the set up, it worked as well. Surely using an updated installer will be better.

      I purchased FS Global Ultimate long before Pilots launched its Orbx version. Truly it is more comprehensive but it takes up a lot of disk space as well. Also, as you said, differences are not significant in most areas. And I found it exaggerating the areas I live. So I had it uninstalled long time ago.

      You’re right. Get the DVD is a smarter choice due to large file size and slow connection. One suggestion, do install the FS Global Ultimate onto a separate harddisk/SSD. This will give you more disk space flexibility.

      Tom

      Like

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