While reading this morning I came across Terragen from a description of a Joan Fontcuberta project mentioned on BLDGBLOG. Terragen is landscape generation software that is available as a free download for non-commercial use, but that also has a number of features for registered users. While it is possible to create a landscape out of virtually nothing save the software itself, the full version seems pretty powerful from something with only a $99 license fee.
- random fractal terrain
- high detail foreground texturing
- depth based occlusion culling
- terrain sculpting tools
- terrain modification tools
- combination of terrains
- terrain import/export
- hierarchical surface colour map
- cloud layer
- multi-haze atmospheric model
- volumetric lighting
- realistic sunlight attenuation system
- anisotropic lighting of atmosphere
- ‘soft’ shadows
- plugin system
- scripting system
According to their web site Planet soft is currently focusing on developing Terragen 2 with even more features AND the ability to import 3D objects into scenes.
- Cutting-edge adaptive subdivision renderer.
- Modular, plugin-based architecture.
- Render entire planets, sweeping vistas, tiny rock gardens, or anything in between.
- Import 3D objects for rendering. Export high resolution objects.
- Render millions of boulders or trees using “instancing”.
- Add multiple heightfields to your scene. Use procedural terrains that can span an entire planet.
- Apply almost “infinite” fractal detail to terrain and other objects.
- Overhanging terrain using procedural displacements, image-based displacements, or imported geometry.
- Volumetric clouds or fast “2.5D” clouds.
- Production quality anti-aliasing and motion blur.
- Node graph editor for ultimate control over shaders and textures.
Terragen certainly isn’t new to the scenery game by any means. According to their site the core technology in TG2 was used to render planets for Star Trek: Nemesis in 2002 and was also relied upon for hundreds of CG terrain shots in Stealth in 2005. The gallery has some examples of scenery that people have created that are simply breathtaking.