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Smart Terrain

By Cristian "Freespace" Alexandru Ciocotisan
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Date Added: 16th June 2009
Software used:
3ds Max

With the 200 segments and the Turbosmooth modifier, Ground01 looks good at close distance, and the bump map's adding that extra item of detail to it. This is as far as procedural maps go. To make the scene better looking, there are a few more things to do.

Add a Camera, set it to be Free and give it a FOV of 60. Then add a texture of a sky map to the background. There are a few sky maps that come with 3ds max, and if you don't like those, the internet is full of them. You could even grab a digital camera and take a picture of the sky yourself. Next, because the area is windy and dusty, add some Fog from the Environment tab and set it to Layered, a color of R:165 G:150 B:135, then set Top to 120, Bottom to -100, Density to 20 and Falloff to Top. With this Fog type, make sure not to place your Camera too high in the scene, or you will be literally above the fog layer and it won't look too good when rendering. If you're going to do need to place a high camera, then add Volume Fog instead and control it with Sphere Gizmos.

Add some lights to the scene to set a better mood for it. Try to match the lighting of the sky map you chose as a background. Let's render and see how it looks now. Just make sure to use the "Catmull-Rom" filter when rendering with scanline, for a sharper look to your images. To select it, press F10 to bring up the Render options, go to the Renderer tab, and find it in the Antialiasing subtab over at the Filter dropdown list.

Another improvement over what he had earlier. But procedurals can do only as much, and they can look a bit
repetitive. So you should get hold of a tilable ground map, preferrably of sand, and apply it over the Color #2 slot in GroundMaterial's Diffuse Color Mix map. Tile it about 10 times over the X and Y axis, and you should get something like this.


Congratulations! This is it. You can now adjust the Displacement strength and you will see that the procedurals will make sure the high peaks will be noisy and stripped of sand, while the fields will be finer and sandy. Play around with all the options and personalise your terrain.

Now you've got a terrain generator directly within 3ds max. You can do anything you want to the scene, like add characters, some buildings, special effects and more. Your imagination's the only limit now.

Snow? Easy, just change the texture. Mountains? Easy, just increase displacement strength. It's all there now, ready for you to modify and adapt to your desire.


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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
(ID: 176440, pid: 0) Jamie Martin on Mon, 14 January 2013 12:09pm
Great tutorial! What light setup did you use?
(ID: 170967, pid: 0) Omed on Mon, 10 December 2012 8:09am
thanks a lot, this is very useful :)
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