Hannes is a well known and long time Terragen user. He’s created some very non-standard and often ‘non-Terra’ Terragen images. We took some time to sit down with Hannes and see what makes him tick.
Hannes, your Terragen images are interesting and striking as they are not typical Terragen images; for example, your 'Fly me to the Moon' astronaut image is completely different. So, what drew you to Terragen in the first place?
Actually coincidence. On a CD of a computer magazine I found a demo of Terragen Classic. I was impressed by the results. And it was quite easy to learn. The version of Terragen Classic I found on the CD was v0.6xxx, so when was that? Was it in the nineties? I can’t tell exactly, but it’s a long time ago, and of course I started to use the current Terragen program from the very beginning.
So, you've been using Terragen for over 20 years! What keeps you using Terragen?
I have to say, that I’m feeling kind of “home” in Terragen, although there’s a lot of stuff I don’t understand at all (blue nodes for example…).
So, usually if I have something in my mind I want to create, I already have at least some basic idea in
my head on how to start, and that feels quite comfortable. I’m aware, that there are strong competitors to Terragen, but since I spent so much time learning and loving to use TG and watching its development and “maturing”, I will of course keep on using it. Besides I had the chance to meet Matt and some of the other mates in 2016 in person, and that makes it even more “my favourite choice”.
Which project do you feel most proud of, and why?
I guess, it was my contribution to the NWDA-“Roadside” challenge:
It was a long way, and I started trying things, I never did before. I learned so much during the development of this scene, and in the end I had something, I was totally happy with.
With images like, 'Rehearsal' and ‘Zombie head’ show a totally different style to what we are used to seeing being created in Terragen, tell us a little about what drew you to creating them?
Actually there is no plan most of the time. Sometimes I have a rough idea in my head, and eventually I do something completely different. Or maybe I found a nice 3D model, and after retexturing it (what I have to do most of the time in TG) I create a scene around the model. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Material tests sometimes lead to some scenes as well. The “Zombie head” for example was a mix of testing both models and materials.
Anyway, I love using Terragen for unusual things. You can learn a lot of stuff doing so.
Would you agree that sometimes the sum of your renders is greater than its parts? How do you feel about that?
Yes, I think so. Over the years I tried to improve my skills to make a simple scene look good, even without tons of imported fancy stuff (Honestly, I love to import tons of fancy stuff, but sometimes less is more.)
When you start with a new and empty scene, where do you start, what's your inspiration?
Well, this is hard to answer. If I have no special idea already in my head, it might be something I see in the real world, or an image, or a model. Could be anything. And unfortunately sometimes there is no inspiration at all. But if you take a break, no matter how long it is, it might come back, and you’ll have some fresh ideas hopefully.
Do you use Terragen with other programs? If so, how?
Yes. I use 3ds Max for creating or editing models, PoseRay for further editing and Photoshop for editing or creating textures. That’s basically it.
Can you describe if you still get any 'wow' moments that happen from time to time?
Oh yes. Most of the time these moments are very unexpected. For example I was trying to create some convincing ocean water for years (with very not convincing results I’d say), and eventually I managed to make these waves:
Or having unusual ideas like using grass clumps as animated rain splashes, and realizing it turned out quite nice
But sometimes it’s just using another POV, or another setting for the lighting, which can make the whole scene look totally different and maybe much better.
At what companies have you used Terragen, and on which projects?
I used to work for a visual effects company named “Unexpected” to create some scenery for commercials. First there were some clips for a turkish company named “Vestel” who produce household appliances, and a few years later we made a clip for Huawei.
Although Gal Gadot was in the clip, Huawei decided to use another one…
What are Terragen's ‘killer’ feature(s)? and what would you like to see included next?
There are so many features in Terragen that are outstanding, but to mention one, I’d say the cloud system is one of the best.
My favourite wish would be definitely a sophisticated particle system! Maybe in combination with clouds. Endless possibilities…
On a balance of very technical vs pure artistic, where do you think Terragen fits?
I think it’s very well balanced. Terragen has a lot of stuff for the more technical thinking people like the blue nodes, which are incredibly useful, if you understand, what they are doing. I have to say, I don’t. Mathematics have never been my field.
Nevertheless you can work very intentionally and artistically in Terragen, which is what I prefer.
What's next for you, anything interesting you're working on?
At the moment I am working on some sort of a scifi image. Once again I started with some texture experiments, and eventually did some kitbashing with some models I already had. No idea yet, where this leads to, but the good thing is, nobody forces me to have a direction, so I’ll just enjoy it, and hope, I’ll have some more “Wow”-moments.
Thank-you Hannes, it was wonderful to find out a little more of what goes into your incredible, diverse, and many times humorous use of Terragen. Great Stuff!
Hannes can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org