What would you like to see in a Terragen Skydome tutorial?

Started by Draigr, November 24, 2011, 01:53:37 am

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Ok. So I said I'd put a tutorial on generating skydomes from Terragen, and I will. But I want to do a catchall tutorial on the subject, collating information from a variety of sources. This is because trawling the sources in the forums is a time consuming and often fruitless process. Especially for newbies who look at the incredibly complex methods and scenes that the more experienced Terragen users and find themselves just giving up in trying to understand this incredibly complex program.

That and the current resources on Skydomes and the like is quite inadequate, rarely covering issues that might crop up.

So. Here's what I'm going to put in by default:

Setting up the Terragen scene for 6 sided rendering. I'll refer through to the already existing standard tutorial. And may even include it if I get permission from the author. Regardless of this, I'll extend the stitching details a bit more by offering other programs that don't cost money and methods to use them efficiently.

Setting up render settings to avoid future problems. This will be a relatively extensive troubleshooting section. I'll put in all the information on optimising render times by Oshyan, cover GI settings (current documentation can refer to settings that are hard to find, or miss entire bits), remind users about the affect various functions may have on the scene, for instance distance shaders. I'll also cover extra settings that can improve the renders from frame to frame as well as different rendering methods.

Setting up a scene in Blender which can then be used to project a spherical map. (This is by far the fastest method of iterating a spherical map as once the scene is set up it's just a case of updating textures and hitting bake - after that it's however fast your PC is). This will cover the necessary knowledge for creating the scene, UV unwrapping, materials, texturing and finally baking.

Exporting the render to other programs and applications, including setting up a skydome in the Unreal Development Kit.

Advice on rendering high quality clouds, setting up a scene so for the best impact, different lighting settings and sun settings to either get the best effect or avoid future problems. How to render to later cut out the render for transparency and alpha masking if you want sunrays through clouds.

Methods for creating cloud textures that can be used as flat planes or sky maps. Not really the right terminology, but it's a method that allows for moving clouds and changing weather conditions - this will take a while, as Terragen isn't an ideal application for this sort of thing due to the requirement for a flat render. As in, no noticeable sun effect on the clouds. Otherwise it would look weird when combined with in game lighting.

Now. I'm going to need any advice people can give on advanced cloud generation techniques, basic terrain generation techniques, and ways around Terragen's lighting system. For instance, the last option above, creating a cloud render that can be used with alpha masking to have sunrays shooting through it in game or as a multilayered approach to rendering an animated skybox texture. I can deal with how it would be used, but rendering it in such a way as to minimize the workload in photoshop would be tricky for me.

I'd also like to know any shortcuts people know of in the rendering process, advice on image stitchers would be handy, as would stitching a 6 sided skybox. 4 sides is straightforward enough, but I've never succeeded with 6.

Anything anybody would like me to cover. Just let me know here.


Cant help my self, but I support your effort. Way to go Draigr
It has been eaten.


Some default scenes with 6 cameras allready setup would be nice as well,
as would some clip files or much later some plugins.
Hmmm... wonder what this button does....



I completely agree. I use Terragen 2 for skydomes for video games and I've relied on a python script released by someone on this forum (forgive me I forget his name) that requires about 5-6 pieces of software to install. Hardly an easy process.

Then there is the series of clip files you can insert into your scene and manually render them out. That's a pain when iterating, changing quality of the renders, resolution etc.

I took the liberty of creating my own frontend to skybox creation that I will be releasing to the forum soon. It's just a simple windows program made in visual c#. No additional programs are required to install as everything is rendered outside of Terragen. You can controll all the quality settings, atmosphere samples, and the resolution of each camera render, and it doesn't affect your original TGD file.

Link: http://forums.planetside.co.uk/index.php?topic=14026.msg137431#msg137431

You will of course need a Windows machine and the commercial version of terragen 2.