Hi all - have spent the last couple of days messing with this and I have to say it's a wonderful time-sink. Aside from the "generating your first scene" article on the wiki (which is good), does anyone know of any guides for complete beginners? I'm confused about some rather elementary concepts and I can't really find anything to help me. I'm not really looking for answers to these here, but it's things like "what's the difference between a surface shader and a colour shader? Why are they all the same types?" and "what does a fractal breakup really do?". I'd love some sort of guide where it talks through some of these things, ideally with picture examples of, y'know, what fractal breakup 1 vs fractal breakup 0.5 really changes. And what the heck am I supposed to do with the node network? I can find lots of technical detail on the wiki about it, but nothing really says "here's a nice picture of what happens when you move shader X to have input Y".
I've watched a couple of videos but I don't learn things very easily that way and I'd love some sort of text version. Does such a thing exist? I even searched for paper books (with no luck!).
Very much enjoying the program, but I'm rather struggling with a lot of basic concepts. That said, I've gotten a lot further with this than I did with World Machine. :)
First of all welcome to the TG community. I know all begin is very hard; there's a steep learning curve. But once you are familiar with some basics, you'll find your way. After that the forum is a great place to ask specific questions.
I suggest studying the wiki node reference http://planetside.co.uk/wiki/index.php?title=Terragen_Node_Reference (http://planetside.co.uk/wiki/index.php?title=Terragen_Node_Reference) and do some tutorials that can be found on those pages.
Basically, what you do before the compute terrain has to do with large displacements, after the compute terrain it's more texturing in color and small displacements (that's what the surface shaders are mainly for, adding colors and such to certain areas, restricted by altitudes or slopes, or masks). I would also suggest learning to use the node window to arrange and link nodes. If you manage that there's a world of options open.
Good luck with your dive into the deep.
Currently, in addition to the regular documentation (wiki) resources (which we are working on updating), we also recommend the GeekAtPlay video series. The earlier Terragen 3 videos are still very applicable to Terragen 4, and they have also created a newer series that focuses on some TG4 features and techniques. Most videos are free to stream on their website, I believe: http://geekatplay.com/terragen-tutorials.php