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General => Terragen Discussion => Topic started by: CredePendrel on July 23, 2019, 02:25:20 pm

Title: Some beginner ramblings.... (its hot here in Canada)
Post by: CredePendrel on July 23, 2019, 02:25:20 pm
Hey everyone.

I spent my whole lunch hour today looking through Ulco's (Dune's) renders on his website! As a GIS technologist I work with real world spatial data and orthoimagery on the daily and absolutely love seeing Dune's end result. When I think of the kinds of Terragen images I want to create I think of....

https://gallery.ulco-art.nl/wp-content/uploads/Vlaardingen_Rom_klein.jpg
https://gallery.ulco-art.nl/wp-content/uploads/Liereman-Allerod.jpg
https://gallery.ulco-art.nl/wp-content/uploads/Gasteren-vroege-middeleeuwen-800AD-totaal.jpg
https://gallery.ulco-art.nl/wp-content/uploads/Bijvanck.jpg

I haven't been able to implement the advice from my "Gravel" Road post the other day yet. I know the answer is there; it just seems too "technical" for me still. I intend to respond to WASasquatch when I get some free time. I have been trying to learn Terragen for a few months now but I often find myself falling back to Blender to create my landscape doodles.

I own several of Dune's Terragen Project files...River Preset, Basic Beach, Easy Beach, Railway and the Beaver lodge am am trying to comb through each of them to help determine a good starting point. One of the most challenge things for is to create good looking terrain/water transition. If I was going to try and reverse engineer one of these existing projects should I copy and pastes the nodes I am after into a new work space or just save a copy and turn everything off and go one node at a time?
Title: Re: Some beginner ramblings.... (its hot here in Canada)
Post by: WAS on July 23, 2019, 02:43:13 pm
Quote from: CredePendrel on July 23, 2019, 02:25:20 pm
...

If I was going to try and reverse engineer one of these existing projects should I copy and pastes the nodes I am after into a new work space or just save a copy and turn everything off and go one node at a time?


Honestly, I would suggest trying to reference to projects, and "rebuild" what you're after by referencing the settings Ulco has used. This way you will grow some familiarity by how your scene evolves by entering in all these settings and seeing how your scene is effected.

Additionally, when you are familiar with things, and you have something good, like let's say a lateral displacement setup, you can select those nodes and than save them as a Clip File (TGC) which you can than import into any existing project.

It's also good to remember to keep unique naming logic for your shaders so they don't conflict in other projects. I usually end up naming they shaders by what they're doing, and if it's something that may be used again, I label them A, B, C, etc.
Title: Re: Some beginner ramblings.... (its hot here in Canada)
Post by: CredePendrel on July 23, 2019, 02:55:44 pm
"and you have something good, like let's say a lateral displacement setup, you can select those nodes and than save them as a Clip File"

Part of the problem that hinders my progress if stuff like that. To be honest, "a lateral displacement setup", means nill to me which is also the problem I am encountering in my other post. I am unable to grasp the technical language yet, or spend too long looking for that example named that in my current project but cant find it!

This is NOT directed at you WASasquatch or anything. Its one of my own technical hurdles I need to get over. Good thing there are a ton of awesome people in these forums.
Title: Re: Some beginner ramblings.... (its hot here in Canada)
Post by: WAS on July 23, 2019, 04:14:36 pm
Quote from: CredePendrel on July 23, 2019, 02:55:44 pm
"and you have something good, like let's say a lateral displacement setup, you can select those nodes and than save them as a Clip File"

Part of the problem that hinders my progress if stuff like that. To be honest, "a lateral displacement setup", means nill to me which is also the problem I am encountering in my other post. I am unable to grasp the technical language yet, or spend too long looking for that example named that in my current project but cant find it!

This is NOT directed at you WASasquatch or anything. Its one of my own technical hurdles I need to get over. Good thing there are a ton of awesome people in these forums.


No, I understand completely where you're coming from. For one, I struggle with dyslexia, and dyscalculia.

Basically, any node setup you like, which achieves something you'd want to reproduce in another scene.
Title: Re: Some beginner ramblings.... (its hot here in Canada)
Post by: Dune on July 24, 2019, 02:21:47 am
First of all you need a basic understanding of how TG works. Regarding lateral displacement, in very short and perhaps too simple words; it's a thin spherical sheet that you (try to) bend in the way you need and color. First displacements are always from the normal of that sphere/planet, so upwards on the 0/0/0 area most of us work in. If you need displacing sideways/lateral from those new bumps in the terain, you either vector displace or redirect, but this is unidirectional (X, -X, Z, -Z). Or you need a second compute terrain or compute normal to establish the new (laterally pointing) normals from those initial upward bumps. Then you can apply new displacement, which is then more or less lateral, depending on the slope of the new terrain bumps. If a bump upward has a sloping edge, the new normal displacement by the newly calculated normal will be perpendicular to that sloping edge. If you check lateral displacement, it will be purely horizontal off that sloping edge.

But you may know all this.

It's also good to turn off certain nodes and see how that changes the terrain, one at the time, from the end of the line upwards. After you understand what each node does you could copy nodes as clipfiles, and use elsewhere. But remember that not all clipfiles fit everywhere, they sometimes depend on certain preceding nodes for the right effect. So a basic understanding is fundamental.
Title: Re: Some beginner ramblings.... (its hot here in Canada)
Post by: WAS on July 24, 2019, 04:36:03 am
Quote from: Dune on July 24, 2019, 02:21:47 am
But remember that not all clipfiles fit everywhere, they sometimes depend on certain preceding nodes for the right effect. So a basic understanding is fundamental.


This is pretty important here. Scales are a big factor in how you have something setup, which won't always translate well to other scales and dimensions. I remember when I first started TG I thought TGC files I was downloading were broken half the time.
Title: Re: Some beginner ramblings.... (its hot here in Canada)
Post by: CredePendrel on July 24, 2019, 03:09:44 pm
Thank you very much for the advice guys, I was just in a heat induced funk. Just need to shake it off. Slowly worked on a couple new scenes to get my head right again. Done in blender right now...this is just a shot of the Ray Trace preview.
Title: Re: Some beginner ramblings.... (its hot here in Canada)
Post by: CredePendrel on July 25, 2019, 01:38:15 pm
Starting small and going back to basics. Modeled this last night (from Capture2.png) and did the render at work today. The sky is actually an image rendered out in Terragen and  projected onto a plane in Blender. I am going to try combining the sky and some background mountains from Terragen into the image next, and maybe some kind of boardwalk/bridge feature crossing the river....

Then.... I am going to try and recreate this completely in Terragen and see how far I will get! Definitely think I will need to take advantage of the 4th of July sale. I am going to need more populations!
Title: Re: Some beginner ramblings.... (its hot here in Canada)
Post by: Oshyan on July 25, 2019, 05:57:01 pm
I honestly think different people may learn best in different ways, so I'll weigh-in with what I find helpful. But you will probably benefit from simply experimenting with different approaches and seeing what brings understanding the quickest.

As a general rule the method I have found most helpful to understanding other people's setups is just to disable nodes one by one and hopefully I can see what each one is doing, depending on preview mode, update speed, etc. In some cases enabling a "Test color" for a surface layer also helps.

That being said I often find it overwhelming opening someone else's project file (or even clip files) for the first time and turning off nodes one by one can be time consuming. So depending on what aspect I am interested in, it may actually be helpful to simply disable everything *except* that. This works best for terrain since if my interest is in something like shading, water, populations, etc. they will usually *depend* on the terrain for part of the look. So if you want to isolate populations, for example, it may be best to not disable the terrain, but you can disable everything else.

So to look at the terrain I might disable all additional object nodes (besides the Planet and Background), all or most shaders (besides Base Colours), and probably any cloud layers, but keep the atmosphere. This gives me a faster preview with less clutter and I can focus on the terrain shapes. Then I'd again disable nodes one by one to see what they do. Sometimes I'll tweak a setting, perhaps using an extreme value, to see what effect that has. Disabling Masks can be another interesting thing to test on vs. off and get a clearer idea of what's happening. It's all done one at a time though so I can really isolate and be clear about the effects of each individual node or setting.

That being said, I also know many people don't learn best from taking apart other people's scenes. While you may want to "jump in with both feet" and get started as quickly as possible aiming for a specific goal (say you want a nice beach or other shoreline...), you still benefit from a grounding in how all the basics work before you do that because it will help you to implement the examples you see. The documentation already includes a lot of that basic info about how things work. For example:
https://planetside.co.uk/wiki/index.php?title=Terragen_4_User_Guide_Part_2:_Fundamental_Rendering_and_Shader_Concepts
And:
https://planetside.co.uk/wiki/index.php?title=Tutorial_1:_Creating_Your_First_Scene

- Oshyan
Title: Re: Some beginner ramblings.... (its hot here in Canada)
Post by: WAS on July 25, 2019, 06:20:17 pm
Quote from: Oshyan on July 25, 2019, 05:57:01 pm
I honestly think different people may learn best in different ways, so I'll weigh-in with what I find helpful. But you will probably benefit from simply experimenting with different approaches and seeing what brings understanding the quickest.

As a general rule the method I have found most helpful to understanding other people's setups is just to disable nodes one by one and hopefully I can see what each one is doing, depending on preview mode, update speed, etc. In some cases enabling a "Test color" for a surface layer also helps.

That being said I often find it overwhelming opening someone else's project file (or even clip files) for the first time and turning off nodes one by one can be time consuming. So depending on what aspect I am interested in, it may actually be helpful to simply disable everything *except* that. This works best for terrain since if my interest is in something like shading, water, populations, etc. they will usually *depend* on the terrain for part of the look. So if you want to isolate populations, for example, it may be best to not disable the terrain, but you can disable everything else.

So to look at the terrain I might disable all additional object nodes (besides the Planet and Background), all or most shaders (besides Base Colours), and probably any cloud layers, but keep the atmosphere. This gives me a faster preview with less clutter and I can focus on the terrain shapes. Then I'd again disable nodes one by one to see what they do. Sometimes I'll tweak a setting, perhaps using an extreme value, to see what effect that has. Disabling Masks can be another interesting thing to test on vs. off and get a clearer idea of what's happening. It's all done one at a time though so I can really isolate and be clear about the effects of each individual node or setting.

That being said, I also know many people don't learn best from taking apart other people's scenes. While you may want to "jump in with both feet" and get started as quickly as possible aiming for a specific goal (say you want a nice beach or other shoreline...), you still benefit from a grounding in how all the basics work before you do that because it will help you to implement the examples you see. The documentation already includes a lot of that basic info about how things work. For example:
https://planetside.co.uk/wiki/index.php?title=Terragen_4_User_Guide_Part_2:_Fundamental_Rendering_and_Shader_Concepts
And:
https://planetside.co.uk/wiki/index.php?title=Tutorial_1:_Creating_Your_First_Scene

- Oshyan


Speaking of the Wiki tutorials, have you found or followed any of the video tutorials such as on Geek at play? I honestly have never really used tutorials for anything and relied on documentation and reference manuals, but in the case of Terragen it may be beneficial because of all that's going on. Seeing a scene come together from the ground up first-hand.
Title: Re: Some beginner ramblings.... (its hot here in Canada)
Post by: DannyG on July 25, 2019, 08:46:16 pm
If you have the registered version of Terragen 4, you should have access to the GeekAtPlay v4 tutorials in your account
Title: Re: Some beginner ramblings.... (its hot here in Canada)
Post by: CredePendrel on July 26, 2019, 06:56:53 am
First thank you all. Thank you. Each time I come back and read this, it seems so childish and just sounds like whining. But each of you took your time to be honest and thoughtful. Thank you! I realize there wasn't any actual questions just me spewing my feelings lol.

Dune: re Lateral Displacement, that explanation indeed works, you are literally talking about turning the displacement on its side (laterally) to have the effects extend horizontally instead of vertical! That makes sense.

Oshyan: That is my current approach, slowly turning on and off different nodes and their associated connections. Sometimes I try copying components I want into new work-spaces but then I struggle to figure out which associated nodes belong to my feature to get the result I want. I just need more trail and error. Yes, I have worked through those tutorials on the wiki! I really liked them and was kinda bummed when they didnt go past water. But my first 5 posts were me working through variations of what we learn in that tutorial.

WASasquatch: I have scrolled my way through GeekatPlay's playlist too. Personally, I really benefit from a project based workflow rather than just exploring settings randomly. I have completed his "Lakeview" tutorial and worked part of the way through the "Rock Island" series and the "Lost Planet" one. I really likes these and find them super helpful. The majority of his videos are tours through the applications features themselves and their properties, which I find interesting but doesn't leave me much room for exploration. During the lakeview tutorial I had two projects, one where I was following along with what he was doing and one where I took that knowledge and changed stuff up big time. It was great.

Danny G: I dont have the registered version yet, I actually am planning on getting it in the next day or so though. Will these GeekAtPlay v4 tutorials show up in my Planetside Software account upon registration?
- Just bit the bullet and updated my Terragen to Creative! I see two folders, "Terragen Model Pack" and "Discovering Terragen Video Tutorials by Geek At Play" in my account. Downloading them now.

Does anyone like the Windmill scene? I got a critique one on of the Facebook pages immediately about how unrealistic the sky is. But it was generated in Terragen and I like it. Im hoping when I try to rebuild this project in Terragen I can increase the sense of depth a little more.

edit: One of the hardest things I am having a problem with is the terrain. I am used to being able to model my terrain exactly how I want in Blender or use real world examples. I find it hard to get the procedural terrain to do what I want.

example....I want to create a coast line type feature like this and I am sure there are many ways to go about it. I keep trying to start with a crater and fill it it water then try to get some landmass next to it, but keep failing miserably. I feel like I can muck through shaders and populations if I can discover the secret to making the terrain I want.
Title: Re: Some beginner ramblings.... (its hot here in Canada)
Post by: Dune on July 26, 2019, 08:04:05 am
Here's one way to address this beach.
Title: Re: Some beginner ramblings.... (its hot here in Canada)
Post by: CredePendrel on July 26, 2019, 11:32:51 am
Thank you Dune. That example definitely shows the type of shapes I was after. I found it amazing that this is all done with shaders. My first inclination when starting a project is to use the terrain and water tools to get that set up before even looking at the shaders/materials.
Title: Re: Some beginner ramblings.... (its hot here in Canada)
Post by: WAS on July 26, 2019, 03:19:25 pm
Quote from: CredePendrel on July 26, 2019, 11:32:51 am
Thank you Dune. That example definitely shows the type of shapes I was after. I found it amazing that this is all done with shaders. My first inclination when starting a project is to use the terrain and water tools to get that set up before even looking at the shaders/materials.


You can Right Click the 3D preview to easily select altitudes to apply to Surface Shaders to setup breaches and colour variations on landscape. You can also select positions for objects, and slopes for surface layers as well.
Title: Re: Some beginner ramblings.... (its hot here in Canada)
Post by: Oshyan on July 26, 2019, 05:20:23 pm
Simple Shape Shaders are very helpful for explicit placement of features, displacement, etc. You can also warp their shapes to get more organic, natural-looking shapes to affect the terrain. Painted Shader is another good option for explicit adjustments.

We are working on some more project-based tutorials for future release. :)

- Oshyan
Title: Re: Some beginner ramblings.... (its hot here in Canada)
Post by: WAS on July 26, 2019, 07:51:33 pm
Quote from: Oshyan on July 26, 2019, 05:20:23 pm
... Painted Shader is another good option for explicit adjustments.


Just be sure to let the 3D preview fully render (HD is best) and than pause it. Give one test brush stroke for TG to realize you're actually painting, and than go nuts. The paused preview will allow you to do multiple brush strokes as if in Photoshop or something without the preview re-rendering and making your precision go all over the place, or hitting the preview boundaries and accidently painting all the whole view-port through exploded polygons (seams from off-camera).

Hopefully one day we can use a rendered image to transpose to paint on for absolute explicit control of where strokes are applied seeing what the resulting image is.