Terragen 4.0 Release Change Log

    Build (Terragen 4 Release)


    • Windows only: Installer creates an application called “Terragen 4” which is distinct from Terragen 3. You can have Terragen 3, Terragen 4, Terragen 4 Alpha and Terragen 4 Beta installed at the same time if you want.
    • Library files, Preferences, Custom Bindings settings and automatically-saved renders of Terragen 4 are stored separately from those of Terragen 3, Terragen 4 Beta or Terragen 4 Alpha.
    • Updated license text (company name and jurisdiction).
    • We have a new icon and a new splash screen.


    • Intel’s Embree ray tracing core is now used to accelerate ray tracing of imported objects and non-displaceable built-in objects (Card, Rock and Grass Clump), and populations thereof. This provides an incredible speed boost in many scenes. Please note that RAM requirements have increased to support Embree.
    • Fixed a bug that was hurting the speed of ray traced shadows, independent of Embree.
    • Optimised ray tracing for scenes with no populations and scenes with few populations compared to individual objects.


    • Ray Traced Preview (RTP) mode. This can be toggled on or off with the new “RTP” button on the 3D Preview, or by using the ‘r’ key (can be customised) if the preview has keyboard focus.
    • If a render crop is enabled, the RTP renders without shading, atmosphere or lighting on pixels outside the crop region. This way you can do faster region-of-interest previews.
    • The non-RTP micropoly preview’s initial detail depends on the number of cores/threads if the HD button is pressed.
    • “Accelerate empty space” in clouds is ignored in previews because it greatly reduces interactivity (even though it helps full renders).
    • The “3 Button Mouse” preset has the same bindings as the “Universal” preset for orbiting in the 3D Preview. That is, either Alt+LMB or MMB.
    • ‘r’ is no longer the default for resetting previews. ‘r’ is the default key for toggling RTP.
    • Context menu in shader and object previews has a Reset Preview command because there is no longer a default shortcut.
    • The Alt-R keyboard shortcut has been removed from the “Reset” button on the 3D Preview to reduce confusion with RTP toggle key ‘r’.
    • Read more about the RTP here: http://www.planetside.co.uk/forums/index.php/topic,21730.0.html


    • “Ozone factor” added to planet atmosphere. This controls the absorption strength of a simulated ozone layer in the atmosphere, which absorbs red and green light to produce bluer skies especially during sunrise and sunset. It strongly affects views from high altitude too. The height profile of the ozone layer is hard-coded to simulate an average Earth atmosphere, but automatically scales in proportion to the “bluesky exp height” if it varies from the default of 8000. When bluesky exp height is at the default value of 8000 the ozone layer occurs between 12km and 63km, peaking in density at around 20km. Density also changes in proportion to bluesky density to produce realistic results in a variety of setups.
    • The default project has ozone factor at 0.5. Newly created planet atmospheres also set ozone factor to 0.5.


    • New node: Cloud Layer V3. This has a new voxel-based light scattering algorithm and lots of other improvements.
    • New node: Easy Cloud. This node will improve in future versions as we refine the cloud models and add more controls.
    • The “Add Cloud Layer” menu has 8 new items to create Easy Cloud nodes for low-level and mid-level clouds of different sizes. Some other volumetric cloud presets in the Add Cloud Layer menu (labeled “Generic”) now use Cloud Layer V3 instead of V2.
    • Cloud Layer V2 has a new option: “View from space” shading model. It changes the behaviours of various parameters to avoid problems that are typically more visible when viewed from very high altitude. Added this to V2 for now, not V3, because this option is going to be most useful for global cloud layers and V3 doesn’t support those yet.
    • The “Added Cloud Layer” menu has 3 new items to create global cloud layers: “Global: Dense”, “Global: Thin” and “Global: Very Thin”. These use Cloud Layer V2 and enable the new “View from space” shading model.
    • Cloud Layer V2 and Cloud Layer V3 show the cloud base altitude as a non-editable parameter.
    • Previously saved Cloud Layer V3 nodes will give a warning that “scattering_colour” is an unknown parameter, but this is OK.
    • Cloud Layer V3 and Easy Cloud enable “move textures with cloud” by default. In these nodes it also works slightly differently from Cloud Layer V2 to allow world space shaders to stay in the same place even when this option is on (this hasn’t been properly tested).
    • Cloud Layer V3 and Easy Cloud require “Localise” to be enabled and prevent you from disabling it. The default radius is 50km.
    • Parameters for 2D shadow map and voxel buffer are no longer restricted to Professional edition; they appear in all editions of Terragen 4. This applies to all cloud nodes.
    • Voxel buffer resolution in clouds is now controlled by a “millions of voxels” parameter, which aims to generate voxels that are as uniformly scaled as possible.
    • Removed the anim button on some shadow map and voxel buffer parameters which we can’t safely animate.
    • Corrected behaviour of clouds when both 2D shadow map and voxel buffer are enabled. This is going to change the look of renders that had both of these checked.
    • Voxel buffers in clouds are now generated on the fly instead of at the beginning of a render. This allows them to be previewed more effectively and also reduces some render times.


    • OBJ Reader no longer multiplies diffuse colour by 0.5 when reading materials.
    • Object readers’ file sequence has parameters for “Sequence first”, “Sequence last”, “Frame offset”, “Loop” and “Ping pong”. In order to use file sequences, it still relies on %04d or some other valid formatter to be in the filename.
    • Reorganised GUIs for object readers and object generators, using two sets of tabs, resulting in cleaner, less busy layouts, and putting the Rock-specific and Grass Clump-specific parameters nearer the top.
    • Populator3 and Populator4 try to find a planet to link to whenever a valid terrain shader is connected, if the currently connected planet is invalid (which it may be after duplicating a population). They do this by searching downstream from the linked terrain shader, and then searching downstream from shaders higher up the main chain from the terrain shader in case the terrain shader is a distributary that doesn’t output to the planet. They also do this OnFirstCreate(), but this will only work if a terrain shader called “Compute Terrain” exists. As a user you still have to connect a terrain shader after duplicating the population, but at least now you probably won’t have to go to the Anchor tab to connect the planet as well.


    • Image bloom and starburst effects in the render node. They are post processes when render has finished.
    • Experimental atmosphere bloom. This is a post process that affects atmosphere and clouds.
    • The render node “detail” parameter is now called “Micropoly detail” in the GUI.
    • Default “defer atmo/cloud” is ON. Default anti-aliasing is 2.
    • There is a new rendering option called “Defer all shading”. This feature is BETA and might not always work correctly. Sometimes it can corrupt the final image (we’ve seen this when it’s combined with GI Surface Details).
    • Partial-opacity shadows. The renderer can now render partially-opaque shadows of non-displaceable objects. Partial opacity is achieved with the Default Shader by using opacity less than 1 or using an opacity texture or opacity functon (many vegetation models already do this, with partial opacity occurring on anti-aliased edges in the texture). For now, this only works for shadows, while opacity visible to the camera still works as before: it can only be either 0 or 1 and each pixel will jump to whichever value is closest. The RTP has an extra capability that’s not in the main render: the RTP can render these partial opacities visible to the camera as well, but we’ll change this in future to match the capabilities of the main renderer. Please note: Partial opacity is not the same as refractive transparency in the Glass Shader and Water Shader. If you want to use this new feature to render semi-transparent shadows of glass-like objects, we recommend that you use a separate INVISIBLE object for casting shadows with reduced opacity, while keeping the visible object fully opaque (opacity 1) with shadows turned off. This will avoid surprises in future versions of Terragen that can render partial opacity visible to the camera.
    • Render GI Settings have been rearranged into 3 tabs: “Prepass”, “Image Pass” and “GI in Clouds”.
    • Render GI Settings have a new parameter “Cloud GI quality”. This affects the accuracy of the background/indirect lighting component of TG4’s new clouds (Cloud Layer V3 and Easy Cloud), but doesn’t affect Cloud Layer V2. Low quality settings tend to produce flicker in animations or sometimes blotchy looking lighting in the clouds, but render faster. Each step down in the menu represents an increase in the quality by doubling the number of light samples, but also an increase in render time.
    • Render nodes’ default TIFF compression mode is LZW. If a project is loaded that was saved with v3.3 or earlier, TG4 will apply the new LZW default, but projects saved with v3.4 will already have some settings written to the project and 3.4 defaulted to “None”.
    • The Surface Depth render element can be output as TIFF. It is no longer forced to be EXR like most other render elements; it will be output as TIFF when the extra output filename ends with .tif or .tiff (either 8 bit or 16 bit according to the chosen TIFF options).
    • Those render elements that are not forced to be EXR (Rgb, Alpha and Surface Depth) are forced to be TIFF (“.tif” or “.tiff” extensions are allowed). Only EXR and TIFF are supported for render elements (extra output images). Before this change, non-TIFF and non-BMP extensions would be allowed in the filename but this would mask the fact that they would really save as SGI RGBs. Now they will be saved as TIFF and have the extension “.tif”.
    • Fixed bug in trTransform::Normal(). This fixes bug #197: Displacement is incorrectly scaled when object is scaled.


    • Fractal Warp Shader now has a “scale filter” input, which logarithmically scales the maximum feature scale of the fractal. A value of 1 allows warping at all scales. A value of 0.5 filters out scales greater than 1 thousandth of the main scale parameter. A value of 0 filters out scales greater than 1 millionth of the main scale parameter. BTW, a similar idea would be nice in the Power Fractal.
    • Fake Stones Shader has inputs for a scale function and a tallness function.
    • Glass Shader has a specular roughness function parameter (like the Default Shader).
    • ReflectiveShader has a specular roughness function parameter (like the Default Shader).
    • If the Water Shader is enabled it calls the input shader so that the input can affect opacity, but sets {doCo,doCd,doCs,doCe} to false before doing so. This allows the opacity trick that was broken by a change in March 2008. The behaviour is unchanged for disabled water shaders (they simply call the input).
    • New function: Voronoi 3D Cell Colour function node (a colour analog of the existing Voronoi 3D Cell Scalar).
    • New functions: AddMultipliedColour, AddMultipliedScalar, AddMultipliedVector, MultiplyComplementColour, MultiplyComplementScalar.
    • Default Shader now works as a value source (outputting its diffuse colour) when plugged in as a function or mask to another shader. Most other shaders already do this.


    • The camera’s default stereo mode is now “Parallel” (was previously “Off axis”). Also, if a camera’s stereo mode is “Parallel”, the control for “Zero parallax distance” is disabled in the GUI.
    • Middle Mouse Button is now included in the default bindings for “Basic Pan”, except in 1- and 2-button presets. Basic Pan is used for scrolling in the Network View and the Animation Panel, by default.
    • The default bindings now allow you to use either ‘Tab’ or ‘n’ to open the Quick Node Palette (in the Node Network). If you’ve customised bindings you may need to reset bindings to see this change, or you can add this binding yourself.
    • Network View Preferences “Use line smoothing” now defaults to True on Windows as well as Mac.
    • Prevented improper image flipping when adding previews to projects.
    • Gather Project errors are a little more specific.
    • Errors are printed to stderr instead of stdout.
    • No longer prints to console when creating or destroying nodes.
    • Adjusted the automatic colour choice of node labels so that they don’t change from black to white when the network view goes into “dark mode” (which happens automatically when choosing a dark background colour).
    • Some GUI background colour changes.
    • Temporarily disabled the up/down steppers in parameter views.
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