Compute Normal

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Compute Normal


Compute Normal re-computes the normal of the terrain at the point in the network where it is connected. The "normal" of a surface is a vector perpendicular to the surface angle. A computed normal is required for proper application of texture and displacement to the terrain, since both usually depend on the precise shape of the existing terrain. Compute Terrain, which is similar to Compute Normal, provides the initial normal in most scenes and is a part of the default terrain network. If significant changes are made to the displacement after the initial Compute Terrain, the use of a Compute Normal will ensure that subsequent displacement and texturing are accurately placed relative to the true terrain shape.

Example of using the Compute normal node to calculate the current normals due to displacements occurring after the Compute terrain node.


  • Name: This setting allows you to apply a descriptive name to the node, which can be helpful when using multiple Compute normal nodes in a project.
  • Enable: When checked, the node is active and surface normals will be calculated for the terrain up to the point in the network where it is connected.
  • Patch Size: Description coming soon.
  • Smooth Surface: Description coming soon.

A vector is a set of three scalars, normally representing X, Y and Z coordinates. It also commonly represents rotation, where the values are pitch, heading and bank.

Literally, to change the position of something. In graphics terminology to displace a surface is to modify its geometric (3D) structure using reference data of some kind. For example, a grayscale image might be taken as input, with black areas indicating no displacement of the surface, and white indicating maximum displacement. In Terragen 2 displacement is used to create all terrain by taking heightfield or procedural data as input and using it to displace the normally flat sphere of the planet.

A single object or device in the node network which generates or modifies data and may accept input data or create output data or both, depending on its function. Nodes usually have their own settings which control the data they create or how they modify data passing through them. Nodes are connected together in a network to perform work in a network-based user interface. In Terragen 2 nodes are connected together to describe a scene.