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MAKING A START


When you first load Terragen, the terrain is blank. In order to generate some scenery, we must generate a terrain. Click on Generate Terrain on the Landscape control panel. On the dialogue box which appears, also click on Generate Terrain, and when the operation is complete, click close. We have not changed any default settings, and the Landscape control panel will now look something like the one below. The terrain generated is random, so yours will not look exactly like mine.
Terrain generated

The blue areas show where water will appear in the image. The vertical line is the sight line, showing the camera position at the bottom of the terrain and the target - where the camera is pointing - in the middle. The black areas are low lying land, the white areas the highest mountains in the scene, and the shades of grey in between represent the different heights of the landscape.

In order to see what sort of picture we get from our terrain, we need to generate a preview. On the Rendering Control panel, below, slide the slider underneath Render Preview over to the right, to get the best quality preview. The picture in the illustration below shows what we get. There is a big black area in the foreground, because our camera position is not high enough above the water to see it properly.

first preview

In later pages I shall be going into detail about controlling the camera position, but for now, we will just move the sight line to a position which will give us a decent picture. On the Landscape panel, wherever you left click in the terrain image, the camera position will be placed. Wherever you right click, the target postition is placed.

new sight lineIn the terrain I generated, I decided to put the line where you see it here. The camera position is top right, on a slight rise in the land so we are looking down across the lake towards a target position just below a mountain. This is the preview we get now.

new preview

It is not very colourful, because we only have the default surface, but you can see the lake with the big mountain reflected in it. A later page will examine in detail making surfaces for the terrains, but for now, download this zip file of ready made surfaces Download the surfaces. Extract the surface maps from the zip file, and using the OPEN button just below Surface Maps on the Landscape control, load the file grass and rock.srf as the surface map.

render with surface mapNow, another preview render gives us this. Obviously there is much more to say about terrain generating, surface maps, and sight line choice, but these few simple instructions are enough to get you started at making landscapes. If you make a nice preview and want a bigger rendering, put the dimensions you wish to have your picture in the image size boxes on the Rendering Control panel, and click Render Image. When the image is complete, there is a SAVE button at the top left of the image window.

You can save your terrain using the SAVE button just below Terrain - NEW on the Landscape panel. Your surfaces, sight line, and all the other elements which make up your picture, are saved by using World File/Save World from the main menu at the top of the workspace. If you open your saved terrain and its matching world file, you can reproduce your picture at any time.

sight line too lowblocked viewOne final word of warning about sight lines. Do not put your camera position immediately behind ground higher than its postion. This would be the result of moving the sight line in my terrain into the corner, where the darker grey shows that the level of the land is lower than that just in front of it.

Now I want to move on, to look in detail at the rendering of water in Terragen version 7.x

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