View Full Version : Terrain Modeling - Which program?

12 December 2004, 02:19 PM

Apart from being able to do terrains in your native 3D app, I was wondering if anyone had any experience with terrain specific apps like Vue 4 Pro, Terragen, Worldbuilder and such like. Has anyone had any experience with how these apps tie into you workflow with 3D apps? Which one would you say was the best for render quality, ease of use, import/export functions and how they link with other applications.

I'm tinkering with Vue Pro 4's demo and Worldbuilder at the moment, but would be most interested in hearing anyone's experiences.

Oh, I'm also using LW and XSI too.

Cheers, and Happy New Year to you all.


01 January 2005, 10:53 AM
Do you do stills or animations? For stills, I tried Terragen, is free (for non-commercial), gives good quality for background-layers.

01 January 2005, 06:49 AM
I do both stills and animation, either full 3D or comps with real-life elements, and was just looking for something that would produce results from imagination and based on terrain data if necessary, and something that was optimised to handle the high poly count associated with terrains.

Its important that it fits into the workflow pipeline between with other 3D apps which was why I was looking at Vue 4 pro (I believe vue 5 pro is out soon?), and Worldbuider as these had support already for some of the major 3D apps.

I realise that all this can be achieved in a native 3D program with displacement maps etc, so was looking for some others' experiences in this to see whether a specialist program would be of more benefit to me.

Many thanks,


01 January 2005, 08:49 PM
Try Bryce, it's great for water and terrain, you can export easily for use in other applications (eg as an .obj), and the renderer is very good. It also has the best skies! I think it retails for about $80 which is pretty good for such a powerful app. I first started in 3d on a free copy of Bryce 3D off a magazine cover disk!

You can probably find it or earlier versions dirt cheap on places like eBay.

Here's a free version of Bryce 4 though:


01 January 2005, 06:41 PM
Try Bryce, it's great for water and terrain, you can export easily for use in other applications (eg as an .obj), and the renderer is very good. I think it retails for about $80 which is pretty good for such a powerful app.

Wrong! Shoot me if I'm mistaken, but you're giving some false information. While bryce can produce some good looking scenes, it isn't nearly as robust as many of the other programs that are out there (such as terragen which is a terrain generating wonder, and it's free). The renderer powerful?! It won't do a thing. All you can do is push the render button and hope for the best. It has hardly any render settings. If you are going to spend $80 on bryce, hoping that it will give you the terrain making fetures required by top 3d artists, save up a little and get something worth your money like vue (which is my terrain app of choice).

Kudos for the free bryce 4 link though, bryce lacks in so many features, and isn't worth the money, but for free you can use what little it offers.

01 January 2005, 07:59 PM
Fair enough, I only have my own experience to go on and Shaun_michael didn't give any indication of his budget - I haven't really tried any others so it was just more of an indication of what's out there. How about a link to a Terragen download then?


01 January 2005, 11:25 PM
How would you go about using vue in conjunction with Maya 6.0.1 which is my main 3d app.

Can you export scene files from vue and import them into Maya or...

01 January 2005, 05:59 AM
For stills, terragen is fantastic, the results are as close to photorealistic as possible.

The link is:

It can import terrain data and is easy to get started with. I knew it could export and just went there briefly and read that it can export Lightwave files and binary files. I don't know if that helps you.

I have tried the free version of Vue 3 and it looks good. Got side tracked and did not give it the time it deserved, so I cannot comment further on it. I wasn't aware that it could export terrains and intend on spending a little more time with it. I believe that at one time they were offering Vue 4 for a discount, I think $69. Check their Web Site, I don't have that link handy.

Bryce at one time was a very capable program and can still do some amazing renders. I know version 5 can export terrains with materials as an object file. It also can import terrain data. It is easy to pick up. There is talk that it is going to be updated to version 5.5. I know Renderosity has very active Bryce forum, along with forums for Vue, Terragen and World Builder. Try them, see the results of these programs.

I recommend that you try different demo's and see what meets your needs and work flow.

01 January 2005, 09:56 AM
Hey guys,

Illumino, thank you for your input, and no, you're right I didnt mention a budget initially. I already use LW8 and XSI for modeling and animation, and the most important thing to me is that an application like Vue or Terragen would fit seemlessly into the workflow pipeline. In other words, can I do a certain amount of work in say Vue, then export ALL of that to LW for modeling/texture tweaks if necessary, then take that to XSI or Messiah or layout for animation for instance.

Budget in this case has to take a backseat to a certain extent in preference to integration as I would rely on any specialist app to save me a bunch of time, not make the process more difficult and convoluted.

I've played with Terragen, and agree that it would be great for stills, but I'm not sold on it's ability to integrate seemlessly with other apps on an animation front. Vue 4 Pro seemed very nice, efficient, integrated, but soon to be out of date (anyone know anything about vue 5 pro?). Worldbuilder4 seemed great, but not nearly as intuitive as Vue, but with some great features.

If any of you guys are interested in terrain apps like this, check out the demos, take a look at some of the tutorials and work some people are producing for apps like Vue (pretty amazing!), and let me know how well it integrates into your production pipeline, what probs you've had etc I'd be very interested to hear all opinions.

Many thanks for all your input, keep it coming guys.


01 January 2005, 10:05 AM
OliOli, check out the info page on Vue 5 Esprit's import and export functions:-

It seems to be able to export fully UVd and texture mapped obj files. I've checked Vue 4 Pro out and this seems to be able to actulaly link "live" to your 3D application which is ideal, so I'd check that out too although as I mentioned below, I believe a new version, version 5, is due for release at some point soon.



01 January 2005, 06:58 PM
thanks guys, I'll look into it.

02 February 2005, 03:43 PM
Anyone checked Vue 5 Infinite out yet?

Looking pretty cool if you ask me...

02 February 2005, 01:27 PM
Well as far as working with other apps goes. Terragen does not do imports but it is free so you can make some nice backdrops. Bryce can import obj and 3DS files and textures so that will help as long as you use it as a renderer. Bryce does not exportanything besides grayscale terrain models. Vue I am not sure of the Export functions on it.
Bryce has a good renderer but it is very slow. It has good control over textures but could use more. I have been asking about that for version 5.5. Bryce has better aliasing than many other apps. Vue has probably all the features you need but ask around a couple of the forums for the terrain modeler you are looking for. If you want to export don't use Bryce.

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