Best value tools for generating alien landscapes for print


I’m planning a project that will require generating and rendering many alien landscapes for print (no animation) at 11" by 17" size. The geography, vegetation, and sky should look natural (real) but completely alien (not from our solar system). I have decent computer programming skills (Python) and very basic 3D graphics knowledge from using Blender and Daz 3D. I understand this project will require a significant learning curve.

Vue, Terragen, Word Creator, World Machine, Plantfactory, Xfrog, etc are all great products. However, I am having difficulty determining what combination provides the the best value for this project–by that I mean what is the minimal software investment required to get the job done? For example, World Creator comes with “the industry’s standard and must-have tree assets”. That would be fantastic for a project about Earth–but does not help me on the project before me now. If possibly, I’d like the purchases to total less than $1,000. The hard limit is $2,000. I would appreciate any advice you have to offer.

Thank you,
-da’ud vyd