This quick tutorial will guide you through the process of generating, tweaking a terrain and furnishing it with trees. Follow the exact values in here to get a good result, of course you can also experiment with your own.
Don’t be afraid to try different things! As long as you input the same seed value, Mirage will generate the same basic terrain shape.
Generating a terrain¶
For this guide we’ll create valley kind of scene. Let’s start by finding a good seed value. Let’s start generating random terrains using the normal detail level to check the overall shape. Make sure you have Live Mode enabled. Once you click Generate you can now change the seed value and watch the terrains they create.
I found a good terrain at a seed of 278649443.
Now that we have a good terrain to begin let’s tweak it a little.
First let’s increase ridgedness to get more mountains and tweak
Terrain type: Mountains
Let’s add some plains in the landscape. We can do this using the Terraces modifier by increasing Terrace 0 to 10%.
Now lets’s enable Thermal and Water erosion for more realism. I also suggest increasing time for water erosion a bit and increase erosion to get a little more carving in the terrain.
Once we have a good looking terrain we can increase the detail level. We have two options: apply a subsurf modifier to the current terrain, or increase the level of detail.
Before moving on, let’s look for a good camera angle. That way we know what parts of the land will be in view and which won’t. There’s no need to waste time sculpting features that no one will see.
Tweaking and sculpting¶
Most of the time you will want to modify the terrain to suit your scene (or your artistic vision) better. One method is to enter edit mode and start moving vertices around with proportional editing enabled (pressing the O key). However this is only useful for meshes with low poly count. The best alternative for large meshes like the one we’re working on is to sculpt.
Press tab and enter sculpt mode. For a simple tweak like this, I’ll only use the default brush. Click to add or bump, CTRL-Click to subtract or move down and SHIFT-Click to soften.
This is all open to personal taste, so feel free to do it your way. In the image above you can also see how I like to setup Blender for sculpting Terrains: one 3D View to work freely on, and another one with Camera View to check the results.
If you have added a distribution layer, you might need to update the vertex groups. Mirage automatically creates Height and Slope weight groups when you click Process in the Distribution Panel. However, they are only created the first time and don’t auto-update. So, after sculptiung the terrain they need to be updated manually. To do so, look for the Tools panel in the Mirage tab with the terrain selected. Then click the Update height and Update slope buttons.
In this case I’ll be using the Spruce Pine Tree pack from Blending Nature
Whatever way you get the trees, make sure they are in a collection. If they are not in a collection, you can add them to one by selecting them and pressing m. Don’t forget to move them out of camera view.
Make sure the terrain is selected and look for the Object Distribution panel in the Mirage tab.
Click the “Add a layer” button to add an object distribution layer. Double click the name of the layer and rename it to “Trees”.
Now, set the collection to the tree collection we made earlier. You should see the trees show up in the terrain immediately.
The proper scale for my terrain and tree models is around 0.01, so I set Scale maximum to 0.01 and minimum 0.005. After changing the scale, we also need to change the density. I used these values:
Distance Maximum: 500
Distance Minimum: 0.001
Density Factor: 20
Since my scene is a valley and some areas will be high, I will enable Limit by Height. I’ve lowered the maximum to 1.6. If you’re going for extreme realism, you might want to look up the height range for the different tree species you plan to use.
I also increased the minimum slope to 60º to cover flat areas more.
Optionally you can enable Camera Optimization in the object tab to limit the distribution only to the area visible to the camera.
If your trees are rather high poly (like mine), you might want to create a proxy collection. This will let you work with lower poly objects in the viewport, while having the high poly ones in the final render.
To create a proxy collection, you can take lower poly versions of your trees (if you have them) or just create a few cubes about the same size of the trees. Add them to a new collection and call it something like trees_lowpoly. Now select the terrain again, go to the distribution panel and enable the Proxy Collecion subpanel. Set the low poly collection there, and you are all set!
Notes on materials¶
As we saw in the sculpting section, Mirage can create and keep updated vertex groups for the terrain. That also includes color vertex groups that you can use in Cycles to make materials that can change depending the height and slope.
In the nodes editor, bring up the add node menu (shift-a) and look for the Input > Vertex Color submenu. You’ll find the groups there. You might also want to use a color ramp node to control them better.
When UV Unwrapping it’s useful to remember the terrain is essentially a grid. That means it can be unwrapped into a grid. To do this, first go into orthogonal top view (press 5 and then 7). Now go into edit mode, and press u to bring the unwrap menu. From the menu select Project From View (Bounds). Now you have a grid-like UV that you can tweak to your liking. Note that there will be some stretching in along the slopes.
Another option is to use Smart UV Project. This option will give you less stretching, but it will also create more islands and be more irregular.
That concludes this guide. If you want to know more about all the settings please refer to the other sections of this manual. I hope you have found this quick intro useful, and are on your way to making breathtaking landscapes with Mirage!
If you need help with anything contact me (Spanish, English) using the Blender Market’s support forums