Riding the Sky and Diving Deep in Terragen

Many people have come over the fact, that it is not possible to create a picture from above the clouds, using Terragen alone. This is for two reasons:

  1. Positioning your camera position over the clouds seems to result in an invisible cloudlayer. That is, you can’t see any then.
  2. Even in case you were able to render the sky from above, Terragen renders the sky first, land second. So the rendered land will be rendered in front of the sky.

Another issue many Terrageneers have complained about is, that you cannot position the camera below water.

Just to prove that this can be overcome, look at these two pictures:



There’s only little magic here: there’s a checkbox, hidden in the settings dialog under options, called “back face culling (faster)”. Usually, that doesn’t mean anything to you, since any other picture doesn’t seem to be affected by this, except for some differences in render time. So, what the hell is it good for?

To get an understanding, imagine, that when Terragen renders a picture, it woould be unnessessary to renders polygons, which face away from the camera, because you  wouldn’t see them anyway. With not rendering these polygons, you simply save time rendering your picture. That’s why this option is turned on by default.

Clouds from above – How to…

In case of the clouds, only the bottom side of the clouds are rendered by default. If you turn “back face culling” off, the clouds become visible with a camera position from above. Unfortunately, the land gets rendered after the sky and will be placed on top of the clouds. So you will need to render two pictures – one without land and from above the clouds, and one with land, below the clouds – and mask and mix both using a paint program. Now here’s a checklist of what you need to do:

  1. have “back face culling turned on
  2. have “clouds cast shadows” turned on
  3. render a picture from high above, but below the clouds. Maybe you need to increase the sky altitude.
  4. you will get something like this:


  1. have “back face culling” turned off
  2. turn of rendering land
  3. TURN OFF 3D CLOUDS !!! The trick doesn’t work with 3D clouds.
  4. keep camera altitude and decrease sky altitude to something below your camera.
  5. you will get something like this:

10.  Launch Photoshop or something else, mask the clouds, copy them into the land picture and you’re done. This is where you might end up at:

Scenes from under water….How to:

I am just going to explain this. Using any terrain, adjust the waterlevel to any value above the terrain. Position your camera under the water and look up. With “back face culling” turned off, you will see something like this:

Now, you need to know two things about underwater scenes:

  1. you won’t see no clouds. Ever.
  2. the land underwater is invisible shortly below the waterline. You will always need to look upwards.

That’s it. I hope all this has been explained well enough. Have fun.


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