Terragen 3

Terragen™ is a powerful solution for rendering and animating realistic natural environments. Create entire worlds from your imagination, or import real world terrain datasets and use Terragen 3 to create the most realistic visualisations possible. You control the weather, landscape, rivers, lakes and oceans, suns, moons and stars. With Terragen 3 you have complete control over the shader networks used for terrains, textures, micropolygon displacements, clouds and object distributions. You can reorganise the planetary shading pipeline to suit your goals. Place grass and trees wherever you want, as well as other objects in native TGO or OBJ format that you have modeled in third party software.

What's New in Terragen 3

Terragen 3 is a major new revision of our Terragen product line. It includes a broad range of new features, enhancements to existing functionality, performance improvements, and many other changes.

Buy now and you can get a 1 year Maintenance Plan which entitles you to a free upgrade to Terragen 4.0 when it is released in 2016! Visit our Online Store for pricing and details.

Terragen 3 is available in Creative and Professional editions, both of which have optional animation features. A free non-commercial version is also available.

Terragen 3 Creative allows access to the powerful core Terragen 3 technology at an entry level price for artists and hobbyists on a lower budget. Terragen 3 Creative includes improved Global Illumination, new noise-free Depth of Field, a Content Library, enhanced 3D preview with textured model display mode and improved performance, and much more.

Terragen 3 Professional is the flagship product in the Terragen 3 lineup, with the most complete feature set and a full complement of professionally-oriented tools. Building on the core Terragen 3 features in Terragen 3 Creative, Terragen 3 Professional adds render layers and elements, a Linux render node, spherical camera, FBX import/export, accelerated cloud rendering options, and more. Terragen 3 Professional is a powerful, production-ready application, able to integrate quickly and easily into most visual effects pipelines.

Click here for a complete comparison of Terragen 3 product features

A comprehensive render element system allows you to output your renders in separate passes for maximum flexibility in compositing. Terragen 3 features more than 20 different render element output types, including depth, normals, direct and diffuse lighting, and many more. Additionally, a Layers system allows you to group parts of your scene for separate render output, further increasing your post-processing flexibility.

For those not yet familiar with the capabilities these new features allow, this video should show you all you need to know.

Render Elements and Compositing in Terragen 3

Skip ahead to 11m15s to check out dynamic relighting in Nuke using only Terragen 3 render elements output!
A significantly enhanced 3D Preview now includes a variety of object display modes, including new Smooth Shaded and Textured modes for objects.
Enhanced 3D Preview
Textured object display mode in the 3D Preview

The 3D Preview has also been multi-threaded, allowing you to take better advantage of multi-core and multi-CPU systems while previewing your scene. Multi-threading of the 3D Preview is in the early stages but already provides a notable performance boost in many cases.

To make fine-tuning object parameters easier, selected objects can now be rotated and scaled as well as moved in the 3D preview. A Drop to Terrain feature (D key) lets you quickly and easily place your objects realistically at ground level.

Finally, with the addition of Depth of Field in Terragen 3, the 3D preview now has a DoF preview mode which shades the scene based on the focal distance set in the current camera.
Terragen 3 introduces a new method for “Global Illumination Surface Details” (GISD), which produces higher detail results in far less time than the previous GISD option.
GISD Comparison
Image courtesy of Martin Huisman
No GISDNew Global Illumination Surface Details option
GISD is disabled on the left, enabled the right.
Render time without GISD: 19m11s with GISD: 22m40s
Terragen 3 adds the ability to fine-tune your populations by editing each unique instance, changing position, size, rotation, or even deleting individual instances. All changes can be easily rolled back, or iteratively adjusted. Watch a demo below.

In addition, a new Population shader input allows you to tint the color and luminosity of the entire population with a procedural shader or even an imported image map, creating realistic color variation between instances. This can be used for both subtle and dramatic results, as well as special effects (color your population based on a logo image for example), depending on need.
Population color variation
Population Color Variation - Image courtesy of Saurav Subedi
Terragen 3 improves on the FBX support added in version 2.5. You can import and export camera and lighting animation data, and export terrain geometry in FBX as well. Along with existing support for Nuke CHAN, and standard OBJ format, interoperability with other applications in your toolset is easier than ever.
Two new options for localized clouds allow for significant render time savings in many cases. A Voxel Buffer option can be used to reduce unnecessary volumetric shading in areas without cloud, while 2D Shadow Maps can give you smooth shadows with a lower performance impact vs. raytracing. In some cases render times can be half what they would be in Terragen 2, or even less.
Localized Clouds performance comparison
Performance comparison courtesy of Martin Huisman
A new object Mesh Displacement input allows you to apply displacement to your objects while maintaining the ability raytrace to those objects for maximum render quality. Mesh displacement can be used to add procedural features to objects or make displaced variations for unique looks.

The new Content Library makes it easy to organize and quickly access scene files, objects, and textures. You can add description tags that are later searchable, select favorites for quick reference, customize the preview images, and much more. Content can be added one item at a time, or you can scan entire folders to quickly build your library. Watch the following video to see it in action.


All versions of Terragen 3 include bundled preset content, including surface shaders, terrains, clouds, and more to help you get started on scene building quickly and easily. In addition more than 20 high quality plant models are included, courtesy of Silva3D.com.
Terragen 3 scene created entirely with bundled content
This scene was created using only preset content in Terragen 3
Thanks to a completely new DEM (Digital Elevation Model) system, Terragen 3 can now natively load and georeference a large variety of different DEM formats, allowing you to use real-world data from hundreds of sources. One of the most popular sources for free DEM data is the USGS National Map Viewer. With Terragen 3, all 3 major sources of heightfield DEM data from the USGS are now loaded easily. In fact, Terragen 3 now supports most of the major DEM formats natively, making it easier than ever to work with real-world scenes. You can even load data from the moon!
Lunar DEM data in Terragen 3
Lunar DEM data rendered in Terragen 3
An easy to use spherical camera mode is now available. This significantly expands the options for interoperability and reduces the number of steps in many asset production workflows, from HDR environment maps in CG lighting to game environments and more.
Terragen 3 Spherical Camera outputTerragen 3 Spherical Camera output
Examples of Spherical Camera output
For Terragen 3, we have developed a proprietary new method for fast, noise-free Depth of Field. Unbiased DoF is always available, but in most cases you can achieve realistic results much faster using our new approach.
Terragen 3 Depth of FieldTerragen 3 Depth of Field
Terragen 3 Depth of Field
Depth of Field in Terragen 3
The addition of a Linux render node to the Terragen product family allows you to take advantage of render farm resources you already have, without running emulation or other workarounds. The Linux render node is a native compile, running with maximum performance on most major Linux distros.
We've added many additional new nodes, shader inputs, noise functions, and more. Examples include the Vortex Shader, great for hurricans, whirlpools, and other special effects; new cloud lighting and shadow inputs, allowing you to easily color cloud layers in sophisticated ways; and the new voronoi noise variants available in the Power Fractal.
In addition to the major new features above, many behind-the-scenes changes, bug fixes, and more have resulted in an even more stable and functional Terragen application core. For a complete list of changes, peruse the full change log between Terragen and 3.0.

Terragen 3 builds on the cutting-edge technology first released in Terragen 2, which has been used for visual effects in more than 20 feature films as well as numerous major TV productions, and is relied upon by many of the most respected visual effects companies. Terragen’s powerful displacement and atmospherics engines have garnered a reputation for accurate, photo realistic environments featuring detailed terrains, physically-based volumetric skies, and massive populations of instanced geometry. We have continued to improve these core strengths for Terragen 3, producing new creative options and render capabilities, improved performance, and enhanced workflows.



  • Created and Rendered with Terragen Software
  • Created and Rendered with Terragen Software
  • Created and Rendered with Terragen Software
  • Created and Rendered with Terragen Software
  • Created and Rendered with Terragen Software
  • Created and Rendered with Terragen Software
  • Created and Rendered with Terragen Software
  • Created and Rendered with Terragen Software
  • Created and Rendered with Terragen Software
  • Created and Rendered with Terragen Software
  • Created and Rendered with Terragen Software
  • Created and Rendered with Terragen Software
  • Created and Rendered with Terragen Software
  • Created and Rendered with Terragen Software
  • Created and Rendered with Terragen Software
  • Created and Rendered with Terragen Software
  • Created and Rendered with Terragen Software
  • Created and Rendered with Terragen Software
  • Created and Rendered with Terragen Software
  • Created and Rendered with Terragen Software


Have your questions answered by the Planetside team and other Terragen users in our online forums. Planetside Forums