Terragen 2.4 Released With Complete Animation Module

Terragen 2.4 is now available and includes a number of important new features. Most significantly, version 2.4 marks the first complete release of the Animation Module, available in pre-release form prior to 2.4. The Animation Module now includes a complete key frame editing workflow with a dope sheet and curve editor, providing greatly improved control and precision when animating. 

Significant changes include:

  • Complete Animation Module with Timeline, Dope Sheet, and Curve editor
  • Global Illumination Caching and other options to address flicker in animations
  • New population "lean to normal" function
  • New Vector Displacement, Displacement Shader to Vector, and other added shader nodes
  • New options to sync textures for clouds or planets when moved
  • Improved multithreading performance in several areas
  • Improved object and population drawing speed in 3D preview
  • Quick Node Palette speeds node network editing
  • Project "gather" function for easily packaging complete projects and assets
  • Additional colour picker options
  • New commandline options for frame ranges, cropping
  • Expanded customization options for key bindings
  • Many additional bug fixes and other updates


Animation Module

The completion of the Animation Module adds powerful new tools for creating and working with animations, including a Curve Editor, Dope Sheet and interpolation modes, and much more.

New animation panel with timeline and dope sheet


Curve editor


In addition to several major new animation features, we have also made many improvements and bug fixes to the animation capabilities that already existed, including Undo, playback speed, timeline controls and project settings, and displaying animation icons in the Network View.

You can find out more about animation in Terragen in the Planetside Wiki:


GI Caching

You can now pre-render the Global Illumination prepass to write out a GI cache file or range of files and then re-use the files to render images without needing a prepass. In animations, Terragen can read more than one file and blend them, which can be used to smooth out flickering between frames.

Garden of Eternity animation, rendered with GI caches for every 5th frame, interpolating 3 GI solutions for each rendered frame.
Rendering courtesy of Ranch Computing.

If you are building a large image out of separately rendered tiles, you can make sure all tiles have matching GI by using the same pre-rendered GI cache file or blended set of files. GI caching makes it possible to render truly enormous images across a render farm, or in a series of crops to conserve memory.

st-helens16k resize 

16,000 pixel image rendered in 177 tiles using a single cached GI solution. Rendering courtesy of Ranch Computing.
Click to download full resolution (Warning: 65MB JPG file)


Differences in lighting are evident between crop regions when GI caching is not used


Find out more about Global Illumination and GI caching in Terragen 2 in the Planetside Wiki:


Population Lean to Normal

Version 3 of the Populator nodes have new parameters on the Object Rotation tab that cause instances to lean to the surface normal of the terrain, i.e. lean according to slope.


You can control the overall strength of the effect. You can also tell instances to lean less on shallower slopes than on steep slopes and not to lean at all if they are on slopes less than a particular angle. 


New Shaders and Function Nodes

A new Vector Displacament Shader allows you to displace a surface in any direction according to a vector. This vector can be a vector function input or a constant vector offset, or the vector function and the constant offset can both be used at the same time. This kind of displacement was possible without this shader, but you needed to use a Redirect Shader and three Displacement Shaders to perform the same function, which was less efficient in many cases. The Vector Displacement shader also has some convenient multiplier options and options to reverse the vectors.


The Displacement Shader to Vector node calls the displacement of its input shader and converts it to a vector function for use in function networks. This is useful if you want to modify a displacement shader using functions. The result can be sent to any shader that can displace using a function.


Additionally, there are four new function nodes:

  • "Linear step scalar" is similar to Smooth Step Scalar but with linear interpolation instead of Hermite interpolation.
  • "Normalise vector" converts the input vector to a unit vector.
  • "Live value display" will display its input values in its param view when triggered.
  • "Timed trigger" will output a specified scalar value whenever a specified delay elapses.


Additional Features

A new option "move textures with cloud" allows the texture coordinates used by density shader, modulators and functions to be offset by the "localise" sphere centre, so that cloud shape and texture do not change whenever the altitude changes or the "localise" sphere centre changes. Planets also have options to automatically translate and/or rotate their shaders with the planet's centre and rotation parameters. 

The Node Palette can now be opened from the network view by pressing the N key (by default). This opens a special version of the Node Palette called the Quick Node Palette. The Quick Node Palette will stay open until you create a node by double clicking or pressing the Enter/Return key, when it will close. Only one Quick Node Palette is open at a time. The node is created where the mouse is over the network view or in the centre if the mouse is outside the network view. This enables quick creation of nodes - press the N key, start typing the name of the node you want to create and then press Enter/Return to create it when it's selected.

You now have the ability to "gather" a project and its assets together, via the "Export Gathered Project" item in the File menu. This will move all required project assets to a new folder and create a new TGD file referencing the new asset locations. This makes the project portable and easy to share with others, or upload to a render farm for example. There is also a new Project Asset window, which can be opened from the Show Project Assets item in the Project menu. It displays all the assets in a project, the nodes which refer to them and other information. It can also generate reports about the project assets.

The Colour Picker has a new "Shifter" colour panel. The Greyscale slider in the Sliders panel now also has preset greyscale chips you can click for 0, 0.25, 0.5, 0.75 and 1.0 values.

There is a new option for customising input bindings. The Input Actions list of the Customise Input Bindings window has a new category called Basic Inputs. You can use the new "Basic action" binding setting to assign an action from the Basic Inputs category to a binding. Take the "Default click" action as an example. This action is common to several categories of actions, such as the 3D Preview, Animation Panel and Network View. You can set the basic action of the "Default click" action in all those categories to the Basic Input "Default click" action and all those actions will take their bindings from the Basic Input binding. This means that you just need to change the Basic Input "Default click" bindings and those changes will flow through to all other actions which use that as their basic action.

These features, as well as a great many additional fixes and new functionality are included in the full Terragen 2.4 Release Change Log.

How To Get It

The 2.4 release is available free of charge for licensed users of Terragen 2 as of Sunday, April 15th, 2012. If you are a licensed user, please use the built-in Check For Update feature to access the new version.