The Size of Things: Loosing sense of scale

Started by fuzzyEuclid, July 13, 2016, 12:51:38 pm

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Just a little bit of a poll for interest in this thought of mine, before I am so bold as to present an official request for TG4....

I wonder if any sizable number of TG users out there have this issue: often as I design environments, at some point I'm like - hmm, maybe I should check the scale I'm at. So I create a cube object, size it to roughly human dimensions, and copy a location in the view and paste that location to the cube (the cube is actually TWICE the height of a roughly average human, since the cube's origin is centered, which means pasting a cube at a certain point means half the cube is below that point).

..and my rough idea of the scale of my landscape, or a feature therein, turns from a "sort of big" preconception to the realization that it is actually MASSIVELY MASSIVELY MASSIVELY HUGE.

Oops. Guess I should adjust, tweak, or give up my thought for another, or try to run everything at that massive massive massive scale.

What I was thinking was, wouldn't it be nice to have something built into TG where you could right-click somewhere in the scene, and an option in the pop-up menu would be "Place Mannequin", and a rough, very low-poly human (maybe like the wood mannequin artists use to pose and draw from - mind you I am NOT suggesting any ability to pose, just a standing figure) would be placed on the ground, center of object at feet so it's perfectly positioned..?

Slightly more thought:

  • It might be useful, instead, for there to be just a Mannequin menu that, when selected, opens a second-menu listing "1x, 1.5x, 2x" for simple, two-click (three counting the initial right-click)  placement at useful scale, as sometimes people may work at slightly larger scales to accommodate fine details more easily.

  • A static object could be used for the Mannequin, meaning only one exists per TG instance, preventing your scenes from having unwanted nodes and a bunch of those lazy-a## mannequins hanging around. In this case, simply selecting the Mannequin menu item would move the existing one to the new location. Also, if none exists, it could simply create one at the default (1x ?) scale and drop it into position, sparing everyone the agonizing tedium  :P  of two-clicking every time they want a standard scale mannequin.

And of course the object's info-window (lack of better term there) would allow the usual options given to other primitives.

This could just as easily be a cube with pre-set dimensions, but I felt a low-poly figure would be kind of nice. To that end, it might be cool if the figure had one hand up above the brow like someone blocking out the sun while looking into the distance :)

As it stands, this is a functionality that is certainly doable without it being built into TG. My interest is simply in the workflow of things. It would make it a simple thing to drop in a scale reference without messing with the sizing, or re-focusing on it to move it somewhere else during designing your next masterpiece.

Thanks for your time!


Have a look at the "objects"+"add Object"+"Object"+"Landmark" node.

And this too maybe:,12833.msg127331.html#msg127331

The Landmark object works for me. Other options would be nice too maybe.
But you could use any object that works for you easily by making a default scene with that object for example.


Since this is an issue that seems to happen a lot for you, I would indeed suggest changing your *default* project to include a Landmark, Sphere, or even a free human model. This way every scene you start already has this scale reference loaded and it's there from the start as you begin to create.

- Oshyan


Changing the default scene sounds like a sound idea.



Or just place a pop of cards of 1.8m high all over the terrain.


Totally agree with the 1.8m thing. I use that in all software to check scale, especially when using GI systems as they're usually designed to replicate real light with its inverse-square falloff. Everything can look bizarre if at the wrong scale, even if the scales within are correct in relation to one another.


That's actually rather perfect Dune - thanks very much! I imagine I should really come up with such ideas myself - guess I am still not able to think in TG's language yet, so to speak.


Quote from: ajcgi on July 14, 2016, 06:11:25 amespecially when using GI systems as they're usually designed to replicate real light with its inverse-square falloff. Everything can look bizarre if at the wrong scale, even if the scales within are correct in relation to one another.

In any renderer, GI should be scale invariant, if we ignore things like diffraction (which most renderers don't simulate anyway), subsurface scattering and volumetric effects. In a Terragen world, though, atmosphere is the main thing that will need attention if the global scale is wrong. And renders that have subsurface scattering need attention to scale. DoF is another.

Just because milk is white doesn't mean that clouds are made of milk.


Indeed. I deal with a lot of volumetrics and the like so perhaps that's why I'm biased towards real world scales. I'm actually told my TG stuff I'm working up atm will be mixed with Maya elements that are 1/10 of real scale, rendered in Arnold. I used to use that in Softimage with its total disregard for real world units, so you're quite right. Maybe I'm just a stickler for units. :D


July 15, 2016, 10:21:45 am #10 Last Edit: July 15, 2016, 10:25:53 am by bobbystahr
Wheb real world scale is desired I use MrLamppost's grid set up . I think it's in File Sharing bit here's a link to his dl page. Scroll down to Scale Grid Pack.


which explains it's usage.
something borrowed,
something Blue.
Ring out the Old.
Bring in the New
Bobby Stahr, Paracosmologist


Thanks for the plug Bobby.

The grid pack is really intended as an aid to finding the scale of downloaded objects; probably of more use in determining a working scale when creating new scenes is the Stick Figure: I often use this figure when placing my camera, more or less like your mannequin suggestion although I agree that it would be helpful to be able to right click the terrain in the preview and have the option to "Place Object Here". 
Smoke me a kipper I'll be back for breakfast.


Thanks for the nod. I still believe a quick way to target someplace with an object would be nice; that said, Master Dune's suggestion has been working well for me. I've taken it a little bit further with, oddly enough, not a figure, but in the interest of fun and at the expense of intuition, ...drum roll... Easter Island heads. I'll not mention how long the heads took me to model and texture, because I figured it would be an hour and it was... a bit more than that, for my skill level  :-[

Adjusting the spread and the placement leaves me with a good measure of markers. The example render not-withstanding, as I add texture and look for good "shots", it's fun to see one or more of those heads photobomb :)

Included is a tgo for the head, for those who can't resist.


Nice idea. But you have to know how large they are. The originals are much higher than a man, about 4m.


A tall man could be 1.9 meters equaling to 6.2 feet.