HOW can I create a realistic terrain?
Magdalene Davis, New York
The creation process of a realistic terrain can be divided into two parts. In the first part, we need to search for relevant references for the terrain we are going to create, sketching a concept of the entire scene. In the second part we have to create all the models that compose the scene in order to create the terrain. For the creation of this particular scene I tried to imagine the terrain of Mars. To do that, after the concept creation, I created a little library of images that I could then use as references for the terrain. Following the concept, we have to create every model that is part of the scene, placing these in the space. After that we can start to model the terrain, adding a plane and editing the flat surface in Edit Mode. Here subdividing the plane, we have to define the main deformations of the terrain.
Once all the models are in the scene and the basic terrain has been created, we can start to add some details, going into Sculpt Mode and starting to model the terrain. In this part of the work I suggest that you follow all the references you have found, trying to create many imperfections and being very meticulous in the details, because this makes the difference. During the sculpting process of the terrain for this particular scene, I imagined that the soil was composed principally of rocks and sand; so, considering that, I modelled some stones with different dimensions, some sand dunes and some other deformations near to the sides of the main building and the other objects. Now that we have sculpted the terrain, the last part of the work consists of the creation of the material. To create the material of the terrain we have to map the model and create a texture. Now going into Texture Paint Mode, we can paint the new texture, trying to recreate an original material. During this process, it’s very important to follow the references, to achieve a realistic effect. Once we created the texture, we can open the Node Editor panel and add the texture to the main material, finishing the terrain creation.
In the Node Editor panel, you can define the terrain material, combining some shaders, textures and other elements that will make the terrain more realistic.