PIPELINE TECHNIQUES: Render realistic alien terrains with octane
Create amazing environements
in this tutorial we will learn how to create realistic desolate and almost alien-looking terrains in cinema 4D and Octane Render. i will show you some tips and tricks to create your own custom-looking mountains using the displacement deformer generated directly in cinema 4D as well as using textures you can purchase online to add more realistic detail. i recommend sources like textures. com, poliigon.com or my personal favourite tfmstyle.com.
First we will explore how to generate our custom texture for displacing our base for the mountains in c4d. Then we will go over how to export that texture and bring it back into Octane Render for displacement.
i’ll show you how to add more detail by mixing images and using different nodes in Octane to make our terrains look more photorealistic. Keep an eye out for yellow highlighted text in the screenshots as those will be the properties i’ve edited. Keep in mind that exploration and trial and error are big parts of generating realistic-looking renders, therefore patience also plays a big part in this, so don’t be afraid to try out different things and fail, you can always continue trying.
01 Create the base The first thing we need is a base for our terrain. For this we are going to grab a plane object and add a displacer as a child of the plane. in the shading tab of the displacer click on the arrow and add a noise. Play around with the settings until you come up with a good base for the overall shape of our terrain.
One thing to keep in mind is to make this noise fairly large, mine is at 1600px. i’ve highlighted the properties i made changes to. Also, increase the subdivisions of the plane to get more definition.
02 Detail the base now that we have a good overall base we can add a little more detail. Go into your displacer object’s shading tab, click on the arrow and select Layer. This will keep your original noise and put it in a layer system where we can layer different noises.
Add as many noises as you want and play with the blending modes and opacity. i used three different noises but one thing similar across all of them is the scale, they are all scaled up over 400%. My displacer is set to 100% strength and 48cm of height as well.
03 Prepare a C4D material To be able to bake our texture we need a texture tag, so create a new material and apply it to the plane. in your displacer object’s shading tab click on the little arrow and select copy shader. in your new Material’s Luminance channel, click the arrow and select Paste shader. now our layered noises are on the material applied to the plane. At this point you can disable the displacer (we use it just to have visual feedback of our terrain), but keep it in case you want to update the noises and re-save the texture.
04 Save the texture Right-click on the plane and add a Bake Texture tag. select a proper location for saving your file, PNG format, Linear color space and 16-bit. This colour depth is very important to get more information in our greyscale image for Octane to displace. Make sure the texture is 8K in size (8192 x 8192) and select the Luminance channel to export. click on Bake. This process may take a few minutes depending on your computer’s hardware, but trust me, it is worth the wait.
05 Octane displacement now our texture is ready for Octane Render. Open the node editor, create a new diffuse Octane material, drag an image Texture node and load our previously saved PNG. Drag a Displacement node into the Displacement channel of the material and then connect the image Texture node to the Displacement node’s input. in the Displacement node select the appropriate level of detail for your image.
Apply the material to the plane, and reduce the subdivisions of the plane to 1 x 1 (for Octane, high subdivisions are not necessary for displacement). Fire up Octane and see the Displacement working!
06 Light the scene Lighting is very important to produce the results we want. Right now Octane’s default environment is lighting the scene since there are no lights in it, which is why everything looks so flat. Add an Octane Daylight object and rotate it until you get some good shadows. Play with the Turbidity and Power as well. Also, add a Transform node to the image Texture node and increase the size of the Texture to 1.1 to get rid of those artefacts on the edges of our plane.
07 Shade Terrains are not composed of just one colour, so we are going to mix two gradients that are slightly different but still very monotone. We can use a Mix Texture node to mix the two together and for the Amount we can use an image Texture node. i am using sand Ripples from textures.com, but you can use anything you want, a Gradient node is useful to increase the contrast of the image as well. Finally, plug the Mix Texture into the Diffuse channel. We are starting to get the results we want!
08 Create bump detail We need more detail. First we are going to use the Bump channel mixing three textures, two from the tfmstyle.com Retina’s pack and an Octane noise for the amount. Then we plug this mix into another mix and use another image with a gradient to increase the contrast a bit. We can just use a Float texture for the amount. Finally we just need to create a camera and change the focal length to something like 110, this will give us a more cinematic looking shot with less distortion.
09 Add a normal map now we need more micro detail, and we can achieve this with a normal map. in this case i am using another texture from textures.com called Dusty Gravel. Plug it directly into the normal channel and add a transform and projection node to adjust the texture to your liking, let Octane render for a minute or two and you should see the difference, even if it’s not apparent at first sight, the detail is there.
Adjust the Daylight system to art direct our shot a bit more and get the shadows you want and you are done!
We can use a Mix Texture node to mix the two together and for the Amount we can use an image Texture node. i am using sand Ripples from textures.com, but you can use anything you want
Jesus suarez jesussuarez.tv Bio Jesus is a senior motion designer & 3D generalist currently based in Florida. He creates all types of content from hyper-realistic renders to stylised animations.