became interested in digital landscape programmes quite a few years ago when I
was using an Amiga 2000 and the very first programme I came across was Scene
Generator from Natural Graphics in 1989- I have the original 12 page
manual in front of me. Now ten years later there is a new programme from the same
software designer - Natural Scene Designer 2.0
which is available for both Mac and PC. Details from
the same time -about ten years ago came the early version of Vistapro
for the Amiga - Vista 1.0 from Virtual Reality Labs- the manual went to 40 pages
- wow ! The specs were pretty basic in those days. In 1992 Vistapro2
for the Amiga was launched. Animation was pretty basic but we did have trees !
A year later came Vistapro3 with versions for both the PC and Amiga with
major improvements. At this time Vistamorph came out which added to the excitement.A
few years later Vistapro4 hit the streets
but with a new distributor . We lost the morph and makepath extras and there are
no signs of any further advancements to the programme at the moment. The main
landscape generators these days are the five at the top of the page and there
will be examples on the relevant pages.
Other programmes are as follows
AMAP landscape modeling application - includes Genesis plant growth programme which is very extensive but also very expensive. Genesis is also available as plug-ins for Maya and Softimage. Trees and plants can also be exported as DXF, LWO, OBJ and 3DS. Details from
Landscape Navigator - Kashmir 3D
- new on the scene - demo available from site below
Machine - is a new terrain generator. you can export as a 'Ter'
for Terragen or as a TGA for importing into Vue. It has an interesting method
of producing landscapes and the results are very good.
The above images ( put mouse over image for different lighting ) are from the Monument Valley DEM mentioned later on this page. This view is taken from a point just north of Spearhead Mesa looking SW with a 55 mm lens.
Though the DEMs are quite detailed I was disappointed I could not find my tripod marks from when I was there in 1983 ! Ah the ravages of time. To get the DEM into Terragen the original Mitten DEM was loaded into 3DEM (see ref later) and saved as a TER file at 1025 x 1025
Many of the landscape progs have the ability to import objects and trees etc and while some of them have quite a range of trees and plants within the programs there are specialist programs to grow your own !
vary in price and specifications
Top of the tree so to speak is Tree Professional available from Onyx Computing
Another top performer is Tree Druid which comes as a plug-in or as a standalone programme. Info from Hutchinson Avenue Software Corp
A more economical programme is Tree Factory from MECN Graphics. My copy is some 5 years old so I don't know whether it is still available and I don't have a web address.
For plants try Plant Studio- http://www.kurtz-fernhout.com. You can download the demo version for free from the above site and registration for the full copy will not require a remortgage.
For those with an unlimited budget have a look at Maya Paint - http://www.aliaswavefront.com/entertainment
(USGS Digital Elevation model) files are digital representations of cartographic
information in a raster form. They consist of a sample array of elevations for
a number of ground positions at regularly spaced intervals.They come in different
sizes - 7.5- minute,15- minute, 2-arc seconds and 1 -degree units. The first two
are in the large scale category, the 2-arc seconds (also known as 30 -minute)
is intermediate and the 1-degree DEM falls within the small scale section. For
more details look at
GTOPO30 DEMS can be downloaded from http://edcwww.cr.usgs.gov/landaac/gtopo30/gtopo.html
1 degree USGS DEMs can be downloaded from http://edcwww.cr.usgs.gov/glis/hyper/guide/1_dgr_demfig/index1m.html
minute SDTS DEMs can be downloaded from
Note that the 7.5 ones are downloaded in the *.tar.gz format
There is a useful conversion tutorial at http://www.cherba.com/wcs.htm
Another Dem reference site is Map Mart at http://www.terrasource .net
allows you to import terrain data from many sources
including Bryce, Terragen, TGA, BMP, PCX, USGS DEM
displays and merges DEMs and satellite imagery
is a utility to transfer SDTS files to DEM
available from US Bureau of Land management
is an inexpensive terrain/heightfield modeller. A demo is available from
programs of interest to users of Terragen
used to transfer bitmap and SDTS DEM files to Terragen terrain files (ter)
used to merge and transfer DEMs to Terregan files