Category Archives: Terragen

Terragen: Flight Over Olympus Mons

Sounds cool eh?

I took a Digital Elevation Map (DEM) of the surface of Mars, isolated the area around Olympus Mons, and imported it into Terragen. I then created a camera script of fly over the martian volcano. Admittedly I could have done a much better job with the surface texture and the vertical scale is a little off… but you get the idea! It took 14 hours to render this on my dual 1 GHz processor Mac so it wasn’t like I could say “oops let me fix that” and buzz off another render. Next time I’ll endeavor to get the scene looking perfect BEFORE I run the job.

My intention is to do a fly-though of Valles Marineris.

Anyway, here’s (6.9 MB)

You’ll need Apple – QuickTime to view the file.

Terragen QTVR

Terragenâ„¢ includes some neat QuickTime VR tools. Here is my first render of a QTVR scene with Terragen. It’s just a “quick and dirty” scene I whipped up to test. Hold down the left mouse button and drag around the scene to navigate.

click the image to open the QTVR scene in a new window

You’ll need Apple – QuickTime to view the file.

Last night I created an animation script and started a render projected to take about 15 hours (500 rendered frames). I should have it later today if all goes well… :).

Stay tuned!


I’d like to thank davep’s astronomy blog for pointing me to Terragenâ„¢. It’s a program to generate photo-realistic landscapes for Windows and Mac!. I used to muck around with VistaPro in Virtual PC for Mac as it is Windows only (and has an ugly DOS-esque interface). The feature set is very similar but I’m stoked to have a Mac native landscape renderer! Having already been familiar with the concepts from Vista Pro made it very easy to jump right in to Terragen, but I think it would be not too hard to get the hang of anyway.

Although for non-comercial use Terragen can be used for free, I wanted the larger render sizes and the QTVR tools so I plunked down the $99…. erm… ya… thanks Dave! 😛

Here are some scenes I’ve done over the last few days. The initial landscapes are from Terragen and the “special touches” (planets, stars, lens flares, etc) were added in Photoshop CS2. They are not REALLY astro-related but they do have a sci-fi/fantasy kind of theme. Enjoy.

Here are some Vista Pro renders I did a few years ago.

For anyone interested these will probably show up in my next installment of Desktop Images.