Terragen/Photoshop: Simple Tips I

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A lot of people on CB have tried renders in Terragen, so here are some tips to make your renders look much cleaner.

1. RESIZING
A general rule of thumb is to render at least twice as large as your final product (preferably 5 or 6 times as large if you plan on making prints).

Here's a render at 400x300, sharpened a little.
User posted image

Here's the same render at 4800x3600, resized to 400x300 and sharpened a little.
User posted image

See the difference? The resized version is smoother and less grainy.


2. DETAIL LEVELS
If your piece puts a lot of emphasis on sky/cloud/atmospheric effects, you might want to consider turning the Atmosphere/Cloud Shading details all the way up. It will add to the render time, but will give a better result overall.

Here's a render at 400x300, at the default Atmosphere settings, sharpened a little.
User posted image

Here's the render at the same size and sharpened, but with maximum Atmosphere.
User posted image

The Atmosphere detail setting determines the realism. As you can see in the second one, fewer parts of the terrain are directly affected by the sunlight and it's possible to see more sun rays coming through.


3. SIMPLE PHOTOSHOP POSTWORK
Sometimes the postwork makes all the difference. Try experimenting with these following techniques:
[list]
[*] Gaussian Blurring
[*] Sharpening (Smart Sharpen, Unsharp Filter)
[*] Layer Modes (Try combinations of duplicate layers with modes like Overlay, Soft Light, Multiply, etc.)
[*] Brightness/Contrast
[*] Levels/Auto-Levels
[*] Smudge/Blur Tools (Use these if you get small black spots in your renders, which sometimes happens with complex Terragen renders.)
[*] Clone Stamp/Healing Brush Tools (Also use these for black spots, as well as to change lighting and texture on individual parts of the render as opposed to the render as a whole.)
[/list]
Here's a render at 4800x3600, resized to 400x300, and sharpened.
User posted image

Here's the same render, but before resizing, I duplicated the layers and set the top layer to Overlay. Then, I did a 5px Gaussian Blur on the bottom layer. Third, I merged the layers and resized to 400x300. Finally, I sharpened it.
User posted image

There's a VERY noticeable difference here. Remember to experiment and see what you can come up with.

Look for more techniques in a later tutorial. I hope this helps.

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Author DrNick311 View profile
Submitted on Feb 11, 2006
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