How would you go about generating sand dunes?

Ever since I saw a random tutorial about sand on youtube I’ve been interested in generating sand dunes in an interesting way. Most of the tutorials on youtube uses a Voronoi noise and then displaces that noise with regular noise. While that does give a nice result, it does not feel “correct”.

Eventually I came across this video and this post. I was unable to create dunes that looked the way I wanted which is kinda like this. But my takeaway was that sand dunes should have a direction. Here are some failed attempts

The shape of your dune should like kinda like this ShapeOfDunes

Now I have three ideas of how to generate/create dunes in blender. The first one works well and the second and third are just ideas I’m gonna share to see if anyone can improve them.

Voronoi noise with a wave texture plugged into smoothness. It looks like this:

After generating the main dunes you can add some ripples.

Here is the final result.

Now the second and third methods as I wrote are just ideas to be explored.

is through a cloth simulation. I’m not familiar with how the physics in Blender works but I get the impression that it’s not exactly the most developed part of Blender. I tried going through the documentation on the subject but I did not find it helpful. Anyway here is a screenshot:

Geometry nodes. I’m terrible at it. I have managed to create the dune shape though. Here is the result:

I’ve been trying for like 1,5 months now and nothing has come of it. But I felt like I needed to share some of the results I have achieved even though is not in the form of a pretty rendered image of a desert landscape.

With that said how would you go about creating pretty sand dunes? Please share your results.


How about ocean modifier with sand material?

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The dynamic paint modifier with particles mixed with displacement mod can create waves. You can laso try the Ocean modifier as well, you can mix it with geometry nodes and other modifiers.

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I played around with the ocean modifier for a bit and geometry nodes. The results looked promising, I haven’t explored it thoroughly yet though. I have never heard of dynamic paint modifier and I’m not familiar with blenders particle systems but I will read up on that.

You can create time based trails/proximity weights etc on surfaces with the dynamic paint mod. It is probably the least utilized modifier out there.

Btw I used Voronoi and Noise in this work like you mentioned in your top post. I made it in Clarisse but the same method applies to Blender.

Hi there!
Procedurally speaking, to date, I found Sam Bowman to do the best dunes method, reasonably easy, and looks great!

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Hi there !
Martin Klekner a CG artist and instructor, guided me through his course on Mastering 3D Environments in Blender at CG Boost Academy. Especially the Chapter 5, using the node workflow to model desert and dunes. Link : Master-3d-environments-in-blender.

So I ended with this first shot :

Hope, this will help! (128.4 KB)

Here’s my attempt with Simulation nodes,

Requires latest 3.6 experimental Sim Branch.

Credit to Junichiro Horikawa for his Houdini tut.