Mountainy Terrain?

My buddies and I are creating a game, and I am trying to teach some of them the workings of Blender so we have more than just myself 3D modeling, so I’ve made a few simple tutorials for them to use.

I recently found a nice way in Blender to make some mountainous terrain but I am not sure if it is the best method. Here is the tutorial I made.
The method I am using isn’t exactly what is shown in the video, but it is close. It is basically a subsurf, then a set-smooth. The look of the mesh is exactly what I was going for, but the face count is a little higher than what I was hoping for (5-10k), and I was wondering if anyone else here knew another method on how it can be done like this, preferably with a lower face count (1-5k or as low as possible) while keeping the same look. We are not using the Blender game engine, and all meshes have to be exported, so we are going to have to apply any and all modifiers and convert everything to mesh.

Your Method is pretty good, even if you partly take an a bit odd route :slight_smile:
I’d take the subdivide tool and set it to 20 subdivisions, for instance. In this case, that’s better than the knife tool :wink:

Then, it’s interesting to see the falloffs you chose. Those are pretty much the oddest and least useful of the bunch.
Ok, random is great for quick mountains but constant isn’t really useful, except maybe you do cliffs or something…

What you said to be an alternative to subsurf: set smooth…
All it does is interpolating the normals over the surface, faking a continuous, smooth mesh and thus smoothing the shading aswell. - You’ll most likely use that in the game engine aswell.

Subsurf on the other hand adds actual geometry. It splits every single face into four and smooths out the mesh on the fly (if you use catmul interpolation, that is)
Every subdivision multiplies your facecount by four.
The shader isn’t actually smooth (unless you checked smooth shading as well): If you zoom in close, you’ll still see the single quads’ borders (which is not the case with smooth shading)

An other way to do it but probably with way less control, is using a displacement texture. you can especially use it to add some details.
For instance, your final mountain there has quite a high polycount (as you stated yourself). If you add a displacement modifier under the subdiv one, you can use the additional geometry and dsplace it again, to add a little bit of variation. (Just play with the strenghts and you probably’ll want to use a cloud texture or something like that)

One more thing you can do: Sculpt. In Sculpt Mode you have control over the mesh as if it was clay. (Especially with newer versions)

And as you want this for a game, you should learn how to bake a highpoly mesh’s normals to a lowpoly mesh one. That’s not too hard, there are tons of tutorials featuring it, either as a main subject or on the way through the tutorials.
It’s the texture backing stuff :wink:

(First thing I found when I quickly searched a tutorial for baking: http://vimeo.com/2936073 - conveniently, he also shows how to do subdivide multi, aswell as the sculpt mode and a couple of other things ;))

There:
Displacement modifier:

Sculpting and baking:






http://www.blendercookie.com/2010/07/15/a-stylized-dragon-part-5/ + http://www.blendercookie.com/2010/07/20/a-stylized-dragon-part-6/

What about using the decimate modifier afterward? I notice very little loss of visual shape (still very smooth for what I need), but up top my facecount is clearly much lower (6k as opposed to nearly 1.5mil haha)
http://i911.photobucket.com/albums/ac319/RobMonty1987/Untitled-16.jpg

I do notice one thing though… Blender seems to load slowly when unwrapping a UV or opening a new window (or pretty much anything) after I do this. I don’t think it likes it haha.

EDIT:
Here is a video tutorial I made (pending approval hehe) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHPUgtTw9AU

Of course, the decimate modifier should work well :slight_smile: (especially for something like landscapes)
However it would be ridiculous to do a reduce modifier on top of a subsurf modifier… you could rather skip both modifiers then and directly use “Set smooth” (which actually you should use pretty much always, except your work needs a facetted look^^)

The decimate modifier is very calculation heavy. of course it makes it very slow. In fact, you should add him only if you are sure, it’s the finished product and you want a lower poly version and then directly apply it so all the calculation work stops.
Also, especially the version of it you use right now will have a lot of problems with more generic meshes. It will work fine for simple landscapes though :slight_smile:
A different method which needs more time but adds a lot of control would be the reto tools… Those can be a little confusing