In 3D graphics, a scene represents the entire environment in which the action takes place. Just like in the theater scene, where the floor, props and staging are used. The background is usually the horizon, and the mountains are the best on the horizon.
The mountain objects not only appear in the background, but also form the basis of the scene. If we build a natural environment, it is often a wide field with uneven terrain and objects such as trees or boulders. The whole thing can be made as one whole and this is called a “map”.
How to make 3d model of a mountain?
3D graphics is based on three-dimensional solids, this is how most programs for creating graphics of this type work – 3ds max, Maya, Blender etc. Some programs, such as ZBrush, work differently on voxels, and modeling in them is like sculpting. We’ll come back to them in a moment.
In most cases, modeling is editing geomatic solids. This method is great for creating objects with regular shapes. This is how models of buildings or other architecture are created, where the basic shape is a box or a cylinder. When modeling a car and other vehicles, the basic shape is “plane”. They are regular shapes. it’s called hard surface modelling.
Modeling the mountains, as well as many other elements of living nature, must be completely different. In nature, shapes are irregular and organic, which is why we call such modeling “organic”.
Take a look at the shape of the mountain or mountain range. It is extremely irregular. There are no flat fields, perfectly straight angles, etc. So how do we model something like this in 3d when we have to work with solids?
There are many methods. They are selected for the complexity of the project as well as for use in a given industry:
1. Manual modeling – in programs such as 3ds max we can start by drawing a high resolution “plane”. Then, by editing vertexes or – which is a better solution – using the “Paint” tool to model the unevenness of the terrain. By adding modifiers that increase the number of polygons (Subdivision Surface), we are able to add even more details, layer by layer.
– advantages – simplicity of execution, no need for additional tools,
– disadvantages – the effects are not realistic,
– application – lowpolygonal graphics for Indy games, especially in cartoon style, simple visuals,
2. Generating maps for 3d programs – using specialized programs for creating mountain 3d models such as GeoControl or WorldGenerator you can very easily build terrain using fractals. The finished project can be exported as a map set – displacement map, normal map, diffuse map (color). Then, in the classic 3D program, based on the “plane” object, we can “extrude” the entire mountain from these maps. Additional maps will serve as the basis for creating a realistic material of rocks, grass, etc.
– advantages – fast execution, very realistic end result,
– disadvantages – limited size of the object (it is always a square of a fixed size),
– application – depending on the number of polygons and texture resolution, such 3D Models of Mountains can be used everywhere, from games to movies,
3. Procedural Maps – The last of the popular methods is of course making 3d mountains on maps. This solution requires appropriate plugins or separate programs. We also need maps on the basis of which we will develop the area.
Such procedural execution of terrains is possible, for example, in the game development program Unreal Engine, Unity.
– advantages – huge space, possible infinity landscapes,
– disadvantages – because they are generated in a given program, such a project cannot be transferred to a game, for example,
– application – this method is used everywhere, most often in new generation games using Unity or Unreal Engine or internal, proprietary scripts,
4. Ready-made scenes of mountains and terrains – if you don’t have time, skills or appropriate software, you can use ready-made 3d assets. As with regular 3d models, you can buy ready to use 3d scenes. Then the method of execution does not matter to you, you have everything ready, optimized and professionally prepared.
Buying a mountain 3d model from 3DmKits, we get a fully ready scene that we can use out of the box
– advantages – very realistic appearance, ready-to-use solution, usually ready to render. Prepared for professional work, good scene organization and easy editing. They are 3d models for background, but often complete scenes for animation,
– disadvantages – most often these are terrain models made using the second method, so they are of a limited size,
– application – ready-made scenes can be used in any project, but they are by far the most used in the film industry due to their realism. By working with kitbashing3d, you can easily set up as a background.
Which solution to choose?
It depends on the project, the industry in which you work and, of course, the budget you have. The deadline is also of great importance. Often times, the best solution is to simply buy a ready to use 3d assest from professionals (TurboSquid, CGTrader, 3DmKits etc.). We are then sure that we will receive the highest quality, we also see the effects immediately – these sellers care very much about the clear presentation of their products.
If you need something made to measure then a good solution is to invest in a 3ds max or Blender plugin and generate the terrain with procedural solutions.
For new generation games, if the terrain is to be the basis of the entire scene, it must be procedurally generated from maps, and ready to use 3dmodels of mountains can be used in the background.