VUE 2016 is here
Better later than never – VUE’s long-awaited 2016 product line has finally been released. Probably the most important question on every regular user’s mind is stability, but let’s not forget about the new features – path tracer, UI improvements, heightfield terrain erosion nodes – either. This article highlights the latter, heightfield terrain erosion nodes, and an important feature that still seems to be missing from the latest VUE…. Or is it?
The Missing Link
As the team of e-on software leaked it out a couple of weeks ago, VUE’s terrain engine has finally been updated with brand new heightfield terrain erosion nodes. This is especially exciting for artists who don’t want to use an external application, such as World Machine to create nicely detailed, eroded terrains. You might have already seen some early preview renders that show what you can achieve with these nodes, and you couldn’t wait to give it a try. Terrain generated, erosion node applied, you like the result…. And you’re probably looking for a way to output material distribution maps for river flows and sediments.
Here’s the catch: unlike World Machine’s erosion node outputs, VUE is currently still unable to generate distribution maps directly. And, let’s be honest, without these maps, even a nicely eroded heightfield terrain looks kind of boring.
So, how to control the flow or sediment material distribution without maps? If you have a copy of World Machine, and you’ve developed a reliable workflow with it…. Stick to it. 🙂 Though VUE’s terrain engine has definitely improved, WM still offers more flexibility and options to generate all kinds of eroded terrains to the smallest detail. Plus, now that we have erosion nodes in VUE, imagine what we can achieve importing an eroded VUE terrain into World Machine and further tweaking it. Note: keep an eye on QuadSpinner’s GeoGlyph 2.0… it looks awesome.
But what if we want to stay in VUE?
Since I was kind of disappointed to see that there wasn’t any option to output distribution maps, I was looking into the output options we do have in VUE 2016. And though there is no direct way to generate these maps, I managed to experiment a bit, and found a way to control the material distribution of flow and sediment (or any other parameter), similar to what you can achieve with World Machine’s flow and deposition maps. I’ve also tried adding new layers of material in the terrain editor itself, and connecting them to the graph (this is also a new feature; you can achieve interesting results this way as well), but it I didn’t manage to emphasize the fine flow channels this way. Instead, I chose to use Mixed Materials.
I decided to construct a quick guide that demonstrates the process above. Note that with this method, you will not get the same results as you would get in World Machine, but the results are quite interesting. Along with the guide, I also offer a demo scene featuring a terrain with highlighted mixed materials, with the material distribution controlled by erosion parameters. You can find the download links on the right.