you can fly!? Painting Foliage with PD Particles...

Painting over Terragen
by Cristian Mihaescu 

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copyright (c) 2006 Cristian Mihaescu
Terragen and PD Particles

Hello Terragen and MojoWorld users! :)
I recently discovered a wonderful app, PD Particles which I quickly realized can help me improve a lot of my 3D images rendered from Terragen and my other favorite 3D programs.

For example, my current version of Terragen (0.9x) doesn't have any kind of vegetation. It would be great to have tall grass and bushes at least nearby in the foreground.

This little tutorial will show us how to add vegetation by painting over the rendering (post work) and to improve a Terragen image adding some DOF and a different sky.

Here is my original Terragen render. I called it "crater":

<<< click to enlarge

First I wanted to change the appearance of the clouds. In the original render, they look too flat.

I opened the image in PD Particles. This program is made for quick and easy dabbles. When you start the program, it asks how you want to start: with a blank image (you can then select its dimensions), or one from a file or one which you temporarily copied into the Clipboard.

Interesting note: There are even some programers of other imaging tools who have made a plugin for their own tools that connects it to PD Particles - like the DogWeaver plugin for the freeware Artweaver program at which can send an image to and read it back from PD Particles directly through the ActiveX server connection. Hopefully we'll see more programs do this.

Then I choose the Oils tool and Large cover option. This is a fantastic tool for painting clouds!

There are many presets, including of course for particle based brushes, which we'll use soon for the foliage.

I always wanted to learn more traditional hand painting, and the presets for oils and others are great to do just that
Next, in the Brush settings pannel to the far right, if we change the Default mode to Smear or Paint Smear, a simple experiment of playing with the mouse over our flat clouds will transform them into wonderful 3D clouds!

It can also help to change the Opacity value, and the Bleed. Play and try, this is fun!

Don't hesitate to adjust the Size  of the Brush for each situation. 

We can repeat this method on the background's hills to obtain a DOF (depth of field) effect. Atmospheric blurring is easily added this way.

If you paint a few brush strokes in this manner but don't like the result, just use 'u' for undo. I like this shortcut, reminds me of Blender ;-)

If you want more blue'ish (or Los Angeles-grey 'yellowish') tinting for some kind of Phosphorous smog layer, just change the brush primary color (with left mouse button over the color wheels and other color tools).

Now it's time to add some vegetation in our scene. There's nothing more fun or easier to do this than with with Pd Particles!

We must choose what plants we need in the Particles menu and cutomize all parameters in the right pannel:

There are many presets directly accessible from trhe Presets button menu. And of course I can now customize them to new settings, or find additional ones to download from the freebies section.

Once you select a preset, that's not the end of it, it's just the beginning of your exploration. So many parameters exposed and easily used to create many other types of shrubbery, tall grass, thick or starving bushes, lush green or something not even from this planet.

For example, I can change the total number of particles, their velocities, lifespan, the gravity, initial size, skylight shading and fog or tinting, etc.

More  tutorials to know all the possibilities here:  PD Particles Tutorials

copyright (c) 2006 Cristian Mihaescu

After all of this, this is my final image with better clouds, DOF and vegetation in the foreground.

<<< click to enlarge

At this point I might take it back to my favorite image editor, or even just a viewer like Irfanview to make a screensaver or add some filter fx to it.

PD Particles doesn't do much on that side, and that's intentional, because it wants to be a companion to what you're already using. But there are just a few essential color correction tools that you might enjoy here too.

Fade Last Action is awesome when the effect of a brush stroke was at the right place on the paiknting but too strong.

Adjust Color has some great advanced options for mid tones, shadows and highlights to be affected separately. It can be used to turn a warm summer image into a cold winter scene.

copyright (c) 2006 Cristian Mihaescu
And this is my image after some tonal adjustments (I had all I needed right here in PD Particle's Filter menu). It's a dry, dusty planet.

<<< click to enlarge

We have a lot of other possibilities to improve our 3D/2D images using PD Particles.

I hope this mini-tutorial has helped you realize how powerful this tool can be for TG users. Happy rendering, and happy waffling!

Cristian Mihaescu (aka criss)
criss digital art
September 27, 2006

legal: All trademarks belong to their respective owners and are only used for identification purposes. There is no endorsement implied or otherwise. All images are property of Cristian Mihaescu or their respective owners. No unauthorized use please. You may use the rendered images only for personal, non-commercial purposes such as a desktop wallpaper. For anything else, please contact Cristian for proper permissions.