Fractal Terrains in Bryce 2
This tutorial is on how you can turn a fractal
into a terrain in Bryce from Metatools, although this concept
can be applied to most other graphics programs. I'm assuming
that you've already spent time tinkering with Bryce, and if
this is the case, this should be a snap. (By the way- this tutorial
was created in Bryce 2 for Windows; this will work in Bryce
3D as well, you'll just have to adjust to the different interface.)
I've included everything in this tutorial- the images found
here, as well as the scene file I used for this tutorial in
a ZIP file which you can open up in Bryce 2 and Bryce 3D so
you can study it. Scroll to the bottom of this page and start
your downloads, then come back here and start doing some reading.
Before we do anything else, let's take a look at the basics
of what we're working with, shall we?
The original fractal
The image above is a fractal I created, which
I thought would look cool as a terrain. It's got all sorts of
weird convolutions and spirals which should translate into something
interesting when it's rendered out in 3D. You have to look at
the image above the way that Bryce will look at it as a terrain.
When you import an image into the terrain editor, Bryce turns
an image into varying shades of gray, and anything that is light
in color will be "high", and anything dark will be
"low". Lets look at a potential problem with this
image; on the sides of the image you see a turquoise indentation
on all the sides, followed by a purple-blue indentation, then
another purple band in the middle of it. There will be a "step"
in the height where these three colors are if we leave it the
way it is. Open this image up in PhotoShop or your favorite
image editing program and try a few things. You can use your
blur tool and smooth and blend these areas, which will make
it a more gradual "gradient ramp" when it's imported.
Or, since I'm more interested in the circular areas of the image,
I want to get rid of anything that's not going to give me something
to work with as far as height.
The doctored fractal
What I've done with the image above was simple-
I opened the image up in PhotoShop, and selected a part of the
turquoise area with the magic lasso tool, with the tolerance
set to zero. I then went to menu bar and hit SELECT, then SIMILAR,
which selected all 4 of the turquoise indentations. Use your
fill bucket and pour the color black into each of these areas.
Go through the same steps outlined above for the other problem
colors. When you're all done, you should end up with an image
that looks exactly like the one above. You can also hit the
entire image with a gaussian blur with a radius of 0.5 pixels
just to make things blend a little bit better. Save this image
with a name that will make sense to you later.
Now, convert the image you just modified into a grayscale for
importing into Bryce's terrain editor. It's not really necessary,
but do it so you can study how Bryce will read the information
you're feeding it. Save what you've got on the screen after
converting it to grayscale with a name that designates that
it's a grayscale. I've already done that as you can see in the
image above. The black areas will all be the lowest level of
the 3D terrain, and everything that is white will be height.
The thing that's more apparent when you see this image in grayscale
is that each of the "cones" in the corners will have
some really cool looking "ribs" on them when it's
imported as a terrain.
The terrain editor
Start Bryce, and go to EDIT, and create a terrain by clicking
the mountain. Click on the wireframe mountain to select it,
then hit the E next to it for EDIT , then you'll see the terrain
editor screen as shown below. Click the tab for PICTURES and
you'll see something like below.
The first thing we need to do is set the grid resolution to
the same size as our image, which in this instance is 512 by
512 pixels in size. Click the little grid as shown with step
1 above, and check
512 as shown.
As illustrated with step 2
above, hit LOAD and select your grayscale image. It'll be in
the first box as you can see here. Grab the little button to
blend as shown as step 3,
and drag it to the side until the third box looks like the first
box. Look good? Cool- hit APPLY as shown in step 4,
and your 3D preview terrain at the lower left should look like
you see it above. If you'd like, you can go into the ELEVATION
area by hitting the elevation tab and smooth it out. If you're
happy with the way this looks so far, click the checkmark as
shown in step 5
and exit this area.
The materials composer
Next to the wireframe of the terrain, hit the M button for
MATERIALS. This will pop up the window as shown below.
What we're about to do is to take our original fractal and
plop it on top of the terrain you just created. As shown in
step 1 above,
we're going to turn channel A into a 2D texture by clicking
the little arrow at the top as shown, and simply select 2D texture,
which Bryce calls "Leo". It'll show a gold picture
of Leonardo in the window. Click on the first square in that
area and the window below will pop up.
Click LOAD as shown as step 1
above, select your colored (the cleaned up version) fractal,
and it'll load into the first window. Now, as shown at step
2, click COPY,
then click PASTE as shown in step 3.
If the third window looks like the one above, click the check
mark as shown as step 4
and close this window- you're done here!
Back to Materials Composer
Click on the arrow as shown in step 2
in the picture below and select OBJECT TOP. What you've done
is mapped the colored fractal to sit on top of the terrain.
The channel with the texture is channel A. If you look at the
A channel at step 3,
you'll notice that some blue slider balls are in the default
position, and others have been dragged into the A channel slot.
Basically, when you drag a slider ball into different channels,
the texture in that particular channel will affect the properties
of the material. So go ahead and drag the ball for DIFFUSE COLOR,
AMBIENT COLOR, and SPECULAR COLOR into the A channel. You can
go back and experiment with the other settings another time,
but let's get this scene ready to render. Now, to get the scale
of the fractal to match the terrain perfectly, at step 3,
you have to set the red bar sticking up above channel A to zero.
Either click on the letter A and type in 0 (zero) , or just
drag that red bar all the way down. Go ahead and set the other
options like diffusion and so forth like I have them set here.
When you're done with the settings, click on the arrow as shown
at step 4 and
exit back to the wireframe screen. Note- the preview window
in the upper left hand corner won't display things exactly like
it will once it's rendered. You're all done, now go to the main
screen and render the example!
To download the Bryce scene file in ZIP format that was used
to create this tutorial, click HERE.
(The scene is both MAC AND PC compatible)
To download all the fractal images used here, click for the
PC VERSION 1,225kb
MAC VERSION 884 kb
Mac users can get
a PKZIP compatible decompression program by clicking on the
link below! ftp://ftp.inland.net/pub/apps/utils/mac/zipit/zipit.hqx
To see some more examples of Bryce Fractals, head over to my
LINKS TO FRACTAL GENERATING PROGRAMS
a Windows based Fractal generating program.
(This one is perfect for creating fractals for use as terrains
for Bryce, since you can scale the fractal to match the size
of the terrain resolution before you render it!) Make
sure to download all the additional formulas there too!
Link to Fractint,
a DOS based Fractal generating program.
This one has a ton of presets to get you started.