Put this one in the ‘not strictly web design, but cool enough to warrant thinking up some kind of lame link ‘ category.

If you’re a little over the clean and clinic look of a lot of CSS design and looking for some 3D textural inspiration for your next design, give this a shot (Is there an official tag for ‘tentative link’? ;) ).

Terra-Gen is an open-source application described as a ‘photo-realistic scenery rendering application’ and if you’ve ever spent any time with Bryce will feel right at home.

Wave your mouse and draw majestic mountain ranges from the mantle. Tap a key or two and summon forth the oceans. It’s free (there’s some feature-limiting), runs on any reasonable computer (Mac version available too) and is easy to get designing on in minutes.

And hey, even if you can’t work it into a project, at the very least it’s a nice way to indulge your God complex over your next coffee.

Alex manages design and front end development for sitepoint.com and is SitePoint's Design and UX editor.

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  • whackaxe

    saying Terragen (no hyphen) is “not strictly web design” is a bit of an understatment. unless you want a render to use on a background or header maybe (and if its commerical use you have to register terragen, roughly 100$) it isn’t really usefull at all

    something that alot of people say about Terragen is that it’s “too easy” to make something that looks good. shure you can knock around a few of the sliders, bring the water level up and click render, but that doesn’t mean you’ve created a masterpiece. Terragen is meant photorealistic, but that doesn’t mean your render isn’t ugly. i know my first renders were REALLY lame. the people listed below often spend many hours adjusting every slider to get the image they want.

    I still encourage everyone to have a go with this program, it’s great fun. and you might alo be interested by http://www.world-machine.com/ it’s a landscape generator with far more options that terragen’s

    some of my favorite terragen artists:
    http://duris.deviantart.com/
    http://eponce.deviantart.com/
    http://alyn.deviantart.com/

  • http://www.lowter.com charmedlover

    I’ve done a lot of interesting things in Terragen that make it one of my favorite programs for scenery.

    It’s not that much unless you get all the plugins available for a few more effects and control over you landscaping.

  • http://www.gauss.info realestate

    Great images. Any 3 dim version?

  • Anonymous

    [QUOTE=Alex Walker]Terra-Gen is an open-source application …[/QUOTE]

    It doesn’t appear to be and open source application but rather a free one (for non-commericial use) during development stages:

    [QUOTE=http://www.planetside.co.uk/terragen/]
    At this stage of its development, Terragen is free for personal non-commercial use.
    [/QUOTE]

    All the same, thank you for posting the link.

  • ZangBunny

    Might be a fine application, and it’s even free for non-commercial use, but AFAICS it is most definitely NOT open source.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com AlexW

    Quite right. My mistake. It’s not just free rather than Open Source. ;)

  • joengo

    It may not be entirely web design, but I’ve used it in one occation to create a background image for my page’s header (with some retouching, of course). Besides, the previous maintainer of this blog, Corrie, focuses more on photo editing. It’s not off-topic at all.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com AlexW

    Thanks joengo, I was thinking the same thing, although I couldn’t claim to have actually used the app in web design at the time. I could certainly see ways to use it, and I’m glad someone else has actually done it.

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