Yes! today is the day. After well over a year, Mirage 3.5 is finally officially out. So many things have happened, so many new features too. Let’s get into the new stuff
New Modifiers system and terrain tools
Mirage has gained a new terrain type: the BASIC terrain. This type uses a similar algorithm to what we had in Mirage 3.3. It’s a great general kind of terrain that can be molded into anything. And it’s also pretty fast. The biggest star of this release is the new modifiers system. Modifiers now work like Blender’s. You can remove or add as many as you want, change the order and enable/disable them.
On top of that there’s two new modifiers. The Pixelate modifier replace the old blocks, which was based on Blender’s remesh modifier. Pixelate works inside the engine, which is faster and it can also run on heightmap based terrains (more
on that below).
The second new modifier is Island. In previous versions Island was pretty basic, but now it can generate interesting coast shapes with control over size, slope and how many small islands are generated. It’s entirely done inside the engine too. The Terraces modifier also got some love. There’s now a slope setting to control the falloff between terraces. The smooth modifier now has an “edges” mode, which works similar to the old “straight edges” option in earlier Mirage versions.
Also the humble invert modifier got a slider to control the intensity of the effect.
There have been several UI improvements this round. The “Terrain From Heightmap” panel has been merged into the Procedural terrain panel into the new single “Terrain” Panel. You can choose to create the source of the terrain from a new “Source” setting. The old Presets panel is now a subpanel in the Terrain panel.
The engine is now smarter about what to update. Instead of regenerating the entire terrain everytime something changes, it now knows when to redo the whole thing or just apply modifiers on the base terrain. It also keeps some of the geometry around to avoid replacing everything everytime.
Diorama has come full circle, going from a modifier to a setting again. It also works with terrains made from heightmaps now, and you can set the height to negative values. This makes the diorama cube extrude upwards.
Mirage now has a rotate and move tool that lets you change the offset and rotation of the terrain. This is a first try at making tools for the viewport. I’m slowly working on making the UI more interactive and “hands-on”.
Ever wanted to import a heightmap into Mirage and apply modifiers to it? Now you can! The new terrains panel has a “Source” option that lets you pick heightmaps and push them into the engine.
Now you can apply modifiers and even dioramas to heightmap-based terrains. The old “Heightmap Based” panel has been removed in favor of this new option. And there’s more. There’s also a new “Target” setting. You can only create objects and heightmaps for now, but the good news is that Heightmaps also support live mode now. They will show up as an overlay over the viewport so you can see the effects of the different settings.
The distribution system got some love in this version too. Layers now support image maps to affect the distribution. You can use this to load flow maps or vegetation maps and add/intersect or even replace the generated map. You can also change the up axis of the objects now. Some tree packs come lying down, while others are standing up in the Z axis. Now instead of having to rotate them, we can now change the up axis to fit the meshes.
Also I finally updated the icons to the 2.9x style 🙂
Finally another change long coming: a new materials system.
Enter the new materials panel. Instead of having a few pre-made materials, you can now create your own using layers. Layers work like Gimp or Photoshop layers, overlaying one over the other. You can add, remove and move them around just like in a 2D editor. Behind the scenes Mirage creates and changes nodegroups, so it works with both Cycles and Eevee. Though it’s really designed for Cycles with Micropoly displacement on.
Each layer except the first one has a mask tab with settings to control the height and slope at which the layer shows up. They also have a type. Layers types are:
- Color: Just a simple color. Useful for debugging/troubleshooting.
- Ground: A selection of new builtin textures. All CC0 as usual.
- Water: A water material nodegroup
- Snow: Same, but with snow
- Custom: Same as the ground type, but you can bring your own textures.
There’s also an options subpanel a couple of handy buttons. One opens the builtin textures folder in your file brower, and the other auto-sets the mesh and scene for micropoly displacement. I’m really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the new system. There’s quite a few things I had to leave out so I could push the release out.
Shorter release cycles
As you can see from the list above, I ended up biting more than I could chew again. Also, as I mentioned in a previous post life happens and sometimes things get pushed forwards. My plan for the next releases is to continue polishing current features, add more modifiers and iterate over smaller releases.
If you have already bought Mirage, congrats! You can download the update for free. If you want to buy Mirage you can find it over at Gumroad or the Blendermarket. To download from the Blender Market log in, then click on your username at the top. Select “Orders”, then look for Mirage and click “Downloads”. You can find the stable version (3.4) as well as the beta for 3.5 there. Each version has a zip for Linux, Macos and Windows.
For Gumroad just login, go to your library and find Mirage. You can also find both the stable and beta there.