Mirage 3.5 out today!

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.

Better Workflow

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”.

Better heightmaps

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.

Distribution maps

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 🙂

New Materials

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.

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ArticlesAddon, Blender, Mirage, Python21.04.2021

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