FlowScape by PixelForest. If Vue was real-time and fun…
Very nicely pitched. It’s a $10 purchase ($12 if you’re in the UK, as a whopping 20% sales tax is gouged). Download is 1.1Gb for the current version, and it downloaded smoothly via my Web browser.
The developer states…
“I made this because the learning curve for doing this kind of stuff in Max / Maya / Unity / Unreal is very high, so I wanted to create something for people who are not technically inclined or just don’t want to learn massive software to be able do this.”
It’s a newly released version 1.0 and there’s no import or export, just screenshot output placed into the same folder as the install. But that’s fine by me, and for those who just want backdrops for compositing wildlife and prehistoric pictures in Photoshop. Or 2D overpainting of 3D, without all the hassle and fiddling of 3D setup in full 3D landscape software.
No. Though I presume that renders made from it are royalty-free, and that he’s using self-made and/or CC0 public-domain landscape assets. It doesn’t look like he’s licensed SpeedTree, as the similarly real-time World Creator landscape creation tool has. Which means that export could be an option for a future FlowScape feature. For now there’s neither import nor export, but the developer is apparently working on import.
At present it’s not any kind of terrain sculptor (for which the nicest and cheapest solution for fantasy/sci-fi scenes is probably currently the $20 Bryce), although you can pile its big stone blocks together and create a massification that way. Default terrains in FlowScape are fairly small, but that’s fine since it presumably keeps the speed up. The low-lying land is mostly going to be covered up by vegetation and water anyway. Asset import will diminish the need for terrain sculpting.
Yes. This is genuine “What You See Is What You Get” real-time rendering which uses a videogame engine. So you benefit from having a good graphics card, sufficiently powerful to play modern videogames, in your PC. I could run it smoothly at 1920 x 1200px, with onboard graphics only suitable for very average 2016 PC gaming. FlowScape was still very responsive, even though I was only getting 10-15 FPS.
Winter scene assets are reportedly planned. The developer might also think about a prehistoric plants pack for the dino artists, although most of them already know how to do 3D I guess. Possibly also space-art assets for alien planets. A line of paid add-on modules would be a way to expand the sales:
* Alien Planets / Beautiful Deserts.
* The Shire (the English countryside, gates, stiles, walls and suchlike).
* Game World (like some of the ‘platformer’ games, but I mean the art-game type rather than the cheesy ‘naff toon/Sonic‘ type).
* Utopia Beach.
This might help keep the focus on fun for both the developer and the users, rather than adding technical ‘pro features’.
There is no user manual yet, but it’s a fairly self-explanatory interface. There is only a useful Tips and Tricks page, with advice on how to delete stuff you’ve added, and change camera FOV.
The main initial problem is that it works like a game and not like Windows software. One thing that completely puzzled me at first was how to break away from the isometric view and level the horizon in the camera. This was the very first thing I wanted to do, but… how? I eventually realised that my StrokesPlus mouse utility in Windows was preventing FlowScape’s ‘right-mouse and drag’ camera adjustment from working. Turning off StrokesPlus meant that I could get down to a normal-looking horizon view with clouds.
Trying to add a layer of water to the scene irrecoverably replaced the existing scene with a new and unwanted one. There needs to be a “Do you really want to replace your entire scene?” warning about that.
As with all videogame-based Unity/Unreal ‘software’, the camera control is initially horrible… if you’re used to 3D software like Poser. The routine, on being faced with a new terrain in its default zoomed-out isometric view, is:
1. First ‘dress’ your terrain fully while in this zoomed-out view, which is the easiest way to do it.
2. Then “Forward arrow” on the keyboard, to zoom in approximately.
3. “Right-mouse + drag” to tilt up, so that you have proper horizon view.
4. Then press the “Q” / “E” to lower and raise the camera to near the ground.
5. Then make fine movements to get the exact artistic angle. Remove elements as needed, to improve the view.
Ideally there would be a one-click sidebar icon to make this move automatically, to get you from ‘layout isometric’ to ‘artistic-picture levelled’ without so many clicks…
Scrolling the mousewheel adjusts the size of the eco-painter brush, which is the next big thing to learn. You can also delete environment elements quite easily, and it looks like you can also scale them. I’d like stuff in the scene to temporarily turn red or something, when I select it, so I know that it’s been selected.
Yes, and it works nicely. Fog distance can be set independent of the basic set of Atmosphere presets. I set a fog distance and it was “sticky” even when I changed Atmosphere presets. The Atmosphere presets are fairly limited, and there’s no Bryce style range here.
Sort of. It would be nice to have a “pin the camera on a tripod and take a series of slightly angled screenshots” option, so you could then stitch them together in paranorama software to get 6k images. A future paid 360-VR panorama capture module might sort that out.
Currently limited to your screen size. But I’m guessing that in future implementing Unity addons such as Instant Screenshot should allow scaling up of screenshot output “without loosing output quality”.
I’d also like to see the commercial usage status of screenshots clarified by the developer.
There’s a Reddit to post pictures on, where you can see people are already finding arty ways to use it.
Even after 90 minutes with it, I can see that it’s a nice new tool for quickly making a lush landscape backdrop without needing a five-hour render. At this budget price and relative ease of use it will appeal to a wide market and the user base should quickly generate a set of tutorials videos and other documentation.
First raw picture made with FlowScape:
After adding some male and female Bolladon from Poser into the scene, and sticking it together in Photoshop:
* Version 1.01, early Feb 2019. Now does 8k screenshots.
* Version 1.1, mid Feb 2019. Castles, houses, cliffs, rolling fog.