This paper describes a novel terrain synthesis method based on distances in a weighted graph. A height field is determined by least-cost paths in a weighted graph from a set of generator nodes. The shapes of individual terrain features, such as mountains, hills, and craters, are specified by a monotonically decreasing profile describing the cross-sectional shape of a feature. The locations of features in the terrain are specified by placing the generators; secondary ridges are placed by pathing. We show the method to be robust and easy to control, even making it possible to embed images in terrain shadows. The method can produce a wide range of realistic synthetic terrains such as mountain ranges, craters, cinder cones, and hills. The ability to manually place terrain features that incorporate multiple profiles produces heterogeneous terrains that compare favorably to existing methods.

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Journal The Visual Computer
Rusnell, B. (Brennan), Mould, D, & Eramian, M. (Mark). (2009). Feature-rich distance-based terrain synthesis. The Visual Computer, 25(5-7), 573–579. doi:10.1007/s00371-009-0332-6