34 votes
Date Updated: 
Author Name: 
Marc Lorenz

Populate:Terrain assists in creating and optimizing terrain surfaces from contour lines or from existing meshes. The quad based output allows for easier later remodeling, for example using push/pull painting. The regular face size reduces rendering issues (GI, displacement) and you can use Turbosmooth on it.

Populate:Terrain is a scripted plugin for Autodesk 3ds max. It assists in creating and optimizing terrain surfaces for architectural visualization applications. Populate:Terrain fixes imported meshed CAD models or directly converts contour lines. The result is a clean quad based poly surface with user definable grid size.

1: Spline Shape 2: Converted to mesh with 3ds max 3: Converted with Populate:Terrain

1: Contour lines 2: Converted using the 3ds max Terrain Compound 3: Converted with Populate:Terrain

New feature in 1.8, trimming with a spline shape:


Version Requirement: 
3ds Max 2010 or higher.


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HomeCG's picture

can you make support for 2009

can you make support for 2009 next version,thanks


Script_Butler's picture



This script has proved useful in my workflow.

Just a quick question/request....

Can the script use multiple threads? I've got eight cores but it only seems to utilise one when generating the topology. Multi-threading would be awsome for large terrains.



paulov's picture

wow, I'm impressed. I'm

wow, I'm impressed. I'm building a massive land model with Microstation to be used in realtime and sure that this tools becomes handy. Thanks a lot.!!

martinmb's picture

Thanks thats really usefull

Countless hours cleaning up after converting splines begone.

grasshopper's picture

Hey thanks for this script

Hey thanks for this script it is awesome it's making a painfully annoying task simple.

If I could make a suggestion for your next update it would be to allow the user to adjust the set out point so that we can align the edges of adjacent pieces of terrain. (with a gizmo)

I'm using Max2010 64bit and it seems to work without any error

Populate3d's picture

Point cloud support

Here is a teaser of what's coming in Populate:Terrain 2.0.

Voxel surface generated from point clouds (Points or Mesh/Spline verts).

This will allow clean surfaces from even the dirtiest imported CAD terrain data. 

With relax modifier:

othoap's picture

1.2 works GREAT!

My issues were all due to my "control panel" was undocked. 1.2 works GREAT! NO issues. I got to say you've changed the face of poly modeling with this script. I think it's a real game changer.

Populate3d's picture

Version 1.2

OK this was an interesting bug with the command panel.

I'm using some pretty low level methods to get performance that is usually not reached with scripts. The downside is that there can be bugs. First the Japanese 3ds max version crashing, now the docked off command panel crashing.
Anyway, it is fixed with version 1.2.


Fixed: Crash when the command panel docked off from the main screen
Fixed: “File missing – please reinstall” error

Fixed: Crash with localized (non-english) versions of 3ds max
Fixed: Crash when vertex index of base mesh out of range
Fixed: “Approximate Square” option sometimes not working
Fixed: Progress bar not updating
Fixed: Failed terrain creation when all normals of base mesh flipped downwards
Improved: Edge trimming quality with flat base meshes
Improved: Better result with heavily triangulated base meshes

Populate3d's picture

Re: Same results

Damn...I was hoping that it worked for everybody now.
Can you do me a favour...when you get all that error messages, there should be more detailed logs in the maxscript listener (Menu -> Maxscript -> Maxscript Listener...)
Can you send me the content of the listener, especially line numbers.
my mail is: office [at] populate3d.com


ps...the splines should be created in the top view. it still shouldn't be crashing though.

othoap's picture

Same results

Step 1 - Uninstalling v1.0 did uninstall somethings. Sorry the window was to quick to record. How ever it leaves the Populate:Terrain title in the win7 "Program and Features" list. Uninstalling it a second time removes the title but with this message (see uninstall01 image below)

Checking the "Scripts" folder I see the "populate-terrain" folder is gone. So I hope the complete uninstall was successful.

Step 2 - Installing 1.1 seam's fine. No error messages from win7.

Step 3 - Launch 2010. Then launch "populate-terrain". (see error00 image below)

Step 4 - In the front viewport I make a rectangle. I see the "Process" button on the PT ui is now unghosted. Side note(dose PT work on max splines?) So with default PT settings I click "Process" with this error message (see error01 image below)

Step 5 - Same as step 4 but I convert the max spline to an "editable spline" with the same error (see error01 image below).

Step 6 - Same as step 4 but I make a square with the "Line" tool. Same error (see error01 image below).

I've tried changing many of the setting to numerous to document. How ever with the same results as above. Hope this helps.

running; 2010SP1-win7proSP1-64

uninstall01.jpg 15.46 KB
error00.jpg 35.36 KB
error01.jpg 40.96 KB

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