Authoring Landscapes by Combining Ecosystem and Terrain Erosion Simulation

Guillaume Cordonnier, Eric Galin, James Gain, Bedrich Benes, Eric Guérin, Adrien Peytavie, Marie-Paule Cani

ACM Transactions on Graphics (Proceedings of SIGGRAPH), 2017

Our framework combines layered terrain and vegetation data and supports their interlinked simulation, which can be driven by users editing layers or triggering natural events. (1) The user first provides a bare-earth digital elevation map for time step t0 and our framework simulates interleaved erosion and plant growth, up to t0 + 215 years. (2) In the next time step at t0 + 210 years, a landslide creates boulders that destroy vegetation. One year later, the designer triggers a fire in the valley, which spreads to consume part of the forest. (3) After four more years at t0 + 215, the remaining trees have continued growing, new saplings have germinated and the humus layer is beginning to regenerate. The white loops indicate affected areas.


We introduce a novel framework for interactive landscape authoring that supports bi-directional feedback between erosion and vegetation simulation. Vegetation and terrain erosion have strong mutual impact and their interplay innuences the overall realism of virtual scenes. Despite their importance, these complex interactions have been neglected in computer graphics. Our framework overcomes this by simulating the eeect of a variety of geomor-phological agents and the mutual interaction between diierent material and vegetation layers, including rock, sand, humus, grass, shrubs, and trees. Users are able to exploit these interactions with an authoring interface that consistently shapes the terrain and populates it with details. Our method, validated through side-by-side comparison with real terrains, can be used not only to generate realistic static landscapes, but also to follow the temporal evolution of a landscape over a few centuries.