What is Geomorph?

An overview

The generation of a height field

Why Geomorph?

A road map?

How to be informed of new releases

An overview

Geomorph is a height field generator and editor for the Linux operating system.

A height field is a kind of topographic map.  It is a 2D projection of a 3D landscape.

Geomorph generates square images and shows a 3D preview of the resulting landscape.  The resulting 2D image can be processed with a tool like Povray for rendering the landscape.


Height field
Povray rendering

See also the Gallery.  Povray scenes used in the author's part of the gallery are included in the Geomorph package.

Geomorph actually exists in an alpha stage, localized in French, English and German. Here are some screenshots. It is generally stable.

Its main features are, for now:

The Geomorph documentation is mainly made up of the tutorials and the guides of this web site.

The generation of a height field

Geomorph creates height fields by distorting a surface in a random way. Distortions are applied at progressively decreasing scale levels.

Suppose that we start from a flat surface of 512x512 pixels. In a first step, the surface center is moved vertically with a randomly chosen altitude, a bit like pinching a sheet. In a second step, the surface is divided in four parts, and the center of each part is also moved randomly above or under its current level. In a third step, each of this four parts is also divided in four, for a total of sixteen surfaces, which are then pinched in their middle, and so on until the subdivided surfaces have a 3 pixel diameter or less.

A slice taken in the whole surface would roughly have this look:

Step 1
Step 2
Step 3
Step 4

Usually, unlike this example, the surface is smoothed at each step (much more like the pinching of the sheet).

This subdivision method is not unique to Geomorph, it is frequently used for generating artificial height maps. Applying the same process at progressively decreasing scales gives a so-called "self-similar" surface. This surface is characterized by a fractional dimension (or fractal), which means, in this case, a dimension between 2 and 3.

Geomorph also provides a variation on this process, in which surfaces are added to a base surface at progressively decreasing scales. The added surfaces are derivated from a primitive surface, usually a gaussian bell, or from any image chosen by the user.

Why Geomorph?

Geomorph is an answer to my own creative requirements under Linux, for aesthetical purposes. The available tools when I decided to work on this project (at the end of 2000, I think) were lacking functionnalities or stability.

I am in part motivated by an interest towards the biosphere and the processes which make it evolve. This is somehow for me an extension of photography.

Developing software is also a self-actualizing activity of creation.

I think we are still in the infancy of art creation by digital means. It is still possible, and sometimes required, to develop our own tools. This is not unlike the Middle-Age or Renaissance painters who prepared their pigments themselves.

A road map?

I already have a lot of ideas waiting to be implemented. These ideas are answers to specific requirements for landscapes creation. Here are some of them, in a jumble (without any promise!):

Some of these improvements require a new file format. This is not so simple.

All comments I receive help me to prioritize these ideas or others. So, yours are welcome!

 How to be informed of new releases

You can receive an e-mail for each new release by subscribing on the project page at freshmeat.net (Subscribe to new releases).

Contact:    Patrice St-Gelais

SourceForge.net Logo