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I am going to use the inner power of 3D-Max to create a beautiful realistic terrain even without using any plug-in and bitmap, so we’ll take 3ds max to limits.
Designzzz never really focused on 3D-Max but if you want more interesting tutorials, just comment. If you do not have any AutoCAD contours and a corresponding bitmap or if you wish to follow this tutorial closely, you may like to download the sample files before you continue. The Combiner Device lets me mix these two together using Add, Subtract, Min, Max, and other options.
I had to work out which of the available formats I could use, knowing that I had to convert the file afterwards to something I could load in 3DS Max. Here we will try to achieve something that looks like the picture below, by relying mostly on 3ds max’s procedural maps. If not, I suggest you get started with the tutorial cd, and return here in about a month, or when you feel you know your way around and understand things like displacement, meshsmooth and procedural mapping.

This tutorial will show you how to import contours (created using AutoCAD) into 3D Studio, how to use the contours to create a terrain object, how to apply colour by elevation and how to map a bitmap image onto the terrain surface. For best results, contours should be drawn by the method described under the Contour Drawing Technique section of the Ground Modelling tutorial. There are numerous options but this tutorial considers two that are particularly appropriate for terrain objects. But because generating the terrain is often less of a problem than texturing it, I’ll continue with the way I built the complex material you see in this scene in 3DS Max. I found that I just needed to place some greener bits at specific places in the landscape, so I painted a mask to place those where I wanted them. World Machine has a useful set of tools for creating interesting and realistic landscapes, and depending on the version you want, it’s either cheap, or free. There are a few sky maps that come with 3ds max, and if you don’t like those, the internet is full of them.

One thing I noticed after creating this tutorial is that it looks a lot like I’ve created landscape of Mars.
Once drawn, contours should also be given an elevation as described in the Moving Vertically section of the same tutorial. As you can see from the illustration on the right, the Control Panel shows the maximum and minimum elevations (Z values) and the reference elevation.
You can always edit the object, of course, but for a truly wild landscape with lots of undercuts, caves, and free-standing, overhanging features you’ll want to take another tack entirely. If you are following this tutorial and you have applied the image map, your Perspective window should look similar to the one in the illustration above.

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