Populate:Terrain is a scripted plugin for Autodesk 3ds max. It 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. It’s also a lot nicer to look at!

The result is always standard 3ds max geometry, so there are no issues with future 3ds max versions, exchanging scene files or using 3rd party renderers.

Retopologized terrain mesh



  • Easy terrain surface generation from a contour lines.
  • Retopologizing a mesh surface into nice quads.
  • Grid size relative to the surface bounds can be entered in subdivs, real world units or percent.
  • Optional square grid constraint.
  • Keep original border vertices, or collapse edge vertices between grid cells.
  • Spline to poly conversion with island detection, using the “Fill” conversion option.
  • AutoUpdate option, for instant recalculation after making changes.
  • Preview Grid in the viewport helps choosing the subdivs.
  • Non destructive operation using the modifier stack.
  • Standard 3ds max geometry, no compatibility issues!
  • It’s free!



Operation is simple, just select a surface or spline, choose the resolution of the subdivs and hit “Process”.


Spline meshing

Spline to mesh conversion with (2) 3ds max and (3) Populate:Terrain

Terrain from contour lines with (2) 3ds max Terrain Compound (3) Populate:Terrain



When converting a spline shape to a mesh or poly object, 3ds max operates on triangle strips. This is a mathematically efficient approach but not always the desired result from a users perspective.

Populate:Terrain gives you a nice quad based poly surface to work with, while preserving the original border edges.

Contour Lines

Contour lines are a standard for terrain generation. The 3ds max Terrain Compound is a robust tool for creating surfaces. However, the resulting mesh is always a mess.

Populate:Terrain is a 1-click solution for creating nice clean surfaces from contour lines. 




Coming soon… 


Video Tutorials

Coming soon…



 Free Download for 3ds max

This installer detects your 3ds max version and creates menu entries.
It also comes with an uninstaller.
Populate-Terrain Setup v1.86.zip

 Update Notification Service

Get informed about new releases.


Do you have suggestions or did you find a bug? Please report on the development status page.


Autodesk 3ds Max 2010 to 2014 (32 and 64 bit).
You don’t have to uninstall previous versions in order to upgrade, just download the new installer and run it.

Version History/Change log:

3ds max 2014 support
Fixed: “lbl_status” error message appearing sometimes


3ds max 2013 support

Improved: Performance
Changed: Partial interface redesign
Added: Trimming with splines
Added: Turbosmooth and Relax

Fixed: Double geometry generated in rare situations

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

Initial release.