While I was blogging about making your own ILM
yesterday one of my students tipped me off to Terragen
(thanks Aaron). The more I saw of it the more it reminded me of Bryce
. Terragen, like Bryce, is a special-purpose 3d app for creating amazingly realistic landscapes. It's terribly easy to use, even for 3d newbies. If you've ever banged your head on Maya, give it a try. Very refreshing. Not only that, it is free for now. No guarantees about the future, but I haven't seen any real problems with it so far. Terragen is chock full of features, some of which I don't see in Bryce (like a scripting engine). And you can't argue with the results
... Oh, and it's available for OS X and Windows.