• Price: Pioneer free; Esprit £150; Studio £302; Complete £453; Infinite £753; xStream £1,132

  • Company: E-on Software

  • Pros: Produce photorealistic terrains and skies with the ability to populate objects on terrains

  • Cons: Limited modelling; can get slow with big scenes

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

If you want to create complex digital environments that include terrains, bodies of water, huge populations of plants, and vast skies, take a look at e-on’s 3D renderer, Vue 9. Terrains are randomly generated and can be sculpted in any direction for things like caves and arches. With the plant generator and new ecoSystem engine you can populate a scene with thousands of unique trees and plants.

The atmosphere system of Vue generates photorealistic clouds and beautiful natural lighting simulation. The new Relighting feature makes it possible to adjust the lighting of the scene after the render completes, in real time.

You can import objects from all of the major modelling programs, but Vue itself has limited modelling capabilities. You can place poseable character models from other programs in any environment, but posing it within Vue can be tricky and sometimes leads to buggy behaviour.

Vue’s spectral atmosphere engine can produce striking volumetric lighting effects

Vue 9 comes in six varieties geared toward the differing needs of artists, from free Pioneer, for hobbyists, to xStream, for large studio use. You can also buy modules for different capabilities, letting Vue grow with you. Cornucopia3D offers models, plant species, materials, and atmosphere presets from within the program itself, so if you can’t make it, you can find it.

E-on took pains to make this version work well on the Mac platform, and it shows. While it sometimes runs slow, especially if you have several hundred million polygons, Vue 9 is more stable on the Mac than previous releases. Vue depends on recent versions of OpenGL, so it doesn’t have support from some older graphics cards. You’ll need an updated driver, at least a dual-core processor and 4GB of memory

For creating a 3D environment, especially natural, there’s nothing else in its class. However, if you have an older desktop or a smaller laptop, Vue 9 may not work well enough for you to get anything out of it. Try the free PLE first.