Welcome, Ari :)
I'd suggest having a look at Jonathan Hunt's excellent pebbles.pov file:
If you're interested in experimenting with some simple self-written scenes first
/ along the way, I'd suggest learning some of the random functions:
The easiest way to place your grains so that they don't intersect is to treat
them as perfect spheres, and make sure that the distance between the centers is
no less than the sum of the radii.
You can look into structuring your placement algorithm so that it's as fast as
possible. There are "naive" ways, and then there are ways that make use of
subdividing the space to make the search for a valid place to place a new grain
a lot faster.
[As an aside, is there an easy mechanism by which I can access the thread for
the given image from the image's URL?]
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