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Environments and Terrain Tools

Environments and Terrain Tools

Sep 25 2019, 2:01 PM PST 10 min

Terrain tools allow you to create realistic landscapes like mountains, rivers, and canyons. This overview will explain the primary tools used for creating terrain.

Opening the Terrain Tools

From the Home tab, click on the Editor button to see all the available tools.

Whenever you click on any terrain tool such as Generate, Add, or Subtract, it will open a terrain widget. Each widget has slightly different features, like these below:

Attribute Description
Size The size of the brush.
Strength The speed of the tool. Higher speeds modify terrain quicker.
Shape The shape of the brush; can be either a cube or a sphere.
Material The appearance of the terrain.

Below are differences that you can expect when using the sphere brush.

Brush at largest size
Brush at smallest size

Random Generation

The Generate tool is used to create random landscapes. You can use this tool to quickly start a new landscape and then change it based on your individual vision.

Attribute Description
Map Size Determines the overall map size of terrain to generate.
Seed The random number “seed” associated with the terrain map.
Caves If selected, caves will be generated in the terrain map.
Biome Size Sets the size of biomes within the overall terrain map size.
Biomes Determines which type(s) of biomes will be generated, for example water, hills, mountains, etc.

Rough Sculpting

Add and Subtract Tools

Add and Subtract are the most common tools you’ll use for “blocking out,” or building the majority of your environment, before you start adding details like caves and waterfalls.

Sculpting Tips
  • Place down an object you expect to find in your game, like a tree or a street light. This will help you understand the scale of terrain.
  • Playtest your game and think if the terrain would feel natural to players.
  • Terrain might look different from different angles. Be sure to move the camera frequently to make sure you're building what you want.

Using the Terrain Grid

When using a tool for rough sculpting, you’ll see a grid appear at your mouse. All terrain is created on this grid. As you click and drag your mouse to edit terrain, notice that the terrain is affected by the angle of the grid. Tilting and rotating the camera will change the grid angle.

Grid aligned flat along the ground
Grid aligned at 45° angle to ground

Detailed Sculpting

After rough sculpting, it’s important to fine-tune your terrain and make it look interesting. The Paint, Grow, Erode, and Smooth tools are generally used for adding those finer details after you’ve sculpted a basic environment.

Paint Tool

The Paint tool changes the terrain’s current material, for example grass, rock, or water. This is useful for adding variations like dirt and rock patches in a grass field.

Grow Tool

The Grow tool slowly fills in areas with terrain. This is useful for adding hills or smoothing out gaps between terrain.

Erode Tool

The Erode tool slowly removes terrain. This is useful for creating caves, canyons, rivers, and lakes.

Smooth Tool

The Smooth tool smoothes terrain in the selected area. This is useful for making jagged terrain more natural and getting rid of sharp corners.

Sculpting With Regions

Regions can speed up terrain creation by letting you work with large areas.

Selecting and Manipulating Regions

To select and manipulate a region:

  • Select the Regions tool and click on Select.
  • Click and drag to create a region box.
  • Manipulate the region with the Move, Resize, and Rotate tools in the terrain widget menu. These tools are very similar to how they're used with parts.

Duplicating Regions

You can also copy and paste entire regions — just click on Copy and then click on Paste to create a new region. Once you’ve pasted a region, Studio automatically switches to the Move tool so you can move the copied region.

Filling and Deleting

You can even fill or delete entire regions with a material:

Filled region
Deleted region

Merging Empty Regions

When you select a region, you also select all the “air” inside that region. When editing regions — moving, resizing, etc. — the Merge Empty option affects the outcome.

If Merge Empty is on, Studio will combine the selected region with its surroundings. This is useful if you want to make sure a region naturally merges with what's around it, as shown here between the ice and stone.
If Merge Empty is off, Studio doesn't merge the region with what's currently there. This is useful if you want to keep a region exactly like it was built, as seen here by the “air” region remaining when the ice block is moved.

Terrain Colors

Each terrain material like rock, ice, or water has a default color, but you can customize these if desired. For example, if you’re building an arctic world or a volcanic wasteland, terrain colors may be adjusted to fit the theme.

  1. In the Explorer window, select the Terrain object.
  1. In the Properties window, expand the AppearanceMaterialColors branch.
  1. Enter a new RGB value for any material and the terrain in your place will update dynamically.
Default colors
Customized colors
  • building
  • terrain
  • land
  • water