Terrain tutorial

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Revision as of 14:26, 20 June 2011

Note: The Terrain Panel is frequently updated with new features as new versions of HeroEngine are released, so the version in your own release of HeroEngine may appear slightly different.


He beginner.png

This is a beginner-level tutorial to gain familiarity with the Terrain panel and learn how to modify Heightmap nodes.
Most of this tutorial can be done in any world, but some sections may require art assets that are only available in the Hero's Journey Reference World. So for easiest results, work through this tutorial in your own test area in Hero's Journey Reference.
For sample animations of adjusting a heightmap, see http://heroengine.com/world.asp

Tutorial overview

There are a myriad of options for modifying terrain in HeroEngine, so there are several sections of this tutorial. As a brief overview:

Creating a Heightmap

Only work through this section if you do not yet have a clean heightmap node to work with.

To create a fresh heightmap node:

Modifying a heightmap

The white polygons show which polygons will be affected by the terrain tool. The blue thermometer at the center shows the intensity of effect. The feathering along the outside of the range is controlled by the three Falloff buttons on the Terrain panel

Creating more natural shapes

Note: The Perlin Brush Pattern may also be called the "Mosaic" pattern, or the "Fractal" pattern.

Adjusting intensity

There are several ways to change the intensity of the effect.

While observing the white to-be-affected polygons, hold down the CTRL key and move the mouse wheel. This increases or decreases the intensity of the brush. It also moves the vertical slider on the terrain panel.

The intensity can be seen in multiple ways:

  • The white marker on the blue thermometer
  • The intensity of the polygon lines
  • The display in the white square (brush indicator) on the Terrain Panel
  • The location of the vertical slider on the Terrain Panel

Softening terrain

Click in the Brush Pattern box until it is the solid pattern, Solid.png not Import or Perlin.

Softening options

There are many different options for the Soften Tool

For further practice:

Level tool

With the Level Tool Terrain level icon.png multiple things can be done:

Leveling an entire area

Leveling a single heightmap

Creating mesas


There are multiple ways to limit which part of a heightmap is being modified. The most obvious one is that terrain will only be modified within the circle of the terrain brush. However, further limiting is possible, such as to:

Direction limiting

The Direction Limiter arrows can be toggled on and off, to restrict movement in that direction.To only raise (and not lower) terrain, toggle off the large down arrow to the right of the Slope Limiter box. To only lower (and not raise) terrain, toggle off the large up arrow.

Altitude limiting

See also: Altitude limiting

From an above section of the tutorial, you should have an area with multiple mesas, all at the same height as each other. Now suppose you would like one of those mesas to be a bit lower than the others? There are various ways to do this which might or might not work well, such as:

A better way to handle things, would be to limit the terrain tool by altitude, as follows:

The high and low altitude limits can also be set very precisely with the numeric boxes on the Terrain Panel.

Slope limiting

Limiting by vertices

Using the mesas example, it's possible to select only certain polygon vertices to be affected.

The Selection tool also has its own subpanel on the Terrain panel, "Vertex Selector"

Selection exercise

Cut holes

The Scissors tool Terrain cut.png can cut holes in a heightmap. This might be useful for situations like where you want to put an entrance to a cave or dungeon, or some other purpose where you need to get a small part of the heightmap out of the way.

To repair the hole:

To repair all holes in the entire area:

Create ramps

To create another ramp with the same orientation as the first one, hover the mouse over the ramp and CTRL-click to sample it.

Using a limiter to prevent ramp overshoots

Another way to use the Altitude Limiter, is to prevent overshoots. For example:

With Limit Altitude off:

Check for walkable areas

To see what areas are walkable, use the Too Steep checkbox on the Terrain panel

Now that you have some terrain, check to see if it's usable by players.

Tutorial continuation

For the next part of the tutorial, please continue to Terrain tutorial - Part 2.

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