Terrain tutorial - Part 4

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Tutorials in this series:

Texture tutorial setup

It is definitely possible to work through this tutorial by swapping back and forth between the above panels, but it will be much easier if you can see both at once. For details on how to do this, see Docking HeroBlade panels.

Applying terrain textures

Heightmaps can be modified with textures added to them. These textures are .dds files. A few samples are supplied with HeroEngine, but most must be created by your artists.

Each heightmap node can have four texture Layers. The layers determine the order in which the textures are rendered (drawn on the screen). Textures in the lowest layer, Layer 1, are rendered first, Layer 2 second, and so on. This allows you to create (for example) a grass texture with a road texture on top of it, leaves on top of the road, and sticks on top of the leaves:

The more Layers in an area, however, the more rendering time a heightmap "costs", so these Layers should be used with care.

Each layer can also have up to 256 textures, but again, each texture has overhead, so they should be used carefully.

Assign a base texture to the heightmap

This section of the tutorial can probably only be accomplished in a Hero's Journey Reference world, because it uses specific textures.

When created, a heightmap has a default texture on Layer 1. In a completely new area, this will probably be a checkerboard pattern, but might also have been configured to be something else.

To change the default texture for heightmaps in your area:

Add another layer

If the textures were swapped between layers (and you may wish to try this later for practice), the default texture of the heightmap would be cobblestones, and the grass "path" would appear on top of the cobblestones.

Adding a bump texture


Next, we'll add some bumpiness to the texture, so that it reacts to angled light. The current texture is known as a "Diffuse" texture, which is how it appears. But a second texture can be added to adjust its "bumpiness", and this is called a "Bump+Spec" textures. The Diffuse and Bump+Spec textures are generally created in coordinated pairs by your artists, with similar names and just different suffixes.


First, let's turn on angled light.

To add a bumpiness to the cobblestones:

Add more levels of textures

Closeup view of what your textures may look like at this point. The green grass is the lowest texture (Layer 1), with cobblestones on top of it (Layer 2), and twigs on top of the cobblestones (Layer 3). The cobblestones have a bump texture as well, which reflects the light according to the time of day.

Dynamic details

Dynamic details allow you to add things such as grass which blows in the wind, flowers, and other kinds of foliage or ground clutter.

Choose the correct button at the bottom of the subpanel, to indicate if the chosen texture has one, four, or two parts
Too little transparency creates a rough outline or halo around the edge of the content
Too much transparency can cause nearly invisible grass to block the visibility of other dynamic detail channels
A balanced setting does a fair job of minimizing artifacts


The grass won't move, unless wind is turned on in the Environment panel. Once this is done, the Wind effect can also be adjusted in the Terrain panel.

Random textures

For a demonstration of how the 1/4/2 textures work:


For further practice, adjust the sliders to find an effect that you find pleasant, with wind turned back on.

Dynamic detail meshes

The placement of the meshes is controlled by the Rotation Axis buttons. None is "as authored".

More dynamic details


While in Glasses mode, the "distance fading" effect is disabled, so that all Dynamic Details can be seen, regardless of their distance from the camera.

Add another mesh

Very dramatic effects can be achieved with dynamic details, with your artists only having to create a single mesh asset.

Next tutorial

See: Terrain tutorial - Part 5

See also

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