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Procedural Generation of Terrain Discussion and Tips: Two Tutorials Posted, Links Second Post

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aminovasaminovas Posts: 1,523 Member
Procedural generation is the process of using algorithms to generate landscapes with programs that mimic natural landscape processes. We can use such programs to generate height maps for CAW.

Hand sculpting and painting terrain in CAW can be incredibly rewarding and produce lovely results, but sometimes we want our landscapes to look more realistic. In my profession I worked with a lot of real-world Digital Elevation Data, and so naturally I got my start in CAW importing that data. There is a great tutorial for that here. However, there are lots of limitations with simply working with DEM data, DEM software, and a graphics editor to generate your height map. It can be quite tricky getting that data to look they way you want it to in CAW, especially with getting the scale right and dealing with smoothing, and more often than not, we want to generate our own shapes for use in CAW.

With Procedural Generation (PG for short?) we can either generate new terrain algorithmically OR we can apply algorithms that mimic weathering or other distortions to our existing terrain. It can be used for transformations both subtle and dramatic. We are only limited by the restrictions of the CAW height map.

The purposes of this thread is to introduce Procedural Terrain Generation to creators by…
1. Indexing resources such as software and tutorials
2. Sharing what we know about how to use that software, through tips and mini-tutorials
3. Sharing our strategies for using PG output with CAW
4. Height map and texture map sharing
5. Post pictures of our results

Comments

  • aminovasaminovas Posts: 1,523 Member
    edited February 2014
    Introduction, Glossary, and Index

    ((UNDER CONSTRUCTION! Help me fill this out by adding suggestions))

    Introduction on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Procedural_generation

    Procedural Generation software:
    Free for non-commercial or under $100
    World Machine - Intro version is free (512x512 resolution)
    Unreal Development Kit (UDK) - free for non-commercial
    Bryce 3D

    Others:
    Terragen
    Vue
    Note: Any 3D meshing program can be used to make terrain, and many of these programs have procedural generation capabilities. All of the above listed Free programs can be used to translate meshes into PNG height maps.

    World Machine specific tutorials (but may be useful for other software)

    aaronrogers8i3 introduces his workflow and his project files are here.

    My introduction is here, and it links to an intro TMD file. This is specifically for using a pre-existing height map to add erosional features to it. This demo has a height map originally sculpted by Rflong7, but you can use any height map. Aaron has done his own transformations on the height map and has uploaded the CAW files, TMD file, and output.
    Post edited by Unknown User on
  • aminovasaminovas Posts: 1,523 Member
    edited February 2014
    Hi everyone! I hope lots of people will join in this thread. I am SO excited about these tools and how they can potentially help all of us produce extraordinary landscapes. I find them an absolute blast to use and I would dearly love to see what everyone else comes up with.

    I'm working on a little intro tutorial to World Machine, and I'm hoping AaronRogers will be over here shortly :)

  • flstriderflstrider Posts: 1,832 Member
    edited February 2014
    aminovas wrote:
    everyone! I hope lots of people will join in this thread. I am SO excited about these tools and how they can potentially help all of us produce extraordinary landscapes. I find them an absolute blast to use and I would dearly love to see what everyone else comes up with.

    I'm working on a little intro tutorial to World Machine, and I'm hoping AaronRogers will be over here shortly :)

    [/quote]

    YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! finally have a chance to learn a program that has sat unused on my desktop for a LONG while! I have played with World Machine very little and really would love to learn so much more about it!!! Thanks for starting this aminovas!!!!
    My World's thread linked in Sig
    NewSig.jpg


  • tammyjo329tammyjo329 Posts: 2,724 Member
    edited February 2014
    pokes head in .... looks exciting :D

    I do not have this tool (yet), but I am excited to see what we can build with it, see tutorials on it, and learn something new.
  • Rflong7Rflong7 Posts: 35,663 Member
    edited February 2014
    Hi, Aminovas :D

    I tried Bryce a few years ago for world maps... I wasn't good at it because it was taking too long to get something usable that I could have already made it in CAW.
    Plus, and I much rather make my unrealistic world maps by hand- it's what relaxes me really.
    Concentrating to where I can let go of everyday worries in the focus of creating a map (and painting it) is the process of CAW that I find that I enjoy the most.
    I know others find that part tedious, but I actually love it.

    I know, so antiquated of me to like painting/sculpting by hand. That's not the way things are being done these days. :lol:

    I tried some of the Tutorials online for Bryce but if you can make some tutorials that help to get usable results for CAW, you know we'd all be game to trying it. Creating is creating and that's what's fun. :mrgreen:


    *No, I'm not good a writing and I make a terrible proof reader. :XD:
  • aaronrogers8i3aaronrogers8i3 Posts: 555 Member
    edited February 2014
    Hey. I'm out as I post this but I'll post some links to my World machine files later. I think it would be a good idea to discuss Photoshop techniques as well because blending heightmaps together has produced some lovely results in Bridgewood. :-)
  • aminovasaminovas Posts: 1,523 Member
    edited February 2014
    Hi! :) Glad there is interest.

    Rflong, you call it antiquated, and I call it: boutique, hand-hewn, and lovely :) Maybe retro is the word? You cannot replace hand sculpting and painting, that is for sure, and it produces its own aesthetic :) I also tried Bryce and honestly was not all that impressed with the results. I would only use it in combination with World Machine. It might be most useful for those who are working on making Distant Terrains to fit with their height maps because the 3D mesh editor is quite good.

    Aaron, yes, I've been using Photoshop also to great effect with overlay outputs. Gaussian blur is my best friend :) I'm really looking forward to seeing your work flow.

    I'm part way through an intro to devices... Might need to take a break from it for today, so it might be tomorrow before I post it.

    I am so happy there is interest. The World Machine user forums are great, but our needs are very specific, so I think we can all help each other out a lot.
  • flstriderflstrider Posts: 1,832 Member
    edited February 2014
    Hey Rf I also agree that the sculpting and painting by hand is both fun and relaxing, and I do enjoy it now that I have a good grasp of the process and will probably continue to work that way as well. I just would like to have something extra in my creation toolbox for those "to lazy for sculpting" times or trying an idea before starting it in CAW to see how well it would work. But I most certainly agree no better way to relax than to go in and sculpt and paint the "old fashioned" way
    My World's thread linked in Sig
    NewSig.jpg


  • juncedajunceda Posts: 2,614 Member
    edited February 2014
    Hi guys!

    I am on the Rf side I like sculpting and painting by hand it relaxes me and takes me off my everyday worries as she said, but I am very interested in learning a new tool and I think it can be very usefull either.

    Thankyou Ami and Aaron for sharing this information with us all and guide us on the learning path
    firma_zps7hsuhx2i.png

    I can play at last TS2 TS3 and TS4 So great that toddlers are here!!!
  • Rflong7Rflong7 Posts: 35,663 Member
    edited February 2014
    Lol~Great! :

    I don't have Photoshop and really only use Gimp for cover pictures. :lol:

    I did try another map making program but I don't remember the name- I had fun with it but never got anything I liked or could use. :D

  • aaronrogers8i3aaronrogers8i3 Posts: 555 Member
    edited February 2014
    Here are some examples of my worlds.

    The first is Pioneer Plains which is fully hand sculpted and painted. This world was never finished and looked a bit fake in game.

    The second is Mesa Grande. This was my first real attempt at heightmapping a world. Some parts of the world are made by hand such as the beach by the downtown area and the small pond.

    The third is Bridgewood. An experiment of mine that was good enough to build a world with. This world has extra parts added by stitching heightmaps with photoshop.

    Each of these worlds has a custom distant terrain mesh. Mesa Grande and Bridgewoods meshes were made easily in a day because world machine allowed me to export a mesh including the world area and extra area surrounding it.

    You can also use World Machine to make masks for CAW. I experimented with a snow capped mountain on my Bridgewood map.

    ZM6U4qi.png

    43KYRwV.png

    qQRGRWC.png

    EHWvVcj.png
    Post edited by Unknown User on
  • christinebremnerchristinebremner Posts: 3,513 Member
    edited February 2014
    Hi aminovas this looks really interesting!! :) I will be keeping an eye on this so I can learn a thing or two. :)
    FEvr1sR.gif
  • flstriderflstrider Posts: 1,832 Member
    edited February 2014
    aminovas the students are lining up this was a great idea and I am looking forward to being one of those students
    My World's thread linked in Sig
    NewSig.jpg


  • aminovasaminovas Posts: 1,523 Member
    edited February 2014
    Hi everyone! :)
    Aaron, brilliant! Thanks for posting those amazing examples. Maybe after I get a bit of an intro up, I could quiz you about your work flow? Do you still have the project files?

    I should have an intro up by the end of the day. :)
  • aaronrogers8i3aaronrogers8i3 Posts: 555 Member
    edited February 2014
    Sure thing! I still have my world machine file for Crystal Bay/Bridgewood.

    Bridgewood
    http://www.mediafire.com/download/8d4zoi12rb7u10k/CoastMapTMD.tmd

    And an old heightmapped island CAW file.
    http://www.mediafire.com/download/rglc2mvb7jlvc82/Santa_Rosa_Caw.zip

    I'll be starting my third world Strangetown soon so I'll have lots of pics of world machine.:D

  • TadOlsonTadOlson Posts: 11,346 Member
    edited February 2014
    I'm currently working on a world needing a lot more terrain sculpting than usual and I'm working on this by hand because I wanted to do it that way.I've got most of the basic terrain roughed in and need to detail it soon.I've got some pictures of my work.
    12449531814_c3ff6c211b_z.jpg
    Here's where I started roughing in two mesas in my desert world.
    12541926634_0346a61360_z.jpg
    44620367775_0442f830c1_n.jpg
  • flstriderflstrider Posts: 1,832 Member
    edited February 2014
    Sure thing! I still have my world machine file for Crystal Bay/Bridgewood.

    Bridgewood
    http://www.mediafire.com/download/8d4zoi12rb7u10k/CoastMapTMD.tmd

    And an old heightmapped island CAW file.
    http://www.mediafire.com/download/rglc2mvb7jlvc82/Santa_Rosa_Caw.zip

    I'll be starting my third world Strangetown soon so I'll have lots of pics of world machine.:D

    Aaron I hope that you can help with this world machine tool as I have no idea what I am doing with it...lol I found the limited tutorials a bit lacking for someone who is a bit computer challenged and could really use some WM for dummies type lessons....rofl! I love the pics of your worlds they do look good.
    My World's thread linked in Sig
    NewSig.jpg


  • aaronrogers8i3aaronrogers8i3 Posts: 555 Member
    edited February 2014
    No problem. I'll put a quick tutorial together for you asap. :-)
  • flstriderflstrider Posts: 1,832 Member
    edited February 2014
    No problem. I'll put a quick tutorial together for you asap. :-)

    Thanks Aaron I really do like sculpting by hand but having another tool in my arsenal will be a big help.
    My World's thread linked in Sig
    NewSig.jpg


  • juncedajunceda Posts: 2,614 Member
    edited February 2014
    I will be wating for this tutorial too, I hope it will be clear as for a five years old kid, I feel like one of them learning to read when it is about PC matters!

    Thankyou very much in advance
    firma_zps7hsuhx2i.png

    I can play at last TS2 TS3 and TS4 So great that toddlers are here!!!
  • NilxisNilxis Posts: 596 Member
    edited February 2014
    Like others have said, I enjoy sculpting by hand but I'm very interested in learning how to create realistic height maps with these new tools.

    Thanks for the upcoming tutorial and information! :D
  • aaronrogers8i3aaronrogers8i3 Posts: 555 Member
    edited February 2014
    Here's a quick explanation of shaping a map with world machine. I suck at explaining things but here goes! :lol:

    Before starting your map make sure you set the world size to 2048x2048.
    WdDOHrr.png

    First thing I add is a layout generator device which allows me to make a basic shape of my map. I can also use this later to add mountains.
    The pic below shows what devices I use. There aren't very many.
    H27w9zU.png

    Then I add an advanced perlin device. This adds bumps to the map to make it look more like real terrain. Setting the Feature Scale higher makes less of an impact on your layout generator shape. I'd also recommend playing with its values to see what you can come up with.
    KxZVxxp.png

    I then add another Layout Generator. This will allows you to make flatter surfaces and add really shape the world is you want.
    gYcsMjg.png

    Next is the Erosion device. This is perhaps the most important as it will really make your map look realistic. Again, just play with its settings too see what you like.
    Cjj7cGE.png

    There are also many devices to the Filter tab such as curves and terraces. They are very useful but I didn't use them on my current map.

    By experimenting with settings you'll be able to make any world you desire.
    9wVl7oQ.png

    I'll try to make a quick tutorial on Distant Terrains and Masks soon as well.
    b5VJHkg.png
    Post edited by Unknown User on
  • aminovasaminovas Posts: 1,523 Member
    edited February 2014
    Yes, thank you Aaron! Awesome. I'll link to it from the index post.

    Sorry guys, I landed myself with a rip roaring cold :) Aaron is better equipped to explain the anyways. :)

    This program is so intuitive, though (you just hover your cursor and it tells you what it does). The website has great tutorials and this information on devices is really helpful: http://www.world-machine.com/learn.php?page=devref

    I want to add:
    1. World Machine folder in Documents folder
    Make note of the World Machine folder that gets installed in your Documents folder (you can specify what this is called). You can store your height maps, macros (macros are sequences of devices that are combined into one device; the program comes with some that you can add easily and also you can download macros, including the splat maps macro which can help with painting), and your project files. I suggest making a second "examples" folder, and you can check out Aaron's project files (thank you so mcuh for sharing!) and I'll get mine uploaded soon, too (mine are a bit nuts, though... I've just been experimenting wildly). I've got an introduction project file in the works. (Ugh. So frustrating being sick! :) It is so unusual for me to have an actual cold, though. Sorry, folks).

    2. If you have a working height map (Hi TadOlson!) you can export it from CAW and input it into World Machine. Even if your height map is pretty much done as you like it, you can get a lot of lovely details of erosion out of World Machine. To import it into world machine, add the device from Generators -- "File Input" (the disc icon, furthest to the right). Place that device, double click it and load your file. What is great about all of this is it is non-destructive, so you can always go back to your original height map, so long as you don't overwrite that input file. On that note, if you don't like the results you get with your original input, you can work on changing it (tip: to get nice erosional gulleys, you need height difference and fairly smoothed out slopes. you don't get erosional gulleys on steep cliffs or flat horizontal surfaces). You can also use your height map as a mask over a perlin generator to add interest (connect the output from your height map to both the heightfield input (left box on target device) AND mask (the box on the bottom of the device).
    To get your height map back into CAW: choose a heigh-output device and double click it, specify png, and choose your save path.

    This is either really intuitive or it is really hard to understand :) There is no in-between in this program. I stared at it uncomprehendingly for ages and then suddenly it made sense, and then there is no limit to what you can do. :) I'll get this walk-you-through-it tutorial up, but anyone who is chomping at the bit, please don't be afraid to try it out and experiment: look at Aaron's intro and project files and check out the wonderfully helpful forums on the World Machine website.

    I think we could use lots of how-tos, as there are SO many ways to achieve the results you want.

    I'm so excited to see what everyone comes up with :) I'll check back in as I shake this stupid cold off and get my head a bit more clear.
    Post edited by Unknown User on
  • aminovasaminovas Posts: 1,523 Member
    edited February 2014
    I just did a quick search for an intro to WM to explain some of the buttons, for understanding how to use the devices and how to build and view your world preview, and this covers some of that:
    http://www.mrbluesummers.com/455/3d-tutorials/an-introduction-to-world-machine

    Also, youtube has loads of World Machine tutorials ;)
  • aaronrogers8i3aaronrogers8i3 Posts: 555 Member
    edited February 2014
    This is either really intuitive or it is really hard to understand There is no in-between in this program.

    I agree. Experiment, Experiment, Experiment. It's the only way to really learn this tool because there's so much on offer but a good tutorial for the basics is never a bad thing.

    Hope you get better soon Aminovas. Colds suck!
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