Creating Landscapes

Guide to creating new Landscape terrains.

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Unreal Engine 4 (UE4) is capable of creating massive terrain-based worlds using its suite of powerful terrain editing tools. The Landscape tool allows you to create immersive outdoor terrain pieces that optimized and can still maintain playable frame rates across a multitude of different devices. You can create your Landscape using any of the following methods:

For examples of the Landscape tool in action, see Landscapes Content Examples .

Opening the Landscape Tool

Before you can create a Landscape, you must first open the Landscape tools by clicking on the Landscape option in the Modes dropdown menu.

Landscape_ModesPanel.png

You can also press Shift + 2 on your keyboard to switch to the Landscape tool at any time.

When the Landscape tool is first opened, you will automatically be taken to the Manage Mode tab. If you do not have any other Landscape Actors currently in your level, you will be prompted to create one. In Landscape Manage Mode, you can create new Landscapes and modify existing Landscapes and their components.

Landscape_New_Manage_Tab.png

If your level already contains one or more Landscapes, the Landscape tab will look different. The Landscape Editor section will display a dropdown menu with the Selection tool visible. It is from this dropdown menu that you will select a Landscape to work with.

Landscape_Multiple_Landscapes_Actors.png

Creating a new Landscape using the Landscape Tool

Creating a new Landscape from scratch is done through the New Landscape section of the Landscape tool panel.

Landscape_Create_Section.png

Number

Function

1

Creates a new Landscape Actor in your level.

2

Allows you to import a Landscape heightmap made in an external program.

3

Enables the use of Non-Destructive Landscape Layers and Splines .

4

Allows you to assign a material to your Landscape.

5

Displays any layers that are a part of your Landscape Material .

6

Allows you to set the location in the world where the Landscape is created.

7

Allows you to set the rotation of the Landscape in the world.

8

Allows you to set the scale of the Landscape in the world.

9

Landscapes use Section Size for LOD and Culling. Smaller sections allow the Landscape to LOD sections more aggressively but at a higher CPU cost. Larger sizes allow for fewer components and is less costly on the CPU. If you want to have a large Landscape, you will need to use a larger section size, since using a smaller section size and then scaling the Landscape will increase the cost on the CPU.

10

Helps with the Landscape LOD. Each section is the basic unit for the Landscape LOD. One component could have 2 x 2 sections which means that it is possible that one component could be rendering four different LOD's at once. With a larger section size, you get the added benefit of reduced CPU calculation time. However, you might run into issues with the Landscape rendering too many vertices at once. This could be especially prevalent when using very large areas of Landscape. These issues could be even worse on mobile devices because of the limited amount of draw calls you can have due to hardware limitations.

11

Sets the size of your landscape along with Section Size. This value is capped at 32 x 32 since each component has a CPU cost associated with it. Going over this cap could result in performance issues with the Landscape.

12

The number of vertices your Landscape is using.

13

The total number of components that will be created for your Landscape.

14

Makes your Landscape as big as possible.

15

Creates your Landscape in the world using the settings you specified.

For this example, we are going to leave all of the Landscape settings at their default values that are listed below.

Property Name:

Value

Section Size:

63 x 63 Quads

Section Per Component:

1 x 1 Section

Number of Components:

8 x 8

Overall Resolution:

505 x 505

Be careful when choosing Section Size because as the number of components increase, build times and performance can be dramatically affected. 63x63 quads per section is generally recommended as it gives good performance and size.

When completed, you should have something that looks like this in your New Landscape properties box.

Landscape_New_Heightmap_Size.png

In the main viewport, there should be a preview of the new Landscape you are setting up which should look like the following:

Landscape_In-Editor_Preview.png

Landscape Actors can Move, Rotate, and Scale like any normal Actor. You can also drag the edges of the preview Landscape to easily size the it to fit your needs.

You can assign a Material to your Landscape when you create it. To do so, select an appropriate Material in the Content Browser, and then assign it in the New Landscape section, next to Material, by clicking the Assign arrow icon. For more information about Landscape Materials, see Landscape Materials .

Landscape_Assign_Material.png

When you are ready to create your new Landscape, press the Create button in the lower-right corner of the Landscape tool's panel. The Landscape will appear in the viewport as a flat plane. If you assigned a Material to it, it will appear with the Material applied. If not, it will use the Level Editor's default Material.

Landscape_Creat_New_Button.png

If the Landscape is large or complex, it may take a few seconds for it to appear.

Once you have pressed the Create Button, you should have something that looks similar to the following.

Landscape_NewTerrain.png

With your new Landscape now created, you can now start to Sculpt or Paint the Landscape to your liking.

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