Non-Destructive Landscape Layers and Splines

Explains options and features for non-destructive layers and splines in heightmaps.

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Landscape Heightmaps and paint layers can now be edited with non-destructive layers. You can add multiple layers to your landscape that can be edited independently from each other. Landscape splines terrain deformation and painting are now a non-destructive process by reserving a layer for splines. Adding, moving, and editing these splines automatically updates the non-destructive layer.

Enabling the Layer System

First, you must enable the layering system.

  1. Navigate to Editor Preferences > General > Experimental > Landscape and check Landscape Layer System.

  2. In the World Outliner, select your landscape actor.

  3. In the Details panel, navigate to Experimental and check Enable Layer System.

You can toggle the layer system on or off for each landscape actor.

Toggling the layer system off after using the system results in Editor destructively removing all layer data.

Adding Layers to Your Heightmap

Instead of having one layer to sculpt a heightmap or paint materials, you can now add multiple layers to your landscape. These new layers function as a foundation for sculpting and painting a landscape, which allows you to manipulate and maintain landscapes more efficiently.

By default, you will always have one layer (Layer1), which is the default, base layer. To add a new layer, Right-click the existing layer and select Create. You can also Rename a layer from this menu.

We recommend renaming your layers so you know which is the base layer, and which layers are ones you added. You can add as many layers to the landscape as you want.

addlayer1.png

Managing Layers

There are several options for managing your layers, which include: locking/unlocking layers, hiding/unhiding layers, and highlighting your layer with Layer Contribution.

Locking and Unlocking Layers

If you want to work on one layer at a time without affecting other layers, you can lock the layer by selecting the Lock icon. The closed lock indicates the layer cannot be edited, and the open lock indicates the layer can be edited.

lock1.png

Hiding and Unhiding Layers

If you want to exclude a layer from blending, you can select the eye icon to Hide the layer.

hidelayer.png

Highlighting Layers

To highlight your layer, you can turn on Layer Contribution. By highlighting your layer, you can see the entirety of your sculpted layer. The highlight will remain on your layer until you turn it off. To turn on Layer Contribution, navigate to Lit > Vizualizers > Layer Contribution. To see the layer's contribution to a heightmap, select the layer in Sculpt mode. To see the layer's contribution to a paint layer, select the layer in Paint mode.

Use a combination of these tools to effectively sculpt and paint your heightmap. For example, if you decide to paint Layer1 and do not lock your Base Layer, you can paint both layers. By hiding Layer1 you can see where you painted onto the Base Layer. However, if you lock the Base Layer before painting Layer1, the Base Layer will not have any changes.

Editing Layers

There are several ways you can edit your layer, which include: ordering layers, adjusting the alpha layer blending, and using the Erase tool.

Ordering Layers

You can drag and drop layers in any order. When you move layers, the order in which those layers display in the viewport changes.

orderlayer.png

Adjusting Alpha Layer Blending

You can change the blending for each layer by adding or subtracting from the Alpha value. The viewport displays changes to the values in real time.

alphablend.png

Each layer has two Alpha values, one to control heightmap blending and the other to control paint layers blending. Setting a negative heightmap Alpha value will result in a subtractive blend. Paint layers each have an additional flag to determine if blending is additive or subtractive.

paintsub.png

Erasing Height in Layers

If you use the Erase Tool on the layer, the sculpting reverts to the default layer height. Layer Contribution can be helpful when using the Erase Tool because the layer is easy to identify.

erase.png

Using Non-Destructive Splines

Splines can now be created and managed in their own layer, separate from the base layer of the heightmap. This means that you can now edit, change, and move splines non-destructively and the landscape will terraform automatically.

To add a spline, first add a new layer. Right-click to Rename the layer, and then select Reserve for Splines. Select Continue at the prompt.

reserve1.png

reserve2.png

You can edit splines using the Details panel, and adjust the spline using the Transform Controls. Changing the layer order also affects splines, which means parts of the spline can be hidden by the landscape depending on the layer order.

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