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6. Landscape Tips and Tricks

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While the previous quick start tutorial for Landscape will get you up and running with a Landscape, it barely scratches the surface of what the Landscape tools can actually do. This section aims to show you some Tips and Tricks of using the Landscape Tool as well as some external tools that you can use to generate your Landscape.

Tips & Tricks

  • When using the Paint Tools, you might find it easier to paint over what you would like to erase than to try and erase it using Shift + Left Mouse Button.

  • When using the Alpha Brush, remember that you can change what the pattern that the brush uses by selecting a different RGB channels from the Texture Channel drop down menu. This is very handy because you can pack up to three different Alpha patterns in a single texture.

    T_Landscape_Tips_Tricks_00.png

  • Landscape compiles shaders separately for each component based on which layers are painted on them. So, for example, if you have a component with a dirt layer on it but no trace of the grass layer has been painted on it, the textures for the grass layer are left out of the material for that component, making it cheaper to render. So when do an optimization pass, it can be worthwhile to go over a Landscape and look for components that only have a tiny trace of a given layer and erase them to reduce material complexity.

  • Another issue to watch out for when painting layers is to avoid having too many textures on one component. The material editor stats show the limit of how many texture samples you are allowed to use, but for Landscape materials the masks for each layer count as texture samples too and do not show in the stats. If a component starts showing the default texture (Grey Squares) when you paint a new layer onto it, it is likely that it is gone over the texture sample limit and either needs to have a layer erased or the material needs to be optimized to use less textures.

  • You can change the LOD Distance Factor for individual Landscape components so they will simplify at closer or further distance thresholds. Things like mountain peaks or anything with a distinct silhouette will LOD the most noticeably as you move further away, so you can reduce the LOD bias for those components to preserve their shape. You can also raise the LOD bias for low-detail areas like flat plains that will not look noticeably different with less tessellation.

World Composition

Unreal Engine 4 (UE4) now offers the ability to have massive worlds made out of Landscape that can easily be managed by using the World Composition tool. World Composition was designed to help simplify the management of large worlds, especially if those worlds are made using the Landscape system. To find out more about the World Composition tool, please refer to the official document that you can find here.

World Composition Documents

External Creation Tools

While the default Landscape tools do have the ability to meet all of your sculpting and painting needs, there could be some situations where you might want some extra control over your Landscape's look and feel. The following is a list of software packages that could help you obtain the results you are looking for if you cannot get them from using the Landscape tools.

World Machine

World Machine is a powerful procedural terrain creation software. It can be used to build, texture, and export both heightmaps and textures for your Landscape. You can read more about how World Machine might be able to help you out with your Landscape by checking out their website.

Terragen

Terragen is another powerful fully procedural terrain creation software. Much like World Machine, it can be used to build, texture, and export both heightmaps and textures for your Landscape. You can read more about how Terragen might be able to help you out with your Landscape by checking out their website.

Mudbox

While primarily a tool for digital sculpting and painting 3D meshes, Mudbox can also be used to generate heightmap data for your Landscape. You can read more about how Mudbox might be able to help you out with your Landscape by checking out their website.

ZBrush

Zbrush is another digital sculpting and painting tool that can be used to generate heightmap data for your Landscape. You can read more about how Zbrush might be able to help you out with your Landscape by checking out their website.