Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Making a Landscape with World Machine (Part 1)

Today I'm going to start a tutorial series on how to make geologically correct landscape with World Machine and UE4.
For this tutorial you will need, of course, a version of World Machine.You may find an evaluation version in his site, but it's pretty limited, so you should get your hands on a full version

Now, get on your UE4 project and create a new map using the default basic template. You may delete that block since we are not using it for this example.
Hit on the landscape button and create a huge but low detailed terrain. If you are unsure about the settings you should put as input, you can copy the ones I'm using for a 5 km landscape.

Base Landscape

As you see, this is pretty massive. So we are going to use this landscape to sculpt pretty roughly the general shape of our world. We don't want any detail for now and that's why we are working with a low detailed landscape. In this example I will try to make a half moon shaped island.
Once we are done shaping the landscape, we go to the Landscape>Sculpt panel and we right click just on the heightmap button, and we export it as a .r16 file.

Exporting landscape

We leave UE4 for now and we launch World Machine. You may notice this has a node interface just like our dear material editor or the blueprint from UE4 but before tampering with nodes, we need to setup some settings for the project so we go to World Commands>Project World Parameters and we check the options so everything is ok to our demands.
Please also check that your are not outputting a tiled terrain since we don't want to make a tiled world level (at least for this example)

Settings World Machine 1Settings World Machine 2

Having our options setted, we can now get our hands in the nodes to make our procedural terrain using the heightmap exported from Unreal as a basis (Or a complete new one from a Perlin Noise node). You may check the input node options so they match the surface of the project using the quick scaling slider.

I'm not going to explain about what does each node or how does World Machine works in this tutorial, mostly because I consider myself pretty awkward with this software and there are lots of options and parameters I still don't know what they exactly do.
Although, I will provide as a download the project file, as well the input heightmap.

We will have in the 5 files as an output.

- 1 heightmap (a .r16 file. We will make the landscape with this)
- 3 slope mask. (.raw files. Used as weightmaps for painting our landscape)
- 1 normal map (a simple .png file. We are not going to use this, but it's free and it might be useful if we plan to make a low poly static mesh out of our terrain)

Don't forget to name appropriately each output.

World machine network
That's how it looks my project.
To build the output just click the Tiled build button and wait until it's done. This is a very slow process and it can take up to 1 hour so you may watch a movie while waiting for your results.

Tilled build button
Just click it and do something else. It will take a bunch of time...
And that's it for now. You may download here the project file and the input heightmap here. In part 2 we will see how to import our files into UE4, make it a material and how to do some basic tweaks to it.

Cheers and see you next time!

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