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Designing a landscape is like any other design. It's an iterative process of trial and error, rinse, repeat and do more. Well, maybe not rinse, but we're going to get in there and put stuff in and adjust and test it out and see how it looks. So don't be afraid to get in and really move things around once you've got it kind of set. What I'll do, is once I get some of the terrain features in, go back through and see what needs adjusting, keep going on it, often getting a fresh pair of eyes to look and see if there's anything obvious I missed while I'm worrying about the details.
So far, I've got in trees, grass, and a detail mesh for cattails. I'm ready for the actual water, and probably some additional terrain texture at some point. Because that brown dirt is looking a little bit on the barren side. I'll give it a quick play test and see if I notice anything else that really sticks out, and then go back through and catch some of the items on that list. My terrain looks neat, although it's a little bit brown. There's a clipping distance on the grass that's a little too short because the grass seems to materialize as we get closer, and I know that I painted it up those hillsides, so at least the foreground wet areas next to the lake have grass on them.
And then the trees themselves can stand on more of the dirt. The wind is also a little bit too strong. I can really see the cat tails sliding around, as well as the grass waving a lot in the wind. And I'd like it to be a little more still. Eventually I'll need to make a wet texture for the dirt to paint along the shoreline, but I'd rather have the real water in first to see how much I'll need and what I can camouflage. The trees look good although the fog is a little heavy. So I'll need to address that in the render settings. As I run along the lake surface here the grass does seem to materialize, so that's probably a big one to hit.
There's some grass growing out of the water here and there. And as long as I take down the wind that's okay. It really gets the idea of that marshy lake across. There's that wind in action in the cattails, and it's a little bit on the big side, so that'll be the biggest one to look at. I think that the bright color on my grass, the dead color, is a little too strong as well. It's a little bit on the yellow side I'd like it to read more of a dark green overall. So I'll go back and do some adjusting, and look at some global parameters in the terrain, to be able to tweak everything. Back here in the scene I've selected my terrain object and gone into the last tool over here in the terrain script, the terrain settings.
There's our base terrain and this is really a question of casting shadows, map distance and is there a material on it. At the moment there's not, it's just the textures I put on. But I could actually put in the material if needed. There is a tree detail distance and a density and I'm okay with the way that's looking. Although, the distance in trees is a little short. I feel like I'm seeing some of them disappear. I'll leave it alone and see how it looks once I adjust the fog. There's a billboard start and this is really for the trees to billboard or become flat planes at a certain distance.
I'll set them to billboard at about, let's try 100 so they're a little more dimensional out there. Now look at the wind. There's our wind speed and size. I'm going to take this way down. I'll try .1 for wind speed and size and see if that mutes down the grass moving a little bit. There's also bending, and I'll pull it down to point two, so it stays fairly straight with a little bit of wave, but doesn't have this giant overall sway. Here's our terrain with height and length, and we can adjust as needed. There's also our height map resolution, and detail resolution.
With this lets us do is control the terrain detail when we're getting into it, and make sure we're not seeing too many pixels showing. I'll leave that alone, because I think it'll look okay in the resolution I have planned. Now, there is a section for a height map, and that's one we haven't brought in. If you've got a height map for a terrain, maybe generated in another program, such as MudBox, or WorldBuilder, or something similar, and you'd like to bring that in, you can. You can even draw one straight in Photoshop as a grayscale. A height map brings in a raw map, so it's got a full color range or rather a full luminance range.
Which is what we're going to use. And pops out the terrain based on that. You can also even export out a height map of the terrain you've sculped by clicking on export raw. And exporting out. An image that is your actual terrain as a height map so you can use it somewhere else if you need or reapply it as needed. Where this is especially useful is if you're trying to match a height map for a particular known locale. Let's say you're game is set in the Grand Canyon, and you've actually got a height map for a section of it.
And so, you want it to really match into the real geometry that real people have seen and thereby might recognize. So you can bring in true data. I'm going to try this out and see if the settings I've put in make a difference. I did want to adjust that grass. And I'll go back in and tweak that here in my detail settings. There's my grass one and grass two. I'll click on edit details with grass selected, and edit. And there's that dry color. What I'll do a lot of times is to eyedropper Straight from the scene and this way I get a really nice match all the way through.
Its a slight variation in green and I'll just take a little bit of color out of it, so I have a little bit of variation across what is dry and not but not this really screaming yellow. I'll apply it, and see how the other one looks left alone. I like how my cattails are working. And now I'll see if it's a little more lush looking and a little more still. I'll hit play and run through the building. And there's my serene lake. My grass maybe has a little wave to it here and there, and not much bend at all.
In fact it feels eerily still, which is really what I want for this game. My cat tails are barely moving, which is good, they're not swaying back in forth in the wind like they were. It's working like I'd want. It's just a little bit of waft to the grass so it's not perfectly still. But it's definitely not this giant zig that I had earlier. My trees are holding up nicely and I still need to reduce that fog, but I like the way that the trees are handling themselves. Now I've got to work on that clipping distance. I'll exit out of playing, go back into those settings one more time, and see if there's a place to take care of how those are clipping.
There's a detailed distance in the tree and detail object section. This detail distance draws those details out to that number of units, 80 meters. I'm going to boost this up a little bit and see how, let's say, about 175 or so, looks. I'll play it one more time. It'll take a minute. And now I'm seeing a little more of my grass. This is working nicely, so if I can get a green texture under some of it, it'll hold up really well as it fades off under the trees. This is a case where in the design we need to plan for the distances we'll see things.
I've got this nice marshy grass at the edge of the lake and the cattails and then trees beyond and as long as I've got some camouflage in the texture, so it's sort of green and grassy enough under the close trees, the illusion will hold up that it seems like these trees are growing in a grassy area. In reality, I've painted grass on and only left some of the grass, where I really need it. It's a balance in here. So don't be afraid to, again, do it, test it, do it and test it, and do it and test it again, to make sure it's really working.
Now I'm out here on my lake and there's my gallery, which eventually should vanish once I make it out this far.
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