Join Craig Barr for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating base landscapes, part of Unreal Essential Training (2016).
- The landscape tool set and Unreal Engine 4 is a very powerful, yet very efficient tool set to allow you to create an overall landscape environment in context to your game or your project. And this is important to have this tool set within Unreal Engine simply because it allows you to take advantage of all the power that Unreal Engine brings to your scene. Things like level of detail, tessellation of the geometry, and handling massive texture load within your environment. And the other cool thing is that you can actually sculpt or build landscape, within the scene in context to actual assets.
So if you needed landscape to wrap around a specific model, for example, you can address that live here, within Unreal Engine 4. Now, the first thing we should point out is if you have access to the content for this course, I'm simply using this "Ch3.02.Begin" file. You can simply open that up and this will allow us to have access to some of the components and materials in here as well. So the first thing that we are going to do is either use the hotkey "shift+3" to jump into our landscape mode, or just click this little mountain icon here in our modes panel on the top left.
So I'll just click that and what we are going to have is this preview of a grid that will be laid out to define the overall resolution and size of our base geometry to sculpt our landscape. So you can see that we have the default floor in the background here, and that floor actually represents a very small space. And our landscape of course, just by holding down the "S" and right mouse button, I can zoom out and see the actual size that this one here represents. So let's just reset these here back to the default.
The typical default you are going to come across here is 63x63 with an 8x8 in number of components, and an overall resolution at 505x505. Now, this is where we define the size of that grid that we want to work with. I want to work with something that is going to give me a little bit more control at the component level, so that when I sculpt this, I have the options here to kind of remove areas that I don't necessarily need, because we are creating a base landscape for an island environment, for our beach, or our lighthouse scene.
So I want to be able to create something that I have, kind of, flexibility with the grid or the environment as I go. So, the first thing I'm going to do is we have our manage tool highlighted by default within the landscape mode, we're going to create a brand new landscape. I should point out here you can actually import, from file, a landscape or something that actually utilizes a height map as well, and you can define that in here if you have an external resource like that. So we're going to define our section size, I'm going to bring it down to 31x31, but what I want to do is actually bring up the number of components here, so I want to bring this size up to something maybe around 10, and maybe bring the width of this out to something around 15, so that we're working with, overall our total number of components is about 150 because it is a 10x15 grid that we are simply going to use to sculpt our base scene.
So now, with this selected here, I'm going to hit the "create" button. We've now created a very simple plane, or grid, that we can sculpt on. You can see right away once we've clicked "create" a couple of things happened. A landscape has been dropped into our outliner, and we've switched automatically to the sculpt tool set. So I'm going to go to the sculpt tool, which we have highlighted here, and again, if I bring this down, you can see all of the different tools available. This is where your entire sculpting tool set becomes live. And it's important that with any of these tools here on the left underneath the sculpting tool set, you're going to want to define the overall shape and the fall off that you want to work with.
So be default, at all times, it's using a circle. You can define this to be a different shape or a custom shape by using things like an alpha, or a pattern. So if you're familiar with things like ZBrush, or Mudbox, or photoshop, this is where you can actually take in and define the shape of your chisel, if you will, or your nib on the end of your brush, for sculpting. For what we're doing right now, we're just going to build in and block out the base overall structure of this. So this is where we want to come in here and just use the sculpt tool with a circle, and I'm going to use the smooth fall off for this.
So I just want something that's going to actually represent something in the sense of a very simple overall landscape for our island here. So let's just maybe zoom in. I want to be, kind of over top of this, but have a bit of perspective so we can actually see how this is shaping up. So I'm going to sculpt something in here that's going to just bring up an overall base shape of an island in here. And I'm just clicking in here by using the sculpt brush and I'm just clicking as I go.
So if I have areas here that I think are maybe a little bit too much, I can hold down the "shift" key, and that actually accesses the hot key for smoothing. So let's just bring that around, I want to, kind of bulk this up a little bit. And I just want to bring in a simple shape for how we're going to work with this landscape in here. There we go, and we can just start bringing this out. And if I hit "shift" it's actually pounding it down here for me a bit, which is fine if it gets a little bit too high. And let's just take a look at what this landscape is looking like here.
That's fine for a simple shape for now. I'm actually going to remove a bit of this just by using "shift" to kind of give me the inverse. Just kind of pound a bit of the overall shape of it here. Now, it might be a little too high in some areas, you know, the fall off on the edge of the island, we probably need it to be a little bit lower. This is where we can come in here and maybe, let's grab that smooth tool. Just smooth that down a little bit around the edge. Here we go, and then if we want to flatten any of these areas here, I can simply grab my flatten brush and what's going to happen before I click this, just so you know, flatten is actually going to bring all of the vertices within the geometry here up into a simple plane based on the height of my brush, and it's going to use that to create a flattened area.
By clicking on this here, you'll see that it's actually bringing up that overall extent of the area there too, flatten that out. Now that may be a little bit too flat for what I want, and that's where we'll just get into our smooth brush here again and smooth out those edges, so that at least I have a flattened top, but I have a bit of a fall out along that edge there. So this is where you want to play with the different settings here to figure out how you want the overall shape of your base land to be and, at some point here, we can start to get into a little bit more of the details, but let's just keep using smooth for now to bring that down.
And then another thing that we might want to do at some point, just very subtle, is go into the noise area here for now, because we're just kind of blocking this out, let's make our brush size a little bit bigger. Actually, that's as large as I can make that one so we'll leave it at that. The tool strength, I'm going to bring that way down here because I want to put just a bit of overall ambient bulk noise across this here. So, let's see what we get when we bring this in here, so we're getting just a real subtle effect in here. If we zoom in a bit here, you can see that we're getting just simple, kind of subtle, noise effects here.
And of course, we can adjust that noise scale if we want it to be a little more spaced out or something that's a little more tightened. That's fine for just blocking in what we want to work with here. Now, before we get into how we can manage refining this or starting to get this into more of a detailed shape here, it's important to understand that we've built a grid, and we've simply just sculpted in a really base form. And this is fine for now because we just want a simple form that we want to be able to work with, to take forward, to be able to form into something that represents our base landscape for an island, and manage the overall size of what we're using for a piece of geometry in the grid.
There are some areas here that are actually kind of useless that we're not going to need so we can cull those out. So there's a simple overview of using landscape mode tool set, using the sculpt tool to build or sculpt in our base form for our island.
- Customizing the Unreal UI
- Creating a new project
- Creating landscapes
- Blocking out levels
- Assembling a scene
- Working with materials and lights
- Adding post-processing effects
- Defining bodies of water
- Adding atmospherics, foliage, and wind
- Working with the Blueprint editor
- Creating cinematics
- Monitoring performance
- Packaging a game for distribution