Sculpting the perfect Landscape


So I was fiddling around with the landscape sculpting tools in UE4 and I decided it wasn’t as easy as I wanted, so as suggested by the Unreal Engine twitter account, I should bring it up in the forums.

Firstly my issues:

  1. The basic sclupting brushes don’t look nice or natural in any way
  2. I can’t layer brushe strokes on top of each other unless I let go of the mouse and click again
  3. It can be difficult to build up interesting mountains and valleys with the current basic tools

On a more positive note, the erosion tool is awesome, it made stuff look more natural very quickly, although I’m still unsatisfied with the basic sculpt tools when trying to build up the large scale shape of things. Also why does the basic brush have a flat top when I use it? I know I can set the fall off down and make it a bit better, but painting a landscape with a flat topped brush doesn’t look nice.

I wondered if using patterns and alpha mask brushes would produce nicer looking terrain, but then I’d have to go make or source them and that’s just more work.

So I ask you fellow developer, how do you go about sculpting landscapes? I think many would benefit from sharing techniques.

I would recommend you to take a look at world machine -> with that program you can easily create realistic landscapes which you can use in the UE4 :slight_smile:

That looks interesting, however my budget is pread pretty thin, so I may have to give it a miss.

Either just use the basic edition or take a look at terresculptor, it’s also something like world machine

I haven’t tried World Machine, but I give my recommendation to Geocontrol. It’s very quick and easy to use and there are some great tutorials on youtube if you get stuck. I can usually whip up a simple terrain in under a minute using it.

With a basic understanding of how displacement/height maps work, you can create the basic features of your terrain with a paint program, import and refine it inside UE 4.
First, read carefully about map sizes and scaling in UE docs

I’ve found that the basic sculpt brush is most useful for blocking in major features of the terrain, but as the OP mentions, it is less useful when trying to create much detail. I also found the workflow a little confusing, re: having to re-click to add additional volume. However, I’ve found a useful workflow to be:

  • block in the major terrain features with the normal sculpt brush
  • smooth out the “terraced” look that comes from having to re-click while using the sculpt brush
  • use the noise brush to make more realistic and sharper features

Hi Constan7ine,

Thanks for your feedback. I’m responsible for the landscape tools, so I’ll try to address each of your points in turn.

At Epic we do leave most of the realistic terrain generation to WorldMachine, but I agree it would be good to improve the tools to make sculpting realistic environments easier. I’m glad you’re liking the erosion tool though.

I have a feature request logged to improve the painting behavior which currently limits the amount of height increase possible in a single stroke. I just upped the priority on that. The main reason that’s there is to prevent artifacts on areas of the brush raised by the falloff part when painting over them again. We looked at the Zbrush behavior and it also limits the height per stroke to a fixed amount, but the limit is greater than in the landscape tools. I’ll see what I can do to improve this. The need for multiple strokes is less annoying when sculpting using a Wacom tablet rather than a mouse.

About the default sculpting brush being flat on top, that’s only the angle falloff. Changing to Sphere and reducing the falloff will give you a perfectly spherical brush. Using that in conjunction with Clay Brush mode allows you to relatively quickly sculpt out a lumpy area you can then smooth and erode.

What brush shapes would you like? Would you like a palette of alpha brush shapes available by default? Another idea I had long time ago was for you to be able to select a static mesh and use the mesh’s surface as the brush shape, optionally rolling it around as you paint.

For making interesting mountains and valleys, do you think we need a Voronoi tool?


I’m not entirely sure what this is but I googled it and it sounds interesting, any chance you could elaborate? :smiley:

A Voronoi Diagram is a set of random points placed on flat plane, and then around each point is a region where that point is the closest point. This divides the space up into shapes and can be used to make a heightmap or in other ways to procedurally generate some terrain.

Another idea I had would be a tool that allows you to select a point or draw a line on the landscape, and drag that up or down with some falloff like pinching and stretching a sheet of rubber, to make a mountain or valley…

Really like this idea.

That would be really cool. It sounds like something that can be done with the help of Spline Tool but it would be nice to see the effect in real time without having to click Apply every time. Voronoi tool would be very useful as well.

The idea of a Voroni tool sounds very cool.
One thought to make sculpting must faster would be to have easy smooth toggling.
Many sculpting tools let you switch between three modes without ever needing to change tools.
Sculpt Add/Sculpt Subtract…and most importantly Smooth!
Being able to easily switch to the smooth tool makes up for lots of stepping with sculpting tools.
Perhaps Ctrl, Alt, LMB for toggle to smooth tool.
This would be a welcome feature for anyone coming from other packages.
Just wanted to add my two cents.

I do a lot of digital landscape design for work (construction) and also for personal art, which is what led me to come and check out the UT4 progress today. I use Maya and Mudbox mostly, however.

Is it fairly straightforward to get a Maya-based poly landscape and displacement/normal maps into UE4 with these tools? I like many of the other world-generation tools, but obviously Maya has a bit of an edge. Hopefully I can help here.

Perhaps have a look into a workflow that includes L3DT. It’s cheap and extremely good.