[TUTORIAL] Using Maps (GIS Data) to Create Real World Landscapes in UE4 in Less Than a Day!

These tutorials describe one method for creating real world landscapes in UE4. We use GIS data downloaded from US Geological Survey, 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] party content from the UE4 market place, and a plugin [COLOR=#666666]we’ve developed for the Unreal Editor, called TerraForm Lite, to import vector data (e.g. road maps) as splines in UE4.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=#666666]We create an area called Twin Mountains, just west of Mt Washington, NH, USA. It’s about 8km by 8km of rocky/mountainous terrain, largely covered by forests. There are roads, rail lines and loads of hiking trails.[/COLOR]

We Use:

  • Digital Terrain Model (“DTM”) data to generate a height map in UE4;
  • Aerial photography mosaics to create landscape layer masks, and;
  • GIS vector data to generate roads, rail lines and trails.

We combine these with procedural terrain tools and content from UE4’s market place to generate a real world terrain. [COLOR=#666666]In this tutorial we use the GIS data to drive content from “Procedural Landscape Ecosystem” by Gokhan Karayadi (which is awesome and highly recommended - see below).

**Here’s a couple of screenshots: **[/COLOR]

[COLOR=#666666]As we add more functionality to the TerraForm tools, we’ll add further natural features and man-made infrastructure to the landscape and expand the tutorials. [/COLOR]

I’ve put all the GIS source files created in the tutorial on our site (look for “Samples”), in case you just want to do the UE4 bits. You will need a few other pieces of software to follow the whole process, but freeware options exist for most.

It’s written (not video) and has images for every step so a bit too long for a post on here in full. Here are section headings with links:

Using Maps (GIS Data) to Create Real World Landscapes in UE4:](https://terraformpro.com/tutorials/)

  1. Introduction – What’s in this tutorial?
  2. The Basics – What UE4 can (and can’t) do.
  3. Data/Tools – What you’ll need and where to get it.
  4. Downloading Data – Instructions for getting hold of GIS data.
  5. Defining UE4 Landscape Extents – How to define the dimensions for the UE4 landscape.
  6. Exporting GIS Data – How to export GIS data ready for UE4.
  7. Editing Vector Data – How to edit GIS vector data for UE4.
  8. Creating Landscape Masks – How to create landscape masks from aerial imagery.
  9. Creating UE4 Landscape – How to create a UE4 landscape from your height map.
  10. Surfaces & Vegetation – Using masks to drive procedural landscape texturing and vegetation.
  11. Adding Rail, Roads, etc. – Importing vector data as UE4 splines

This is in support of a wider effort to bring more GIS capabilities to UE4. There is a free version of TerraForm on our site.

If you find it useful, we’ll create more tutorials and develop more features, so please do let us know what you think.



very nice!

excellent stuff <3

i will try that as soon as possible , can’t wait :slight_smile:

ah if i can make a tutorial request :

  • how to setup the UE4 skylight,atmospheric fog and exponential heightfog to much real world
    like having realistic view distance … etc

I wrote the code for TerraForm. I’ve had a lot of fun collaborating with Bear and learning the ins and outs of UE4’s C++ code. Looking forward to more ground truth in the future!
– Tim

Thanks for this guys, will be checking it out very soon! Looks great!

Here’s a video for the UE4 sections of the tutorial - thought it might save everyone a little reading!

That’s some cool stuff, keep up the good work! I am also working on various plugins/utilities (a suite of them, with a majority related to terrain, atmospherics, etc), so it’s cool to take a peek at how others are doing things. Not to steal ideas, mind you. I have a pretty solid roadmap, and thousands of pages worth of whitepapers and what-not to draw from. The last thing I need are more “ideas”, haha! It’s more of a curiosity thing.

One note- you mentioned something about a website, but I don’t see a link in your original post!

Silly me- you can’t really tell that the title of the tutorial list is the link :stuck_out_tongue:

can we spherify imported landscapes?

Please, how you can use the TerraForm tools to map some area, then export it to get it to UE4

WOW, really cool stuff.
But one question:
is it possible to use your tool in UE 4.24.1 ?I
Or only in UE 4.18 and 4.19 ?

Greetings from Germany

Hi. I wanted to test the Free version in 4.23.7 just now but it doesn’t work, at startup there’s a complaint the file ( which i’m guessing is the TerraForm plugin) is incompatible. Would be cool to see if this plug-in can help getting basic roads and geographic elevation drawn out from real world data.


Can I export the created terrain through this method as a CAD file to 3D print it?

I’m trying to follow this tutorial, but the J2 files are not ending up over top of the elevation data. Elevation data is displaying at coordinates like, -125, 0, while the J2 aerial images are displaying at 400000, 5000000. What am I doing wrong?

Hello. I’m trying to access the tutorial but the links are broken.

I’m a master’s student and I’m interested in this tool for creating historical snow landscapes. How can I get in contact? thanks.