Quick way to texture landscapes (requires World Machine)

Hi Blender Community!

This is my first post on Blenderartists. I was directed to this forum quite some times when I faced difficulties with Blender and more often than not found an answer. To return the favor I would like to share my findings on how to quickly texture a terrain with the help of World Machine 2 and a macro I’ve created for this purpose. I have found very few examples on this topic which satisfied my needs, so perhaps this might also be helpful for more people.

You will need the following to do this:

  • One of the later versions of Blender and Cycles Rendering Mode (it might work with BI but I did not try)
  • World Machine 2 (the free basic version should do)
  • My World Machine macro to create RGB maps (Installation Instruction Inside): http://www.photoniker.net/WM/RGB_map.zip

Now to the procedure (short version).

Generate or import (heightmap) your terrain in World Machine

Insert my RGB map macro to create an RGB map, which is then used to tell Blender where to use which textures (limited to three textures), based on slope- and height settings you can adjust within the macro.

Render out a diffuse/colormap as a base texture with the “Costal Overlay” macro (available at the World Machine website).

You can even render a normal map for your terrain, as well as a flow-map for the erosion, which can then be overlayed in gimp for nice effects. The terrain can be put out as a height map or wavefront obj. The maximum resolution for the free World Machine version is 512x512, but should be enough at least for the mesh resolution (it is a drawback for the texture resolution though).

Now switching to Blender:
Import the terrain as wavefront obj into Blender and bake the generated RGB map to vertex colors (Blender Internal).
Therefor you need to create a material, set the shading to “shadeless” and load the RGB map as image texture. Make sure the mapping coordinates are set to UV and influence to “Color”.

On the rendering tab go to the bake options, choose “textures” as bake mode, and check “Bake to Vertex Color”. Then click the Bake button. If you go now to Vertex Paint mode you should see your vertex colors of the terraing correspond to the RGB map.
Note: In order to make the transitions from one texture to another a bit smoother, you can blur the RGB texture in Gimp before baking it to vertex colors.

With this done, switch to Cycles Render. Set up the terrain material similar to this:

When everything is set up correctly, you may get a nicely texture terrain:

I know this is not a very detailed description, but I hope this gives you some new ideas. There are a lot of good tutorials out there for World Machine as well. I was thinking of doing a video tutorial, but was not sure about the response and if it would be worth the effort.

I would be glad to answer questions or receive feedback on how to further improve this.

Best regards

world machine is cheap and great, really a life-saver for certain tasks, in combo with Blender it rocks even more!

quote, this! I love world machine and its cheap price makes it almost a must have! Nice technique, thanks for sharing! :slight_smile:

I agree, world machine is a great tool with almost endless possibilities to create terrains, especially if it supports and/or complements Blender in an effective way :). The latter was kind of difficult for me until I figured out this technique. I was trying different things to do something similar to game engines when it comes to texture a terrain, and this was the most time-saving one I could come up with so far.

That looks great. I have a free version of World Machine from back in the dinosaur era. World Machine 1.0

You’re thread is just EPIC ! I really need to try world machine (that I don’t know). I’m on a heavy project with a big terrain divided in 4 parts and big textures (500 mb of textures, my computer is crying).
I will definitly try your solution :slight_smile:

Ive got an issue when I try to load your RGB Map.dev macro. It tells me :
There was un unkown error loading this macro T_T


Also I would be greatly interested my a video tuto :slight_smile: I’m shure it would be worth the effort because there are no others tuto with cycles.


Edit : could you share the blend file of material node ? there are stuffs I’m not shure :slight_smile:

You don’t actually need WorldMachine to make a texturing scheme based on slope though, the Cycles node system allows you to get the normal data directly so you can create a shader that will turn out just like this (and more).

Are you sure you are using the latest version of WM2? I’m running In the help menu you can check for updates.

Due to the file size of my original terrain, I created and uploaded a smaller terrain for demonstration with all the required info, and also a sample for Worldmachine:

Blend file: http://www.photoniker.net/tutorials/BlenderWM/tutorial.zip
WM file: http://www.photoniker.net/tutorials/BlenderWM/WM.zip

Thanks a lot for that hint! As I was generating my terrain in WM anyway and know WM quite a bit, it was easier for me to create that macro in WM.

I’m not so deep into Blender or Cycles nodes and did not even think that it was possible. I guess the cycles node approach also permits more flexibility and detail texture count. I’ll definitely have a look at this.

Wouaw thank you so much for the blend file :slight_smile: I will have a look tonight.

Well no, I’m using the basic version and it seems we can only download the 2.3 version if I’m not wrong :

I just got confirmed that macros with later development versions won’t work with previous builds :(. I re-installed the latest official build and recreated the macro from scratch. Just download it again from the above link (first post) and see if it works.

Hey GraySho !!! Just perfect thanks for all your hard work :slight_smile: