View Full Version : 3D mapping

04-19-2012, 01:10 AM
What type of program do you all use to create 3D maps? Do you have to purchase them or are there free programs around the web?

05-10-2012, 11:05 AM
If it's a for desktop game I use the terrain editor from the game engine Unity3d. You take a screenshot from Google earth, take it into photoshop, make a greyscale image and paint the terrain features, save it as a raw image, import into unity as a heightmap and paint on the textures with a brush. Easy to scale from there as well by changing the width/height. This is an example tutorial http://vimeo.com/album/150503

If it's for a device with limited processing power I make low poly tileable meshes in blender or 3ds max, then slide them around to make the map I want.

This was my first map I made with Unity, it's just Ultima Online's map I took into photoshop, filled all the colors to solid greyscale (black for water, white for mountains, grey for middle terrain), imported it into the engine and painted on the textures, etc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sy_ycpbEPVY

This is my first heightmap from Ultima Online's map:
greyscale image I made in photoshop, white is the highest point, black is the lowest point.

And in the engine with a few textures, trees and buildings it becomes:

05-10-2012, 01:23 PM
pov-ray is an old script based 3d modeler, which imo (not a universal opinion) cuts down on the amount of time spent learning how to use it. imo being able to specify objects numerically is a plus.

amateur pov-ray scene using imported height field

if you'e not entirely opposed to the idea, i would encourage you and everyone to learn how to program. the basics of c/c++ are very very simple, the only difficult part is securing the references for how to specify things with sdks. the advantage is of course that once you have some knowledge, it will always be applicable and make it easier to do anything instead of having to continually search and learn a new interface for every program someone else makes. it's one of those threshold things.. it's much easier to learn today than it was a decade ago, and will continue to become easier as more people post about it.

05-10-2012, 09:03 PM
And, of course, Wilbur ( http://www.ridgenet.net/~jslayton/software.html ) has a 3D view as described in http://www.ridgenet.net/~jslayton/FunWithWilburVol1/index.html plus some examples here on this site.

05-12-2012, 08:39 AM
All that matters Nonpareil1710 is that the program you use does exactly what you want it to do and will need it to do now and in the near future. You can use many different 3d modeling programs, so you can also use it to create many 3d models in general, of course that is if you will create anything besides just terrain in the near future which people do. You can use a program speifically for terrain it may come with certain tool, which these tools are just shortcuts that allow you work faster. Just because it has tools speific toward terrain editing doesn't necessarily mean it better. Since in the end it all comes down to what I said it depends on what you will need

So think about what you will want to do with it, also what you will need to use for it now. Then go and find the application that offers you exactly what you want.

11-09-2012, 12:35 PM
I checked out your youtube but could not make out which app you where using during the demonstration. I hope you can shed some light on this for me as I am just now learning the what fors of 3d modelling etc.

11-09-2012, 11:33 PM
I'm not sure how realistic you want to get, but you can use Bryce 7, which, for now, is free at DAZ3D. You'd first need to make a black and white height map using an image editor like Photoshop or GIMP. Then you'd apply that to what's called a "landscape" and Bryce will duplicate the height map in 3D. Then you can apply colors and adjust the height and detail. You can see examples in my Planet Eben thread in the Finished Maps forum.

12-11-2012, 06:00 AM
3D map give the original view. In 3d map it show the view from 3 axis x,y,z.

12-11-2012, 07:16 AM
In no particular order:

World Machine
Leveller (Daylon Graphics)
Fractal Terrains
Instant Islands
...I'm sure there's more...
in fact you can also include 2D image editors such as Photoshop, GIMP, etc.

free progs:
Instant Islands

I'd recommend Wilbur: free and does loads. 3D view is not that great in my experience but it's always been one of my go-to apps.

Hope this helps!


01-10-2013, 06:39 AM
Right now I'm the happy owner of vue and photoshop, all my modelling atempts are done in Blender which is a very powerful 3d suit you can achieve almost everything with. Expect steep learning curve. Im just modelling and texturing. In fact you don't need anything else for 3d maps. A 2d programm like Gimp or PS for post work would be good.
Terrain generation is done with world machine 2, a procedural approach guideable by defining areas.
There are free versions of WM2 Vue, Blender is free. So give it a swirl and get your feet wet. Looking forward to a new 3d approach ;)

01-30-2013, 08:44 PM
If you have photoshop CS6 extended, there's a fine 3d engine in it now. It's not as powerful as most of the real 3d software (like blender or 3dsmax), definitly not map-orented and not that easy to use at first, but i think you can already make some fine 3d work just with that. I'm currently in process of learning how to use it well, and the results i got are satisfying for now, the "convert layer to 3d form" is actually pretty handy to shape planets and simple editable forms. It all depend on what you wish to achieve in the end.

02-09-2013, 01:18 PM
I checked out your youtube but could not make out which app you where using during the demonstration. I hope you can shed some light on this for me as I am just now learning the what fors of 3d modelling etc.

Sorry, I haven't been back to this site in a year or more. For that map I drew the grayscale image in Photoshop, but you could use gimp or anything, I like to use google maps then select broad regions and fill them with colors to recreate the terrain in a 3d editor.

So that particular map was done in a game engine called Unity 3d. It has a whole set of brushes/etc so you can deform terrain and texture it by just drawing with the brush. You simply import a heightmap for the base terrain with a couple clicks, then smooth it out with one of the brushes and you can draw trees/plants/textures with the brush. Extremely intuitive. Then you can throw buildings out and move/rotate them with the mouse.

But now I've switched to doing heightmaps in Blender because I need low poly terrains to run on mobiles and Unity's terrain gives you less control over polygon count.

In Blender I take a heightmap from photoshop and displace a plane to recreate the hills/valleys/etc. Then in Photoshop I select different shaded areas of gray and replace with my textures, then apply it to the mesh in blender, then import it into Unity to use in games.

I'll try to make a tutorial today if I have time, I just bit the bullet and learned the "blender" way yesterday and once I figured out how to do it, it's awesome.

02-11-2013, 02:16 PM
The game engine Unity 3d has a really awesome set of terrain tools. You can paint on textures with a brush, manipulate the height/shape of terrain or generate it from heightmaps.

Now I've moved to Blender because the meshes are a lot more efficient for games, but it's more difficult to texture, it is really awesome..

02-11-2013, 05:01 PM
I didn't see any mention of SketchUp in there, so I thought I should throw that one in. It's not so good with terrain, in my experience, but it's terrific for buildings. And it's relatively easy to export the geometry to other programs with better rendering capabilities.

Also, Google maintains a warehouse of free 3d models for SketchUp for use with Google Earth, so if there's a major building you're interested in, chances are good that you can find a reasonably accurate model of its exterior ready-made. I have in the past used a workflow that involved importing a building from the warehouse into SketchUp, then sending it to Blender for clean-up and conversion, and then to Maya (which is definitely not free) for texturing and animation. The texturing and animation could just as well be done in Blender, though.