View Full Version : FTerrains - Reconstruct heightfield?

04-24-2008, 08:58 PM
I love Fractal Terrains and I am using it far beyond its designer scope.

Don't think this is a slam on a world building software when from the world you're carving off 300mile square pieces.

Basically the problem is this. To work well on home computers, FT has a fast method of generating landmass consistent with its usual viewing point of seeing continents from orbit.

When you zoom in on a place you get a reasonable image on your screen but it is not a bump map. The light is directional (so lighter is not higher) and there are a number of squiggles that come together to make the image.

This is what the uncoloured physical image looks like at roughly 300 mile square:


I thought I could smudge the image into something usable and I achieved this:


(I actually think thats pretty amazing for a 300 mile square chosen arbitrarily from a whole generated world.)

The problem is I cant make this work as a heightfield. This is what the smudged version looks like (with a little tan coloring). You can see the squiggle lines more clearly.


What I'd really love is some sort of mechanical process to convert the smudged map into something more like a heightfield.

Any guesses? Advice?


04-24-2008, 09:05 PM
Why not just export the hight field from FT ? I thought that the issue we all faced on the coop world thing was that it could only do 8 bit ones unless you decode the bin file. Is the issue that 8 bit is not enough. What am I missing here ? FT is not my strong suite but I know it has the ability to export the height map.

04-24-2008, 10:13 PM
If there is a solution it appears I will find it in Wilbur.

Thanks for the mdr suggestion.


04-25-2008, 05:18 AM
Sigurd, FT does produce bumpmaps. I haven't got it in front of me but I believe it's View/Other Shader/bumpmap.

FT also produces normal maps too which is in the 'other shader' menu.

04-25-2008, 11:56 AM
Well FT uses the Willbur engine (if you could call it that).

Under the LIGHTING and COLOR option select the INTENSITY tab and adjust shadows to NONE.

Then under the MAP drop down, select SHOW OTHER SHADER > BUMP

This will give you a Greyscale image you could save as a PNG, and then import that into WILBUR if you want.

04-25-2008, 01:36 PM
I have an older version of Fterrains but I've got lots to work with if I save the view as an MDR file and modify it in Wilbur.


04-25-2008, 02:44 PM
I have an older version of Fterrains but I've got lots to work with if I save the view as an MDR file and modify it in Wilbur.

Excellent plan! I wrote myself a note to look at something when I get home next week to see if I can ake life a little simpler for this class of problem.

04-26-2008, 10:34 PM
This problem is driving me to extreme measures. I even read the manual!

Now I have to look at some real world examples to see what I should be aiming for - all I see is options and random elements. I'm really excited by how detailed this can be but I'm just stewed from looking at too many possibilities!

- Good manual, as manuals go, I can recommend it.

This is the Wilbur Height Map:


This is a height based contour line. I don't know how to calibrate it (other than it was set to '10' in the program menu). Still very interesting to keep an 'accurate' contour.


These are the two together, just because:



Thank you Joe Slayton!

04-27-2008, 02:11 AM
Things are beginning to come into place. To demonstrate why I'm happy about this here are two pictures. A regional map and a local map.

The first is 575x407miles. Its the larger region of the one I've been working on.


The Second is a portion of the first. Its the one I've been working from for the rest of the thread. The second map is 115x82miles. This is not simply a scaled zoom of the first, its a new map.


You can see that most everything is consistent between the two maps.

Now I just have to make the layers more realistic.


04-27-2008, 12:43 PM
That's looking really pretty!

04-27-2008, 01:09 PM
Nice! Are you planning to render it back up to 3D, or keep it flat?

04-27-2008, 09:42 PM
I'm all ears for methods to render it into 3d.

What I'm trying to do really is go as far as I can with whatever accuracy I can maintain.

Right now I'm investigating patterns that might work with the heightfield. I'm happy with whats beneath me now I have to bring it to life.


05-20-2008, 02:53 PM
If you want to get rid of those swirly bits, increase the octaves on your noise. Each time you scale up the resolution(or zoom in) by an amount equal to the lacunarity add one to the octaves.

Let's say 8 octaves looks good on a 1024 by 1024 image of a 300mi by 300mi area and your lacunarity is 2, then you will need 9 octaves for a 2048^2 image or an image covering 150mi^2 with the same resolution. If you zoom in to 75mi^2 or increase resolution to 4096^2, you would need 10 octaves for approximately the same quality.

Lower lacunarities will rack up octaves a lot faster on zooming, but often look a lot better with fewer unpleasant artifacts. Remember that octaves cost time so there is a compromise involved.

Noising and smudging the HF can be very useful, though and gives it a human touch and control.