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Landscape Tool

The functionality described in this article is not available in the Community SDK edition.
You should upgrade to Engineering / Sim SDK edition to use it.

Landscape Tool is used to create rectangular sized terrain areas according to provided data sources, but it cannot be used to create a whole planet. This tool helps to create up to 10000km x 10000km areas of the real world: it's enough to create a terrain of a big city or a country.

Landscape Tool generates a terrain using height map (elevation) and albedo (imagery) data provided. You can use the following types of data sources:

Geo-referenced imagery and elevation data are processed by using the GDAL - Geospatial Data Abstraction Library. It supports various raster formats with different map projections for input data.

The data sources support the following formats:

  • RGB and RGBA formats for albedo (imagery) data. Alpha-channel in the second case is used to mark no data areas.
  • R format for height maps (elevation sources).
  • R and RGBA formats for masks (landcover sources).
Bitness of the input formats can be 8, 16, or 32f.

GIS data sources can be used for generation of details and vegetation (raster data), roads, communications, buildings, landmarks, etc. (vector data):

  • On the basis of landcover data, Landscape Tool allows generating masks, that can be used for details and vegetation.
  • On the basis of vector data, procedural placement of objects is done.
These data sources usually contain a lot of information that can be tagged and filtered using attribute filters.
If the sources with no geodata are used, only details and vegetation can be generated.
Tags represent a color (color range) or an attribute value (range of values) and are used to filter the data necessary for generation of certain landcover areas or objects of the cultural layer (roads, buildings, etc.). For each tag, you can specify a set of attribute filters to select certain data from the data source. Several filters are used together with AND/OR binary operations. You can specify as many filters as you need for each tag. The tags are used for objects placement on the terrain. For example, by using tags, you can:
  • Generate grass for areas marked with certain colors of the landcover texture.
  • Generate only highways ignoring small roads using a road type attribute in a vector data file.
  • Generate buildings of a certain type only (e.g., apartments, garages, single- or multi-storey buildings, depending on the data stored in the vector data source).
You can use QGIS, Global Mapper or other third-party software to determine which colors or attribute values from a GIS data source are to be used.

Landscape Tool supports multiple data layers aligned by geo or raster coordinates: you can easily create high-resolution insets by adding a high-detailed landscape area over a low-detailed one. This can be useful for flight simulators, where high details are required only for areas around airports. The quality of generated terrain is determined by the density of the data sources used.

High-Detailed Inset over Low-Detailed Area

A flexible procedural refinement system, offered by the Landscape Tool, makes it possible to improve generated terrain using Houdini Digital Assets for more realistic visual representation even in cases of insufficient resolution of GIS data sources. It can be used for:

  • Height data correction (erosion, riverbeds, etc.)
  • Landcover masks improvement (smoothing, etc.)
  • Generation of high-resolution detail masks


The Landscape tool has 4 panels (Settings, Sources, Preview and Parameters panels) and the Generate button.

  • In the Sources panel, you should specify the height (elevation) and albedo (imagery) sources for the terrain generation, as well as masks (landcover), vector and procedural data sources for generation of details, vegetation, roads, communications, buildings, etc. if necessary.
    • Selecting the Height (Elevation) or Albedo (Imagery) group provides access to Terrain LODs of this type of the data source.
    • Selecting the Masks (Landcover) group provides access to Terrain LODs of this data source type, as well as to Detail Masks and Vegetation settings.
    • Selecting the Vector group provides access to settings for cultural features of the landscape such as roads and communications, fences, pipes, etc.
  • Settings panel contains a bunch of generation settings: Mode, Play Area, Processing Priority, Distributed Computing and Output File Locations.
  • In the Preview panel, you can specify the play area of the landscape generation. In the georeferenced mode, the preview panel depicts the world map in the equirectangular projection.
  • Parameters panel depicts parameters of the selected settings or information of the selected data source.

See Also#

Last update: 2021-04-29
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