View Full Version : Distribution mapping for terrains/ecosystems

08 August 2005, 02:23 PM
Hi all. In a few recent threads, there was some talk about using distribution maps for terrain materials and ecosystems. I put together some screen caps and basic intructions. I'm not very good at this, but I hope what's below is clear enough to get folks started. Of course, I'm hoping this inspires others to post on this subject.... it's a very powerful tool that can be used in many ways.

Here goes and have fun:

1) Make a procedural terrain. We're going to put a road or path on it, so don't make it too steep. Click on copy and paste the resulting greyscale into a paint app.

2) Compare your greyscale to the image in the terrain editor. Note that white corresponds to the highest points, black to the lowest. This gives you a feel for how the contours run, so you can plan your path/road to follow the terrain, or run against it. You decide.

3)Using whatever method suits you, paint a path/road on the greyscale. Make the results black and white... something like the image below. Don't overwrite your original greyscale... you may want to use it again.

4)Here comes the optional part. Exit the terrain editor, then open it again. Use the filter editor to thicken the terrain a little.

5) Change the terrain to standard and you'll lose the lower elevations, something like below. Notice that the picture option on the left is no longer greyed out.

6) Click undo and the flattened areas are defined again. (Bet that's not in the manual.) Now click the picture option.

7) Load your b/w path/road image, use blend or add mode, and reduce the influence a lot. I'm showing it at 5% so it shows in the images, but 2% is better. The objective is to have the road built into the model so you can find it for editing in the terrain editor. If you don't want to smooth it out, or play with the edging, this part (4 to 7) can be skipped. (Your terrain is now 'standard'.. you can convert it back to procedural any time now.)

8) Back to the good stuff. Set up a mixed material for your terrain. Make mat1 your main terrain, and mat 2 your road/path material. Go into the distribution function editor.

9) Click on the function editor somwhere under 'Position' to produce a little red square. Select replace by texture map on the left and load your b/w road/path map. Connect the distribution bar to the red square. And VERY IMPORTANT!... rotate your map by 180.

10) Another VERY IMPORTANT! Make sure your mapping is set to 'Object Parametric'. It'll never align if not.

And there it is! If you did steps 4 to 7, your road/path mat should now lie precisely on the bumped up part of your terrain, and you can start editing the edges.

If you want to experiment, try blurring the edges of your b/w map to produce a less defined edge. Also play with material mixing, and if you're really brave, the function editor. The same technique can be used to distribute your ecosystem. Maybe small stones on the path, and rocks/veggies everywhere else. If you're not clear on how that works, just ask and I'll post some more screen caps showing eco distribution.

If anyone finds additional tricks for this, be sure to let us know.

08 August 2005, 05:15 PM
yo Steve
Congratulations for this creative and communicative thread .. :)
I wish i had more time at hand to join you more on all this.

best regards

08 August 2005, 10:12 PM
Thanks, Doonee. I highly recommend that eveyone who hasn't, explore distribution mapping. It can go way beyond what I'm showing. Give up useless activities like eating and sleeping and making love for a few days.

Besides, it's highly addictive fun. :drool:

08 August 2005, 01:32 AM
i cant do that, im sorry.
i have already given up all that.

08 August 2005, 03:31 AM
Doonee, you crack me up! :)

That was too funny, but sadly, also true for me LOL

I'm trying to get caught up with everything STILL today and haven't had the chance
yet to even read this thread and actually examine, at least till right now, since
my system is doing it's weekly virus scanning stuff and all those other things.

Finally got the old SpyWare/AdWare stuff installed, and boy it wasn't any too soon,
that's for sure, as it found a zillion "critical" things on my system of idiots
spying on me and my keystrokes and all taht other crap.
Guess I'll need to be keeping a close eye out on my bank account
more then I normally already do for a while at least.

Still need to see if I fixed that dumb error from HP that never goes away.
I'll find out when I reboot.

Umm, anyway, now I can finally see what cool stuff Dig posted up :)
And thanx tons Steve for that too! :)


08 August 2005, 04:50 AM
This is what I got right in the middle of trying out your test sample for creating a flippin road.

And this is one reason I NEEEED to have the internet running while I'm working.
Because I'm always trying out things I read on the net,
while working in my programs to test them out.

Anyway, I should of saved the flippin thing, but forgot about stupid constant crashes,
and didn't think I'd get one this early in working with it?

Sheesh, I'm getting tired................this is burning me out and my patients too.

Anyway, maybe I'll try some other time to try this tutorial :(
Think I'll go back to playing with LW for a while.
At least I can work that without all these constant crashes.


08 August 2005, 10:09 AM
A great tutorial DigReal. Hopefully there will be more of this quality as we get our heads around the new prog.

I always (nearly) get that friendly little message is I use the internet while working, Mdunakin. If it seems like a really good tut. (see above) I .pdf it and print it out - much better than reading off screen and filed for easy future ref. :-)

08 August 2005, 05:38 PM
Well, first I don't have a PDF program, so that won't happen.
But, this whole bit about not being able to be on the net while working in an app is for the birds anyway.
And I mean that for ANY program that won't let you be on the net.
Boy, if this was doing this while I was in LW, I'd be totally screwed, as I HAVE TO HAVE
the internet running while also running PS and maybe even another program or two, like
also having my FTP program running for uploads and downloads when I'm working on a
job with my animation guy and we are sending test renders and files back and for
constantly while working on the same job in LW.

This whole, "only run Vue and nothing else bit" is getting to sound more and more not good.

Anyway, today I'll spend some very serious time trying to track down just what the flip
is going on and maybe hopefully have a better idea of what to do?
I mean, I already HAVE been doing that, but instead of trying to also have fun at the
same time with Vue, i.e. actualy playing with it, I'll spend more time testing one little
thing after the other and do what Vue suggested I do in this screen shot it gave me
last night and see if any of that helps me out?
At least one thing about Vue is, it's messages seem like they are "trying" to be helpfull.

Who knows, maybe one of these items IS the problem?
And if any of you out there have a suggestion as to which one would most
likely be the culprit, IF any of them are, that is, then please let me know?
Also, I have no clue about pretty much most of where to find any of these things it
has listed there or how to adjust or set them, like that OpenGL Hardware Accelleration bit?

Oh, and I've completely unistalled the printer also so it won't be an influence on what's going on. :)
P.S. Glad I'm going to a BBQ tonight, that'll get my mind off these weird problems LOL


08 August 2005, 10:11 PM
Chandas, thanks for the vote of confidence. I was just playing with the dist mapping of ecosystems, and the technique is different enough to warrant another tut just for that. I hope to add a bonus trick, so keep watching. Here's a preview of what I'll use as the basis:

Doonee, my apologies. I should have realized that all of us that work with renderings have already given up the necessities of life. :shrug:

Mark, best of luck to ya, man.

08 August 2005, 11:27 PM
You are right, Mdunakin.

I speak as someone who is merely playing around with the software, and it's easy to forget the situation one is in when software is creaky and there is a deadline to meet. I've been there and I sympathise.....and as I say, when you are out of it it's easy to forget.

Luckily there seems to be a rich resource of help on this board.

When are we going to see some more Vue5 tuts on your site. At least we learn from your struggles.


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