View Full Version : 16bit grayscale image to use as terrain height map

07 July 2006, 04:15 PM
I have a height map image file of a certain area's terrain - which i would like to reproduce in VUE - however when i bring it in as the map driving a terrain's altitude it exhibits a lot of stair stepping and jagged edges. In maya the exact bitmap file used as displacement map works significantly better. The Vue result looks like the result i would get with a 8 bit image in maya.

Any hints?

07 July 2006, 06:08 AM
Yeah, i got about the same problem. I posted the terrains how its looking in vue after importing it from photoshop. Anyone have a easy solution for this one?

Under here is a example of the pictures that dont show up correctly :


07 July 2006, 03:55 AM
Hey people... check this link out, it might help.


07 July 2006, 05:26 AM
Stepping out of lurk mode for a sec....

Ivan, thanks for posting these tutorials. I've been enjoying them and learning quite a lot. I hope you continue making these.



07 July 2006, 07:48 AM
Thanx for the awsome tutorial(s) IvanB. As always they are a great help! :)

I found out also that when using a bitmap for terrain in Vue, the bitmap showes up jagged and noisy in the terrain editor BUT keeps the property of the orginal bitmap when in viewport or rendering.

So my worries where all for nothing.. ;)

08 August 2006, 01:46 AM
I've got some interesting tips on dealing with terrains at:

You can use the diffuse button to add a slight blur to the grayscale AFTER IMPORTING which helps reduce the noise. Currently Vue uses 16-bit internally, but can only import 8-bit. Hopefully that changes in the next relesase.

best, Chipp

08 August 2006, 06:57 AM
Hi Ivan
thanks a lot for the time you take to put up those video tuts. Very interresting and clear.

As for getting rid of the jagged edges of the text layers in Pshop, just change the Aliasing function - off by default - to another active mode like smooth or sharp. It should do the trick.

Keep up the good work


08 August 2006, 12:55 PM
Thanks People..

Thanks to el koyote...I new it had something to do with the aliasing, but I wasnt sure where the options were..Found it in the (layers/Type etc) this only applies to TEXT..Still not that smooth, but better...You create an image for a terrain and you always get a jagged finish, when you zoom in with the camera it looks crap..
I found this in the photoshop help....

"Anti-aliasing is available for the Lasso tool, the Polygonal Lasso tool, the Magnetic Lasso tool, the Rounded Rectangle Marquee tool (ImageReady), the Elliptical Marquee tool, and the Magic Wand tool. (Select a tool to display its options bar.) You must specify this option before using these tools. Once a selection is made, you cannot add anti-aliasing. THE SQUARE SELECTION TOOL!"

To use anti-aliasing:

Select the Lasso tool, the Polygonal Lasso tool, the Magnetic Lasso tool, the Rounded Rectangle Marquee tool (ImageReady), the Elliptical Marquee tool, or the Magic Wand tool.
Select Anti-aliased in the options bar.

08 August 2006, 07:52 PM
Currently Vue uses 16-bit internally, but can only import 8-bit. Hopefully that changes in the next relesase.

best, Chipp

What? Is that true?

08 August 2006, 09:17 PM
Yes, it is true. Try it for youself. Create a 16-bit terrain in Terragen, export it as RAW and open it in Pshop. Save it out as both 16-bit and 8-bit grayscale images, then import into Vue. You will see they are identical. If you don't see that, then export the images from Vue back to Photoshop and compare with the original Terragen map.

I was hoping to see this feature implemented in the Vue 6 rollout, but no mention of it was I'm supposing they still don't support 16-bit imports. Bummer.

I wrote a small application called altTerrain Builder which exports terrains ( There are also some tutorials there which can explain further how to use grayscale maps to help model in Vue.

HTH, Chipp

08 August 2006, 02:15 AM
Hey Chipp...Thanks for the tip on the "diffusive" setting makes a huge difference..


08 August 2006, 04:48 AM
Diffusive didn't work in my case - by the time i've pressed it enough to clear the stair stepping - it dilutes the overall shapes too much.

Is there a way to make the bitmap terrain image control the large feratures while the procedurals control the smaller detail?


08 August 2006, 07:04 AM
I read something in the renerosity forum, where it was mentioned to start at 256 hit diffuse, then to 512 hit diffuse,1024 hit diffuse. I have tried it and the terrain looks so smooth...Can you post the terrain image you are using to give a better idea.

08 August 2006, 10:44 AM
I will post a couple of images when i get a bit of time (probably after work). For now I seem to have got it working actually. Im using the same file as before. The main difference seems to be that before the 16bit image was in TIFF format and now its in PSD format. everything else is the same. I also was able to mix it with a procedural fractal - so that controls the smaller detail. I havn't had time to play with it but I did stick in the same image in TIFF (just to make sure) and the stairstepping effect was back.

EDIT: I just re read the lecture notes of the gnomon vue dvd and it specifically says there: make sure to save your image files in 16bit .... (?)

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