Game Environment Terrain Workflow


Hi there,

Just graduated from a Game Art course and am trying to specialize in environment creation. A lot of things were covered in the course, however, as time was very limited I never got to actually create an environment of a larger scale.

Now I’m gonna give it a shot in Unreal Engine and my greatest question is: what kind of workflow would you recommend using for the terrain/landscape? The scenery will be a mixture of forests and mountains with elements of agriculture. Would you use a displacement map, use a terrain tool or model it using 3Ds Max/Zbrush? Or would you combine different techniques? How do you achieve a good amount of detail?

I’m happy for any advice as I really want to do a good job.
Thank you


Everybody’s process is different.

I like to start with World Machine Pro. This will generally give me a solid starting point. From there, I will sculpt in custom landscape features like caves or anything that looks to have been touched by man.

Adding in vegetation and grass, I’ll “paint” in a variety of models. This could be done procedurally, but you really want to control this stuff if you’ve got gameplay & style concerns. Just keep in mind that you’re going to have to work with LODs and other such shortcuts if you want to manage frame rates and memory.

Regardless of whether you’re using Unreal, Unity, or any other engine, never forget to profile. You’d be surprised how quickly a forest can bring your PC to its knees.

Again, everybody’s process is different. Some people have a huge assortment of terrain brushes and might work out the entire landscape in ZB, forgoing a terrain generator like World Machine, Terragen, or Vue.

(FWIW, World Machine Pro has a somewhat old looking GUI, but it’s cheap, fast, and powerful. You have to add your own trees and plants, but that’s not a huge deal depending on how you work.)

Unreal handles tessellation and displacements. Which technique you use is up to you and your environment. For large open world environments, scalability is your friend. For more narrowly focused envs or demos, hand optimization might suit you better. TBH, it all depends on your world map and presentation style. You’re going to have to test and profile.


Thank you so much for the advice, I’m still constantly learning new techniques so every tip is valuable. I’ve been working a little bit in World Machine before but it’s been a while now so I’m gonna dive back into it again and this time combine the result with some sculpting.



The course is a three year bachelor degree compressed into two years, meaning you’ll study full-time and throughout the summers as well. While it’s focused on practical assignments it is very intense and I wouldn’t recommend doing another course alongside it. In order to get good grades and really develop you’ll need to spend the majority of your days in the PC-lab. You can read the requirements on the website( and call up the reception if you have more specific questions. The university also offers free taster sessions so you and your friend can come along and try out some of the software, get a short lecture and ask questions. I can’t speak for every university but the course at Glasgow university was great, very thorough while still giving the students the option to specialize and the teachers always go out of their way to help you grow in the direction you want to.


Oh great thank you for giving me this course related information. If I will face any problem during this course so must ask here because I thing here more people know about this course and also have huge information about it.

Thank you, once again for all.


I think TerrainAxe should be a good choice


Hi there,
Here is a tutorial behind the making of the environments for Rebirth you may want to check it out


Looks great! Thank you I’ll definitely watch it. :+1:


I haven’t heard of TerrainAxe before, thanks for the tip! I’m having a look at it now.