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ArmA 2 Terrain Tutorial

ArmA 2 Terrain Tutorial, made by Sgt.Ace and corrected by Snake Man, PMC.

Installation of the BIS Tools 2

It is very important to choose a proper place to install the BIS Tools 2 before starting with anything else.

  1. Download the BIS Tools 2 first.
  2. Open or extract the downloaded zip file and start the BI_Editing_Tools_2_Setup.exe.
  3. The installer is basically self explanatory.
  4. All tools should be installed now in respective directory. Every Tool is stored in its own dir.

Make sure to change the directory for each tool from the default location to your desired dir.

Make sure to define the respective path for each tool. E.g.:


You can watch the installation process in this youtube Video Tutorial : Setup BIS Tools 2.

P: drive

A new partition called P: will be automatically created during the setup. An ArmAWork dir will be created in your install dir as well.

Understand that the P: drive the ArmAWork dir are the same. They are just different views on the same dir.

You can read more about the BIS tools drive.

Note that the name tools drive is very misleading. It is your editing workspace (virtual) drive.

The P: drive has two main tasks:

  • Your personal workspace. So the place where you files will reside.
  • Extracted source files from BI or other sources you want to use in your terrain.

Note that P: Drive already contains the ca dir. ca is the project space from BIS.

Never ever put your files into p:\ca\

In this dir we will extract the source of the BI files currently still in the PBO as part of the game dir. Right now the ca dir contains a couple of unpacked pbo files already and another dir called Roads2.

Extract BIS addons to P:

Read more about this in Synide's Build Environment.

Create Your Project dir

The project dir is your workspace - the place you can go crazy inside and have all your files in.

Choose your own tag for addons which you use as namespace and as prefix of all your addon pbo's.

With our tag, we create a namespace in the P:\ drive. In other words a subdir. So go create it now.

For this tutorial it is: P:\TUT\.

Let us make the meaning of the project dir clear - The project dir is for all your various future projects. So for the individual projects we will soon create subdirs inside our project dir.

Visitor 3

Configure Visitor 3

  1. Download the Tutorial Sample Map.
  2. Extract it to our P:\TUT\ dir - so it will look like P:\TUT\TUT_SampleMap.
  3. Start Visitor3.exe.
  4. Open Tools → System Preferences and check if all paths are correct.

New Project

Start with your new Visitor 3 project

  1. Open Project → New (or press Ctrl+N).
  2. In the next Project parameters window select the values for: Terrain grid size 512×512, Terrain cell size 10
  3. Go to Tools → Project parameters.
  4. Open the Calculator.
  5. Set Image Size (Pixels): 5120.
  6. Hit apply and close only the calculator.
  7. Open Tools → Project Preferences.
  8. Enter the path to your data dir (textures), like: P:\TUT\TUT_SampleMap\Data\.
  9. Click ok and close.
  10. In the Project parameters window click on Base (active) and press the Edit button.
  11. Choose 40x40m texture size.
  12. Apply and close the Project parameters window.

Import the terrain data

  1. Go to Open → Import Terrain from Picture.
  2. Browse to P:\TUT\TUT_SampleMap\Source\terrain\terrain.pbl.

Be sure you set the view to elevation color style (hit the 5th button from the left) to see the contours.

Save after each step

Select Project → SaveAs and save your map as TUT_SampleMap.pew.

Add .pew to your filename. Otherwise Visitor 3 will not recognize the file in the future.

Import Satellite & Mask

  1. Go to Tools → Import Satellite + Mask.. and browse to P:\TUT\TUT_SampleMap\Source\layer.cfg.
  2. Select text mode for saving the rvmats in the next window.
  3. Visitor 3 asks now for the SAT file, so browse to P:\TUT\TUT_SampleMap\Source\sat_lco.png.
  4. Same with the Mask - point it to P:\TUT\TUT_SampleMap\Source\mask_lco.png.
  5. The import process begins right after you hit OK.
  6. That may take several minutes depending on your PNG sizes and Visitor might not respond until process has finally completed.
  7. Point the mouse somewhere in the middle of the map and hit the center mousebutton (wheel).
  8. A white square appears right at this position (point of view).
  9. Start Buldozer via Project → Connect to Buldozer (or hit the ! icon in the top bar).
  10. Buldozer will now automatically convert the textures from png to paa (shown in the command line window).
  11. After the conversion process has finished you should be able to see the landscape in buldozer.
  12. The textures will appear so more you zoom onto the surface.
  13. Switch back to Visitor by hit ALT-TAB (don't close buldozer).
  14. Go to Project → Export World.
  15. Save your world as P:\TUT\TUT_SampleMap\TUT_SampleMap.wrp.

Binarizing your world

  1. Start BinPbo
  2. Choose the P:\TUT\TUT_SampleMap in the addon/source directory field.
  3. Now go to your ArmA2 Main dir and create a new dir called TUT. Open this one and create another one which is called Addons (d:\arma2\tut\addons).
  4. Back in BinPbo we set d:\arma2\tut\addons as destination directory.
  5. In the path of temporary dir we set P:\BIN_TEMP
  6. Now remove the hook from use source path and enter p:\tut\
  7. We are ready to binarize our terrain. Close the options tab and click on Pack. That may take a while, wait until Ready appears at the bottom of BinPBO.
  8. After BinPbo has finished you should see in your d:\arma2\tut\addons\ dir the tut_samplemap.pbo and the logfile.

Objects and various Tips

Terrain editing

U will raise the height of a vertex slightly. I will raise the height of the vertex greatly. J will lower the height of a vertex slightly. K will lower the height of a vertex greatly.

About vertices

You may have to hit F or G to show the arrow that goes to each center point of a vertex. While moving the mouse around the map, you'll notice that the arrow cursor 'sticks' to the closest center point of a vertex.

Think of a vertex as a hexagonal shape where you simply raise or lower the center point of that shape. So, when you raise a vertex, it'll make a point upwards. Doing it repeatedly will make the point higher and 'sharper'. Therefore to make sure your terrain isn't too sharp, you'll have to raise the vertices around it as well.

Keep in mind also that editing vertices is pretty tedious, and it should really only be used for tweaking height.

Road networks do not act as objects, therefore you can only select, move, or budge them in Visitor 3.

arma2/sgtace_terrain_tutorial.txt · Last modified: 2011-08-18 10:11 by snakeman