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Using L3DT to create terrain for ArmA 2. This page was written mostly on L3DT v14.xx era. (I recall most of this text was written by Bushlurker).

You can export the final Texture Map directly and use as a Sat_lco…

Export as .PNG can be problematic with bigger sizes - .BMP seems to work fine up to 20480×20480…

I use the Attributes Map (AM Layer) directly exported as a base for a Mask_lco… Saving large files is even MORE problematic here, for some unknown reason - neither .PNG or .BMP will save successfully as a single file @ 20480×20480 size - 10240 is OK - larger sizes you need to export as mosaic (.PNG format) and assemble in Photoshop… not too much of a chore really - I export 3 x 3 of 8192×8192 tiles and snap em together in Photoshop and crop to 20480

One point to watch when exporting the AM layer is to switch it to color output - otherwise you'll be deeply disappointed… (options button in the save as dialog - change “ColourMapped (bool) to “true”)…

Once you have made a height-field in there you can just save that - export height-field as .png - you make your own .pbl - its just a text file - adapt the tutorial one

Then you need to generate the water table - L3Dt will use that - no need to export that

Then you get to “Attributes layer” - this is the bit that uses Climates - you can just use “DemoRockGrassSand” to start with… this will generate a layer with different colors for 3 different ground textures… Later on if you want more complex masks you'll need to read the L3DT instructions heavily - then adapt or create a “climate” of your own…

…basically what it does is analyze your height map - decide where sand, rock, grass, etc needs to go - and it draws a map with colors where each of them go… sounds awful like a Mask_lco…. you can use it as one…

One point here - export Attributes layer as .PNG - but switch to color… (options button in the save as dialog - change “ColourMapped (bool) to “true”…

You can then carry on and generate a bump map layer (normals) - L3DT will use that - you don't need to export it - then a light map - ditto for that…

Finally you get to Texture map

At this stage L3DT will look at the basic 3 color attributes map it made earlier, and actually make a proper texture map (Like a Sat map) using a different texture for each color … You can export this and use it as a Sat_lco

So - height field map = height field + make a .pbl

Attributes map = Mask_lco (remember to change option to save in color)

Texture Map = Sat_lco

So to start with you can use say a 1024 height map - but for speed just do a 1024 Attributes and other layers… later when you're happier with stuff - crank that up to 10x - you can make a 10240×10240 mask and sat and get more detail…

L3DT is a genuine bitch to get the hang of… it'll take time to understand all the stuff - a lot of which u don't need… your principal layers are the ones mentioned above - but the generation process in L3DT demands you make all the rest if you want bump mapping at the Tex stage - you need to have previously generated a Normals layer - if you want light and shade effects you need to have made a light map - these make the Tex map look good - but the only ones you'll export are the 3 above…. (actually - since Arma2 does its own lighting, I've found skipping the light map layer is best - you also need to untick “use light map” at the Texture layer stage… Otherwise you're “baking in” directional lighting to your Sat layer, which may look extra-great when the sun in-game is conveniently in the right place, but extra-shit when all the in-game shadows are going in the opposite direction

Export as .PNG - it'll be a 16bit gray scale for the height field, and 8bit color for the other two - you can use them as they stand…

Again - not immediately informative, but the L3DT User Guide will basically explain all the options…

I use a “Combine Channels” function in PSP to combine 4 flat masks into a multicolor mask.

L3DT can also generate alpha maps. It can be called only by the menu and not in the default work flow (height map etc etc).

The result is a mask that can directly be used in visitor. I don't change anything. As when making the alpha map you can define what attributes from the attribute map are mapped to a color.

Only thing to keep in mind is that l3dt creates the alpha maps namely and correctly in the alpha channels. In Photoshop this results in seeing a pictures that looks absolutely blank.

If this scares you off you can just open it with paint (or any other simple tool that does not support alpha channels) and save it. As poor paint does not get the alpha channels it saves it as a normal color as you know it and for that voila you can see it.

L3DT With Visitor 3

Use a .png greyscale export from L3DT as your “first” import of the terrain into Visitor - along with a .pbl file - exactly like in the tutorial. At this stage things will import fast - you can use the .pbl file to microtune the sea level and generally get things the way you want them.

Later on, once you've been laying roads, etc - you might decide to use L3DT to tweak some areas - maybe for settlements, or flatten an area for an airstrip… However - at this stage, you may already have manually fine-tweaked heights in Visitor, or smoothed roads, etc - this makes the version of your heightmap currently in use in Visitor the most up-to-date one - so in order to preserve that work, you'll need to Export your heightmap from Visitor - tweak in L3DT, then Import back into Visitor - hopefully without disturbing anything! - this is especially important once you start placing objects at “absolute heights” - like bridge sections, etc… this is where XYZ format comes in handy.

Once your terrain is advanced a little - you'll find that that 2minute “terrain import via greyscale” can take 2 hours!! - it still works - just takes forever to reimport! However - for some reason XYZ format will still import ultra-fast.

Initial .png export from L3DT - note your minimum and maximum heights exactly. Import into Visitor with same max and min in associated .pbl file.

For any subsequent terrain editing once work has progressed a bit.

  • Export terrain as image from Visitor (you'll get a popup with two sets of max/min figures - write down the TOP ones) - this will result in a .pbl and a .png… throw the .pbl away and…
  • Import .png into L3DT (use the exact max/min you wrote down).
  • Edit terrain to little hearts content…
  • Export as XYZ…
  • Re-Import into Visitor…..

Subsequent imports of XYZ seem to work OK - but I've found the initial import should be a .png and .pbl setup - at least until you're happy with the overall heights, sea level, etc.

Climate Colors

Redo your climate so the different surfaces in the AM map have the bright primary colors you want to use in your Layers.cfg/mask_lco. when exporting this as a .png, *look at “options” - change it to “color”.

When creating/exporting the TX map (Sat tex layer). *maybe skip “use lightmap” - it makes odd shadows on the texture that can look weird in-game, and maybe skip “antialias” as well.


Satellite Mask & Texture

Save attributes map. Paint/paste your roads and airfields etc there. Import back to L3DT and choose proper color and attributes for the ne areas. Now you can export this into texture map too.

Resizing Heightfield moved to Heightmap Resize.

ImageMagick Mosaic Stitching

Header moved to Mosaic Stitching ImageMagick.

L3DT Mosaic Coordinates

Header moved to Mosaic Coordinates.

Satellite Resolution

Header moved to Satellite Resolution.

Large PNG Save

Header moved to Large Image Export.

CPU Usage

Header moved to CPU Usage.

Attributes Map / Mask RGB Colors

Header moved to Attributes Map RGB Colors.

arma2/terrain/l3dt.txt · Last modified: 2022-06-25 16:03 by snakeman