This article presents the fifth and last tab of the control window. This displays a window with many 3D tools that will allow you to model a rich and varied 3D environment.

This chapter is important because a good general understanding is necessary to use the tools optimally to create beautiful scenery for your networks.

For the sake of simplicity, we will start by discovering globally the constituent elements of the panel. Then we will dwell on the tools and detail them exhaustively.

Summary

Note : do to the fact that this article was originally written in french the tutorials videos are also french. although they are self explanatory you can use the sub-title function in youtube to read along. 

Presentation of the window

To access the 3D terrain editor, watch this short video below:

The window is separated as follows:

  1. The left section (item A) contains 15 buttons, 4 sliders and a checkbox,
  2. The right section (item B) contains list boxes as well as various tools for managing textures.
Fenêtre de contrôle Editeur 3D

Important : To facilitate learning and for educational purposes, the article is limited to the theoretical use of the tools by detailing the parameters for each of them.

Left section (1st part)

List of buttons

This list gathers the 15 tools for modeling your network directly in the 3D view. When a tool is activated, one or more sliders can be adjusted to modify the effect of the tool. The 4 cursors are not necessarily all active at the same time because everything depends on the selected tool. Below is the list of tools:

→ Create an elevation or depression with a rounded top

→ Create an elevation or depression with a sharp top

→ Create an elevation or depression with a flattened top

→ Soften or accentuate the surface

→ Copy any height

→ Creating a Linear Slope

→ Increase or decrease the brightness of the ground texture

→ Take a texture sample

→ Apply the sampled texture

→ Change the orientation of the ground texture

→ Change scale value for the texture

→ Lock or unlock the landscape surface

→ Create shine effects

→ Swap ground texture

→ Automatic surface generator

Below these 15 buttons we find the 4 sliders.

Cursor list

  1. Orientation
  2. Scale or Threshold (depending on the active tool)
  3. Brush size,
  4. Intensity.

And finally, since EEP17 appeared the Show the grid checkbox.

Preamble concerning the tools

Most tools produce two different effects. Standard and reverse effects. What are we talking about ?

The standard effect is abtained when you press the left mouse button to apply a texture or create a terrain elevation or modify the brightness of a texture… This is the classic behavior of the effect.

The reverse effect is obtained like the normal effect, by pressing the left mouse button but simultaneously holding down the [Left Ctrl] key; the [Right Ctrl] key being inoperative.

Below, illustration in pictures for the standard effect and the inverted effect:

Effet normal
Standard effect, left mouse clic
Effet inversé
reverse effect, left clic+ left Ctrl

For the moment no difference except the color of the grid which has changed from white to green. We will see below how to use the inverted effect depending on the active tool.

It is important to remember this: each tool memorizes the parameters defined by the different sliders. So when you come back to a tool that has already been used, you will find the same values ​​as they were when you last used them.

And as always in EEP, a right click on the sliders is enough to reset the default values.

Create an elevation or depression with a rounded top (1)

This tool is selected by default when you first display the control window. This tool allows you to model your landscape to give it a certain relief thanks to rounded peaks for the most beautiful effect. This activates the two sliders:

  1. Size of the brush which decreases or enlarges the field of action on the surface,
  2. Intensity which acts on the speed of transformation of the terrain.

Let’s simply start  with the default settings, Brush size equal to 7 and Intensity value equal to 50. Choose a blank surface on your plan and hold the left mouse button pressed for 2 or 3 seconds without moving:

After releasing the mouse button, we can see a small, perfectly rounded elevation where the white squares were.

Exactly, what do the white squares represent? the best way to know it is to display the grid to understand it like in the image below:

The white squares determine the mesh of the grid. This value is closely related to the number of nodes defined when creating a project. The greater the number of nodes, the finer the mesh. Here in this example we have 150 knots per km.

So far we have used the standard effect, i.e. elevation. We will now use the reverse effect to create a depression. Let’s go back to our elevation example:

Editeur 3D - Outil 1-1
Elévation paramètres par défaut

Without moving the mouse, hold down the [Left Ctrl] key and the left mouse button. Observe what happens:

Our elevation turned into a depression. In fact, as we explained to you above, the same tool well acts on the two opposite effects.

For the moment, we have kept the default settings. In paragraph (tool n° 2), we will be interested in the size of the brush.

The rounded top tool is perfect for creating small hills or even small rolling mountains. It is very practical for applying small touch-ups here and there while maintaining realistic proportions

Create an elevation or depression with a sharp top (2)

This tool allows you to model your landscape to give it a certain relief thanks to sharp peaks. This activates the two cursors:

  1. Size of the brush which decreases or enlarges the field of action on the surface,
  2. Intensity which acts on the speed of transformation of the terrain.

This time we are going to modify the default setting and apply the following values: Brush size equal to 10 and intensity value equal to 50. Choose a blank surface on your plan and hold down the left mouse button 2 or 3 seconds without moving:

After releasing the mouse button, we can see a small pointed elevation where the white squares were.

Let’s dwell for a moment on the brush size parameter. This changes the dimensions of the surface for the tool. The larger the number, the larger the size of the white mesh will be. Here the number 10 corresponds to 10 contiguous side squares. The range of values ​​is between 2 and 16 squares. With a value of 10, the area covered will be equal to 100 white squares.

The reverse effect is also applicable here. Without moving the mouse, simultaneously hold down the left mouse button and the [Left Ctrl] key and observe what happens:

Our elevation turned into a depression. In this example, we just changed the Brush Size parameter. In the next paragraph (tool n° 3), we will be interested in the intensity.

The Pointed top tool is ideal for creating steep slopes.

Create an elevation or depression with a flattened top (3)

This tool allows you to model your landscape to give it a certain relief thanks to flattened summits. This activates the two cursors:

  1. Size of the brush which decreases or enlarges the field of action on the surface,
  2. Intensity which acts on the speed of transformation of the terrain.

Once again, we will continue to modify the default setting and apply the following values: Brush size equal to 12 and Intensity value equal to 100. Choose a blank surface on your plane and hold the left mouse button pressed for 2 or 3 seconds without moving:

After releasing the mouse button, we can see an elevation consisting of a large plateau at the location of the white squares.

Let’s dwell for a moment on the intensity parameter. Depending on the tools selected, this parameter can have several meanings and adaptations according to the context for which it is used. With the tools for elevation or depression, Intensity acts rather on the speed of transformation of the terrain as is the case here. With other tools, this parameter acts on other physical properties. We will see it later in this article.

The range of values ​​is between 1 and 100. With a value equal to 100, the speed of terrain transformation is maximum.

The reverse effect is also applicable here. Without moving the mouse, hold down the left mouse button and the [Left Ctrl] key simultaneously and watch what happens:

Our elevation turned into a depression. You may have noticed that the intensity parameter pushed to the maximum will speed up the process of the effect. Conversely, a low intensity makes it possible to dose the effect more finely. This parameter measures the speed of the tool in various situations you may encounter.

The flat top tool is ideal for creating plateaus to support, for example, a raised building structure or, on the contrary, to dig the ground to make a basin. The uses are many and varied and depend on the configuration of your project.

Soften or accentuate the surface (4)

Here is an interesting tool because it allows you to model the terrain in such a way as to create a complex relief only by moving the mouse. Naturally, this tool acts only on rough terrain. It is completely inoperative on any perfectly flat surface. Our two usual sliders are activated:

  1. Size of the brush which decreases or enlarges the field of action on the surface,
  2. Intensity which acts on the speed of transformation of the terrain.

We will continue to modify the settings and apply the following values: Brush size equal to 5 and Intensity value equal to 50. Once the new settings have been applied, let’s start from the example of the flattened vertex of the previous paragraph. Place the white squares on the board and press the left mouse button to apply the effect. What’s happening ?

Well… absolutely nothing happens. As indicated above, this tool is completely inoperative on a completely flat surface but acts only on an uneven surface.

Let’s go back to our example. This time, we will place the white squares on an edge and press for a few seconds while gently moving the mouse as in the video example below:

Now with this tool you can soften the edges of the terrain in order to draw a more realistic environment. Thanks to small judiciously placed and measured touch-ups, creating beautiful landscapes will be disconcertingly easy.

As in the video, you can tweak the Intensity setting to soften bumps in the terrain faster. Experiment with various values ​​by moving the Brush Size and Intensity sliders to practice and understand how the tool reacts.

The inverted effect can also be used to accentuate and uneven terrain. Let’s watch it in video:

The inverted effect is used to create elevations to increase the height of the terrain. Of course, it will be necessary to soften the ‘spikes’ to restore credibility to the landscape. This tool is reserved for small and medium surfaces.

As in the video, you can play with the Intensity parameter to model the terrain more quickly. Experiment with various values ​​by moving the Brush Size and Intensity sliders to practice and see how the tool reacts.

Reminder : Keep in mind that we are currently in the purely theoretical aspect. Even if the examples remain basic, they are necessary to fully understand how each tool works.

Copy any height (5)

This tool allows:

  1. To extend an already existing height to enlarge a surface
  2. To recover any height in your project and transfer it directly elsewhere with a click of the mouse.

When selected, only the Brush Size parameter remains active. This tool does not have an inverted effect. even if the [Left Ctrl] key is used to capture the pitch.

To illustrate this, let’s take the example of paragraph n° 3 (with the top flattened) and make a few additions. The brush size is set to 8:

In the scene above, a bridge spans the traffic lanes and on the right lacks the elevation to connect it to build a road across the main lanes.

How can we do it ? we could possibly reuse tool #3 the flattened top and create an elevation roughly corresponding to the one on the left, but in this example we want to take the exact same height of the terrain on the left side and transfer it to the right side.

This is where this new tool comes in to work with precision by capturing the exact height on the left (as the eyedropper tool would do for color in an image processing software) in order to copy the same height of the other side of the bridge. To achieve this result, we will use the [Left Ctrl] key in conjunction with the mouse.

Let’s do it! below the elevation on the right is equal to that on the left. The bridge is thus connected at the same height on each side:

And here is the process in video:

When the [Left Ctrl] key is pressed, only one of the white squares is displayed in green. It is the height at the location of this square that will be taken into account to copy it elsewhere in the plan.

The operation to copy the height is simple, hold down the [Left Ctrl] key followed by a left click of the mouse. Once the key is released, move your cursor to the place where you want to create the new elevation: left click and you’re ready!

As long as the left mouse button is not released you can extend your elevation as needed. Example in picture:

And here is the video:

Depending on the value of the Brush Size parameter, you can draw larger or smaller areas with a fixed height value.

The right elevation edges are different from the left elevation. Indeed, on the left the edges have been softened with tool n° 4 seen previously. We will see in the second article the combination of the different tools to model a realistic environment.

Create a linear slope (6)

This tool is used to create an ascending or descending linear slope that is more or less wide depending on the value of the Brush size parameter, this being the only active one. The inverted effect obtained by pressing the [Left Ctrl] key does not work because the standard effect is self-sufficient. When selected, only the Brush Size setting remains active.

To be operational, the tool needs a point A and a point B to connect two areas having different heights regardless of their location on the ground. It does not matter if the height of point A is higher or lower at point B. Also, heights can be positive or negative. If the height is negative it forms a depression and the ground will be dug with a linear slope under the level 0 of the ground.

For the purposes of the examples below, tool #3 was used to create an elevation.

Up or down slope with positive height

In this first example, we’ll create a slope with a positive height. The brush size is set to 8. Below is the image result:

And here is the video:

After having used tool n° 3 to create an elevation, all you have to do is keep the left mouse button pressed and connect point A to point B to draw the slope. The direction doesn’t matter because it can be bidirectional. Connecting point B to point A will give exactly the same result. In this example the slope starts at level 0 and rises a few meters above the surface. The larger the Brush Size value, the steeper the slope.

We will come back later on the side aisles and the ‘staircase’ effect.

Up or down slope with negative height

In this second example, we are going to create a slope with a negative height. The depression was created with tool #3 and the reverse effect. Below is the resulting image:

And here is the video:

Just keep the left mouse button pressed and connect point A to point B to draw the slope. The direction doesn’t matter because it can be bidirectional. Connecting point B to point A will give exactly the same result. In this example the slope starts at level 0 and descends a few meters below the ground of the surface. The larger the Brush Size value, the wider the slope.

You may have noticed the unsightly ‘staircase’ effect on the sides of the slope. This can easily be corrected with tool #4 (Smooth function) or even tool #1 in combination with the [Left Ctrl + Left Click] key. We will see in the second article how to use the combination of different tools to build a realistic landscape.

Note : Before continuing to discover the tools in the left part, we are now going to study the elements in the right part of the window (reference B). This step is mandatory to master the tools related to textures, which will allow us to better understand the remainder of the article and the remaining tools on the left.

Right section

Texturing methods

EEP provides texturing methods applicable according to different processes:

  1. The pattern of four textures,
  2. The individual texture,
  3. The individual texture with 50 custom textures.

The texturing window

The right part contains different elements:

  1. Two drop-down lists (tags n° 1 and 4),
  2. Three buttons (items no. 2, 3 and 7),
  3. A preview area (tag no. 5).
  4. Four separate settings used for texture orientation (tag #6).

By default, when you click on the 3D terrain editor tab, the drop-down list for marker #1 is set to No motif.

As stated above, EEP offers us three different methods for selecting textures:

  • Method n° 1 → Choose a pattern of four textures (mark n° 1),
  • Method n° 2 → Choose an individual texture (mark n° 4),
  • Method n° 3 → Choose an individual texture among your 50 personalized textures (mark n° 4).

Note : As you will have understood, the 2nd and 3rd method are identical in their application. This explains why we will talk in the rest of this article only about two methods: textures pattern and individual texture.

The two methods are not compatible with each other. So pattern textures  or individual texture? This question is primarily subjective. Indeed, each user has his own habits, has more or less imagination but often the choice will be dictated by the configuration of the land.

In general, without being an absolute rule, the choice of a texture pattern can be reserved for uneven terrain such as mountains or hills. But you can very well select an individual texture to paint this or that part of your mountains.

The individual texture may be reserved for flat or slightly uneven surfaces. Of course, you can successively apply several individual textures on the same surface, however only the last one will be visible. But this is also not an absolute rule because here too the pattern textures can also be suitable for painting a flat surface with the mixture of the four textures.

The difference between successively applying four individual textures and a pattern textures will be visual because the rendering will be different. With the individual texture, you have more precise control over the application of the texture.

Of course you can apply individual textures only if no texture pattern in the drop-down list (tag #1) is selected!

We will now detail the two methods, starting with the texture pattern.

Applying textures

Method #1 → Select and apply a pattern of four textures

In this configuration, tool n° 8 → Take a texture sample (mark n° 4 image below) in the left part becomes inactive. Indeed, this tool is used to take a sample of texture already present on the ground.

A selected pattern is declined in four different shades depending on the slope of the ground according to four values ​​expressed in degrees. The user has every possibility of modifying these values ​​according to the slope of the terrain that he wishes to texture.

In this drop-down list, you will find 21 ready-to-use floor texture patterns (item no. 1). Select the Spring textures pattern and let’s take a look at what just changed as shown in the image below:

Once the pattern of textures has been selected, the Save button becomes active (marker no. 2) and the four small preview squares (marker no. 3) display the four textures that make up the pattern. For each of the four textures, a different angle is applied. Why ? let’s refer to the EEP17 manual in the chapter Relief and surface design with the 3D editor:

“A preset texture pattern combines four ground textures with varying blending and shading to achieve an almost natural look. The texture that will be applied is determined by the angle of inclination of the surface to be painted. These settings are defined for each of the four textures that make up the preset texture pattern. As the relief and surface design are linked, the preset textures are applied when creating the relief.

This way you can model steep mountains, rolling hills or slopes that are covered with a realistic texture in a single operation. You can see how a set of textures varies in detail if you select a pattern of textures. Once a pattern has been selected, the four different textures that make it up appear in the small preview windows to the right.”

Each texture pattern has 4 different shades depending on the degree of slope on which the texture is applied. We are now going to paint a small surface with the spring pattern keeping the default inclination of the respective angles of 0, 18, 30 and 50°:

Angles fixed at 0, 18, 30 and 85°

To apply the texture, use tool n° 9 (outlined in red). In this example, the brush size is set to 10, the intensity to 1 with a random scale (slider fully to the right). As we can see, only the first two textures have been applied evenly to the surface. This is completely normal because the terrain has no slope.

To be operational, the texture pattern must be applied to an uneven relief with more or less significant slopes. For this we must correctly set the angles of the slopes to allow an adequate application of the textures.

In the following example, a valley has been drawn. This time, we will apply a different setting for the four angles as follows: 0°, 18°, 30° and 50° and see what happens in video:

As we can notice, the four textures were applied according to the angles of the slopes for which EEP offers the possibility of enriching the library of texture patterns through personal programming.

To modify the appearance of a texture, two solutions are available:

  1. Solution A → Apply a tint for the selected texture using the Colors button,
  2. Solution B → Select another texture from the drop-down box under the New button.

In both cases, it is strongly recommended to click on the New button to create a new custom pattern otherwise you risk overwriting the default one used as a starting point. After clicking on this button a small window appears:

Bouton nouveau motif

Enter the name of the new pattern and click OK. After validation, your new pattern will replace the base one. The operation is neither more nor less than a copy and paste.

Motif personnalisé
New pattern added

Thus created, the new pattern can now be modified and adapted.

Thus created, the new pattern can now be modified and adapted.

Solution A - Apply a tint to the textures

Before applying a tint, make sure your New custom pattern is selected and then click on the Colors button to display the color palette:

If the basic colors are not to your liking, you can create your own by clicking the Set Custom Colors button.

If the basic colors are not to your liking, you can create your own by clicking the Set Custom Colors button.

Couleur blanche sélectionnée
Teinte après

For the purposes of our example we have chosen the color white. Click on the small white square at the bottom right in the basic colors and confirm with OK to assign the new shade. We see the  color change for the selected texture.

 

In case the shade does not suit you, display the palette again to select the desired shade.

Changing the color is good, but applying it to one of the four textures is even better. To perform the operation, simply click with the right mouse button in the square where the texture is drawn (here in our example Concrete 01 (LQ) as shown in the image below:

Color application

This menu lets you apply the new tint to one of the four textures. Here we choose the first.

Which leads us to stop for a moment and show some logical.

These four textures are not there by chance, if the program gives us the possibility of applying four colors or textures at different angles, this means that we must respect a logical order directly transposed from the real world. After years of experience and countless trials, the easiest way is to apply the four textures from the bottom up parallel to the terrain typology. The image below sums it up perfectly:

Logical order

Texture n° 1 is rather reserved for the lowest level. Conversely, the 4th rather for the highest level. The arrow indicates the direction in which the textures apply.

Let’s go back to our example and in order to fully understand how the program will paint the surface, we will limit ourselves for the moment to assigning the first of the four textures with concrete texture 01 (LQ) via the contextual menu as explained above. We will also take the opportunity to change the angle from 85° to 0°:

Motif - Texture 1
New pattern added

Once the settings have been made, let’s watch the result from the beginning on video:

The selected texture (here concrete 01) is drawn only on the lower part of the relief. The slopes are no longer affected because the tool considers that it must apply this texture taking into account the difference between the first two textures of the pattern. Here the difference is between 0° and 3°, so the concrete texture will not be painted beyond 3°. Despite this, EEP tolerates a small variable margin for the angle because we notice that a small part of the surface is still taken into account for the application of the second texture. Come to think of it, this seems normal because in reality, there are always variations, however small they may be, in the appearance of a terrain or an environment.

Here for the needs of our example, the concrete default texture has been chosen which naturally in a mountain setting would not really correspond to reality except perhaps for a ski resort!

It is an assumed choice on our part in order to illustrate the contrast and the mixture between different textures.

Of course, the possibilities are almost endless and to discuss other examples would be beyond the scope of this article. It’s up to you to try other textures, other angles, other possible colors in different configurations. You will need to gain some experience to be more comfortable later. The task is not insurmountable and as always in EEP, habit will do the rest.

To finish with the texture patterns, know when a new pattern is created, you will no longer be able to rename it or delete it directly in EEP (except trick described here). On the other hand, you can obviously always modify the four textures that compose it and re-save it as many times as necessary.

Solution B - Select another texture for the pattern

This is the same process as the previous one. The difference is that the tint of the texture is not changed with the selection of a color. This is assigned directly to one of the four pattern slots.

Use texture pattern for flat surface

You can use the texture pattern on a flat surface to apply four textures simultaneously. By changing the angles, the rendering will be different. Below is the predefined Plain pattern:

Applying texture

You will notice that the Water 01 texture has not been taken into account because it has not been previously assigned in one of the four slots. The opposite would have been true if the no texture pattern option (in the first dropdown from the top) was selected. In this case, the Water 01 texture would have been considered as an individual texture. and this brings us naturally to the chapter below.

Method #2 → Select and apply an individual texture

EEP provides many textures divided between several categories. These are grouped together in the drop-down list of individual textures:

Here is an overview of the different categories of individual textures:

Liste catégories textures

Each category contains numerous textures which are themselves divided into two sub-categories. Example in the Field category:

Catégorie unique texture

On one side the two-dimensional textures (red square and black text) and on the other the three-dimensional textures (blue cube and blue text).

The aspect will be better with 3D textures but the graphics chip will be a little more solicited. As always, it’s up to you to find the right compromise between speed and rendering quality. It is obvious that EEP will require a good graphics processor for important projects.

In addition, you also have the possibility to define and use up to 50 custom textures according to your tastes or needs. These textures are located in the userTextures folder. They are named User Texture 01 through User Texture 50. Each texture corresponds to an image file (UT10001.bmp through UT10050.bmp) and are saved in the \TREND\EEP17\Resourcen\Parallels\UserTextures folder. You can edit them with your favorite image editing program while making sure to keep the files original size (256 x 256 pixels) and original depth of 24 bits (Other values ​​will produce display problems in EEP).

These 50 textures will be preserved if you install a new EEP version.

As already written above, you can apply individual textures only if no texture pattern is selected. The two methods can not be combined. To start, you need to select a texture from the list. To illustrate our example, we are going to choose the Sand 031 texture located in the Sand folder:

Texture individuelle couleur sable
Sand texture selection 031

This texture is three-dimensional because it is displayed in blue. Once selected, click the button for tool #9 (as in the image above). We will see parameters such as scale, brush size and intensity below.

Once the tool is selected, click where you want to draw the texture on your plan as in the image below:

Texture individuelle sable
Applying texture

You can thus paint more or less important surfaces according to your needs. EEP will continue to apply the texture as long as you hold down the left mouse button.

Of course, you can also choose a color to change the tint of the texture just like in the texture pattern. The procedure remains exactly the same.

Conclusion for applying textures

The choice of one or the other of the two methods will be made according to several criteria:

  1. The relief and size of the network,
  2. Everyone’s appetite for the chosen method,
  3. The user experience especially for choosing a texture pattern. Beginners will probably be more comfortable with the individual texture method,
  4. The texture pattern makes it possible to achieve a more nuanced composition according to the relief and allows a more realistic rendering.

Now that we have discovered texturing in EEP, let’s go back to the 2nd part of the left section and the remainder of the tools to be discovered.

Left section (2nd part)

Increase or decrease ground texture brightness (7)

Cet outil permet :

  1. Increase the intensity of a texture to brighten certain areas whose brightness is below a certain threshold,
  2. Decrease the intensity of a texture to darken certain areas whose brightness is above a certain threshold.

This tool is more subtle than it seems but it is largely do to it that your future landscapes will be rendered with maximum realism by small touches applied judiciously here and there.

So far we had one or two active cursors. A new and third Threshold slider is now accessible and varies on a scale of 0 to 100%.

Editeur 3D Outil 7-1

Before detailing how it works, you must understand that each texture is different and therefore, variations in luminosity exist from one texture to another and even very often within the same texture. Here are some examples to convince you:

Editeur 3D - 7 - Tex1
Editeur 3D - 7 - Tex4

We can clearly distinguish brightness variations in each texture.

The difference in luminosity for the same texture can be both linear and random as shown in the two images below:

Editeur 3D - 7 - Tex5b
Concentrated Linear Brightness
Editeur 3D - 7 - Tex5c
Random brightness

We will now detail how the Threshold slider works.

As its name suggests, this slider acts on the brightness from a certain threshold defined by the user. In our two examples above, the darker areas correspond to a rather low threshold while the light areas rather to a high threshold.

Let’s take the same previous texture. On the left, the default texture with 100% luminosity and on the right, the same texture with 50% luminosity:

Editeur 3D - 7 - Tex5a
100% brightness
Editeur 3D - 7 - Tex5c
50% random brightness

Increase brightness

In this first example, we are going to move the Threshold slider completely to the right and thus set the value to 100%, then to 50% and finally to 0%. While keeping the left mouse button pressed, let’s apply the tool to the left texture (luminosity at 100%) and observe the result in video:

After having tested the 3 different values, it is clear that absolutely nothing is happening. Why ? remember: the Threshold slider acts on the luminosity from a certain level, except that here, our texture already has its default luminosity at 100% and that there is no area to brighten so our tool will not produce any effect in this precise configuration.

In this second example, we are now going to use the same settings in the following order: 0%, 50% and 100% and apply the tool to the right texture displayed above (random brightness at 50%) in order to observe the result in video:

At 0% nothing happens, same at 50%. On the other hand, at 100% our tool increases the luminosity of the darker areas in order to lighten them. Once the operation is complete, the texture returns to its default brightness of 100%. If we had set the slider to 80%, the brightness of the darker areas would have increased in proportion to the percentage.

Important : Do not confuse the Threshold and Intensity sliders! the first acts on the luminosity while the second increases or decreases the processing speed of the tool.

Decrease brightness

We have seen how to lighten certain parts of a texture, now we will use the reverse process to darken certain areas. As usual, the reversed effect is achieved by simultaneously pressing [Left Ctrl].

Let’s go back to our texture example seen earlier:

Editeur 3D - 7 - Tex5a
100% brightness
Editeur 3D - 7 - Tex5b
60% linear brightness

To decrease the brightness by 30% on a specific area, simply set the Threshold slider to 70%, press [Left Ctrl] and observe the result in video:

The smaller the value of the Threshold slider, the greater the drop in brightness. As the range of values ​​is fixed from 0 to 100%, at 100% the luminosity is maximum, at 50% it is reduced by half and at 0% the light rays are no longer reflected by the surface of the texture; this explains why it appears black.

As you will have understood, faced with the immense diversity of textures and the number of possible combinations for the settings, finding THE right setting at the RIGHT time is not easy, especially at the beginning. But with a little practice, you will find your bearings and experience will do the rest.

Take a texture sample (8)

This tool is used in the various stages concerning the decoration of your network because generally this process is not linear. When active, all four sliders are disabled.

When you look at a real landscape whatever its nature, there are always variations. For example, a meadow with a stream in the middle, a fold in the land, houses separated by gardens, mountains with snow-capped peaks… the list goes on…

At some point, the possibility of reusing a texture already present in your project (especially if it is important) will become obvious. This is where this tool comes in because it will save you from having to browse the many texture folders to find THE texture already applied somewhere in the decor of your network.

How does this tool work?  First, click on the button to activate it. A white arrow symbolizes the eyedropper intended to copy a sample in order to paste it elsewhere well appear :

Picking up a texture at the place of the white arrow

When your choice is made, click the left mouse button. The texture is now copied and EEP automatically switches to the next tool Apply sampled texture.

Apply sampled texture (9)

This tool is automatically called by EEP when a texture sample has been taken with the eyedropper (see previous paragraph). These two tools work together, one to pick up, the other to apply.

Naturally, taking a sample is not an absolute condition for applying a texture in EEP as we saw in the chapter in the right section. You can very well select it in the drop-down list (under the new button) and apply it directly without going through tool n° 8 of the sampling.

We are going to detail all this in images and start with the presentation of the window:

Before continuing, we are going to choose a Rubble 02 (LQ) texture which will serve as the basis for our examples later.

Once active, the tool initializes our three Brush Size, Intensity, and Scale sliders. Particular attention should be paid to the scale slider.

This slider has a value range between 10 and 1000% plus a random position:

Using a single texture, let’s see how it looks in images by applying these four settings:

Editeur 3D - 9 - 10
Scale at 10%
Editeur 3D - 9 - 100
Scale at 100%
Editeur 3D - 9 - 500
Intermediate scale at 500%
Maximum scale at 1000%
Editeur 3D - 9 - Aléatoire
Random scale

From these images, we can deduce the following:

  1. From 10 to 100% : the appearance of the floor will be more or less refined. For example, a driveway with small gravel can be reproduced with a scale lower than 100%,
  2. From 200% to 1000% : the aspect of the ground will become more or less coarse and depending on the quality of the texture, the larger the scale, the more the image will appear blurred. To be reserved rather to cover distant surfaces in a large project,
  3. Randomize : This feature varies the scale of the texture as it is applied and prevents unsightly repeating texture patterns.

Once the scale is defined, we still have to set the two other Brush size and Intensity sliders according to the surface to be painted:

  1. Choosing the right brush size depends on the surface to be painted and especially on the relief. Indeed, look around you in nature, a ditch, a stream, a valley… the colors, the vegetation are never uniform. A small brush will be useful for painting small areas with different textures (e.g. a texture for the slope and another for the top of a ditch, the edge of a river with a sand texture followed by a texture small pebbles… the examples are endless). All this contributes to obtaining a real rendering. Conversely, a larger brush size will be useful for painting surfaces such as meadows, plains, although it is also possible for larger surfaces to add here and there a few small touches made up of different textures.
  2. The intensity is adjustable over a range of values ​​between 1 and 100. The smaller the number, the weaker the intensity. Conversely, the higher the number, the higher the intensity and will produce dark areas. This tool should not be confused with tool #7 (increase or decrease the brightness of the ground) because they do not produce the same effects and the parameterization is not identical.

Below is an example with the Concrete 01 (LQ) texture and two different intensities:

Editeur 3D - 9 - 2
Intensity set to 1
Editeur 3D - 9 - 3
Intensity set to 30

This setting can be used to ‘degrade’ a texture. For example, a bad road or poorly maintained terrain.

Another example with a paved terrain with Intensity set to 35 and Scale set to 100%:

Darker areas are visible because the intensity is set to 35. Choosing a color to modify the tint and reinforce the old and weathered look of the cobblestones would further contribute to more realism. A few tufts of grass have been added to highlight the poor maintenance of the paving stones.

Important : be careful if you choose a geometric texture like in the example above with tiles associated with a random scale. The appearance will be completely messy and will not correspond to reality.

Editeur 3D - 9 - Pavage aléatoire
Random scale with tiles

This image shows us that random scale and geometric textures are not really compatible!

Change ground texture orientation (10)

This tool is used when you need to change the orientation of a texture according to a larger or smaller area defined by the brush size.

The new orientation parameter becomes active and will allow us to act on the direction of a textured area according to an angle between -90 and +90°.

Initially, the orientation is set to 0° by default. Naturally, if you click the left mouse button, the appearance of the texture will remain unchanged.

We will see the result in video with different orientations set between -90 and + 90°. The inverted effect also applies if you press the [Left Ctrl + Left Click] key. To clearly demonstrate the visual impact of this tool, we will stay on the previous example with the squares:

This video shows us different orientation settings associated with the intensity slider. Here the intensity applies to the transformation speed of the tool. The larger the value, the faster the speed. To straighten a distorted texture, just use the inverted effect with the [Left Ctrl + Left Click] key.

Change scale value for texture (11)

Thanks to this tool, you can modify the scale of a larger or smaller surface according to the value applied to the Brush size.

Allowable values ​​for changing the scale are between 10 and 400%. Here the intensity applies to the transformation speed of the tool.

We will see the result on video with a scale set to 200%. The inverted effect also applies if you press the [Left Ctrl + Left Click] key:

Lock, unlock, copy landscape surface (12)

Underneath this tool actually hides several interesting features. We’ll start with the first:

Lock or unlock a particular area

So far, we’ve only applied a texture to a global surface. But what if we wanted to texture a surface while excluding specific areas to apply another texture? Indeed, when developing a network, having such functionality would quickly become essential.

The answer is: lock the part(s) to be excluded so that applying the texture does not affect the locked parts.

To perform the operation, nothing could be simpler, select the tool by clicking on the button. Only the Brush Size slider is active. Click on the area to exclude. This will be marked and delimited by small yellow crosses as in the video below:

The reverse effect also applies. Just press the [Left Ctrl + left mouse button] key to erase the small yellow crosses.

Now if you apply another texture to the location of the marked area, it will be purely and simply ignored. Example in video:

The delimited area is thus protected regardless of the tool used. Indeed, the locking does not apply only for the textures but for all the other tools of transformation of the ground.

The tool also gives you the option to increase or decrease the marked area by 5, 10 or 25%.

Now suppose you want to invert the marked area to texture only a small area. To carry out this operation, right-click anywhere inside the marked area to open a small context menu and choose the Toggle Marked Area command:

Editeur 3D - 12 - Bascule
Befor
Editeur 3D - 12 - Bascule Ok
After

Similarly, if you want to erase the marked area without going through the inverted effect because it is too large, after right-clicking choose the command from the context menu Erase marked area:

This command clears and unmarks any marking in a network.

Let’s now look at the block functionality in order to copy and paste more or less important parts of a network.

Block, insert, rotate, increase or decrease functionality

The starting point of this function is to copy a marked area to duplicate it elsewhere in your network. This command copies not only the texture present at the location of the marking but also the relief. Let’s watch the complete process in video:

In this video, a small mound is created with tool #1 and a texture is drawn on top using tool #9.

After marking, a right click in the area opens a context menu. Just choose the Copy command to see a cage appear as a mold of the mound. From now on you can move the cage to the desired location. To copy the block, two possibilities:

  1. Either you call the context menu and choose the Insert block command,
  2. Either you click directly with the left mouse button to copy it.

Before inserting the block you can apply a rotation to the right or to the left or even increase or decrease the size of the block by 25%.

To quit the block function, choose the Erase marked area command or simply press the [ ESC ] key.

Of course, even without relief, this feature can be useful to reproduce an already textured area identically, as in the video below:

Note : The popup menus of the marked area and of the block function are not the same.

Save a marked block

Copying blocks in the same network can be very useful, especially if the network is large. But you could very well reuse some blocks in other networks. To save a block in order to find it later, nothing could be easier. Create your block and click on the Save current block button as you would in the 2D editor for any type of block in order to find it later using the Open block file command.

Watch the full process below:

Relief creation using height maps

Before tackling height maps, it’s best to start from a new project with the default dimensions and find out how to mark the entire terrain with 2 mouse clicks. Let’s watch the video:

This preliminary step was necessary to prepare the ground before loading a height map.

But what is a height map? The easiest way is to refer to the EEP manual in the section Surface design using Height Maps:

In computer graphics, height maps or height bitmaps (also called field height maps) refer to two-dimensional scalar fields that describe relief at elevation. They are used in 3D computer graphics to create terrain whose elevation information is captured from a map as points converted to a 3D polygon mesh. As of Plug-in 1 for EEP 15.1 it is possible to read such grayscale images which you can create, for example, with the open source “Tangram” map rendering engine: https://tangrams.github.io/heightmapper/

Now that we have the definition of a height map, how do we use it in EEP?

Already in a first step, a height map will apply over the entire marked surface. Which explains why we saw how to mark the total area of ​​a project.

For the purposes of our example, we have kept the default dimensions of an EEP project, namely 1 x 0.6 km. It is obvious that the size of the project will have to be adapted to the real dimension of the height map. Therefore, if your map covers an area of ​​2 x 3 km, your project should have the same dimensions.

EEP comes with a few maps as ready-to-use files. Create a 3 x 3 km project and mark the entire surface as in the video above. Now click the right mouse button to select the Load bitmap file context menu command for the height:

In the next window we will choose the heightmapper-Minden.png map and click on the Open button:

After clicking on the Open button, the window below will appear:

Editeur 3D - 12 - Carte hauteur 1

This window contains two lines of information framed by the two red rectangles. The first rectangle indicates the minimum and maximum heights of the map. The second rectangle contains the same information increased or decreased by the Z Offset and Scale values.

This window contains two lines of information framed by the two red rectangles. The first rectangle indicates the minimum and maximum heights of the map. The second rectangle contains the same information increased or decreased by the Z Offset and Scale values.

For example with a Z offset set to -5 m, the minimum and maximum heights are respectively 0.58 m and 91.52 m. If you change the scale factor, the values ​​are adjusted in real time to reflect the changes.

At the bottom of the window, three buttons allow you to add the height map according to three different options:

  1. Overwrite : The fixed height of 0 m will serve as the basis for inserting the card and whatever the height of the marked surface,
  2. Add : the height of the map will be added to the height of the marked area,
  3. Subtract : the height of the map will be subtracted from the height of the marked area.

Below is the height map displayed in the 3D editor with the Overwrite option:

You can also save and use your own height maps in file formats with the following extensions: bmp, jpg, png or tga in the same Height Maps folder.

Note : Please remember that height map files with 16-bit resolution will allow better rendering of elevations.

Create shine effects (13)

This tool lets you add shine (shimmer) effects to textures to simulate wet grass or water reflections.

Editeur 3D - 13 - 1

The three usual cursors brush Size, Threshold and Intensity make it possible to modulate the effect according to the rendering to be achieved with the texture.

Below are some video examples:

Please note that the inverted effect does not apply with this tool. To go back, you will need to use the Undo command in the main toolbar.

This effect is not only limited to simulating dew on the grass, for example reflections on a wall in rainy weather will add realism when the scene passes in the field of the camera.

Swap ground texture (14)

This tool allows you to swap one texture for another. The procedure is as follows:

  1. You need to select the texture to swap,
  2. Click on the previously chosen texture in the drop-down list under the add button,
  3. Re-click on the texture selected at the beginning.

Below is a short video demonstration:

If you have other textures to swap, you can click directly on the texture to swap by simultaneously pressing the [ Left Ctrl ] key without clicking the tool button again.

Automatic surface generator (15)

The automatic surface generator allows you to design a relief quickly with a few mouse clicks according to different options such as minimum and maximum height. Below is a short video demonstration:

Try as much as possible to work in small areas when using this tool as the amount of work can quickly become overwhelming.

In the 2nd video to follow, we will discuss another aspect of the generator with other values, in particular for the maximum height.

The greater the maximum height, the sharper the peaks will be. The higher the Terrain Density percentage, the denser and more rugged the terrain.

Finally, in this last video, we will discuss the maximum values ​​accepted by EEP for the minimum and maximum heights:

To sum up, it may not be the tool you will use the most in building your networks. But for a separate area with the same visual appearance, this is an option worth considering.

Conclusion

You now have at your disposal practically all the tools necessary to build beautiful landscapes in EEP.

In any case, our advice is to encourage you to try and try again with different settings, using various combinations of textures in order to compose beautiful panoramas.

EEP is not easily tamed. With determination, the experience gained will allow you to adopt the right habits to become a good project builder.

Thank you for reading the article to the end.

This article is now complete. If you have any questions or suggestions, please give us your feedback in the leave a reply input box below.

Thank you for your helpful comments. Have fun reading an other article. 

eep-world.com team

This article was translated by Pierre for the English side of the EEP-World from the article written by Domi for the French side of the EEP-World.

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