From 2D to 3D

I’m re-creating a role playing game world in Terragen 2. The game has already been played extensively using regular 2D maps, and I want the TG2 re-creation to be a good approximation of the original maps. To that end, I’m using L3DT to create a height map from the original 2D maps that I’ll eventually import into TG2.

My original game map looks like this:

You can see where ocean, hills, forest, mountains and desert should be. However, this map is also cut off since the original game did not explore the whole continent. Since TG2 gives us the power to visualize the whole world, let’s expand this map to cover a continent.

The stuff on this map needs to match the final product since that’s what the players are familiar with. The rest of the world can be created by L3DT (and edited by me). So, I created a larger image and dropped the map into the bottom-center of that larger image to use as a guide in L3DT with the whole map sized at 1024×1024 pixels:

Note that most of the new image is white. I used Paint.Net for this, but any image editing software will do.

You may wish to create a lower resolution version or two, e.g. 256×256 and 64×64 in your image editor as well. L3DT will resize the higher resolution image as needed, but it’s fairly slow at doing that.

Now in L3DT, create a new project.

Use the settings shown below (if you want your continent to be the same size as mine, 2097km x 2097km… note that this first iteration says the map will be 262km x 262km, but we’re going to expand the map several times before we’re done)

The default settings on the next page are good:

Move the Altitude range slider to Flat. Leave the Average altitude and Lakes sliders alone. It should be safe to tweak the other ones if you want.

Create only a design map:

Right-click on the design map and select View / Image drape…

Select the map you previously prepared. It will be overlaid semi-transparently on the design map.

Zoom in to the map as needed and tweak the individual cells in the design map to match the terrain from the original 2D map

We’re going to go through a few rounds of resizing the design map to be larger (so we can fill in more and more detail). To make it easier to back out of one of those rounds, I suggest you save each one with a unique file name (here I used the current resolution of the design map 64×64 as part of the file name):

Now resize the design map by doubling both width and height without changing anything else

Again, zoom in and shape the terrain to match your map.

Repeat that step two more times, until the heightfield size is 32768×32768 (with a design map of 512×512) and voila…






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