Terraining - Advanced

Tutorial By 2-P

Terraining - The Object Editor, Tips & Tricks

This tutorial will deal with the object editor and give you some basic and helpful tips on terraining.

Object Editor

An important step in becoming a good terrainer is to learn how to use the Object Editor properly. So we're now taking a look at the (important) functions of it.

Art - Animate In Fog: If set to true, the doodads will play their animation (of course only if they have one) even under the fog of war. Does it work? No. This works only for waterfalls.

Art - Default Scale: This allows you to change the size of the doodad, but since it's better to use the Maximum/Minimum Scales it can usually be ignored.
A little trick: The size changes don't affect certain effects that are attached to the doodads. This allows you to "extract" these effects when you set the Default Scale to a very low value (e.g. 0.01). This doesn't work for most of the models, since they don't have such effects.


Art - Fixed Rotation: Indicate what rotation the doodad will have when you place it. The doodad is freely rotatable when the value is set to -1.00.

Art - Floats: Determines if the doodad goes under water or stays above when you place it on water.

Art - Max Roll Angle and Maximum Pitch Angle: These two properties can be very helpful when used right. They allow you to tilt the doodads along the X and Y axis of the terrain. In other words: you can rotate your doodad in 3 dimensions.
The values work in radians, so if you want to give the doodad a half rotation (180 degrees), you have to set one of the values to -3.14. -1.57 (-3.14/2) would be a 90 degrees rotation, -6.28 (-3.14*2) a full rotation and so on.
Yes, the values have to be negative. (To insert negative values you have to allow negative values under File>Preferences and you need to press shift while double-clicking on the value.
Here's an example of some rotations -

Side note: Positive values will allow the doodads to tile along the axis, depending on the terrain shape they're standing on. Giving them +1.00 will have no effect as long as they stand on flat terrain.
See how the stone on this picture behaves -

Art - Tinting Color: Should be self explanatory. A simple, yet very effective option. The brighter a model is, the more it can be modified.

Editor - Maximum/Minimum Scale: Simple but very important. Many things in Warcraft have unrealistic scales (Small houses and trees) so they fit better into the strategy (melee) part. Try to make realistic sizes in your custom map!

Pathing - Pathing Texture: Determines how many space the doodad eats. It's useful to turn it off for smaller doodads like viny plants or small rocks or when you want to stack doodads.

General Terraining Tips

-Shift reduces the pathing of the a doodad to the minimum when you place it. This allows you to place doodads nearer to each other without removing the pathing.


-Crtl + Page Up/Down allows you to raise/lower the doodads in the air/ground. This a very useful function, don't forget it. :P


Trick: Let's say you want to put a little torch on top of this huge watch tower.


Finding the right place, under the tower, before you raise it is obviously very difficult. To solve this problem you simply go to Advanced and uncheck "Reset Fixed Object Heights" at the bottom. After that your doodads won't go back to the ground level anymore when you move them.

-(Natural) Blizzard cliffs are ugly. Avoid using them! Use the raise, lower and smooth tool to make smooth transitions between different terrain heights.
Let's take a look at some examples:
Islands -


Mountains -


You might have noticed the straight cliff in the picture above. You can make straighter cliffs than the World Editor normally allows you when you copy a specific .txt file in a folder called UI inside your Warcraft III folder. (The file is attached at the bottom of this post.)


-Noise is bad! Manually raise and lower your terrain and use smooth, it may take longer but it looks definitely better in the end.

-Make smooth transitions between your terrain tiles. Huge grass doesn't grow besides dirt. Dirt < short grass < grass < (dark grass) would be the better option.

Bad - (Image)

Good - (Image)

Well, it doesn't look that good, but that's because of the tileset...

-Lordaeron Summer is an overused and one of the ugliest tilesets, avoid its evil dirt. ;)

-Ramps look often quite strange, in the most ugly case you get those strange ripples.


Use raise and lower to remove them. (Smooth doesn't work here!)


It can also happen that the tiles have sharp, unnatural edges and/or weird lines inside them.


To avoid this use the ramp tile (the same tile than the ramp uses, here it's Snow)for the whole ramp and place environmental doodads to cover the edges.


Special Effects can give a very nice touch to the terrain when used right. Just browse through the buffs and abilities, you'll surely find some useful stuff. (For example the Faerie Fire buff looks like butterflies).


The atmosphere plays a major roll when making terrain. But it's not over when you "finished" your terrain, there are several things which can hugely increase the atmosphere and make your terrain look better.

Let's take this beach scene as example -

The probably most disturbing thing is the black sky. That's why we go in File>Preferences to choose a sky. (Here: Generic Sky)

Now we open Scenario>Map Options and check the box called Use Terrain Fog to create a fog fitting to the screen. Since there's already a bright sun in the screen I decided to use a yellow fog.
Besides that there are also different weather effects available to spice up your terrain. I added heavy wind in the background which gives a nice effect together with the yellow fog.

Custom Skies can add a neat and unique touch to the atmosphere of your map. And it's even quite simple to get them into your map.

What you need to do is to use WC3 Image Extractor and extract an image of a WC3 sky. Open it up with Photoshop or some similar program and paste your custom sky picture over the existing one. Then save it as a .tga file, convert it back to .blp (with the Image Extractor) and import it back into the map using the path specified in the Image Extractor.

The picture of the new sky must have the same size then the old one, which is 512*512! And note that the custom sky can only be seen inside Warcraft and not in the World Editor.

This is the sky I choosed to use in my map:

I replaced the Lordaeron Summer Sky in my example, so the path of the imported picture would be: Environment\Sky\LordaeronSummerSky\LordaeronSummerSky.blp.
And this is how it looks like in the map:

Hint: Choose a larger image and then reduce its size to 512*512, this way your skies won't get as blurry as my sky.

(Download Image Extractor)

(Thanks to Mullit for the info)

Additional Warcraft Skies
Note: This is only useful for taking terrain pictures, cinematics and inflexible camera positions.

As you might already know, we have access to the high poly models that are used as background for the campaigns. We can find them in the Game Interface category.
Some of those models have an extra, animated sky as background. Since we only want the sky to be visible, we have to hide the rest of the model. One way is to hide the rest behind another object, like a big house or a hill. Another way would be to lower it into the ground, since the sky floats above the rest of the model. If you do it that way be careful that the sky doesn't end up too deep.
Note that there's one nasty problem, which is the reason I rarely used these skies. The World Editor crashes when you select them (placing them is no problem!). However, I just got to know that this happens when objects are too large, (the skies of these models are really huge). That's why we lower the maximum size of the sky. A size of 0.1 - 0.2 should do the job.
It also seems that you can make the models larger when you use a unit as base, but maybe I'm just seeing things.
I still highly recommend you to save your map before you play around with these models.

And for the lazy ones, here are the paths:

Dark, moving clouds:

Blue sky with white, moving clouds:

Brown/red sky with red/orange, moving clouds and a sun:


Dark sky with moving clouds and a thunderstorm:


Night sky with stars and northern lights:

Grey sky with white, moving clouds:

(Continues in second post)

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