Creating terrain textures

Our previous concept art articles already showed the perspective and style that Cross of the Dutchman will feature. It is now up to the artists and designers to stick as close to the concept as possible, and that means coming up with solutions to problems. One of these is the ground textures in CotD. The environmental concept art (read this article) shows how  sharp lines show the difference between what is grass and road, the tools Unity provides us with however are great when you’re creating mountains or rainforrests, but since we have neither in CotD, the standard set of tools are not quite up to the job.

Terrain created with the PATileTerrain tool

Terrain created with the PATileTerrain tool

Fortunately, Unity also comes with an asset store that allows developers to try and purchase plugins models and animations, helping you speed up the development process even further. We knew what we were looking for, an effect similar to what you see in RTS games like the recent Age of Empires Online. This ‘Tile Based’ approach basically means that designers come up with a series of puzzle pieces, that are then put together in a clever way to create the most elaborate constructions. The tool we found for this job is the PATileTerrain tool, made by Panerox on the Unity community. The tool is very close to what we’re looking for, and since it is delivered with source materials, we will be able to tweak it to our needs and get the results we we’re looking for!

Grass to road texture

Grass to road texture

Just to give you an idea of how this works, above you can see an example of a tilemap that shows how grass flows into dirt and vice versa. Pascal creates a tileset like this for each combination of terrain in CotD (over 20 have been identified so far), which then is compressed into a single texture. The surface is then split up into “Quads” to allow a single texture to be applied to each one. Once you do this hundreds of times, you end up with a result similar to the top picture. Keep in mind that none of the lighting has been applied, and it already looks fantastic!

6 Comments on “Creating terrain textures

  1.  by  Wilds

    It’s really starting to shape up! really like it!

    Tiles are awesome an ancient technique still used alot, allowing artistic details but can give a more blocky feel to the art if not done correct ofcourse!

    Isn’t texture splatting (if they use that technique in unity) appropiate for the job?

  2.  by  Greenhell

    Very cewl!
    I was wondering, does the screenshot represent the ingame camera angle?

  3.  by  Remco

    @Greenhell: Actually, not quite. It will be more of a birds-eye perspective although this isn’t far off.

    @Wilds: We’ve tried texture splatting, but even though we could have used a very sharp brush, the effect was not quite what we’re looking for. Using tilemaps gives us a very defined edge between two surfaces, exactly what we need. And yes, sometimes old techniques really do get the job done :-)

  4.  by  Wilds

    It really looks awesome! and I have to say it again, I really love the art style!

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