Best way to shape terrain?

I know how to create terrain (using displacements), but I don’t know any good way to shape it and to make a realistic cliff face or grass hill with power 2 or 3.
There is the Paint Geometry Tool, but it is only usable in 3 axises and symetrical.
The Sculpt Tool is useful, but way too fast and very difficult to configure.

So what is the best way/your way of creating terrain that is realistic and looks like Valve terrain from Episode 2.
I don’t mind how complicated it is, I want a full explanation.

Any tutorial I saw is just Basic Creation, which I understand.

Subdivision? That’s how EP2 and Dear Esther’s caves were made to the best of my knowledge.

That would make the cave 100% perfect, right?
I would need to make noise for that aswell…

But you can’t use Subdivision for cliffs or terrain, right?

take example from robert brisc

Ofc you can tweak it with the paint geometry tools, but that’s how you’d get the fundamental look/feel of the terrain.

Check this out too.

I did not know how powerful Subdivide really is, thanks a lot for those links! :wink:

Also just throwing this out there, but the tool can actually move in any direction. When using the paint geometry tool, hold down Alt+right click and it will move the displacement perpendicular to the displacement face. It’s very useful.

I always block out a rough terrain and make sure the vertices are aligned, and then I subdivide


You can also use the Sculpt tool to move it in any direction, or even toward and away from the screen. Holding Ctrl with the Sculpt tool reverses the direction too (no need to enter negative values).
Otherwise, if it fucks up you can use the Paint Geometry tool, uncheck spatial and use smooth. Or cover it with rocks or another displacement, nobody will ever know :slight_smile:

For anything that isn’t caves, I use this

You can subdivide every arrangement of displacements as long as they will find each other with the “Select adjacent” function

It servers to give you a better starting point when you start displacing verticies because all corners will be rounded(subdivided) as opposed to starting with a blocky shape.


Oh god, I can only imagine the compile times…

I’ve once used Terrain Generator from Nem, found it pretty easy to use and the result was also quite nice.

There are models for the cliffs and rocks and stuff that valve used in HL2.

This has to be a troll. This has to be a troll. Nobody can be this dumb. Sweet fucking mary mother of christmas nobody can be this dumb.

I literally shit the bed.

The carve tool isn’t that awful, now if it was a multiplayer map, I would be worried.

Are you sure about that? If it’s for a square window or doorway, then yeah, but for everything else, no way.

this is the only reason i used to consider using the carve tool,

now there is no excuse!

Off grid vertices?

For a casual/singleplayer map I see no issue with carve and hollow. It might give perfomance issues but so what if it was about making a map fast with micoroptimisations there are lots of much better things to do to make a map fast.
People flame carving but then go on to use 100s of Megabytes of different textures( 3 different textures for window, door and wall all high res even when most of the texture is exactly the same anyway ), don’t bother using hints or portals and pay no attention to any kind of budget.

there’s nothing wrong with off grid verts if you look after them properly