EarthSculptor Manual

EarthScultor is a tool for designing and painting heightmaps, useful in art projects, geographic visualization and game development. Earthsculptor allows you to start from scratch, or work from an existing heightmap and saves heightmaps as a 16-bit png image. Earthsculptor works well with other paint programs to edit your heightmaps and textures, and can be used simply as a visualization tool.



Camera Controls

Tool Controls

User Interface

The Menu

Painting Textures

Material and Color Picker

Tool Bar







Creating a new map

Map Format

Tips and Tricks




mouse right mouse button controls camera orientation
mouse scroll wheel controls camera zoom

alt + left mouse button - rotate around cursor point
alt + middle mouse button - pan
alt + right mouse button - zoom


default movement controls (can be changed in menu->camera->keyboard controls)
move forward/back/left/right e/d/s/f
up/down a/z

numeric key pad (numlock on)
forward/back/left/right 8/2/4/6
camera roll left/right 7/9



left mouse button - terraform and paint color/detail


space bar - when terraforming switches to a vertex point tool to modify vertices
shift + left mouse button - up/down mouse movement changes tool radius
tab - switch to previously used terrain tool/detail texture
caps lock - hides/unhides UI windows
control + z - undo
control + shift + z - redo
Page up/ Page down - switch to a predetermined view
Home - goes to home position

control - special function key:
terraform: reverses raise/lower terraform, forces uniform height when using level terraform
color: color picker - sets the current working color from the colormap at the cursors position

1 - toggle LOD
2 - toggle Wireframe
3 - toggle Grid
4 - toggle Color Map
5 - toggle Detail Map
6 - toggle Light Map


EarthSculptor works by selecting various tools to work with from the tool bar control. The large property bar will change according to the tool selected. When adjusting tool variables you can click the edit box and raise the numerical value by holding the left mouse button and moving the mouse up and down to change the value.




New - create a new map

Load - load a map

Save/Save As. - save map


Show stats - show frame rate and poly count

Screenshot - dumps a screenshot of the current scene into the screenshot directory of Earthsculptor

Reload Textures - reloads all textures, useful if your using an external paint program to edit them and preview your results in Earthsculptor

Reload HeightMap - reloads the heightmap, useful if your using an external paint program to edit the heightmap and Earthsculptor to preview your changes

Smooth Textures - turn off to disable texture smoothing, usefully for precise painting of the color or detail map and to show the actual pixels of the various texture maps.


Heightmap Image- import png, tga, bmp image and scales to current map size


Heightmap - exports png and tga heightmap of the current terrain

Obj Export - exports the terrain to the common 3D .obj format, you have the option of exporting an optimized mesh or a dense mesh

Terrain Textures - exports any combination of color/detail/lighting texture map of any size


Detail height - automatically paints the map with 4 detail heights at the set heights

Perlin noise - generates or blends into the existing terrain a new terrain using the perlin noise algorithm


Camera Speed - slow, normal, fast camera speed

WASD keys - sets the camera controls to W/A/S/D for up,left,down,right

Set keys - sets the camera controls


allows you to go through a list of undo/redo operations that you made on your map


Access to this manual and information



Earthsculptor offers two combined options for painting textures, you paint directly onto a color map using the paint tool and the material picker/palette or you can paint repeating detail textures (up to 4) using the detail texture tool . The colormap and detail textures are combined together using the selected method in the terrain panel of either, add, add minus half or multiply. The terrain panel also allows you to switch off the paint,detail and lighting textures.



Material Picker


Selecting colors and textures in Earthsculptor is quick and offers a real time response to your changes. The palette and material picker is used to change color/texture with the paint tool and for changing texture/color for things such as water color, fog color, background, ect... You can either pick from the palette or make on the fly changes with the material picker.

To modify a palette item, first select the palette item, adjust the material in the material picker and click 'set palette' in the palette to make the change.


The EarthSculptor toolbar selects different tools and properties of your scene to work on. The property panel will change according to the tool selected.


The terrain parameters in general, turn on/off LOD, fog, change height, underground texture, background and skyboxes

LOD - sets the Level of Detail of the terrain, making the terrain appear less/more detailed but improving the applications performance

Height- Scales the maximum height of the terrain

Wireframe - turns on/off

Grid - turns on/off

Detail/Color/Lighting - Tucson corresponding texture map on/off

Color Mode - sets how the the detail and color maps interact with each other: add, add minus half or multiplying color values.

Fog - on/off, change near and far plane of fog as well as clipping plane for scene

Underground - clips water to perimeter of map, draws an underground section of terrain

Material - changes the underground material (texture/color)

Stretch - stretches the texture of the underground material texture

Scale - changes the scale of the underground material texture

Set Skybox - opens a dialog to change the textures of the skybox



8 tools to change the terrain: raise, lower, level, grab, smooth, erode, push and ramp. Use the left mouse button to apply the tool.

Hold shift and move the mouse to change the radius of the tool while your cursor is on the map.

Hold cntrl key while using raise or lower to reverse the action, using while level constrains the height of the level

You can undo/redo your changes by using the menu or cntrl-z/cntrl-shift-z

Terraforming automatically updates the lighting and shadows (if enabled), applying the tool to larger parts of the map will effect the response of recalculating the lighting

The tools are pretty self explanatory, play with them to find out what they all do.

Softness controls the strength relative to the center to the end of the radius. 1 is really soft, 0 is hard and applies the same force within the radius.




Paint 4 or 8 detail textures (depending on the map you create)

Hold shift and move the mouse to change the radius of the tool while your cursor is on the map.

You can undo/redo your changes by using the menu or cntrl-z/cntrl-shift-z

Click on each detail texture to paint with it on the map

With the current detail texture selected you can set a new detail texture and change the parameters

Height forces your brush to draw at the applied height within a specified range.

Slope forces your detail brush to only draw on parts of the map with a certain slope angle, you can toggle multiple slope angles to increase the range



Paint color and texture to the color map using the material palette and picker

Hold shift and move the mouse to change the radius of the tool while your cursor is on the map.

Hold the control key and the cursor will change to an eyedropper which can be used to set the current color to selected pixel color off of the color map.

You can undo/redo your changes by using the menu or cntrl-z/cntrl-shift-z

You can store and use 6 materials to the color panel and adjust the parameters of each one individually

You can select color/texture to paint with by using the material picker and palette

Height forces your brush to draw at the applied height within a specified range

Slope forces your detail brush to only draw on parts of the map with a certain slope, you can toggle multiple slope angles to increase the range




Adjust lighting and shadows, generate new lightmaps for the map

When this tool is enabled, an arrow appears in the center of the screen. Holding the left mouse button and moving the mouse adjusts the light direction. Regenerating the lightmap or terraforming the terrain will change the lightmap.

Generate Entire Lightmap - re-lights the lightmap

Ambient/Light - changes the ambient and strength of the light

Direction/Pitch - adjust the direction of the light

Shadows - enables/disables generation of soft shadows

Shadow Dist - sets the maximum distance a shadow can go

Falloff - adjust the softness of the shadow over distance



Enable/disable water and change it's height, scale, distortion and color

The water is pretty self explanatory, play with parameters to find out what they all do.

You can further modify the way the distortion and water looks by changing the uvdv and normal map textures, they are found in data/textures of your earthsculptor directory. You can use Nvidia texture tools with photoshop to create new ones.



To create a new map go to the menu file->new, you will be presented with the new map panel where you can select the size of the terrain and size of the color detail and lighting texture maps.

Texture splitting splits all the texture maps into 4 or 16 separate smaller sized textures by splitting the texturemap once(1) or twice(2) respectively, this improves performance painting the maps on large maps as only the affected textures needs to be updated.

Detail textures allows you to set the number of detail textures you can use in the terrain, 4 or 8

RGB lighting allows you to use RGB color to define the lighting of the lightmap alternatively to just grayscale lighting.



EarthSculptor outputs the maps as follows - this is an ascii file containing all the parameters, colors, texture names used in the map

mapName.png - this is a 16-bit grayscale png representing the height values of the map

mapName_l.png - this is the lightmap of the map

mapName_c.png - this is the colormap of the map

mapName_d.png - this is the detailmap texture of the map, each channel represents one of the four detail textures that make up the detail textures.

mapName_dd.png - this is the second detailmap texture of the map if your map is supporting 8 detail textures, each channel represents one of the four detail textures that make up the last 4 detail textures.



Working with external tools to change your terrain and color texture map

You can work with the terrain and color map in an external editor while you work in EarthSculptor. Open or create a new map, go to menu utility->explore, open the mapName.png and/or mapName_c.png in your favorite image editor, modify the map or colormap and save it in your image editor, in EarthSculptor go to menu utility->reload height map and/or utility->reload texture map. You can re-light the map and work between applications to create your terrain. This is also a quick method of importing heightmaps, geographic images and overlays into EarthSculptor from external sources.

Changing Existing Maps

All old maps will have to reset their ambient and light values in lighting and recalculate, since EarthSculptor switched to RGB color support for lightmaps (note that it still works with grayscale lightmaps as default).

Modifying Existing Maps

To change lightmap RGB/Grayscale, simply open the lightmap .png in an image program and set the image to grayscale or RGB.

To have 8 detail textures, just create or remove an additional detailmap with the format detailmap_dd.png (it has two 'd's)

Texture Splitting
This is hard to do. You have to modify the .map file to have 1 or 2 divisions (default is 0), and split the tile texture manually for each lightmap, detailmap and colormap into (4 or 16 separate files) of the current size divided by 2 or 4 (1 and 2 divisions respectively)

Note that to simply change the content of any of the light/color/detail maps or any of the textures, you can always re-load them in the program from the utility menu. This makes for effective use of other image applications to modify your heightmap






Copyright (c) 2004-2006 Ernest Szoka