How do terrains work?

How do terrains work?

Article Details

Poster: Morten
Article ID: 661
Posted: Wed 03 Feb 2016
Approved: Yes

How do terrains work?

There are two ways to work with terrains in Lumion:

1) Import your own model and tell Lumion to treat it like a terrain.
2) Use the built-in native terrain functionality in Lumion.

Import your model in Lumion and mark it as a terrain. Please note that marking an imported model as a terrain will require more system memory for storing additional collision data, so please only use this function sparingly. When you move a lot of objects, performance may also deteriorate if you have marked a lot of complex imported models as terrains.

Context Menu -> Click on the object icon of your imported model -> Extra -> Mark as terrain -> On

Then assign a Landscape material to it. This allows you paint on it just like the "native" terrain in Lumion:

The editable part of the terrain in Lumion occupies a 2000x2000m square. Beyond this, you will not be able to change the height or paint the landscape. The height of your terrain fades out to 0m over the last 50m of the edges of the 2000x2000m square in order to blend in with the flat terrain outside the editable area.

Version 7 and newer:


You can create a terrain based on an imported greyscale Heightmap texture via the Load Terrain Map function.

Version 7 and newer:

Versions Prior V7:

The resolution of the Heightmap texture should be 1024x1024 pixels. The innermost 1000x1000 pixels are used to cover the 2000x2000m square. The outermost 12 pixels all along the edges are not used. Each pixel on the heightmap corresponds to 2x2m on the editable part of the Lumion terrain.

If you save a standard JPG file for use as a Heightmap in Lumion, 100% black equates to a terrain height of 0m and 100% white is equal to a terrain height of 200m. In other words, each greyscale step (from 0 to 255) is equal to 0.78125m.

As for the height scale of imported heightmap textures, the RGB values normally range from 0 to 1.0, but if you create a 32-bit image in Photoshop (Image -> Mode -> 32-bits per channel), you can boost the "whiteness" (and thereby terrain height range) by up to x20.

In other words:
RGB 0 to 1.0 in Photoshop = 0m to 200m in Lumion
RGB 0 to 2.0 in Photoshop = 0m to 400m in Lumion
RGB 0 to 3.0 in Photoshop = 0m to 600m in Lumion

Once you've created your heightmap, you'll need to save it as a 32-bit DDS heightmap in "32f" format using Nvidia's DDS plugin for Photoshop.

Make sure that you do not turn on 'Limit all textures to 512x512' in the Settings menu as this will reduce the resolution of the heightmap from 1024x1024 to 512x512 pixels. (applicable to versions prior to Lumion 6.5)

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