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Flattening Terrain

Now, the level is still a little empty. If this is a lake that people visit to go fishing, then there needs to be a small fishing house and a road leading to it, right? That's why we'll now add those separately.

First, we'll create a flat area on which we'll place a fishing house and later on some trees and grass. We'll do this by once again opening the Terrain Editor and under Sculpt, choose Flatten.

We'll flatten the surface to a height that's just above the water level, so we'll set the Height to 17. Make sure that the brush isn't too big, otherwise you'll flatten the mountains.
Make a reasonably sized flattened area that will be big enough for a house  and a few pine trees. Jump into the game to check out the in-game scale of the area that you have just created.

Smoothening The Edge

The slope at the water's edge would probably be much smoother in real life - it wouldn't just drop straight down. So let's make the edge a bit smoother with the Smooth tool. We don't want the brush to 'pull' too much of our newly formed area back under water, so let's set the Radius of our brush to 2. Now we can drag the brush over the terrain edge to make it a bit smoother.

You'll notice that the terrain textures haven't changed along with the now changed height level, but you will have to paint your new flattened area manually. This means clicking the Paint button in the Terrain Editor, selecting the Grass layer (see info below for your flattened area), clicking the Paint button in the bottom section and painting where it's needed.


You'll notice that because we set rules for Min Height etc. earlier on, you won't be able to paint grass on the platform. For this step, you'll have to turn off Mask by Altitude and Slope.

Make sure to turn it back on afterwards, though, because if you need to paint or flood the Grass layer later on for any reason, it will cover all the mud too!

Let's cover our flat area with grass, apart from the edges of course.

We now have a nice little flat area that we can place things on:

Pic1: Flat area created


Now it's time to add a nice little house to rest in after an exhausting day of fishing.

To add an object, we'll open the Create Object tool. This is located at the top left of the screen, in a tab next to the Console (you can also find it in Tools -> Level Editor -> Create Object):

Pic2: Create Object tool

In CRYENGINE, static objects that can't be interacted with, like houses, are called 'brushes', so let's select Brush. Now, we can navigate to the specific 'brush' that we want to place in our level, or we can simply search for it in the search box. Let's search for "house". If you click the arrow on the left of the items in the navigation window, you'll see that it only shows folder trees that lead to assets with "house" in their name.

Now we can navigate much more easily to the fishing house we want to add to our level. click the arrows on the left and go to Assets -> objects ->
architecture -> buildings -> fishing_houses, and select the asset called fishing_house_a.cgf. Double-click on the asset and move your cursor into the Viewport. Click when your fishing house is where you want it to be to confirm. Alternatively, you can drag it into the Viewport, but letting go of the mouse button will place it immediately. 

This house is placed in the level at a certain angle, but we can rotate it around as much as we want. Let's do that to make one of the narrower sides (the front or back) face the lake so we have a nice view over the water.

We do this by clicking the Rotate button in the toolbar in the top of the screen:

Pic3: Rotate button

You'll notice that the Axis Gizmo now looks like several semi-circles representing each axis. We want to rotate it around the Z axis, so we click and hold the yellow semi-circle and drag the cursor left or right until the house is positioned the way we like. We may have to move it around if for example, it rotates into a mountain or over the water or the mud on the lake's edge. We do this with the Move button, which can be found next to the Rotate button in the toolbar:

Pic4: Move button

If you need to move the house, make sure you select and drag the square on the X and Y axis, otherwise you'll drag it up and down, and we want it to stay on the ground. You can also use axis constraints to make sure it always moves along the X and Y axis.
To do this, you have to show the Constraints toolbar first by right clicking the toolbar and choosing Constraints:

Pic5: Showing Constraints toolbar

A new toolbar will be shown. Select the XY button on this toolbar:

Pic6: XY constraints button

Now you can just click and hold anywhere on the house instead of on the axis gizmo, and move it around without being able to move it upwards or downwards.

Once you're satisfied with the position of your fishing house, we'll continue.


Making Room for the Road

You'll probably be wondering how anyone would get to this little fishing paradise. After all, it's surrounded by mountains that are far too steep to climb. Well, we will make a road leading through the mountains to the house. To do this, we'll first have to make a valley of sorts to lead our road through.

Open the Terrain Editor and choose Sculpt -> Flatten. We'll set this to the same height of the flat area we created earlier, so 17.


A quick way to set the brush to the exact height of a particular point on the terrain is to hold Ctrl while clicking on the terrain. Alternatively, you can click the Pick button next to Height in the Terrain Editor. You'll see the Height change to a very specific value, and if you move the cursor to an area that's lower than the terrain you 'picked', you'll see a yellow line at the cursor. This shows how much higher the terrain you picked is compared to the terrain the cursor is currently on:

Pic7: Pick height tool

Because we'll want the slopes of this valley to be fairly gradual, we'll select a large Outside Radius for the brush and a smaller Inside Radius. The Inside Radius should still be reasonable though, to make the bottom of the 'valley' fairly flat for our road. Let's set them to 7 and 2 respectively. Make sure the Hardness isn't too high, so you can sculpt the 'valley' gradually and the terrain won't drop to a height of 17 instantly. Now we're ready to sculpt a valley through our mountains. Click the mountains next to the valley a few times too, to reduce the steep drop right next to the road a little.

For a nice effect, you may want to consider not sculpting a completely straight valley, but a curved one, so that you won't see the lake and everything else right from the beginning.


Make sure there are still some steep mountains at the edge of the level, otherwise you'll be able to drop off the level and into the endless ocean! It's better to just not sculpt the valley right up to the edge but leave some mountains in place. Jump into the game (Ctrl+G) to check if it is indeed impossible to jump off, and use the Rise/Lower tool and a small brush with low Hardness to make the terrain a little bit higher if necessary.


You'll notice that the terrain will keep its materials and textures again, like before. We'll fix this by going to Paint in the Terrain Editor, selecting Grass and a large brush.

We can simply paint the valley and surrounding mountains with this Grass layer, and afterward do the same with the Snow layer and the Cliffs layer, which should have a minimum height and should only paint these textures where they should be.

The Road

Now we're ready to make our road that will curve through our newly created valley. We could simply make a new layer, choose a material that resembles a road and start painting, but there's a much better way to make roads in CRYENGINE Sandbox that has a much nicer effect. We'll open the Create Object tool and go to Misc -> Road. If your Create Object tool is still on the Brush tool, click the arrow next to Brush first, or choose Misc in the drop-down menu:

Pic8: Back button

Pic9: Dropdown menu


Make sure to zoom out to a point where you can clearly see the valley and another terrain where you want your road to be.

When we move our cursor into the Viewport, we'll now see an axis gizmo appear. This will be the starting point of our road. Click once where you want the road to start, like in front of the door of our house. As soon as you move the cursor again, you'll see that a wide, red ribbon will follow it. This shows where our road will be. Click again where you want the next bend in the road to be and lead it through the valley this way. You'll see that the road will adjust itself automatically to make sure it has a natural curve to it. When you've reached the end of the road, double-click to confirm.

Don't worry if the road goes up the slope a little bit; we'll fix this later.

Next, we'll choose the material for our road. Make sure you have selected the road. You should see the axis gizmo at the start. if not, click and drag anywhere over the road, making sure you only select the road and no other assets.

Now we'll choose a look for our road. Right next to the Terrain Editor tab is the Properties tab:

Pic10: Properties tab

Clicking this will give us a long list of properties for the object we have selected, in this case the road. First of all, we'll choose a material for our road. To do this, we'll click the Browse button next to Override Material:

Pic11: Override Material browse button

In the window that appears, we'll navigate to materials -> roads and choose forest_trail. Click OK and you'll see that the big red ribbon has changed into a nice forest path.

Now the road might be running over the base of the mountains a little bit and the mountains may be a bit close to the road. We'll make sure there is some space between the road and the mountains by aligning the heightmap to the road. We do this by selecting the road again, going to the Properties tool and click the Align Height Map button at the bottom. You'll see that where the road is, the ground is now flat and the mountains have "moved away" from the road.


Again, the textures on the terrain will have to be re-painted. Go to the Terrain Editor, click the Paint button at the top and re-paint the grass (with Mask by Altitude and Slope turned off), Snow and Cliffs.

The Snow and Cliffs layers can be Flooded, but once again, don't do this with the Grass layer as it will cover all the Mud too when Mask by Altitude and Slope is turned off!

Turn Mask by Altitude and Slope back on in the Grass layer when you're finished.

Congratulations, we can now get to our fishing spot!

Pic12: Objects in place

You can add some more objects and brushes in the level, like rocks, a pier to dock a boat at in the form of a piece of bridge, etc. Use your imagination, but leave enough room for some trees and grass!


Jump in the game (Ctrl+G) and check it out!

Next, we'll discuss how to add some vegetation, like trees and grass.


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