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    American Southwest - Monument Valley, Part Three: Creating A High Tableland Mesa


    Vandy

    This is Part Three of a five part tutorial on how to create an American Southwest terrain using SC4Terraformer. Within this tutorial are a number of "sidebars" -- that is, aditional explanatory information -- that cover the use of a number of the SC4Terraformer features and functions. It is recommended that this tutorial be done from Part One through Part Five so that the results obtained closely mirror the results of this multi-part tutorial.

    SIDENOTE: Using the SC4Terraformer Smooth tool.

    Before we get into this section of the tutorial, let's take a closer look at using the SC4TF Smooth tool. This tool was introduced in the first section of the tutorial. The use of this tool is pretty straight forward, however; I believe it would be useful to give a bit more detail on how to use it and the results it gives.

    You can consider this Sidenote to be "view and read" -- that is, it is not necessary to do the steps yourself unless you would like to see the results for yourself.

    First of all, I'm going to open the blank region we created and use it for the example. I will show this sidenote as a series of steps in case you would like to follow along.

    01) In the Sliders Window, select a Radius value of 15 and a Strength of 15.

    02) Leave the Min and Max Heights at their default values.

    03) In the SC4Terraformer toolbar, click on the Brush tools drop down arrow and select the MountainSteepHill tool.

    04) In the SC4Terraformer Main Window, position the terrain so you have most of the middle of the terrain available for terraforming.

    05) Position your drawing tool at one side of the terrain, click and hold the mouse button and S-L-O-W-L-Y move the drawing tool to the other side of the terrain. You should end up with something similar to the below example:

    01_Smooth_1st_Pass.jpg

    06) Repeat Step 05) going the opposite way with your drawing tool. You should end up with something similar to the below example:

    02_Smooth_2nd_Pass.jpg

    07) At any time during this Sidenote, please feel free to rotate the terrain in order to see the results of any of these steps. It doesn't matter what position the terrain is in when applying the steps. I will keep the same orientation for my example throughout this Side Note.

    08) In the Slider Window, select a Radius of 10 and a Strength of 10.

    09) In the SC4Terraformer toolbar, click on the Zone tools drop down box and select the rough tool.

    NOTE: The rough tool will result in exaggerated changes in altitude of the terrain under the drawing tool.

    10) Position the drawing tool at one end of the mountain, click the mouse button and move the mouse at a normal speed to the other end of the mountain. You should end up with something similar to the below example:

    03_Smooth_3rd_Pass.jpg

    Okay. We've finally created an object on which we can use the smooth tool. I'm going to show the results of the smooth tool at four different Slider Window settings in order for you to see the difference the settings make in the results. The Min and Max Height values will be left at their default values for these examples.

    11) In the Slider Window, select a Radius of 5 and a strength of 5.

    12) In the SC4Terraformer toolbar, click on the drop down arrow and select the Smooth tool.

    13) Position your drawing tool in front of one end of the mountain, click the mouse button and S-L-O-W-L-Y move the mouse over the mountain and off onto the other side of it. You should end up with something similar to the below example (I've zoomed in order to see the smoothing result better):

    04_Smooth_4th_Pass.jpg

    14) Repeat Steps 11 through 13 with a Radius value of 10 and a Strength value of 10. You should end up with something similar to the below example (I've zoomed in order to see the smoothing result better):

    05_Smooth_5th_Pass.jpg

    15) Repeat Steps 11 through 13 with a Radius value of 5 and a Strength value of 15. You should end up with something similar to the below example (I've zoomed in order to see the smoothing result better):

    06_Smooth_6th_Pass.jpg

    16) Repeat Steps 11 through 13 with a Radius value of 10 and a Strength value of 20. You should end up with something similar to the below example (I've zoomed in order to see the smoothing result better):

    07_Smooth_7th_Pass.jpg

    Notice as the Radius increases, the amount of terrain that gets smoothed increases. Likewise, as the Strength value increases, the amount of smoothing done on the terrain increases. Also, if you rotate the terrain so that the opposite side of the mountain is viewed, you'll see that the smoothing was not equally applied to this side as shown below:

    08_Smooth_8th_Pass.jpg

    In the below example, I have repeated the same smoothing using the same settings as in Steps 13 through 16:

    09_Smooth_9th_Pass.jpg

    As you can see, smoothing on both sides gives a more uniform result. This process can be useful when creating a "saddle" or, low point, between two mountain peaks.

    END OF SIDENOTE

    Creating A High Tableland Mesa

    A mesa is defined as a broad, flat-topped elevation with one or more cliff-like sides. This high tableland is commonly found in the Southwestern United States.

    In this section of the American Southwest tutorial, we are going to create a high tableland mesa. The mesa will go the length of one side of the terrain. Let's make this mesa approximately 370 meters in height (approximately 1100 feet). Follow the below steps to create the mesa.

    01) In the Slider Window, select a radius of 15 and strength of 20.

    02) Select a Min Height value of 0280 and a Max Height value of 0650.

    03) In the SC4Terraformer toolbar, click on the Brush tools drop down arrow and select the Mesa tool.

    04) Position the terrain in the SC4Terraformer Main Window so that you can see one complete side of the terrain

    NOTE: You can pick any of the four sides you like. I will use the Northern most side.

    05) Starting at one corner edge of the terrain in the SC4Terraformer Main Window, click the mouse button and, allowing the mesa to raise to the and/or near the Max Height value, S-L-OW-L-Y move the mouse to the opposite edge of the terrain on the side being terraformed. You should end up with something similar to the example below:

    NOTE: You may wish to zoom in on the terrain in order to get a better view of the rising mesa.

    11_High_Mesa_1st_Pass.jpg

    When creating the High Tableland Mesa, you will need to be careful and be sure that ALL of the terrain area is included in the mesa. It is very possible that the terrain BEHIND the mesa has not completely been raised. You'll want to either rotate the terrain and terraform it to the appropriate height or terraform it from the front of the mesa.

    And...

    ...We've created a High Tableland Mesa! We're done, right?

    (Y'all know where this is going by now, don't you?)

    NO! Map This! - Cartography Services (MTCS) never does things quick or easy. 2.gif Let's add some detail to the mesa similar to what we did with the butte.

    06) In the Sliders window, change the radius to 1 and the Strength to 20.

    07) Set the Min Height value to 0280 and the Max Height value to 0650.

    08) Click on the Zone Tools drop down arrow and select the Water erode Enhanced tool.

    09) In the SC4Terraformer Window, zoom in on one end of the high tableland mesa until it just about fills the window.

    10) Click on the top edge with the tool and slowly work your way to the base of the mesa.

    11) Notice that part of the wall of the mesa has been removed leaving an indented area which resembles a sheer cliff.

    12) Continue using the tool on the wall of the mesa as explained in Step 11, above, until you get to the other end of the high tableland mesa.

    13) You should end up with something similar to the below example:

    12_High_Mesa_2nd_Pass.jpg

    As you can see, we've done a great job of "roughing up" the wall of the high tableland mesa and made it look more rugged. Now, we need to add some bottom or, fill, along the base of the mesa.

    14) Chose a height value of about one fourth the height of the mesa by moving the drawing tool over the mesa's walls about a quarter of the way up the wall.

    15) Look in the lower right side of the SC4Terraformer Window Status bar and note the height in meters.

    16) Use this height to reset the Max Height Slider value plus 100 meters.

    17) I chose a value of 365 meters so, my Max Height value is set at 0465.

    18) Leave the Min Height value set at 0280.

    19) Set the Radius Slider to 3.

    20) Set the Strength Slider to 10.

    21) Click on the Brush Tools drop down arrow and select the Volcano Tool.

    22) In the SC4Terraformer Window, zoom in on one end of the high tableland mesa until it just about fills the window.

    23) Randomly click the mouse along the base of the mesa.

    24) Randomly hold the mouse button down for a longer time then,

    25) Randomly hold the mouse button down for a shorter time and,

    26) At the same time, randomly move the drawing tool up the wall of the mesa and out from the wall of the mesa.

    27) Slowly work your way across the base of the mesa until you get back to the other end of the high tableland mesa.

    28) You should end up with something similar to the below example:

    13_High_Mesa_3rd_Pass.jpg

    We now have a great base added to the high tableland mesa -- rough in places, high in some areas, lower in others and a nice mix of rock and soil. Some of the places look a bit too rough. We'll correct this by using the smooth tool.

    29) Leave the Radius Slider value at 3.

    30) Change the strength Slider value to 3.

    31) Leave the minimum and maximum height values as they are.

    32) Click on the Zone Tools drop down arrow and select the Smooth tool.

    33) In the SC4Terraformer Window, zoom in on one end of the high tableland mesa until it just about fills the window.

    34) Click on the top of the fill at the end of the mesa with the tool and slowly work your way to the base of the mesa.

    35) Be careful to not go up the walls of the mesa.

    36) You should end up with something similar to the below example:

    14_High_Mesa_4th_Pass.jpg

    Finally, let's finish the high tableland mesa by adding some roughness to the very top of the mesa.

    37) Change the Radius Slider value to 2.

    38) Leave the Strength Slider value at 3.

    39) Change the Max Height Slider value to 0700.

    40) Change the Min Height Slider value to 0650.

    41) Make sure the Zone Tools section is still open. If not, open it.

    42) Click on the Make Hills tool.

    43) Zoom in so that the top of the mesa almost fills the window.

    44) CAREFULLY click on the top of the mesa with the drawing tool randomly holding the mouse button down for longer and shorter times to create a bit of a rolling top to the mesa.

    45) You should end up with something similar to the below example:

    15_High_Mesa_5th_Pass_Finished.jpg

    And, FINALLY, we have a completed High Tableland Mesa!

    Here are three close-up shots of our completed example High Tableland Mesa.

    Left Side of Mesa

    16_Left_Side_Finished.jpg

    Middle of Mesa

    17_Middle_Finished.jpg

    Right Side of Mesa

    18_Right_Side__Finished.jpg

    Please note the steps I've given you in this tutorial are based on the way I make a High Tableland Mesa. They are by no means the only way a mesa can be made. Please feel free to modify any steps in this tutorial in order for your own personal style to be incorporated when terraforming with the SC4Terraformer application.

    Part Four of the American Southwest Terrain tutorial series will focus on "roughing" up the surrounding landscape to give it a more realistic feel. This section will also discuss adding smaller terraformed landscaping features It can be access by clicking on American Southwest Terrain - Part Four: "Roughing" Up Level Terrain.


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