View Full Version : Landscape mapping help/advice needed

06-18-2005, 08:18 AM
Hi all here is where I'm up to

Scanned a map and place points along the contour lines via points > open curve method.

So now I have a number of poly lines with many point along them.
Originally I was going to go along and choose 4 points at a time then click p to form a poly (the final ground plane, if you like). But the landscape is VERY complicated and i was wondering for a quicker method of getting the job done, so is there a plugin that will just create polys from any number of given points?


I was going to use " Dynamics as a modeling tool". ftp://ftp.newtek.com/pub/LightWave/Tutorials/Vidz/dynamicmodeling.mov

BUT when I let my top plane lowers onto the open curves (via a gravity setting of -9.8m) it just passes through and does not react to the points or poly lines to create the shape I want.

In the video of Protons any one any idea of what settings the 3 boxes would have to stop the cotton thin material from just passing straight through?

Proton? Anyone? Dynamics not being my strong point :rolleyes:

06-18-2005, 09:44 AM
Displacment maps: if you are using a topo, you can trace the topo lines in a seperate layer, tracing each elevation marker with a lighter shade of grey then use gaussion blur to blend it. What you create is an alpha channel for the elevation. I think there is even a tutorial on this here on NT's site. You can also get the DEM off mapmart.com and skip the tracing process, but usually it is harder to get exactly what your looking for. If you are looking for more detail than that...

06-18-2005, 11:15 AM
BGConform, maybe? If you put your points in a background layer and a highly subdivided plane in foreground, BGConform will move the points in the foreground toward the points in the background. Might work. Creates a fairly convoluted surface, since multiple FG points may fall upon a single background point. Merge points afterwards.

When I'm doing real landscapes, I always use DEM files (Digitial Elevation Maps). They're available for most of the continental U.S. from the USGS. I then convert them to a DXF file using Vistapro, and import into Lightwave modeler. Here's a pointer to the download site (free is slow, payed subscription is faster):


To find the DEM you want, you need to know the name of the 7.5-minute topo map. I find the USGS feature locator really handy:


If you know the name of a populated area, peak, lake, or other feature within the area, it will tell you the name of the associated topo map, along with latitude and longitude of the feature. Pretty amazing!

BTW, I really prefer Vistapro for rendering landscapes and real topography visualization, since it allows tree placement, water, clouds, etc., and has a really fast renderer. I then use the VP renderings as background/foreground plates to add LW objects, etc. Might check it out.


06-18-2005, 11:24 AM
BG Conform sound intresting, the main problem with DEM's is I'm based in the UK and to get anything worthy of the scale I'm working at is something I have not found as yet, US have lot's more resources when it come to this type of thing.

Ideally if I could find a site that does DEM's of the UK at the 1:25000 scale I'd be sorted :) I think I'd have to pay BIG money to Ordance Survey for this though as they have the strangle hold on all mapping in the UK. :rolleyes:

I've done the grey scale painting before and it works sort of, but it's knowing what grey to use where to get the landscape looking as it should.

cheers for the help though.


06-18-2005, 11:43 AM
Ok next question is where is Background Conform :eek:

Acording to the manual PDF it's under Modify > Transform More BUt it's not there :confused:

Had a look in the plugin folders and unless it's been renamed it does not seem to be in Lightwave 8.3?


Right think I found it it's now called
Bkg to Morph under the Map tab tried it and it was not very sucessful one way and the other way crashed Lightwve :eek:

Worth a try though.

06-18-2005, 12:30 PM
It's not added by default in V8.2. Dunno why.

Its in the Program Files\LW[8]\legacy_plugins\modeler folder in the spherize.p plug-in. I then added it to the appropriate menu.

I think BG to morph is different.


06-19-2005, 01:54 AM
It's not added by default in V8.2. Dunno why.

Its in the Program Files\LW[8]\legacy_plugins\modeler folder in the spherize.p plug-in. I then added it to the appropriate menu.

I think BG to morph is different.


MonroePoteet I want to marry you and have your children :D You are a star!!!!

The plugin works a treat! All I did (for any one who wants to know)

Very basic Tutorial warning!!

1) Placed the map as the background (top, view) in modeler (I set my grid to match that of the map below to keep all scales correct).

2) Traced the contor lines with points and make each line of points an open curve. Open the numeric pad and set the (now curve) in Y to the height given on the map).

3) Once all the contours are all traced (I did each line on a layer of it's own). I then merged all the layers into 1.

4) In layer 2 create a dence mesh of a square at over your back ground lines. not very wide in the Y axis but in X and Z must at least cover all the lines below.

5) Sub Patch it (Tab)

6) Now with the square mesh in the fore ground and the lines in the back ground run the BG Conform plugin. Hey presto a landscape that is correct in scale and height to the real place :cool:

Some pointers

You must Sub Patch (Tab) the square mesh BEFORE you run the BG Conform other wise you end up with a very poor mesh full of holes.

If you have large areas of woodland create a dence boxed mesh for them as well (on a another layer or as another object). The points of which can then be used as reference for HD Instance for trees at a later date but by using the map reference your woodland will be the same scale as the landscape.

thanks once again MonroePoteet :)

06-19-2005, 11:03 AM
Glad it worked! Thanks for posting the process. I have a friend who's doing a manual survey of his property (i.e. no DEM), and it sounds like your technique is perfect for that kind of mapping application.