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Does your park look like it’s been built out in some random wilderness? Is your landscape giving the impression that your park’s Accounting Team bought it cheap? Would you like to give that final touch to the appearance of your terrain? In reply to this I’ve recently discovered some of the benefits of terrain painting and would like to share them here with you.

There are several terrain painting tutorials on-line where we’re shown the elaborate complexities of painting terrain by selecting every other terrain tile, choosing alternate terrain rows and columns, or manipulating the terrain in some way prior to painting it. Many of these tutorials seem to be aimed at showing the viewer how to benchmark terrain painting rather than demonstrating its more practical uses. The gradations and subtleties of these methods are very nice if one is going to give their all to painting the terrain and then display that terrain for its own sake rather than build a park over it.

Further, alternate painting and manipulating the terrain prior to painting it are approaches that seem to be aimed at giving the gamer a whole other texture in his terrain painting pallet, something that’s completely unnecessary with TexMod. TexMod will inject our own textures into each of the thirty-two terrain texture slots & six cliff texture slots available in the game. This gives nearly forty opportunities for texture replacement.

The terrain painting method outlined here:

gives bolder results with more visual contrast,

accentuates the contours of your landscape rather than obliterating them,

gives any perspective views of your park more interest,

is convenient and more straight forward to do and therefore gives the gamer complete control over his results,and

is well suited to any terrain on which a park will actually be built.

As with any RCT3 landscape, the terrain textures blend at their very best on land that’s been smoothed with the terrain averager.

Image 01, How To's: FTA's Terrain Painting, Page 1

Terrain should be averaged before any scenery has been placed. If you find yourself in the position where you've already placed vegetation and structures before wanting to alter the shape of the terrain, our tips on this webpage will be helpful.


In the past, my usual approach when building a park was to use a single texture for the terrain surfaces and put all my effort in to the park itself. This changed when I was near completion of my park Hillside On The Lake. Although everything in this park is suspended above the terrain, oddly it was near the end of my work on this particular park that I gave serious consideration to how much of an improvement I could make to the overall appearance of my park if I used more than a single terrain texture.

To start I whacked all the LOD’s down to zero and zoomed out to some distance so I could see all the terrain at the same time. With all the LOD’s tuned out like this the only things visible in the park were a few particle effects and some ride cars.

Image 02, How To's: FTA's Terrain Painting, Page 1

Up until I’d worked on this park, if I ever used more than a single texture for any terrain my efforts would have been made up of little more than painting the seabed in any body of water with a different texture. With the seabed painted the resulting contrast did go some way to suggest a coastline. It added a little interest to the park and gave the water in the lake an altered appearance as can be seen in this next image.

Image 03, How To's: FTA's Terrain Painting, Page 1

The thing to remember with terrain painting in RCT3 is that we usually want to paint sweeping curves onto undulating terrain while using a painting system that’s based on straight-sided squares. This means we can’t paint curves exactly right but we can come close. In spite of my best efforts to paint textures in curves as shown in the previous image, at this distance we can just discern some of the square-ishness in the terrain texture that is shaping the coastline. Fortunately this is something which isn’t all that much noticeable when we’re closer to the park.


Now that we’re done with the underwater terrain we’ll focus on the remainder of the park map. I’ve decided that in addition to the base terrain texture and the seabed texture I’ll add two accent textures. This is the complete terrain texture pallet being used:

Image 04, How To's: FTA's Terrain Painting, Page 1

Because I’m now doing more than following a coastline to guide my results, at this stage I need to know the shape of the terrain before I pick up the brush but it’s difficult to get an idea of the actual shape of the park’s terrain while this far out so I’ve enabled the blue ghost terrain grid.

Image 05, How To's: FTA's Terrain Painting, Page 1

This grid does a beautiful job of displaying all the contours in the landscape, helps to tell at a glance where the hills & slopes are, and enables us to better consider the direction in which to brush on our terrain textures. The blue ghost grid has also shown that I first need to focus on the obvious terrain irregularities of which there are five in this park. The next image will show the terrain alterations made during this park’s progress when I:


lowered a few of the terrain tiles to enable a tunnel transition from the underground park entrance into the main suspended access path,


lowered the terrain beneath the upper sections of Giant Slide so I could place it lower to the ground enabling this attraction to sit closer to the park’s terrain,


made an indent to accommodate one of the track turns made while building Woodie,


made a deep indent to enable the placement of special track elements in Turbo Bikes so that the remainder of that track wouldn’t tower too high above the rest of the park, and


placed a few of the stalls in Food Court West. The slight natural bulge in the hillside there resulted in minor indentations made to the terrain.

Image 06, How To's: FTA's Terrain Painting, Page 1

Although I’ve created terrain irregularity B by lowering the terrain below the upper part of Giant Slide so it places closer to the terrain, this indentation won’t get painted in another texture because I know there will be a wall built around the base of the slide and whatever the texture will be on the terrain there, the indentation won’t be visible behind the wall. I’m also going to ignore E and any other minor dents made as a by-product of any paths and track being built because such small dents won’t be noticeable when the LOD’s are turned back up and the blue ghost grid is turned off.

How To’s: Terrain Painting - Artistry In Landscaping, Slider A Thumbnails Collage: Indentations Review - For Illustrations 07, 08, & 09

We’re going to paint over A, C, and D with the primary accent texture (mossy rock) so that these indentations will look purpose-built for the park.

Image 10, How To's: FTA's Terrain Painting, Page 2

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