How To Edit Terrain In StarCraft 2 Editor

We’ve alreaady showed you the basics for making your own map; now it’s time to dig a whole lot deeper into of the trickier aspects of making your custom map really stand out, and today, we’re going to show you how to edit terrain in the StarCraft 2 Galaxy editor.

Creating your own StarCraft 2 mod is the dictionary definition of survival of the fittest. Your map is only playable online. That’s right, no practicing in Single Player, you’re going to have to submit your map to the judgment of your peers to do anything more than test it. If you want to escape the mockery of your merciless fellow players, learning to edit terrain will be essential. You’ll need to create a map with varied terrain, plenty of obstacles, and some cool scenery for your SCII soldiers to MDK each other in.

This being our first real attempt at a detailed map, we decided to commemorate the upcoming College Football season (and our own college days) with a map that seeks, in an ever-so-clumsy way, to recreate one college ball’s bitterest rivalries. NOTE: Recreation will NOT be to scale. However, it will be awesome.

TOOLS:

First and foremost, to edit terrain, your going to need StarCraft 2 and a computer that can handle it. We assume yours is up to speed and you have everything you need, but if you must know for sure, right now, click here.for minimum specs and equipment.

Difficulty: Moderate

Table Of Contents

Step One: Create A StarCraft 2 Map

Step two: Galaxy Editor Modules

Step Three: Terrain – Water

Step Four: Terrain – Height

Step Five: Terrain – Doo-Dads

Step Six: Terrain – Textures

Step Seven: Terrain – Final Touches

Additional Resources

Step One: Create A StarCraft 2 Map

If you want to learn how to edit terrain, you’re going to need a map in which to do it. Ive been following this series, you should already have created one. If you don’t have one saved, just quick-start one: go to your file menu, select “New”, and in the window that pops up, choose “Map”, “Melee”, and Agria (jungle). If you like, shrink the map (we went with 160X160), and leave everything else default. Click OK.

Step two: Galaxy Editor Modules

To keep your terrain editing managable, we’re going to concern ourselves with 3 of three Galaxy Editor’s Modules (AKA the options you choose from along the top of your window, or by selecting from the relevant Function keys).

Terrain

Terrain is where you’ll be spending most of your time today. Here, you’ll be able to edit practically any aspect of the physical environment you’ll be setting your scenario in.

Doo-Dads

Doo-Dads are as integral to creating your map as the Terrain editor. They’re the special Terrain options, such as rocks, bridges, specific building or vehicle types, even lava geysers(!!!) or organic stuff like bushes and trees, that you’ll use to add personality and depth to the terrain once you’ve god-ified it. If the Terrain editor is your factory, Doo-Dads are where you get your aftermarket add-ons.

Units

We’ve dealt with units in greater detail in our most recent How-To. We won’t be creating a Custom Unit this time, but while learning how to edit terrain, we will be adding a few additional landscape options that are only available from the Units menu.

Step Three: Terrain – Water

First up, since it’s one of the trickier – at least, it’s damned un-intuiative – options in your Terrain editing toolbox, we’re going to cover Water first. Your first impulse is going to be to simply click the water tool and start adding water to the map. DON’T. If you do, you’ll notice nothing shows up! That’s because liquid water works in StarCraft kind of like it does on Earth, which is to say it doesn’t float. You’re going to have to dig some place for your water to flow in order for it to show on the map.
So, your counterintuiative first stop – the “Height” tool!

Select Height, and you’ll see a list of available brushes that allow you to do considerably fantastic things to your map. We’ll review them as needed; right now, hover over them until you see “Lower”, and click that brush.

(NOTE: All brushes work by hovering your cursor over the spot you intend to change, and left clicking. Holding down the mouse button automates the function.)

Now you’re going to dig your river. We decided to give our two factions their own (approximate) halves of the map, so we carved out a windy, diagonal river to separate them, grilled-cheese style.

As progress was made, we decided it was time to start adding water, just to make sure it worked, and we know you’ll want to as well. So head back over to your left-hand side, and select the Water box, like so:

Now, choose the “Add Water” brush and fill that shizz holmes.

As progress was made, we decided it was time to start adding water, just to make sure it worked, and we know you’ll want to as well. So head back over to your left-hand side, and select the Water box, like so:

Then choose the “Add Water” brush. Now fill that shizz holmes.

A little back-and-forth between the “Add Water” and the “Lower” tools and ta-da! You’ve got yourself a river. But don’t get cocky kid. You still don’t really know how to edit terrain. Now, it’s time to add some literal depth to your map with the “Height” tool.

Step Four: Terrain – Height

Now, click back on the “Height” tool, and this time, select the “Raise” brush.

We’ll start by adding some character to the upper right section of the map, like so:

Neat! Plate Tectonics!

Now that’s some real nice geological looking terrain right there. But you’ll need to create a space for your factions to base. That’s where the “Uniform” brush comes in. Head back over to your options on the left and, still inside the Height tools, select the “Uniform” brush like so:

The “Uniform” brush is one our favorite part of editing terrain. It’s really handy for smoothing out your map’s geology, a lot like God’s do-over button. Hover the mouse over any square on the map, then click – and hold down – the left button. Whatever the height of the square you’re in, that becomes a new default that you get to smear around the map until you can’t smear no more. Smear. SMEAR! Like so:

Smear.

And then this:

Becomes this

Finally, our first base-worthy zone. Meryl Haggard unavailable for comment.

Now, let’s create base-worthy zone number 2. Still inside the Heights section, ditch the “Uniform Brush” and go back to the “Lower” brush. Now, watch as we carve out a place so terrible even Satan himself wouldn’t choose to live there:

Ladies and Gentlemen, we give you StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty: Oklahoma Versus Texas. You’re Welcome.

But we’re not finished learning how to edit terrain yet. We’ll need to add some Doo-Dads to really flesh this thing out.

Step Five: Terrain – Doo-Dads

This is where things get really interesting. Doo-Dads offer the player a huge number of optional goodies; you give practically every tile on your map something entirely unique. Don’t worry, we’re not going to force you to do that – though you should really spend a long time doing so after reading this tutorial – but we are going to have some fun making the map pop, and the zone between our two bases fraught with peril.

Select Doo-Dads from the Modules. Now look over the the menu on your left. Lots of options, no? To keep you from going blind with choices, we’re going to suggest that you stick with Doo-Dads associated with whatever basic world your map is based on – like so:

We started with some debris to stymie the efforts of the units we might put into the map.

We’ll put some of these all over the map, and then? Why not add some shrubbery:

But mundane, I-can-see-it-from-my-house Doo-Dads are good and all that, but you’re learning how to edit terrain, not make an urban garden. This is SPACE. Let’s add something appropriately space-like:

The words you’re looking for: Hell yes.

But Char Spires need something to credibly char them. Something like:

That’s do pig. That’ll do. But before we go, let’s give our bases a little color. Nothing says “Grizzled Veterans” like brunt out beaters in the front yard, so let’s add some wrecked autos:

Now that we’ve grizzled up the map, it’s time to make your edited terrain look a little less “edited” and a little more nuanced. Let’s play around with “Textures”, and get rid of the monochromatic decor.

Step Six: Terrain – Textures

Reselect the Terrain Module. Now, select the “Textures” button and the “Textures” brushes will open. They do a lot – and we definitely recommend getting the hang of the “blend” brush once you’re comfortable – but for now we’ll concentrate on “Add Texture”. Choose that, then the Texture you want to add. We went with Agria Foliage.

It’ll take a while, but when you’re done, but the time spent is worth it. Also, in case you were worried, you’ll notice that changing the texture will have absolutely no effect on your Doo-Dads. They’ll still be there, burninating the countryside.

One last texture before moving on to the next step. To give our other base a little indigenous geology of their own, we chose “Agria Rock”:

Which looks like this:

Step Seven: Terrain – Final Touches

Don’t worry, you’re almost done learning how to edit your terrain. We just need to add some final details that might make things easier on your units; Let’s give them some roads, and some stuff in their bases worth defending: Roads

First, let’s add some roads to connect the Sooners with the Longhorns. This will simply the march of destruction you’ll be bring down on Texas. So still in the Terrain module, select “Roads” from your tool options, and below that, choose “Add Roads”:

We did roads in our first how-to, so we won’t belabor the point. SPOILER: We added some roads:

Next, we brought out the “Uniform Tool to smooth out some land so we could bring the road to the river:

Thanks to a generous grant from the StarCraft 2 WPA, we brought the roads down to Texas base.

Bridges

There’s still one problem you’re going to find while editing your terrain. So far as we’ve been able to find out, it’s not really possible to build a bridge that traverses a gap like a ravine, or a river, so we cheated. We used the “Raise” tool to bring up some ground, and then the “Uniform”tool to smooth it out.

And scene.

Units

Last but not least, we wanted to give our edited terrain some bases, for just a teeensy bit more personality. So click on the “Units” module. Now let’s add some buildings to each base:

Which led to:

It’s kind of like the first 2/3 of a Stephen King Book, while it’s still small-towny but not yet boring. And with that, our map, newly edited terrain and all, was complete. Please welcome OU Vs. Texas to the world.

Now that you know how to edit terrain, you can make your own bitter collegial rivalry. Too bad we’re not ready to fight just yet. Next time, we’ll discuss management of your Triggers. For now, bask in the Soonertastic glory.

Additional Resources:

First and foremost, Mozared’s guide to Terrains on SC2Mapster was REALLY helpful. They went in a different direction than we did, but they’re definitely better.

As always, Garden of Auir has is a great place to start.

There’s also a vast array of Youtube guides.

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3 Comments on How To Edit Terrain In StarCraft 2 Editor

Sierra

On October 1, 2010 at 11:55 am

Nice tutorial, Texas versus oklahoma, lol XD
How do you edit the Doodads, for example to make the spire smaller/Bigger?

Guinness

On November 5, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Great walk through. I pulled this up for the purpose of learning the water. One thing to watch for is that (at least with mine) the water tool is set for a default height of 9. Right clicking the tool and selecting the correct height will fix this issue so it works just like in this example!

Starcraft Mapman

On December 21, 2010 at 2:37 am

@Sierra

Press the spacebar while in the doodad toolbox (hotkey d). This will put you in a selection mode. Then, click on the doodad. A green circle should appear around it. Press/hold the numpad + or numpad – to change the size of your doodad. Other doodad options are available by double clicking on the doodad while in the selection mode, such as placement (X/Y Coordinate System), Color, Height, Rotation, Unilateral Scaling (just scaling either X or Y axis), Custom Textures, etc. Hope this helps buddy.