Terraforming Tutorials

It’s been a while since I’ve done any terraforming tutorials. And I plan to get some more out for you because they do seem to be getting a fair amount of hits.

However … I’m not the only one offering tutorials – there’s plenty of people also making tutorials. Here are a few of my favourites:

Terraforming with Servonator97

Servonator has made a very nice tutorial. The landscape he makes is quick – it barely takes any time to do at all and the final result is very beautiful. A great quick way to create a beautiful landscape….


Quick and Dirty Terraforming

It’s great reading other peoples tutorials because you always learn something – and in this one – I found a new way to create impressive landscapes. Whilst, I’m no stranger to lowering the ground in square – I have always opted for using the games built in tools for lowering ground – Aethien has really introduced me to the landscaping by squares. The map he’s made here can be downloaded from the park manager…


Meerkats Landscaping Tutorial

How did I get into terraforming? I followed this tutorial about 4/5 years back. I thought I’d give it ago and I made a landscape almost exactly like this. After browsing the forums sometime later – I saw a request from RCT_Crazy who wanted a set of islands made. I built the skills I learnt in this tutorial to the test and made his islands – and that’s where it all began.

This tutorial here:


Napstars Terrain Painting

A nice little tutorial on terrain painting. I am going to a more in-depth tutorial on this technique later – but here it is for now:


Realistic Terrain 

A great (but time consuming) approach to creating realistic terrain. It is VERY surprising how much of an effect this does. You can practically create new terrain textures by blending the existing ones in a uniformed approach like this – again – I will do a more in depth tutorial on this later.


Sams Tutorial for Land Coloring and Foliage

A nice little tutorial on how to create good looking terrain textures. There isn’t anything complex here and the final effect is fantastic!


I hope you enjoy these tutorials. If you know of any others please let me know or if you fancy making one – again, I will gladly post it for you. Everyone has something to share – so get following these tutorials and see where-in-the-world RCT3 will take you!!

Scan Track Files

Park Manager V1.3 uses DATCSO to scan for park files. You can use the DATCSO user interface to scan for CSOs and CTRs in a park file with the extension of ‘.dat’ or ‘.dat.bak’.

However, what if you’ve recieved a track file? Well, by default DATCSO only accepts parks ending in ‘.dat’ or ‘.dat.bak’.

So…To scan a track file…simply, rename the file.

If you rename the file, and change the .trk to .dat – you can run it through the Park Manager’s DATCSO UI and see all of the CSOs and CTRs in the file.

So for example:

[SPINNINGWILD] Spinner.trk
Is renamed to:
[SPINNINGWILD] Spinner.dat

Now open it in the parkmanager and scan it with DATCSO. There you go, all of CSOs

Tutorial – Avenging The Contours!

If you’re familiar with walking and maps you will know about contour lines. If you don’t, contour lines show the height of ground as well as the gradient. The closer the contour lines are together the steeper the incline.

RCT3 has contour lines and using them may prove very useful - especially in terraforming. They provide an easy way to determine height as well as gradient. In the image below, there is a small mountain range. On right image I have turned on the contour lines and we can see the gradient of the hill.

Shot0724So, how can we use these contour lines to aid our terraforming. For a starter, we can determine what is smooth. From the image on the left you can see that the central area of the range is fairly smooth – perhaps suitable for paths to be run up it?
However, when we turned on the contour lines we can see that not as much land is as smooth as we thought. The contour lines will help us determine the gradient and find out where will be suitable for building on.

However, one of my biggest uses is that of texturing. Since we can see the gradient it’s great to use them as a guide to texture. For example, the the more lines and the tighter they are the more mountainous we need to make our texturing. For example, applying a light rock texture across the lines in the centre with a darker texture to the areas that are steeper.

Any other uses?
A big use is for rivers or other bodies of water.


From the following image we have a simple river. Applying details to the river bed such as

scenery or texture can be difficult whilst there is water in the river. If we remove the water and enable the contour lines, the contour lines show a line which we use to reflect the depth of the water.

I’m going to use apply some mud texture to the base of the river and some muddy grass to the sides of the river. Using the line it is easy to know when to stop each texture.


Now we have nice textured river. Perhaps some rocks or some underwater plants would be nice. Using the lines we can get a great idea of the depth of the water.

No may be a good time to introduce the terrain avenger. This tool, is used to smooth terrain. It’s great for smoothing hills. It’s great for taking out areas of steep or rough terrain. It’s great for things such as rivers or oceans as you can create a gradual beach.

I’m going to use it for the river now to smooth some of the banks down:

In the image below I have smoothed one side of the river. You tell that many of the contour lines have disappeared indicating that the edges are smooth.

The final result is shown below:


As I said it’s great for making smooth beaches as the image below shows. The beach on the left has quite a sudden drop. However the one on the right is much smoother and realistic.


Whether you find lots of use for the contour tool or not it is definatly worth knowing about. The avenging tool however is an extremely powerful and useful too for creating smooth hills, smooth terrain or smooth beaches.

Tutorial – Mountains without the Mountain Tool

In my opinion, the mountain tool in RCT3 is a poorly named tool in the game. The tool creates a tall spike  - I don’t know about you – I have never seen a mountain that looks like that. So many parks I have seen have had these spikes sticking out the ground.

Spike Mountain

Spike Mountain not my favourites

Now I’m going to show you how make mountains that (in my opinion at least) look a lot more realistic without too much extra effort.

For our mountain, we are going to use the ‘Ridge’ tool. This will raise the ground more evenly. I suggest making the brush fairly big –  perhaps around 30-50 squares in size?

Now just drag over the area you want the mountain to be.

Of course, it is missing the key feature that exists on mountains – the peak/s. For this, we are going to stick to reduce the size of the ridge tool to as low as perhaps 8? The lower – the sharper the peak/s. 

Our Mountain To-be

Our Mountain To-be

 We are going to use this smaller brush to ‘rough’ up the mountain. We are going to add peaks to the sides and the tops of the mountain. Feel free to  experiment. Be careful not to make the peaks too big. Increase them fairly slowly.

Rough The Mountain Up

Rough The Mountain Up

I have turned the grid on so you can see the final result of our mountain.

Now for the textures. There are a huge variety of textures you can use for the mountains depending on your desired effect or theme. In this example, I am going to use a standard dark rock texture. Cover the mountain in your desired base texture.

You may want to touch up the parts around the mountain with as shown in the following image.


Using the squares you can see the areas where the ground is steeper than elsewhere. In the more flat areas we are going to add some grass.


Apply grass to the areas where the mountain isn’t as steep

Now, for the peaks we are going to add some snow. Hopefully this should finish the mountain off nicely.

A hint for apply these textures. Set your brush size to one square in size and make sure you colour one square at a time. It may take a while – but the effect is worth it.

I have only used three textures in this mountain. However, using more textures may produce a better result. Spending more time adding the peaks or blending the textures will create a better mountain.

Of course, different environments require different textures and mountains with different shapes. For example, a spooky environment I like using darker textures (such as tarmac) with steeper and more pointy peaks.

The choice is yours!

And here is my finished mountain!


Tutorial – Flattening in Increments to create Islands

If you’re going to terraform or even building on terraformed maps – you need to know about increments.

In RCT3, you can raise the ground by small amounts a time – in fact, lift a floor tile as little as 1cm off the ground. This allows you create beautifully smooth and realistic landscapes. However, raising the ground by 1cm a time has a problem – scenery can only be raised 1m at a time.

The tile on the left is raised less than a metre. SInce scenery can only be placed on exact metres (for eg 0m, 1m, 2m etc) the wall is floating,

The tile on the left is raised less than a metre. SInce scenery can only be placed on exact metres (for eg 0m, 1m, 2m etc) the wall is floating,

Quite often, when working on terraformed maps you may find scenery floating above the ground. That is because – although the ground looks flat…it isn’t an exact metre (may be 1.1m say).

This is where increments come in. Increments allow you raise or lower the ground in increments of 1m. Therefore, when you adjust the ground using the increments you are guaranteed not to have floating scenery.

You can raise/lower the ground in increments or even flatten the ground. Flattening the ground…does as it says…flattens the ground – but if you flatten with increments it ensures that the ground is suitable for building rides/scenery.

Top: flatten tools Bottom: raise/lower Note: the tools that adjust in increments have contour lines around them...

Top: flatten tools
Bottom: raise/lower
Note: the tools that adjust in increments have contour lines around them…

The flatten tool is a very useful tool for creating areas of flat ground suitable for building on. One of my favourite uses is to create a series of tropical islands. That’s what I’m going to show you now.

Firstly, cover your park in base texture. Perhaps mud or as in my example sand. Go to one edge of the map and using any tool lower the ground a little as shown in the image below:

Lower The Ground On One Edge

Lower The Ground On One Edge

Now select the ‘Flatten In Increments’ tool and click and hold the mouse at the base of the hole you made. See how the ground is flattened to that depth?

Flatten The Hole You Made

Flatten The Hole You Made

The next part is the fun bit. Holding the mouse down move it across the map, creating islands as you do…

This is a really easy way to create a series of island. And note, that since we flattened the ground in increments it will be easy for us to build in the water – which may prove useful if the islands don’t provide much dry land!


Continue flattening the ground to create islands

Continue flattening the ground to create islands

In my example, I’ve just done a small part of the map. But once you fill it with water you’ll find you’ll have a series of islands. Of course, you may want to spend a little bit more time than I did to ensure they look better.

Once you’ve added some water, perhaps add some patches of grass on the island?
Experiment with textures. If you look at my Black Fire Swamp on the application – that was made in the same way, expect – instead of using sand – I used tarmac.


As I hope you’ve learnt from this tutorial, increments provide a great way to edit terrain to create a perfect base to build upon. Hopefully you’ll understand why you get floating scenery and more importantly…

…You should have a nice terraformed island map!

Tutorial – The Drag Mode (Making a Crater)

The drag tool was a mode that I only found fairly recently. Most of my earlier terraformed parks were made without use of this mode. I am going to introduce it to you in this post.

Terraforming can get messy. When raising the ground or lowering it many times the ground moves quicker than you intended. The ground takes on a mind of its own and you are left with a mess.

The Drag Mode is here.

As its name suggests, the tool lets you adjust the ground by dragging it. You can drag the ground up and down getting it to the perfect point before releasing the mouse. No more uncontrollable terraforming!
The tool can be found under the button labelled ’1′ called Terrain Editing Mode.

Where to find the drag tool

Where to find the drag mode

With it selected, you can select a tool (such as raise terrain or lower it). In this example I am going to select a ‘crater’. Now just hold down the mouse button and move your mouse up/down and note how the ground moves accordingly.

Some craters.

Some craters.

In the screenshot (right) I have made a series of craters. In my opinion this mode works well for craters since the crater tool seems to get messy quickly.

I have filled the inside of the crater with mud and the base of the crater with tarmac.

This tool works well for any form of raising or lowering the terrain (however, doesn’t work too well with the tools that smooth the terrain).


Terra It 3 – Set Of Islands

I’m getting quite into my Terra It series.

Here’s the 3rd instalment  Now I’m using fraps and better audio recording features – so everything should be perfect!

A set of tropical islands – made in about 10 Minutes.

Leave a request on the video or on this post.