DEM's The Easy Way

Game Version: FS11 and later
GE Version: ? and later

Modding Index | Map Making Tutorials

First a list of things that are required,

Google Earth Microdem Image editor (Photoshop,, Gimp etc) Snipping Tool (Windows,All programms, Accessories) Giants Editor Blank Starter map of your choice 2k, 4k, 16k Open a New Folder in  the map folder of the starter map.

This tutorial uses 1 arc second (resolution 30 metres)  SRTM's  downloaded from Unfortunately you have to login to download and registering requires answering a lot of questions, as is to be expected for a US Gov website.

Ensure your screen/monitor is set to its highest resolution because you will be taking screen grabs.


Open Google Earth  ensure that the terrain exaggeration (Tools, Options) is set to 0.01. Now zoom to your preferred location mark out the 2k x 2k, 4k x 4k or 16k  x 16k square that you want to base your map on using the ruler tool, save each line (using the grid squares as a guide if necessary ) Make a note of your LAT and LON degrees for each corner (bottom of the screen in Google Earth) in the following order top left, top right , bottom right, bottom left, this will save confusion later. This can be done after you have marked out  your area using the ruler tool cursor. If using grid for alignment turn it off. Adjust your image so that it is level, now zoom in until your square is as large as possible on the screen, (without including any lettering or tools.) Open the snipping tool and click and drag an area slightly larger than your square, save this image as farm.png to the new folder in your starter map. Don't forget to save Temporary Places if exiting Google Earth.


Now assuming you have managed to login to earthexplorer, In the left hand column you will see a box marked Coordinates, click on Decimal and Add Coorddinate, add your previously noted Lat Lon figures in the correct order. Left click drag to move map, Zoom in to the area,  you should now see red box over your area Now click on Data Sets Digital Elevation SRTM SRTM 1Arc-Second Global then click on Results In the left hand panel there should be a picture or pictures if an overlap occurs, of the section of SRTM that covers your area in black and white click on download and select DTED 1 Arc Second (dt2) repeat  download for subsequent  pictures if  an overlap occurs.


Open Microdem and select, open dem (second square in on tool bar), browse to file you just downloaded and click on it, it should open up into the multicolour DEM. If multiple images are downloaded then click  open then open and merge DEM's, browse to file and select the relevant files. Click file, quick map export to Google Earth. Google Earth will open up with the DEM overlaid, then adjusting the opacity of the overlay (right click entry MicroDem in Places panel, click Properties) to opaque. Adjust your image so that it is level, now zoom in until your square is as large as possible on the screen, (without including any lettering or tools). Now using the snipping tool click and drag an area larger than your marked area and save image as DEM.png in the new folder in your starter map. You should now have two pictures, 1, Farm.png 2, DEM.png in your folder.


Open your image editor and load in both images. Using Pic 1 Farm.png as your base layer copy and paste DEM.png into Pic1. Adjust opacity of layer (DEM) so that you can align the layer to your 2k, 4k, 16k original lines of Pic 1, when satisfied return layer 2 (DEM) to opaque. Using the crop tool crop your image just inside your line markers, ( make sure you do not have any of your marker lines showing in the final crop otherwise you will end up with the Alps running down the side of your terrain.) Now resize your image to the correct size (1024, 2048, 4096) for your map. You should now have 2 layers the correct size. In order to get the two images saved separately what I normally do is delete the DEM layer then save   Farm .png as Farm2.png to the folder, then going to the edit tab in the image editor and undoing the delete layer and then merge down the DEM layer DEM save this as DEM2.png for backup. Then go to Filters and find the blur filter, Gaussian Blur, set a pixel radius of 25 and click ok, in your map folder rename original map01.png to map01A.png, then save  your new DEM as map01.png in the map01 folder The pixel radius can be anything you want, the higher the number the less smoothing you will have to do later but you could lose some definition if  its set to high, (hence the reason for the backup DEM2.png).


Open Farm2.png in your image editor, Image adjustments, Convert to greyscale, Equalize, adjust contrast until you just begin to lose definition (normal an increase of 50% over normal) increase brightness approx 2% Save this as beachSand_weight.png to your map01 folder (not forgetting to rename original beachSand_weight.).


Finally ensure your new map01_dem.png and beachSand_weight are in your map01 folder then open your map01.i3d in giants and you should have a terrain with your farm map overlaid on it.

Some extra smoothing may be required, just set terrain editing panel in Giants to the following Radius 500, opacity 0.5, Hardness 0.1, value 0.5 and using MMB smooth go over the whole map  Be careful you don't overdo this step.

Once you've mastered this you should be able to do an easily workable DEM in about  10min.

If your map is an odd size i.e 3k x 3k  just go to the next size up 4k x 4k If you only want to incorporate certain fields you can mark out the edge of your farm in the Overlay step by painting a white line around the area you want and either flatten the extra area in GE or paint it with dummy crops If you want to see what your area will look like before doing all this, open Google Earth and set terrain exaggeration to 3 then tilt and zoom around your area. (not forgetting to reset it to 0.01 before doing this Tutorial.)

Original Author: WrinkleysRule | Date: August 23, 2016

Modding Index | Map Making Tutorials