Giants Editor: Working with Dirt Roads

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

Modding Index | Map Making Tutorials

Creating a dirt road in the Giant’s Editor that is at a consistent grade, relatively smooth, and conforms to the sides of hills, has been at best tedious, and at worst exasperating.  Here are a couple ways I’ve learned to deal with this, and hopefully it will help save you some time.

One of the most useful tools in terrain editing for road purposes is the ‘replace’ tool:


Consider a hill onto which a road needs to go from one red arrow to the other.  Part of the terrain is smooth, and part becomes very steep, up a rock face of a mountain:

[URL=][img width=750 height=241][/img][/URL] In the ‘Terrain Sculpt Mode,’ [URL=][IMG][/img][/URL] hover the mouse over each end point of the road.  Press Control-R and note the height of the terrain at each point.  It would be a good idea to write this down.  In this case here, the low point is approximately 101 meters, and the high point is 141 meters, for about 40 meters (141 – 101) of elevation difference.

In the ‘Terrain Detail Texture Paint Mode,’ [URL=][IMG][/img][/URL] draw an approximate route you want the dirt road to take from the low point to the high point.  Try to draw the road at least twice as wide as you actually want it to be.  I chose to draw this one with a brush radius of 10 meters.

Next, zoom out so that you can see the entire road.  This road needs to have 40 meters of rise/fall in it.  Divide the road into manageable sections to account for this rise.  It could be in any increment, but I chose to do it in fairly equal units.  I first divided the entire road roughly in half – just eye-balling it.  Then I took each side and divided each into about 16 equal distance units (see red numbers in picture below).  These were marked off with dirt ‘hashes’ as shown below.  Obviously it’s not an exact science, but it gives some idea as to distance, and where we need to make incremental elevation changes.  Something similar to that show below was done with the other half of the road:

[URL=][img width=750 height=310][/img][/URL]

The road has 32 sections total the way I’ve divided it out (16 x 2).  A 40 meter elevation change over 32 sections is 1.25 meters per section (40 / 32).  I chose to start at the high point of the road and work my way back to the beginning.  It could easily be done in reverse as well.  In the ‘Replace’ box, I entered 141 meters.  Making sure the right mouse button had ‘Replace’ selected, I replaced the terrain at the road end point, smoothing it all off at 141 meters between the road end and the last dirt hash mark.  Next, I changed the amount in the replace box to 139.75 meters (141 – 1.25) for the next elevation change increment and applied it to the next road section.  Then I descended to the next section, replacing it at 138.5 meters (139.75 – 1.25).  And so forth.  I went through all 32 sections one at a time, gradually descending the topography using the replace tool until I reached the beginning mark at 101 meters.

After this work, the road will resemble a staircase:

[URL=][img width=750 height=259][/img][/URL]

Next, change your brush radius to about half what it was.  I chose 5 meters.  Using the middle mouse button, smooth along the entire length of the road to get rid of the stair-step effect.  Don’t stray too far out of the road’s path, or else you might have trouble with the smooth feature integrating the steep slope of the hill with the road and ruining all your hard work.

[URL=][img width=750 height=388][/img][/URL]

The above should produce a fairly smooth road between the points previously chosen, and at a fairly even grade along its length.  Next comes the ‘cosmetic’ work of removing all the dirt hash marks and smoothing up the hills and surrounding landscape as you please.

[URL=][img width=750 height=477][/img][/URL]

The end result shown is definitely not perfect, and more work could be done to refine it.  A similar process could be used if the road has varying elevation changes in it, such as starting on one side of the mountain, going through a pass, and descending down the other side.  Then again, maybe I think of doing it this way only because I’m an accountant – by all means, if your hand is steady enough to do it without measurement techniques, then my hat’s off to your skill!

There was one other tip I learned about making dirt roads, and this one came from Farmer Yip.  To make a flat, smooth road across a hill, he suggested a ditch on the uphill side, and a ridge on the downhill side.  I think this helps later when you are smoothing off the road to make it flat – the ‘smooth’ feature seems most adept at turning a flat road back into something that approximates the overall slope of the hill.  It’s another reason to make sure you start the process with a road at least twice as wide as you think you want it to be.

[URL=][img width=750 height=438][/img][/URL]

I chose a map at random in which to make this road.  It happened to be Neunfeld (Nine Fields) version 15.0.5 by Hewaaa.  My apologies to him for temporarily defacing his map to go through this exercise.  My thanks to nomadjc and BulletBill83 at FS-UK for their review and comment on this document before posting.

If you wish, the tutorial above can also be downloaded in a pdf file via the link below.

Original Author: akuenzi | Date: December 17, 2015

Modding Index | Map Making Tutorials