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CryEngine 3 SDK: Import/Export and Create Custom Terrain Heightmap

Category: CryEngine 3 SDK
October 20, 2011
Full Text Tutorial and Notes:

We continue with CryEngine 3 SDK tutorials. If you are just starting to learn and use CryEngine 3 SDK, start here.

In this tutorial we cover how to export/import/create custom heightmaps using Photoshop.

Topics covered:

  • Export heightmap
  • Import heightmap
  • Create custom heightmap using Photoshop and default filters
  • Modifying and tweaking custom heightmap

Make sure to check this page for all the tutorials on CryEngine 3 SDK.


Once you have generated terrain heightmap or painted your own terrain heightmap you can export the heightmap file to tweak and modify in 2D software such as Photoshop. This is probably possible using GIMP (alternative to Photoshop), but I don't have any experience with using GIMP.

Open up Terrain Editor, go to File --> Export Heightmap.

Note: You don't have to export your heightmap. You can ignore this step and just create and import a custom heightmap to use right away.

Save the heightmap as any of the following file formats. These are the same formats you can save to import a heightmap.

  • 8-bit .bmp
  • 16-bit .pgm
  • 16-bit .raw

I exported as test-heightmap.raw

Save it where you can find it later. I usually save in the level folder I am working on.


Lets open our exported heightmap. Using Photoshop to open the file we have Raw Options come up.

Set the following values:

  • Width/Height: match the heightmap in CryEngine 3 SDK
  • Count: 1 channel
  • Depth: 16 bits
  • Byte Order: IBM PC

Opened heightmap from CryEngine. Same one that we had in the map.


Lets create a new custom heightmap from scratch.

In Photoshop go to File --> New and set the following:

Important: Width/Height values have to match the terrain size in CryEngine.

Generating random patters for your custom heightmap is simple. There are two filters we will use:

  • Clouds
  • Difference Clouds

Clouds Filter:

Difference Clouds Filter:

Save the heightmap as Photoshop Raw (.raw)


Back in CryEngine, in Terrain Editor go to File --> Import Heightmap.

Import the saved heightmap file.

Result of imported heightmap.


We can tweak and modify the heightmap back in Photoshop using Levels.

Press Ctrl + L to open Levels window. Focus on Input Levels slider and Output Levels slider.

You can decrease the intensity of the heightmap.

You can also manually paint using the Brush.

Imported back in CryEngine:

You can also modify using the Terrain Editor Modify properties.

Updated & Revised - Preproduction Blueprint: How to Plan Your Game Environments and Level Designs

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