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Merge Terrain Tiles after manual edits?

Bill Pomidor

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You'd think this would be a simple question -- maybe I'm missing something . . .

I created a map via Gaia's standard process -- i.e., "Create World" tab, using a tiled setup (4x2 tiles, each 1024x1024).  I applied my source stamp file, previewed and then stamped, and everything is working great so far.

I then needed to make some minor edits to the beaches, in order to accommodate buildings/hotels/docks/etc.

I'm quite satisfied with the results I've gotten.  Unfortunately, I don't see any way to actually back up the newly edited terrain, now that I've altered it slightly from the original stamp!  I know I can export the individual heightmaps for each tile, but it seems silly to have to manually recombine them if I want to rebuild the terrain in a new scene/project.  I also do some fine-tuning in Photoshop

I've been trying the scanner, which does successfully create a merged EXR file; unfortunately, though, the vertical resolution is way too coarse -- leading to a stair-stepping effect, where only ~16 heights are visible when I try to load the newly-scanned stamp.

I'm pretty sure that the error is related to a mismatch between my exported/scanned stamp vs my custom settings in "Create World," but I'm unable to nail down exactly how to get the right combination.  Interactions between the scanner tool and the stamper make things rather complex.

Is there a simpler way to just combine the terrain tiles in order to make a single terrain -- one that I can manipulate as a single unit, or export the heightmap from, etc?  Or is tiling a permanent decision, once I've started editing the tiles manually (even though they fit together just fine)?

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Answered my own question, and highlighted a big problem with Gaia these days: the documentation seems to be lagging way behind the product.  It can extremely frustrating at times: after two days of searching for something to stitch the terrain back together -- searching here and through various docs, the Unity boards, and even buying a (fortunately inexpensive) terrain stitcher -- I've discovered that Gaia has a stitching tool after all.  🤬

I had overlooked it because it's actually below the Gaia Manager window's Advanced/Tools tab.  On my installation, at least, it's hidden until you scroll down, thus pretty easy to miss.

It's a great relief, and hopefully it'll do the trick -- but I have to say I've been disappointed with the time I've wasted on this and other knowledge-base issues. Don't get me wrong; I'd rather have the new features!  But it would be great to have a searchable document somewhere that at least explains the available tools.

I've bought several versions of Gaia over the years, and I'm now using the big, all-inclusive PW package -- making it all the more vital for PW to feature a centralized database / wiki doc on line that holds the most recent info available -- or a stub if that info isn't ready yet (even with just a stub, the feature would have still popped up on a search).

Yet, when I try an all-inclusive search for "stitch" at the Canopy site, I come up empty except for my own post. Perhaps it's mentioned in a video somewhere, but of course those have, at best, limited searchability.

I love the new tools, but at $500, the World Building bundle should include better support. Hopefully there'll be better documentation in the future, allowing the new features to reach their full potential among users.


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Update: Gaia's stitching tool doesn't solve my problem after all.  Apparently, rather than stitching, the tool removes seams and gaps between the terrain tiles.  It's still tiled, but just better aligned.  Back to the drawing board.

But this seems like a *huge* flaw in Gaia's capabilities: I've *always* worked in both Unity's terrain editor plus Photoshop -- doing detailed editing in Unity, but using Photoshop to add specific zones or adapt the feathering, contrast, etc.

So unfortunately, the problem isn't solved after all.


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On 2/28/2023 at 5:27 PM, Bill Pomidor said:

Is there a simpler way to just combine the terrain tiles in order to make a single terrain -- one that I can manipulate as a single unit, or export the heightmap from, etc?  Or is tiling a permanent decision, once I've started editing the tiles manually (even though they fit together just fine)?

The best way I think to handle this would be to create multiple terrains (single at a time). 
Then stamp and create your .exr files through the terrain scanner. 
After you have made all your Gaia .exr files, create a much larger terrain. 
Then use the manual with the stamper route and stamp them on your one single terrain. 

I think this is the only way to achieve what you are wanting. 
Making a multi-terrain world they would always be "separate" terrains. 

The terrain stitcher only helps if you get tears or the seams are not lining up properly. 
Which can happen on weird occasions. 

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Posted (edited)

I get what you're saying, though I wish it were otherwise.  If I'm understanding it correctly, there's no way to simply scan in WORLD mode (multi-terrain) in order to re-combine the terrain tiles/"meshes" themselves.

Fortunately, though, I've found that the (Pro only) Mask Map Exporter can do the trick.  What's needed is to set the RED color channel to be linked to terrain height, and to set the Export Settings / Multi-Terrain Handling to "One Combined Texture."

It took a little bit of tweaking and experimentation to get it working properly, but ultimately I was able to create a unified heightmap which I could then import into Photoshop (or wherever) and alter/adjust manually, then successfully reimport it into Gaia as a new terrain that precisely matched the (hand-edited) original.  Since it's in the form of a stamp, I don't have to worry about losing my Unity-based terrain edits (e.g. smoothing, erosion, tweaking heights to match bridges or beaches or whatever).

I don't see any documentation/explanation of this feature yet, but it would def be helpful -- and perhaps worthwhile to extend it to the standard versions of Gaia.  It's a capability that I took for granted with assets like Map Magic and other terrain editors, so I'm relieved to be able to perform the same operation in Gaia.

Edited by Bill Pomidor
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Have you looked at the terrain scanner. 
You could scan the world and not lose edits. 
However, you still have to do the terrain one at a time. 
Mainly because Unity doesn't allow multi-terrain editing. 

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