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Adding shoreline or waterline effects, beaches, river banks, etc.


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When building terrain that consists of islands and or coastal regions, I can use dozens of stamps and hundreds of stamping operations only to end up with islands or coasts that don't have a believable shoreline/waterline. I think that this stands out because the interaction of the landscape with standing or flowing bodies of water is something that we all see all the time and have come to expect. Land that slopes like a hillside into the ocean is completely unrealistic and looks it.

So, what I would like to see is a "post-processing" feature added to Gaia to allow these feature to be made, or at least roughed out after the outline of the terrain has been composited via stamping, etc. One way to accomplish this might be to use the scanner feature to capture an image of the terrain at a set height (i.e. the water level). This would provide an outline of the terrain that could be used to perform a blend stamp on the terrain, depressing and lifting the terrain using a simple blur parameter to set a line width and possibly falloff. I think this solution would get most terrains most of the way to a usable shoreline that was ready for detailing. This solution would use the framework and feature that are already existing, with a little enhancement.

The next simplest option might be generally useful for terrain shaping. Simply put, allow the user to paint directly on the terrain using a basic brush (something like Path Painter), and store that in a per-tile stamp. That stamp could then be applied at once to all tiles, or on a per-tile basis, allow for perimeters around the water line to be painted in without having to export the multi-tile height map to an external tool for editing and then re-importing (which would be less daunting if and when single tile terrains are used, admittedly). The benefit to this is that a wide variety of features could be painted and applied, the drawback would be that it would still be time consuming for larger terrains. 

Finally, a spline solution could be used, like what is already available in Gena for defining roads and river, with a user configurable spline that is used for shaping the terrain around the splines drawn over the map to define the shorelines. This would require all the work to be done in Gena and would be somewhat time consuming, but might give the best and most configurable results.

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