Create a World: Terrain Tools

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The terrain tools in Create a World let you sculpt, shape and paint your world, from deep valleys to rocky mountains, tropical beaches to raging rivers. The shape and texture of the terrain in your world is a very big factor, so it’s certainly something worth thinking carefully about.


Terrain Controls

The brush editing options.

First of all, we must understand the four terrain controls that we will be using to shape and paint the terrain.

  • Size This does exactly what it says on the tin. You can control the size of the brush from anything between 1 and 100. For paint mode, you can choose for your brush to be either Square or Circle shaped. The 3 other modes all use only Circle shaped brushes.
  • Strength Strength is only used for Sculpt mode. It lets you control how quickly the changes to the terrain happen. With a low value they happen slowly, with a high one, they happen fast.
  • Opacity Similar to strength, this controls how opaque (see through) the texture you are painting onto the terrain is. If you set a low opacity, the texture underneath will still show through. This is for Mask and Paint modes.
  • Falloff This applies a feathered effect to the edge of the brush, softening the edges of the brush so they do not appear so hard when you apply a terrain paint or sculpt the terrain. Low values are soft, high ones are hard. This is for Paint, Sculpt and Mask modes.


This mode lets you apply terrain paints to your world. The program comes with 4 default terrain paints build in, but you can easily add more if you want. Each terrain paint is called a Layer. The layers allow us to edit only one paint at once if we want.

To keep your world running smoothly in game, try and use no more than 8 different terrain paints per 256 X 256 chunk of the world.

Creating a new paint

1. Under Paint mode, select ‘Add Layer’.

2. Enter a name and default sound for the paint. The sound is for when Sims walk over the terrain paint.

3. Browse for the texture (three dots button to the right of ‘Texture’). There is a selection of ready made textures at: …\Documents\Electronic Arts\The Sims 3 Create A World Tool\UserToolData\SourceTextures

You can also make your own, it must be .DDS format DXT1, .jpg, .bmp, .tga or .png.

4. Then click Ok, and your terrain paint is ready to use.

Other options

  • AutoPaint This automatically paints all steep terrain with the rocky texture, useful because it is likely that steep terrain is likely to be cliffs or mountains, which would normally use the rocky texture.
  • Individual Layer Mode This stops you from painting on top of other layers. You are only allowed to paint where there is the current layer or the base texture (Lush or Desert). ¬
  • Visualise Layer This changes the whole map to Greyscale, showing the use of the current layer. White is where the paint texture is 100% solid (no other textures visible underneath) and black is where it is not present at all. Any greys in between are opaque sections. This helps you to eliminate any very opaque amounts that may be present, but not visible.


This mode lets you shape the hills, valleys, and mountains of your world. There are many different modifiers available to use:

Modifier Use
Flatten Terrain Flatten the terrain to the height at the mouse pointer.
Hill - Gentle Raises terrain with a smooth top.
Mountain Raises terrain with a pointy, ridge like top.
Sheer Cliff Raises terrain in two halves. Either both may raise, or only one.
Smooth Smoothes the terrain down.
Valley Lowers the terrain in the traditional ‘V’ valley shape.

With Gentle versions of the modifier, the changes to the terrain happen more slowly, and there are smoother edges.

  • Show unroutable terrain This shows in red, the areas of terrain that are too steep for Sims to be able to walk on.


You are able to mask certain areas of the map, which freezes them and stops them being interfered with by any of the terrain tools. This lets you preserve any areas you feel you have got perfect, while safely editing regions around them.

  • Create from Road Automatically masks roads, so you cannot mess them up by editing terrain around them.
  • Visuals Greyscale sets the colour of the masking to greyscale. The colour slider controls how opaque the mask is.
  • Import/Export You can create a custom Mask in an external graphics program. It must be saved as .png. The mask must be completely greyscale. White is complete masking, black is no masking and gray’s in-between make opaque masking. And area that is masked with an opaque mask will be able to be changed, just slowly.
  • Invert This simply inverts the masking, so all previously masked areas will become non-masked, and vice versa.


The Routing Paints as they appear in Create a World. They will be invisible in-game.

This is another type of masking, and controls where your sim, and the camera cannot go within the map. You should mask the edge of the map non routable for both, so you cannot see the edges of the map, making it feel more realistic.

  • Sims Non-Routable Sims will not be able to walk on any area painted with this blue paint. All underwater areas are automatically painted with this, but you can remove that if you want.
  • Camera Non-Routable The camera will not be able to go through or above any area with this yellow paint on.

Other Options

  • Include Steepness This shows in red, the areas of terrain that are too steep for Sims to be able to walk on.
  • Routing Opaqueness Changes how opaque the routing paints are.

Sea Level

You can change the level of the water in your world. Any areas under this level will be underwater. Change the sea level by selecting the tool, then clicking on the height where you want the water level to be.

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