I've noticed a few people recently saying they would like to learn how to make nice looking displacements to create environments suitable for Empires. I have just finished the first beta of a map using the technique of creating a heightmap in Terragen and then using DispGen to convert the heightmap to displacements to use in Hammer. I have found this technique to be a LOT faster than manually editing displacements into an environment in Hammer - and the end results certainly look a lot smoother and more organic than you would get if you tried to create them manually. There are already tutorials for using Terragen and Dispgen out there, but this one will hopefully tell you how best to use these programs for making an Empires map specifically. Programs needed: Terragen Dispgen Image editing software (I use Paint.NET Hammer PART 1 - GENERATING THE HEIGHTMAP IN TERRAGEN 1) Open Terragen. We are going to use this to create our greyscale heightmap image. In the landscape window, press the Generate Terrain (A) button. We can start with the default values in this window, so just hit the Generate terrain button (B). This will generate a random heightmap in the Landscape window. If you don't like it, hit the generate terrain button until you get something you like the look of, but don't worry about it too much at this stage. My random image looks like this: Note - If you are lazy/impateint and want fast results, you can skip to step 5 and use this image to generate your displacements. The next few step will tell you how to edit this image to give you more control over how your displacements are going to turn out. 2) Close the Terrain Genesis dialogue. We can now edit the terrain as we please in the Landscape window by pressing View/Sculpt... Hit this and then make sure the Basic Sculpting button is selected (A) and also Display Heights is set to Greys. Also at the top you will see the tool size and tool effect buttons. We can change these to change the amount the tool effects the image. Bear in mind Black parts of the image are Lower, and White parts of the image are higher. *A solid black area next to a solid white area will translate as a step or a steep incline. *A gradually gradiated grey area will translate to a smooth slope. *A large are of one tone will result in a large flat area. Remember, these areas are important for where you want the commander to be able to build a base. Use the tool on the image and change it as you desire, with left mouse button to make areas lighter (higher), and right mouse button to make areas darker (lower). Notice if you go too low, the you can see blue water. As we will be using a greyscale image for a later step we will want to raise these areas back up so that they return to greyscale. Make sure no water is showing. After messing about with my image it now looks like this: Close the View/Sculpt window when you are happy with what you have got, but again don't worry too much about it. You will notice in my image I have raised more of the hills around the edges - this is so that it will be better to seal off the outside of my level to the player. 3) As well as being able to manually edit the height as I have just shown, we can also use Terragens Terrain Modification window to edit the contours. Press the Modify button in the landscape window (A) to bring this dialogue up. IMPORTANT - make sure you do not accidentally press the Clear/Flatten button or you will lose your unsaved work, as Terragen does not seem to have an undo function. If you want your terrain to look like it has been naturally eroded by glaciers, press the Glaciate button (B). If you want it to look more like canyons, press the Canyonize button (C). I am going to press both of these just for the hell of it, and then set my bottom level to zero by changing the height "from" value and then hitting Set Height Range (D). I am not sure if this is absolutely necessary but I like to know that my bottom level is at zero so it will be completely black. You can see my resulting image: 4) When you are happy with the results close the Terrain Modification window and hit View/Sculpt again (step 2) to get a better look at your image. If you like you can repeat steps 2 and 3 until you have something you like the look of, but don't stress over it too much for now. We can now take a look at a 3D rendered preview of our image. Press the Rendering Control window in Terragen and hit the render preview (A). Because of where my camera is placed I can't see very much, so I have moved it by clicking as directed in the bottom right of this window (B). Move your camera around and press render preview to get an idea of what your map might look like. If you want to get a better look, hit the Render Image button (C), and you can also play with Terragens settings to make a nice looking render. Below you will see my render so far. Notice that my greyscale has quite a lot of contrast - very dark and very light areas. As you can see this translates as flat areas(black) with high, sharp peaks (white). If you don't like the height of your mountainous areas don't worry - this can be adjusted easily. 5) So now we have previewed our image, we are happy with it, and can now get it into a format that we can use in Dispgen to turn the heightmap into usable displacements. First of all save your terrain in case you wan to modify it again later by pressing Save.. back in the Landscape window. Terragen doesn't actually export any kind of file that we can directly use in Dispgen but we can cheat. In Landscape, press the View/Sculpt button (step 2) to view your greyscale heightmap. Now press the PrintScreen button on your keyboard (usually beside Scroll Lock, Pause Break and all those other buttons you never use) to copy the screen image to the clipboard. You may have software such as Fraps for this kind of thing but there is no advantage or disadvantage from using PrintScreen. Open your image editing software (I like Paint.Net, it is free and easy to use and a small download too.) and hit Paste. This will paste your screenshot into the image editor. Crop the image down to just the greyscale, and then resize it to 512x512 pixels. So you should have something that looks like this: 6) We are now going to adjust the contrast to expand the black areas slightly, so there are more flat areas and therefore more areas for the commanders to easily build on. You may want to skip this step depending on how your image is looking, but I feel my image could do with a bit more flatness so I am going to play with the brightness/contrast settings until I get something like this: Save this image as any kind of common image file, but do not use any compression, as it is the heightmap we are going to use for the next part - it is now time to load up Dispgen.