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[Tutorial] Guide to Clouds and Macrotextures

clouds macrotexture ambient lighting bfme worldbuilder rotwk mapping

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#1 MattTheLegoman


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Posted 11 March 2018 - 08:07 AM

This is a guide to changing the cloud textures, macrotextures and ambient lighting of your RotWK map. It is a BfME Worldbuilder tutorial.

A lot of my more recent maps for The Age of the Ring use a unique cloud texture or macrotexture where appropriate.

This is what you will need before starting.

  • Extracted textures and maps from BfMEII and RotWK. Use FinalBig.
  • A text editor. I use Notepad++.

Method One
There isn't a way to edit the cloud texture or macrotexture in Worldbuilder. But you can use different cloud textures and macrotextures and here is the easiest way to do that.

  • Sort through the vanilla maps for a cloud texture and macrotexture that you want
  • Clear the map
  • Start creating your new map

Method Two
This is method two, and what I am writing this tutorial on. If you want to edit your map's cloud texture while you are creating your map then you must remember that the texture name must be the same number of characters.

  • Edit - Edit Map Settings... - Compression dropdown box
  • Save your map with No compression
  • Open your map with Notepad++
  • Ctrl-F to bring up the Find dialogue
  • Type this in to search for it .tga
  • If you have plenty of water bodies on your map you will be searching for a while
  • Once you find your map's cloud texture select just the name and look below at the status bar of Notepad++, it will give you the selection's character count (the number is after "Sel : " and is the second to last number on the status bar)
  • The default cloud texture TSCloudMed.tga has 10 characters in the name TSCloudMed
  • Change it to a texture with 10 characters
  • If your mod adds new cloud textures I recommend naming them the same length as the default cloud texture, 10 characters
  • TSNoiseUrb is the default noise texture, it is 10 characters too, you can change it too
  • A list of cloud textures that I found in the games' extracted textures are as follows

9 Characters

10 Characters

11 Characters

  • There might be more cloud textures, and there are a few macrotextures in the compiledtextures/ts folder
  • As you can see you could also search for "cloud" in the search dialogue
  • You can now save your map in Notepad++ and reopen it in Worldbuilder or ingame to test it out.
  • You can use the same method seen in the Blue Mountains map or Minhiriath to change the colour of the map by repurposing the macrotexture or the cloud texture. Both have a blend mode, but I am still developing the method and learning what the blend modes do.

Ambient Lighting
In-game, clouds are a form of ambient lighting. Clouds colour everything on the map: objects, terrain and units. For example, in a map like Blue Mountains, the cloud texture is replaced by an ambient lighting map. This texture is coloured black and white, white are areas of the map in light and black are areas of the map in darkness.
The macrotexture colours just the terrain. For example, the Dol Guldur map has ground shading done by a stretched macrotexture. Another example is an unused Minhiriath macrotexture, the map has three sections to it, the Old Forest, a dark and foggy swamp and the green Barrow-downs, each section has a different colour intended to blend with the map.
A picture of the Dol Guldur ambient lighting and as seen on the map with terrain removed.

To set up a cloud texture as ambient lighting follow these instructions. Again you will need the map set to no compression, I work with a map using no compression as it reduces saving time.

  • In Worldbuilder click Edit, Edit Map Settings, and set Compression to No compression
  • In Notepad or Notepad++ edit the map and click Search, Find, and search for .tga, you will find both TSNoiseUrb.tga and TSCloudMed.tga if you are editing a default map. Noise is for the macrotexture.
  • Replace the cloud texture with you ambient lighting texture. The filename must be the same length as the filename already there. TSCloudMed is 10 letters long
  • In your mod, the file can be a compressed dds file, and it must be added to the asset.dat like normal textures
  • Add the following code to your map.ini
	CloudTextureSize = X:1000 Y:1000
	CloudOffsetPerSecond = X:-0 Y:-0
  • CloudTextureSize is the "size in world units that one repetition of the cloud texture spans", this should be the size of your map, or otherwise aligned to where you want the ambient lighting texture to be placed and repeated
  • CloudOffsetPerSecond is the "offset in texture units that the cloud texture moves per second", you will want your ambient lighting texture to not move so set it at 0.

Three warnings

  • Your map will look bad if you abuse this method by modding in a crazy cloud texture
  • Backup your map
  • If your map is pink then you've used the wrong texture. Commonly you've got the wrong character length in the name.

Post Effects/Lookup Table/Volume Map [NEW]

Post effects are an extra way to light your map. The effect is applied last and will change all the colours according to a lookup table. For example, you can use the Withered Heath lookup table to desaturate all colours on your map. I assume you've extracted the art files from the game. As above I warn you that this will look bad if you abuse it.

  • In World Builder click Edit and then Edit Post Effects
  • In the Post Effects Options tick the checkbox to Enable Post Effects
  • The dropdown box only has one option, Looup Table. CnC3 has more options there.
  • In the Parameters section Blend Factor will change how strong the post effect is and Volume Texture (Lookup Image) is where you choose your lookup table.
  • These are the available lookup tables, you can find them in art/compiledtextures and the filenames start with v. The v is for volume map as that is another name for what they are.







  • I don't know how to create custom volume maps/lookup tables yet. I believe that the NVIDIA Photoshop plugin has a feature that creates them but I haven't tried it yet. If you know how to make them please reply here or message me.


  • I might add some samples of the available cloud textures so you may choose one without as much trial and error.
  • I should create another article with details about my advanced methods to creating terrain.

Edited by MattTheLegoman, 07 December 2018 - 07:52 AM.

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