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Environment Art in Core

Finished Scene


Learn how to generate, sculpt, and paint terrain, as well as adding foliage and a swimmable water post-process effect. This tutorial will focus on making a landscape with a path and river, but can be customize to build any natural environment.

  • Completion Time: 30 minutes
  • Previous Knowledge: Introduction to the Core Editor
  • Skills you will learn:
    • Creating and sculpting terrain
    • Creating swimmable volumes
    • Painting terrain and foliage
    • Customizing sky templates
    • Adding rain visual effects

The Terrain Creator

The Terrain Creator tool creates different landscapes using premade HeightMaps.

Open the Terrain Creator

  1. Start from a new empty project.
  2. Click the Terrain button to open the Terrain Creator.
  3. Choose Generate New Terrain from the drop down menu.

Open Terrain Creator

Generate Terrain

There are different options for types of terrain that can be generated in Core. You can click any of the terrain types to see a description of what it will generate.

  1. Select Rolling Hills.
  2. Change the size to 256 x 256 voxels and 0.50 meters.
  3. Click Generate.
  4. Press Play or = to explore the newly generated terrain from a player perspective.


Rearrange the Scene

You may have fallen through your terrain, and you may see an unusually flat area where Default Floor still exists in the scene.

  1. Find the Spawn Point in the Hierarchy and move it to a new spot, above the terrain and just outside of the default floor.
  2. Right click on Default Floor in the Hierarchy and select Delete.
  3. Click the Terrain Terrain button again to see that it now lists the Terrain (Rolling Hills) as Primary


Primary Terrain is the terrain in your scene with collision enabled. You can have multiple terrains, but only one that players can actually walk on.

Apply a Material

Any material can be added to a terrain. However, materials that begin with "Terrain" are designed to be used for terrain and will apply different textures to the steeper and flatter parts of the terrain.

  1. Open the Materials tab of Core Content.
  2. Test out different materials by dragging them onto the terrain.
  3. Search the Core Content tab for terrain.
  4. Find Terrain - Grass and drag it onto the terrain.

Add a Material to the Terrain

Terrain Sculpting

Open the Sculpt Menu

The shape of terrain can be changed using sculpting tools in the Properties menu.

  1. Select the terrain in the Hierarchy.
  2. Open the Properties window.
  3. Click on the Terrain Sculpt icon to open the Sculpt menu..

Sculpt Tool Menu

Create a Flat Area

Select Level Tool

  1. In the Tool menu, select the Level Level tool.
  2. Click on an area that is the ideal height, then drag around it to make the rest of the terrain match.

Leveled Terrain

Carve out a Pond and Stream

  1. In the Tool menu, select the Surface Surface tool.
  2. Change the mode from Additive Additive to Destructive Destructive.
  3. Lower the Strength value in the General subcategory to 0.1
  4. Click and drag on the terrain to carve bowl shape for a pond, and extend it to a river on either side.

Carved Pond and River

Smooth the Terrain

  1. Change the sculpting tool from Terrain Sculpt Surface to Terrain Smooth Smooth.
  2. Click and drag the pond and rivers to give it a more natural appearance.

Smoothed Pond and River

Water and Swimming

Add a Cube to the Scene

  1. Search for a cube in the Core Content window.
  2. Drag the cube into the scene, above the spaces sculpted for the water.

Add Cube to Scene

Resize and Reposition the Cube

  1. Resize the cube until it fills your crater.
  2. Move the cube down until it looks like a pool of water inside the sand dunes.

Move Cube Down for Water

Add a Material

  1. Search Core Content for water.
  2. Choose a water material, and drag it onto the cube.
  3. Preview the scene to see the water in person.

Cube with Water Material


Select the Cube in the Hierarchy and press F2 to rename it to Water Cube.

Disable Collision on the Water

The water cube now has the appearance of water, but a player will walk over it, rather than into it, because the cube has collision by default.

Force Off Collision

  1. Select the water cube.
  2. On the Properties window, and find the Scene section.
  3. Change the Collision property to Force Off.
  4. Preview again to test that you can now pass through the water as a player.

Use the Underwater Post Process

Now you can pass through the water, but once inside it looks like the volume disappears. We can use the Underwater Post Process volume to achieve an underwater effect.

  1. Find the Underwater Post Process volume under the Post Processing section of Core Content.
  2. Drag it into your scene on top of your water.

Find Underwater Post Process

Resize the Underwater Post Process

Core makes it easy to copy properties from one object to another. We can use this to make the Underwater Post Process match the size and position of the Water cube.

  1. Select the cube that represents the water and open Properties window.
  2. Click the Copy PropertiesCopy Properties button in the top right corner.
  3. Select the Underwater Post Process volume and return to the Properties window.
  4. Click the Paste Properties Paste Properties button, in the top right corner.
  5. Check Position, Rotation and Scale in the menu that pops up and press Paste Selected Parameter Values

Copy and Paste Properties

Test Swimming

With the Underwater Post Process in the same area as the water, you should now start swimming automatically when you enter it. Press Play to preview and jump in the water. If it is deep enough, your character should switch to the swimming animation. You will also notice some distortion and color in the water. You can change how these work in the Properties menu for the Underwater Post Process.


Terrain Painting

Open the Terrain Painting Tool

The terrain painting tool is also found in the terrain Properties tab. Terrains must have painting enabled, and this can be done through the painting menu.

  1. Select the terrain in the Hierarchy.
  2. Open the Properties window.
  3. Click on the Terrain Sculpt icon to open the Paint menu..
  4. Click Create new terrain material

This will change the terrain's material to Terrain Material, but keep the grassy appearance.

Choose Materials

To paint terrain, we need to create a palette of materials to use on the terrain. In the Palette section, select Edit Materials

Each of the Materials, labeled Material1 through Material4 corresponds to one of the visible materials in the Paint menu. Each has two Materials channels, one for flat sections of the material, Material Base, and another for the steeper, vertical sections of the game, Material Side.

Paint a Path

  1. In the Edit Materials menu, find Material2
  2. Click the empty image next to Material Base to open the Material Picker
  3. Select Bricks Cobblestone Floor 01
  4. Close the Edit Materials menu.
  5. Select the second Material in the Paint menu Palette
  6. In the General section, increase the Target Value value to 0.4 to blend the brick material with the grass.
  7. Click and drag where you want a path to create some stones coming out of the grass.

Terrain Painted Path


You can hold Alt while dragging on the scene to unpaint materials from areas that you recently painted.

Paint the River Bottom

Choose the Materials

Choose Riverbed Materials

  1. In the Hierarchy, click the eye icon next to the Water Cube to hide it temporarily.
  2. In the Edit Materials menu, find Material3
  3. Set the Material Base to Rocks River Bed 01
  4. Set the Material Side to Grass and Soil and close the Edit Materials menu.

Paint the River

  1. Select the third Material in the Paint menu Palette
  2. Click and drag along the river to cover it with the new materials.
  3. Click the eye icon next to the Water Cube to show it again

Painted River

Preview the Materials Underwater

Press the Play button to preview the new materials under the Underwater Post Process effect by swimming through the river.

River Materials Underwater

Paint the River Bank

Using a Mask

Masks allow you to use more complex shapes in applying a new material.

  1. In the Edit Materials menu, find Material4
  2. Set the Material Base to Rocks River Bed 01
  3. In the Mask section, check the Use Mask box.
  4. Click the image icon in the Mask property, and select Cells

Cells Mask for Painting Materials

Using Wetness

Terrain materials can be further customized Wetness. It allows you to make areas look soaked by making them darker and shinier.

  1. Select Wetness from the Modifiers section of the Palette.
  2. Click and drag on the edge of the riverbank to give an impression that it is soaked on the edges.

Painted Wetness Channel


In addition to painting textures, objects can be added to the terrain materials as foliage. These will not have collision and will be made to work better on a machine than just adding lots of objects.

Open the Foliage Tool

In the Properties window with the terrain selected, click the tab next to Paint called Foliage

Choose Foliage

  1. Click the Add Foliage button.
  2. In the Static Mesh Picker, search for grass to find Grass Tall.

Access Foliage Settings

You should have grass springing up on your terrain as soon as you add the object. Click on the object image that appears now in the Foliage tab to see its customizable properties.

Grass on the Grassy Terrain

Grow Grass along the River

Next, we're going to change the river to look more like a marsh by filling it with tall grasses.

Foliage with Tall Grass Selected

  1. In the General section, change the Material Channel to the third material, the one used to paint the river.
  2. Change the Distance Between Instances to 2.0m.
  3. In the Spawn Settings, change the Scale property to have a Min 3.0x.
  4. You can now return to the Paint menu to repaint with the River bottom material any areas that are missing grasses. The foliage will generate with the terrain paint.

Grass along the River


If foliage is spawning in unexpected places, use the Show Debug Material option in the Paint terrain Palette menu to check which material is being applied in any area of the terrain.

Stormy Ambience

In the next few steps, we will focus on making the scene overcast and rainy, as well as adding props. There are many options to customize for different effects.

Change the Sky

The Default Sky in Core is composed of three parts, Sun Light and Sky Light which are currently the only two sources of light in the scene, and Sky Dome which controls the appearance of the sky. Each of these can be customized through the Properties menu.

There are other complete sky templates available, as well as the different versions of these individual components.

  1. Search for sky overcast in Core Content and find the Sky Overcast 01 template.
  2. Drag the sky template into the scene.
  3. Delete the Default Sky template.

Overcast Sky

Customize the Sky

  1. Open up the Sky Overcast 01 folder in the Hierarchy.
  2. Select the Environment Fog Default VFX and open the Properties window.
  3. In the Smart section, change the Color property to a bright white.
  4. Increase the Fog Density property to whatever value gives the scene a misty look.

Add Rain

  1. In Core Content search for rain and add the Rain Volume VFX and Rain Splash Volume VFX objects to your scene.
  2. Place the Rain Volume VFX object up in the sky, and expand it using the Transform Scale tool to cover the area with droplets falling from the sky
  3. Place the Rain Splash Volume VFX on the ground and expand it to cover the area under the rain to create splashes on the ground.

Overcast Sky

Finish the Scene

The final step is to add structures and props that finish the scene. See the Complex Modeling and Community Content reference to learn about creating props and using props made by other Core creators.

Learn More

Custom Materials | Complex Modeling | Community Content | Visual Effects

Last update: July 29, 2021