What is your favorite type of terraining?

Basic Cubescaping
59 (27.2%)
Unaligned Cubescaping
26 (12%)
Normal Brickscaping
39 (18%)
12 (5.5%)
17 (7.8%)
64 (29.5%)

Total Members Voted: 217

Author Topic: ██ Terraining - How-To Guide ██ Updated 3/20/13 - Rampscaping  (Read 24948 times)

Topic Title courtesy of Tammy; thanks!

This is a (permanently paused) work in progress. Help on the Modular Terrain will be appreciated. PM if you wish to contribute.

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This guide is a collection of my own opinions and methods regarding built terrain, and is not intended to be an authoritative manual on what terrain is good or not, though it may end up sounding (or becoming) like one. This guide is aimed to both beginner terrainers as well as experienced ones looking to expand their skills. Builds used here as examples are here by permission and have their sources credited. You can find out who built the build by hovering your mouse over the picture. Anything that doesn't have an associated abbreviation text box is built by me.

If you have techniques, pictures, or tips you believe is worth including, please leave a post or send me a PM and I'll put it in. Any and all help is appreciated, and will recieve credit.

Terrain Types
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In order to make terrain convincingly and effectively, brown townysis of "good" terrain must start in real life. Most, if not all, terrain can be grouped into the following categories.

  • Flat - Generally flat, or gradually sloped terrain. Note that flat terrain is rarely perfectly flat, and may have shallow dips, rises, and steps.

  • Sloped - Hillsides, cliff paths, anything with a consistent positive slope and is steeper than what we would call flat.

  • Steep - Cliff or mountain faces, such as the ones that border the Grand Canyon. Too steep to traverse easily, but are rarely perfectly flat and perpendicular to the ground.

Most terrain rarely fit into just one of these categories, as the pictures I've included shows. Each have portions of steep, sloped, and flat terrain. To retain a sense of realism, you should also consider your terrain overall before you build. Taking some time to do a little image searching can give you ideas and help solidify the design in your mind. I usually map out more than I mean to build, then select a portion of that map and use it. Considering how the terrain continues on outside of the build keeps you from accidentally designing terrain that is improbable in real life.

Due to the nature of geologic forces, inverted slopes are rarely found naturally. However, when they do exist, it is usually out of reach at the top of "Steep" type terrain, thus making it ideal for dramatic cliff faces or waterfalls. More on this is covered in the Specific Formations section.

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Built terrain can be grouped into two main categories: "Cubescaping" and "Brickscaping" (ie not-cubescaping). Each have their own advantages and disadvantages, which is covered in their respective overviews, and can be subdivided into more specific fields. Most of what's described in this guide fit in one field or the other, but with some thought you can apply them to other terrain techniques.

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Cubescaping is a quick, easy, and brick-conservative method of terraining, making it ideal for large-scale builds and background terrain. It also functions well as a foundation for more detailed terrain. Downsides include high detail-to-size ratio, uneven heights which make building on top with normal bricks difficult, and hindered maneuverability without additional detailing.

Required Bricks: Default Baseplate Cubes
Suggested Bricks: Butler's Filler Cubes, [GSF]Ghost's Modular Terrain Bricks, Jaxx's 2x Cube

Before beginning cubescaping, though, you will want to decide whether or not you want to cover the terrain with plates that act as grass, which I call "Plating." The difference between plated terrain and non-plated terrain is quite distinct.

More on this can be found in the Plating section found at the end of this section.

Basic Cubescaping
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This form of cubescaping is easy to do with the help of Super Shift (default toggle key: Left Alt). The result is predictable, grid-bound terrain that is brick-efficient as long as you aren't sloppy while building. If you use the 2x Cube in tandem with this style to create walkable slopes, much of the hindered maneuverability characteric of cubescape terrain can be countered, but at the cost of extra bricks.

A really easy way to learn "good cubescaping" if you have visual brown townytical skill is to go play a few hours of Minecraft in creative mode and examine the terrain formations that you recognize, such as cliffs, hills, riverbeds, mountains, etc.

Flat Terrain
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Most of the Flat-class terrain in cubescaping that exists so far is sadly, almost inevitably perfectly flat, resulting in boring fields punctuated by the occasional hill or cliff.

Since cube placement is gridded in Basic Cubescaping , not much can be done about this. A limited attempt can be done to punctuate the land with dips or elevation changes, but it still lacks as an effective representation of gradually sloped terrain.

Coupling these terrain attempts with 2x cube can result in some better results, but may be brick heavy. A simple brick conservation technique for cubes is outlined in the next section.

Sloped Terrain
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Ideally, hills should have gradually smoothed slopes at their top and bottom that border a medium-high angle in between. However, due to the fact that cubes have fixed heights, gradual sloping is rather difficult.

However, with some design considerations, you can get past this problem for the larger hills. The basic idea is to gradually decrease the distance between the old and new levels, increasing the "angle" the cubescape is creating gradually.

A problem with this method is that done over large areas, the cubes, and brickcount, can really add up.

An easy way to resolve this problem (if the whole section is consistent in height) is to use a method I call cube-baseplate alignment, as shown. It's just using normal blocks, coupled with a large baseplate, to cover a large area at the same height as the cube level you're trying to cover a large area with.

If used to support a 64x64 baseplate, it can save over 250 bricks. Don't forget to align the baseplate to the cube grid; it can cause problems later. The support alignment shouldn't matter, unless you're planning to add tunnels underneath.

Steep Terrain
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Steep Terrain for grid-aligned cubescaping is difficult to pull off nicely, to say the least. The requirement to fit within the cube grid makes having terraced walls and 1-brick-wide ledges impossible to do without a combination of terrain styles. Usually people end up with flat walls of a sort, but most end up ugly.

The only way I've found to combat this problem is to make the cliffs very tall before terracing them in, and including a large vertical gap and jagged terrace edge.

Plating is quite nice when used with this, but isn't necessary.

Plating is simply the process of placing plates on top of basic cubescape. This can also be used for Uneven Cubescaping, but it's much more brick intensive and laborious.

There are two methods to do plating, one which is very brick intensive, but easy to do, and the other a more time-consuming method, but lower in brickcount and simpler in design.


The first method is simply building cubescape with a duplicated 4x4 cube that has a plate on top. However, there are some design considerations you should note.

  • Do you plan to place upper level cubes on top of the plating, or remove the plate when stacking cubes on top of each other?

  • Will you go back afterwards to reduce brickcount, or leave it? This can result in a doubling, if not more, of the brickcount of the cubescape itself.

  • Is the height consistency of the cubes essential to your build, or discardable?


The color differences are to show the difference in bricks, not how you should color them.

The second method is plating over the terrain once it is done, meaning that you can't auto-plate the terrain as you build. However, this saves brickcount significantly (if you don't like redoing the plating), and allows for easy cubescape adjustments when you need them. It also saves you the trouble of hammering every 4x4 plate you placed beforehand.

There really isn't that many differences between the two; its more of a work preference.

Uneven Cubescaping
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The main difference between uneven cubescaping and basic cubescaping is the conservation of the cube grid. In uneven cubescaping, we scrap almost the whole grid, keeping only the constant cube height difference between every level. This is highly integratable with brickscaping and is one of the best methods to do a cliff.

Butler's Filler Cubes is almost essential for this method, since running into alignment snags is almost inevitable. It also allows you to add another level of detail and achieve level outlines impossible to make with just cubes. Yes, you can use normal bricks and plates instead, but Filler cubes come out much more nicely and blend in better.

Since this style really only applies to Steep terrain, I'll skip over the Flat and Sloped types. I don't feel that using this style is necessary for either of those, but building uneven flat and sloped cubescapes with this style is simply just exiting Super Shift and working from there.

Steep Terrain
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Simply put, cliffs using this style do not have to be completely flat vertically, and can have high slopes, overhangs, and less predictable shape. There are two different methods to do this.


This style is named so due to the aligned cube structure, keeping the whole of the cliff section within a defined width. This is the easiest method, construction and design-wise, and can be duplicated en-masse.

Here are more example pictures of where/how it can be used.

Using the Filler Cubes, you can achieve a higher level of detail, adding some inconsistencies between layers, blurring the line and making the cubescape more realistic. Depending on the usage, it may or may not be more aesthetically pleasing.



Having the stacked cubes offset from the standard width of the lower cube allows you to create contiguous one-block ledges, and remove the flat boundaries caused by duplicating stacks of blocks. A snag that you'll run into is the issue of large gaps or overhanging blocks, when you're trying to do sharp terrain turns.

Filler Cubes are the only way to fix this problem, so be sure to have it enabled whenever you attempt this style.

They also break up the evenness of the cubes, if used correctly, and add a second level of detail to the terrain. It's a subtle difference, but is quite significant when used over large areas.

Smoothing out the top and bottom is more difficult than with standard cubescaping due to the unevenness. I advise combining this cliff style with Brickscaping for good sloping.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2013, 07:14:42 PM by Conan »

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This is the best method of terrain for both usability and beauty. Unlike in Cubescaping, you aren't limited by the size and height of the brick, namely the amount of time you have, and the brickcount you're aiming for. This technique is not for the lazy; a lot of self experimentation and practice is required to do these well.

Required Bricks: Default Bricks
Suggested Bricks: BlackDragonIV's Brick Pack, BlackDragonIV's Filler Pack
**NOTE**: These two packs together take up a LOT of datablocks, so if you want to save those for other addons, I advise only getting BlackDragonIV's Brick Pack, since his Filler Pack fills in the gaps that his first pack didn't cover.

Plating is also possible for Brickscaping, but isn't usually necessary. Flat terrain can just be made using green bricks, which, unlike cubescaping, doesn't stick out as much due to the smaller rise in height.

Brickscaping can be subdivided into three categories:

  • Normal Brickscaping: Consists of 1x, 3x, and 5x height bricks. Conforms to the 3-plates-a-block vertical scale.

  • Rampscaping: Usage of Ramps to smoothen changes in elevation. Does not conform to the 3-plates-a-block vertical scale, if plated.

  • Platescaping: Usage of Plates to make flat terrain. Cannot be used for sloped or steep terrain. Does not conform to the 3-plates-a-block vertical scale.

Normal Brickscaping
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Flat Terrain
Since brickscaping gives you more control over the elevation changes, gradually sloping, shaped flat terrain now becomes possible. If you're building large scale terrain you may want to brick conserve by stacking plates, but since you have access to larger bricks in terms of top surface area, it may not be necessary for medium or smaller builds.

Brickscape flat terrain can be used to create subtle terrain formations, like paths or riverbeds. The Specific Formations section has more information on how to do this.

I tend to start by using large bricks to "outline" the shape of the terrain that I want it to take, then going in afterwards to add detail. I don't advise going into 1x1 block detailing, as it usually is unnecessary and may contrast with the level of detail of the overall build.

Sloped Terrain
Constructing brickscape slopes well requires periodic steps back to see how you're doing. Constant slopes are easy, but attempting angled slopes make this more challenging. However, the extra control brickscapes give allow you to create slopes that you cannot make with cubes.

Just keep in mind the gradual slopes and sharp changes in elevation that you want each hill to include. I find sketching a general picture (no matter how quick or bad) of it before I build extremely helpful in solidifying how I want the terrain to come out.

Steep Terrain
Steep brickscaping requires the use of 3x height and 5x height bricks to do efficiently. This section I owe to Kinko, since his style is by far better than mine. A build he is working on, as well as the bricks he uses, are shown below.

To build, use the gradual slopeup method already prescribed, then stack 3x blocks on top of each other haphazardly, leaving a ledge between each new block and the last. Fill in gaps as you work with smaller 3x height and 1x height bricks. Reserve 5x height bricks for large faces occasionally.

Note that Kinko's style isn't the only method to do steep brickscapes, let alone the correct one. Experimenting with bricks while keeping the general idea of Steep landscapes (Flat faces, small ledges, uneven texture) will result in a style more suited towards you. I don't recommend copying styles, but learning from them is a good method to improve yours.

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Rampscaping is pretty much adding ramps to Brickscaping. Using it correctly, however, isn't as straightforward. I recommend that you develop your own style for this technique and only use what is here as a guide to develop your ideas.

Flat/Sloped Terrain
There are two three ways to doing this (Thanks Phantom Knight!), each with its own overall style.

The first method is to use duplicated ramp stacks of any height, 2x to 4x bricks wide. You can choose to either vary the ramp angle, or keep it the same. If used with brickscaping, the resulting effect tends to emphasize the maneuverability of the ramped regions over the flat areas, and draws people to walk over it, unlike normal brickscape which emphasizes the change in elevation.

The second method is courtesy of Bester Bagler.

Terrian From cave build I made a few months ago. All default. All made by hand. The best way to make rampscape is not to over use the 1x thick or duplicate. The trick is to make it by hand and use the 4x thick ones. Then you go down to the 2x and 1x ones for more detail.
Once again, keep it varied. You might want to consider the final outlook of the terrain before starting construction since breaking down 4x wide ramps into smaller parts after being placed isn't that easy, but that is my take on it.

The third method is to use small, 1x wide ramps. This is arguably the most difficult terrain to master, as I have only seen one terrain to-date (pictured below) that uses this idea effectively. The "maneuverability" of ramps is lost in this style, instead emphasizing how each level rises out of the lower one.

Steep Terrain

Ramped Steep terrain usually takes on two design forms:

  • Idealistic Terrain: Extensive use of overhang ramps, and mainly consists of high-angle ramps.

  • Realistic: Used mainly to slope down existing cliffs; may or may not be made up of just ramps.

Technically there is a third form, inverted ramps without the main body of terrain consisting of ramps, but I have yet to see a build that utilizes this form.

Both designs are pretty straightforward; to use them nicely just stay consistent with your ramp usage and randomnization. The second design is best used to slope down terrain to riverbeds that have carved out a ditch.

lets talk rampscape. It is a good design if you are not lazy with the duplucator. Just like cubescape it relies on a system of curves

sometimes when curves can not be preformed filler bricks will have to be used.
now when you mix them together you get

As said before it relies on a system of curves

and sometimes filler bricks which i highlighted in red.

Other things are you never mix plate and ramps, it has a system like cubescape but with this there is no flat edge for the plates to end up by and it messes up collision. if you prefer grass on what your making use a layer of ramps/bricks. You try to keep most ramps facing the same way. if it needs to be turned it must have a gradual turn in till it reaches a turn brick. I will post more on the subject later.

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Platescaping is the #1 way to create large, rolling, relatively flat terrain. Baseplates allow this to be extremely brick-conservative; however, detail may be sacrificed. Platescaping only applies to Flat Terrain, due to the thin pieces. Brickscape (both Ramped and Normal) Sloped and Steep terrain go best with this, if creating a multiterrain-type landscape.

Flat Terrain

This style is most prone to the "hills-on-flat" building style that I, and many others, have mistakenly assumed as good terrain. Thus, I like starting platescapes by using a pillar or a cube, and working from there. It forces you to shape the terrain as you build, and not plop plates down on top of baseplates.

Having a sense of what you want overall is required for this style. Drafting an image or a heightmap may be useful. You can optionally wing the construction as you plate outwards, but it may not result in a satisfactory build if you aren't practiced at it. The distances between elevation levels is most apparant in this technique, and should be regulated so you can form unsymmetrical hills, both in shape and elevation.

« Last Edit: March 20, 2013, 07:13:34 PM by Conan »

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I do a method that I would assume you'd call wedgescaping, not sure if you added that yet.
I don't know why it's just that I love the look of wedges in general tied in with a build.

Here's something I built on the fly

- Pros
 - Adds an edgy feeling to a build
 - Switches up from the normal views of terrain
 - Works well with old rustic builds such as deserts
- Cons
 - Very messy similar to that of plate building
 - Difficult to manage, a hassle to keep up with and may not fit with all builds
 - Will probably not look nice on it's own merit, would look better as a mix up with things such as ramps

Specific Formations
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This section outlines how to do some specific types of terrain. Most of what's written here requires skill in Brickscaping and Uneven Cubescaping.

There are two general types of waterfalls you can make: Conforming or Hung.

Conforming waterfalls follow the face of the terrain, and you'll usually want to make or show signs of erosion on it. This kind of waterfall works well with ramps for water, though you can execute it with normal bricks as well, with varied results.

Hung waterfalls simply go straight down, making it easier to make smoothly. However you'll usually have to couple it with overhangs. You can either use 1x4x5 print bricks, or ramps, though if you're going for a large scale waterfall you'll want to stick with just the 5x heights. Ramps may also be necessary.


Riverbeds can be done with both brickscaping and cubescaping, though most of the rivers I've seen used (or should have used) brickscaping. Brickscape riverbeds are best for normal rivers that are close in elevation to the surrounding terrain, while cubes are best used for ravines.

To create a riverbed, you'll first need to design the river. A simple line drawn through your idea drawings should be enough. Don't conform the river to the brick grid, and don't create extremely sharp turns, unless you don't care about the realism. If you don't have drawings, a simple fast line of 2x4 or 2x2 bricks can outline the river.

~~~~picture of brick outline~~~~

While building it you'll have to make a noticable sharp decrease in slope, unnatural for the terrain, as if the river carved it out. Don't cut the terrain just for the river; use one or two layers to slope it down. Coloring the terrain is highly advised to make it seem more realistic, and define the barrier between land and riverbed.

There are two ways you can slope it down. The first is to simply use normal brickscaping to slope it down slowly. This is best for small streams, rivers, etc.

The second method is to use a sharp drop after a slight slope. This style fits better for larger rivers which need more depth, and aren't meant to be swum across.

Water is best placed planar to other water bricks since smoothing out elevation changes is difficult. However, you may need to do this in some circumstances, so consider how you'll blend the secondary bricks with the water. You can either completely plate over the water with decollisioned bricks to create a flat water surface, or use a secondary mod to set the auxiliary bricks to "water undulo."



Caves require good sloping experience, so you may want to practice building Sloped or Steep terrain before attempting these. Also, blending in the cave with the terrain requires some preparation work, in terms of designing the terrain so it doesn't impede cave design. Using cubes can result in this problem.

Building caves isn't as straightforward as other terrain types. You'll have to personally balance out the cave design, elevation changes, slope changes, consistency, and terrain enhancements like stalag/stalactites. Generally you should slope out the bottom and top, and make the top slope in farther or equal to the bottom.

However, caves with a consistent style like this tend to look bad, and you'll probably want to mix up the ceiling height and slope consistency. Most caves rarely look like even tunnels.

Depending on where the entrance/exit is at, you may want to smoothen its contour with the surrounding terrain. This is highly situational and really depends on your taste, and how much effort you want to put into it.

Since these characteristics are variable, cave design and styling is really left up to your personal tastes and how you plan to use it. Looking at pictures of caves, both horizontal and vertical, will likely aid you in designing something to your expectations.

Paths can come in two types: clearly defined and implied. Clearly defined paths usually end up either colored with a different color, or outlined with bricks. However, this method usually ends up ugly and attention-grabbing, drawing away attention from the build's environment to just the path.

The second form of paths, Implied, relies on more subtle effects, such as insets in elevation changes, or suggesting to people that the surrounding area shouldn't be entered. This type requires more work and bricks to achieve, but keeps people's attention drawn to their surroundings.

There are many qualities that define a path subtly, and you'll probably want to combine a few so the path is emphasized more.
  • When walking on flat brickscape, people have a subtle tendency to stay on the same elevation they are currently on. Unless prompted by curiosity, or a command, most will not traverse up or down a brick elevation. If you make the current elevation they are on pretty wide, you can take advantage of this effect. This is most visible in the example of a non-subtle path as shown above.
  • Adding an indentation to a relatively smooth curve outline of an elevation contrasts the surrounding region, making people notice its existence. This, by itself, will not draw people up or down an elevation, so be sure to couple it with other design ideas.
  • Liberal use of ramps imply a path and draw people to walk over them, as long as the ramps are not highly broken up (ie 4x width ramps work better than 1x). This is best used to "tell" people exactly what path to take. Shown above in the subtle path example.
  • Increasing the density of the surroundings without preventing travel through them push people to stay on the clear path rather than work their way through. An example would be a forest, where paths are defined by clear lanes, and the dense undergrowth made up of saplings, fallen trees, or stones.
  • Placing some man-made objects like fences or bridges give people somewhere to go, and they'll follow any implied path that leads up to their destination. An occasional use of a wooden fence can help define the barrier between a simple turn or a fork in the road.

This is by no means a complete list, so practice on developing your own ideas.

A lot of this requires skill with shaping and building on terrain, so you should probably master normal terraining first before working on paths.

This concludes the guide. I hope you have learned enough here to develop your own terrain effectively and to your expectations. If you have any questions, regarding the guide or your specific build, please send me a PM, with a picture of the build enclosed, and a detailed explanation of what you need help with.

I am still looking for help for the Modular Terrain section, and would extremely appreciate anyone taking up the challenge. Thank you in advance.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2013, 06:54:59 PM by Conan »

Helpful in the coming wave of lost maps where people who know how to build terrain with bricks or the modular system will be on top of the market.

make one using terrain brick

make one using terrain brick
>Modular Terrain section

If you can help I'd gladly appreciate it.

This will come in handy later on.

Bookmarked. Well done.

>Modular Terrain section

If you can help I'd gladly appreciate it.
might make it, hopefully when I have time

This needs to be stickied.

This will come in handy later on.

Bookmarked. Well done.

Yeah, definitely a good time to get people thinking about terrain and trying methods out with V21 coming soon.