creating environments

Im having a little trouble, i need to know how to elevate areas to make small hills or mountains in 3ds max. also i need to know how to animate water to make waves.

I definately know an easy way to make hills (I used this method for my 2005 animation).

  • You’re going to want to start with a plane making sure to bump up the segments.
  • Next make a picture from black to white. I did this in Photoshop, but other programs will work as well. Just use a brush tool, turn down the opacity and soften the edges, then brush randomly, keeping in mind that the blackest areas are the lowest, and the whitest are the highest.
  • Next, in 3dsmax, apply a Vol. Select Modifier to your plane. Change these settings: Stack Selection Level = Vertex, and Select By = Texture Map -> Bitmap -> the picture you just made.
  • Apply a Displacement Modifier to your plane and bump up the displacement amount until it looks the way you like it.

I’ve attached a zip with both the .max file and the .jpg I’m using for the map. (73.2 KB) (73.2 KB)

another way, If you are lazy to use outside applications, is to create a really dense plane. (like 200 length and width subdivisions) then right click the plane and convert to editable mesh. Enable soft selection and pick a few random vertices and move them up or down. Keep on doing this and you will end up with some funky terrain. Since soft selection is mathmatically based and does not look very “realistic” you can then add a noise modifier and select fractal and set the Z-power to make the terrain “rough”

water & waves:
-create a plane, doesn’t matter what size, set the multiplier to a higher value(ex.10)
-add a wave modifier, adjust the settings, animate the settings
-add another wave modifier for different wave patterns, rotate the gizmo, animate the settings



Use a quad patch. Modify and scroll all of the way down to the bottom of the modify menu. A new feature that allows you to “paint” hills and valleys awaits. It is so easy to use, I will leave it up to you to explore. Check out how we used it in our animation this year.

This method is not he best way to simulate water. A quad patch with a Noise modifier will work great. The noise can be animated and does a pretty good job as water.

Post again if you need more info.


I didn’t about that, your way does sound easier. Maybe I’ll have to check that out when I’m not too busy.