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Building Terrains

The output from your project must be saved to a file in order to use it elsewhere. To do this, you must build the output. When you build the output, Gaea will create it at your target resolution. This may take a while to build depending upon the complexity of your terrain and the effects used.

Build window

This image shows the Build Swarm building your terrain project.

Over the course of a complex project, saving and managing the appropriate outputs can become a tedious task. Managing outputs for several different nodes, especially those with multiple outputs like the Erosion node, can make it even worse.

The Build Manager simplifies how builds are saved, organized, and managed for future use.

Mark for Export

Instead of creating a dedicated Output node and having to specify the file to save, you can mark a node for automatic output.

Mark for Export

To mark a node for export, right-click the node and select Mark for Export. You can also use the Graph Toolbar button. In the Layers Workflow you can right-click a layer in the Layers List.

Export Icon

Once a node is marked for export, it displays this icon underneath the node.

The Build Manager

Build Manager

The Build Manager increases your efficiency. You can choose the file format to use for all outputs, modify a node's output name by clicking on the node's label, choose unclamped (formerly called "Full Range"), and +1 output (where 512 x 512 becomes 513 x 513 — necessary for some game engines).

You can also use the Build Manager for version control and file organization.

Build Options

Node List

Any node marked for export shows up in the Build Manager list. You can also add other nodes directly using the Add Node button.

Each node will expose its savable filename, the format in which it will export, and the different outputs it exposes.

Build Destination

This is the path where the built output will be saved. By default, it is saved in a version-controlled path in the Builds repository. You can always enter a normal path directly, or pick from presets in the dropdown.

For additional information see Organizing Builds below.

Build Definition


The output resolution of the build. Higher resolutions give you better detail at the cost of longer processing times.

16k and 32k builds are experimental at this stage and will be optimized over the next several builds.


This dropdown allows you to choose the format in which your output is saved. You can also select per-node file formats in the node list. If you change the selection here, all nodes will default to the selection made here.

Mesh Formats are not available globally and must be chosen per node.

For details on the individual formats available, see File Formats.

Output Range

  • Natural Elevation: Terrain retains natural scale between 0..1 and ignores artifical scaling created by the proportions in the Terrain Definition. This may require you to scale the height of the terrain in your target application if it does not understand natural scaling.
  • Artifical Scaling: Terrain is scaled to the proportions in the Terrain Definition. This is useful for mesh exports or heightfields where scale should be handled automatically. In some cases, this method may show banding.
  • Forced Full Range: Terrain is forced to use the full range between 0..1 providing greater scalability. However, this will require manual scaling in your target application.

Tiled Output

Tiled output is experimental at this stage. It will be stabilized in future updates.

Mesh Options

These options govern the mesh output of nodes in the list that are being exported to a mesh-based format; such as OBJ, FBX, or XYZ.


  • Normalized: The vertices are stored between 0.0-1.0. This is helpful when you want to rescale during import in your target application.
  • 1 unit = 1 meter: The mesh is stored in meters, as dictated by the terrain definition you have set in Gaea.
  • 1 unit = 1 kilometer: The mesh is stored in kilometers, as dictated by the terrain definition you have set in Gaea.


Gaea can automatically generate multiple LODs (Level of Detail) for you in a single pass. Each LOD is half of the previous vertex count.

For example, if you are exporting 4 LODs:

  • Base mesh = 2048 vertices
  • LOD 1 = 1024 vertices
  • LOD 2 = 512 vertices
  • LOD 3 = 256 vertices
  • LOD 4 = 128 vertices

Vertex Count

This is the vertex count of either dimension. Higher density creates more detailed meshes at the expense of speed and memory. The total number of vertices is the square of the vertex count specifed. So for example, 512 vertex count is: 512 x 512 = 262,144 vertices. The estimate of vertex and face counts is shown below the settings.

Force Quads

Force all faces to be quads instead of triangles.

Additional Options


This option is for builds that need to be taken to Unreal Engine, and is turned off by default. Unreal Engine requires particular dimensions for ingesting terrains. To meet Unreal's requirements, Gaea will build the terrain at its own fixed resolutions and then faithfully downsample to the Unreal-friendly resolution.

Pick the nearest Gaea resolution in the main Resolution dropdown, then select the Unreal-friendly resolution in the Resample dropdown.

Color Space

You can choose to save color maps in RGB, sRGB, or scRGB color spaces.

Increase output scale by +1

Some software require heightfields to be one pixel larger than the normal dimension. For example, 4096 is required to be 4097. Check this option to increase the dimensions by one pixel.

This option is ignored when the Resample option is used.

Build Options

Save a copy of this .TOR file

Saves a copy of the current .TOR or .TORX file in the build folder.

Close Gaea UI

The Gaea interface - especially when using high resolution previews - can consume enough RAM to cause an impact on high resolution builds. To conserve memory, you can check this option to close Gaea when the build starts.

Open folder after build

Check this option to open the build destination folder when the build completes.

Generate Build Log

Generate a machine- and human-readable build log in .txt format at the build location.

Beep when done

Checking this option will sound a beep when the build is complete.

Version Control and Organization

Organizing Builds

The Location field in the Build Manager provides two built-in options for storing your builds.

The first option is the central build repository, which is stored in Documents\Gaea\Builds\[Filename] by default, but can be changed to any location — even to a local network or an online shared folder with OneDrive, Dropbox, GDrive, etc. This can be useful in team situations.

Exported Files

The second option is to have it stored alongside the file in a Builds folder. So if your file is called MyTerrain.tor, a folder called MyTerrain_Builds will be placed next to it.

In both cases, inside the Builds folder, a subfolder with the build timestamp is created. The build output files, a file, and the .tor copy are stored inside this subfolder.

Example paths

Central Repository: C:\Users\Username\Documents\Gaea\Builds\EastRiver\2018–06–22_22–55–31\

Local File: D:\Work\Terrains\EastRiver_Builds\2018–06–22_21–55–31\

These are not the only options. You can explicitly specify a location instead of choosing a template, or you can create your own combinations using an absolute path and variables such as:

  • [FileLocation] Location of the currently open file.
  • [Builds] Central build repository.
  • [Filename] Name of the current file without extension.
  • [Resolution] Current resolution (eg. 8192).
  • [Timestamp] Sortable timestamp in yyyy-MM-dd_HH-mm-ss format.
  • [Username] Your local network identity.
  • [Machine] Your local network machine name.
  • [Date] Current date in yyyy-MM-dd format.
  • [Time] Current time in HH-mm-ss format.
  • [+++] Increments a 3-digit number when an existing path exists.

So you could create your own path template; such as:


which would create:


Or something more specific; such as:


which would create:


If you encounter trouble writing to network shares, we recommend hosting the share as a drive instead.

Version Controlling Terrains

Gaea's Build Manager and Build Stack give you low level version control without additional overhead.

The "Save copy of .TOR" option is useful when you want to manage different versions of your actual project file. When turned ON, every time your build finishes, a copy of the .tor file in the exact state of that particular build is stored alongside the build output. You can easily go back to any older build state for your file, and save it as new file.

You can also map the folder to almost any modern version control system (Git, Mercurial, Visual Studio Team Services, etc.), or share on a network folder with your team.

Build Swarm

For advanced use, see Build Swarm.