How to Make an Arma 3 Map With Terrain Builder


Posted in TechnologyArt

Introduction: How to Make an Arma 3 Map With Terrain Builder

First of all, I would like to thank for such an awesome tutorial.

This instructable will be based from PMC's ultimate terrain tutorial, although it will be simplified.

I really wanted to create maps in Arma 3 for my Advanced Technologies class, and my goal was to recreate my favorite town in Arma 3, but unfortunately, Global Mapper is expensive. In this tutorial, everything is done for you, so there isn't much configuration editing.

Step 1: Install Required Programs

You will need:

  • Notepad++ (for editing configuration files) (DO NOT USE Notepad or Wordpad!)
  • Steam with Arma 3 (well, uh)
  • Arma 3 Tools (for mounting p drive and extracting game data, it is also used for binzaring your map into an addon)
  • L3DT (for generating terrains, standard edition is fine for starters as it's free)

Step 2: Mount P Drive & Buldozer

Mount the P Drive and install files.

To do this you must open Arma 3 Tools and ensure you are using the right drive/location by going to:

Preferences > Options > Path to P your drive AND/OR path to Arma 3 directory

Configure it to your discretion. (ex. D:\ Drive)

Then press Register.

Now go to Project Drive Management and Select "Install Buldozer"

After that is done, select Mount the work drive (P) and then Extract Game Data (This will take a while if you do not have a great computer).

Step 3: Configure Terrain Builder to Not Destroy PC

Terrain builder can be a little weird. Sometimes it can lock your computer up, so to prevent this you must make a shortcut and make terrain builder run in windows xp service pack 2 compatibility. If you do not experience this, you may skip this step.

To do this you must go to:

\steamapps\common\Arma 3 Tools\TerrainBuilder

Normally, your steam path would be:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Arma 3 Tools\TerrainBuilder

But if you use a different drive or different location of installation it may be different.

Right click terrain builder > Create shortcut

Right click the short cut > Properties > Compatibility

then tick the run this program in compatibility mode for: Windows XP (Service Pack 2)

Then move the shortcut somewhere easily accessible like your desktop.

Step 4: Configuring Terrain Builder to Work With Bulldozer

Open Terrain Builder and go to Tools > Preferences > Buldozer and make sure

.exe file path: \steamapps\common\Arma 3\arma3_x64.exe -buldozer -window -exThreads=0 -mod= -noAsserts -nologs -profiles=P:\Buldozer -cfg=P:\Buldozer\Buldozer.cfg -name=Buldozer

(C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Arma 3\arma3_x64.exe -buldozer -window -exThreads=0 -mod= -noAsserts -nologs -profiles=P:\Buldozer -cfg=P:\Buldozer\Buldozer.cfg -name=Buldozer), normally for people with default drives.

Then press OK

Step 5: Create a Tag for Your Map in P Drive

if we were to create a tag for our terrain location, we should use a name no one else would use, but don't make it too long.

Heres is an example of a folder location: p:\nordin\nordin_terrain\
Here is another example: p:\tut\tut_terrain\

nordin would be the tag.
nordin_terrain would be the namespace (or prefix).

So, in other words, just create a folder in P Drive and give it a unique name and create another folder within that as your namespace.

We'll use tut as our tag and tut_terrain as our namespace for the upcoming steps. You may wish to do the same as well, but giving it your own name will help you understand how everything works a lot more.

Step 6: Create Files & Folders Within Your Namespace

The next thing you want to do is create folders and files. Keep notepad++ handy for this.

Create a folder under p:\tut\tut_terrain (Or whatever you named your tag and namespace) called source.
Ex. p:\tut\tut_terrain\source\
Now create an empty file under your tag (p:\tut\tut_terrain) called

Now open $PBOPREFIX$ with notepad++ and put your tag\namespace in as the text.


Now download the image with the color legend (in the photos) and put it in your p:\ drive.
Rename it to maplegend.png if it isn't already that.

Step 7: Layers.cfg

This is your layers configuration for adding ground textures.

Download the layers.cfg provided and put it into your source folder located:


For simplicity, simply download layers.cfg, if you wish to know more about it visit PMC Ultimate Guide

Now download the rvmat's provided then under tut\tut_terrain make a new folder called "data" and put them in there.

Boom, done for that.

Step 8: L3DT

To simplify this, we're going to be using L3DT Standard to generate terrain.

I've provided a climate you must download, it's mask's colours match with the layers.cfg.

Open L3DT and go to Resources > Climate Manager > Load
Then find where you have saved the file Tutorial.cli.xml then load it

Press OK

Follow steps by image, ensure every setting is the same.

After everything is done, select Texture Map and press CTRL+E and select bmp as file format

Now do the same for the Attributes Map

After that, go to the Heightfield and press CTRL+E and select asc as file format

Now right click the heightmap.asc in File Explorer and edit it with notepad and make sure it is identical to this:
ncols 512
nrows 512
xllcorner 200000.000000
yllcorner 0.000000
cellsize 10.000000

Step 9: Terrain Builder

Open Terrain Builder shortcut wherever you placed it

Add mapframe > OK (Should be set to 31 (0°E - 6°E) (N))

Set name to: tut_terrain (or whatever your namespace is)

Set Output root folder to: P:\tut\tut_terrain (or whatever you named your tag and namespace)

Set Easting (m) to: 200000

Set Northing (m) to: 0

Press Create subfolders.

Now select Samplers

Terrain Samplers:
Grid Size: 512x512
Cell Size (m): 10.000
Terrain Size (m): 5120.000

Satellite/Surface (mask) source images:

Satellite/Surface (mask) tiles
Size (px): 512x512
Desired Overlap (px): 16

Texture layer:

Now select Processing

Select Layers config file (layers.cfg): P:\tut\tut_terrain\source\layers.cfg

Now select Rebuild terrain

Press OK

Now ensure all view tabs are punched in (e.g. the orange box, and the grey box)

Step 10: Importing Terrain

Go to:

File > Import > Terrain > heightmap.asc

File > Import > Satellite images > satmap.bmp

File > Import > Surface mask images > mask.bmp

Right click on the heightmap, Terrain coordinates & properties

Ensure that left bottom corner is set to:
Easting (m): 200000.000
Northing (m): 0.000

Width (m): 5120.000
Height (m): 5120.000

Then press OK.

You will have to do this to each one (the mask, the satmap)

(If the map "Disappears", press the fit to view button (Oranges arrows coming out from a box from 4 directions))

Step 11: Generating Texture Layers

Now to generate texture layers, we'll need to go to mapframes and double click tut_terrain or what ever you named it.

After it is opened, go to Processing again.

Now tick "Export satellite texture", "Export surface mask" and "Convert exported textures into *.paa files" with check marks.

Hit Generate layers.

Now go to File > Export > WRP

Save it to P:\tut\tut_terrain\

Then save it as tut_terrain

Step 12: Config.cpp

Download the file provided, then drop it in to:


Edit the configuration file if you have a different namespace and/or tag.

Step 13: Binarization: the Final Step

Open Arma 3 Tools and go to Addon Builder

Addon source directory should be your tag:

Destination is wherever you want your loadable map to be located:
C:\Users\Kevin\Desktop\Arma 3 Maps\Tutorial_Map

Don't forget to call it Tutorial_Map or something after you've found the spot to put it.

Now press Pack

Congratulations!, You've made your first terrain in Arma 3.

If you want to know more (Such as making roads, adding objects, I would visit PMC's Ultimate Terrain Tutorial, I cannot stress it enough. Maybe I will add it here as well if I ever want to come back to this. I'll also add things such as how to comfortably mount CUP to your object templates. But other than that, you are pretty much done.

If you have had trouble in any way, please contact me IMMEDIATELY so I can clarify it on here, and then visit PMC's ultimate terrain tutorial, it explains things a lot better than me on here.



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