Fractal Terrains: Importing heightmaps

I'm sure this has been asked before, but can't find anything here about it.

Is there a way to take a grayscale heightmap and import it into Fractal Terrains? I've read some method using Wilbur, but it doesn't seem to work.

I'd love to play around with a map of Mars, but while there are plenty of heightmaps in tiff, png, and similar formats, I can't find any in binary format, nor find an easy way to convert such maps into binary elevation maps.

Please help.

Er. Seems the Wilbur method DID work and my real issue is figuring out how to turn a small range of values into a large one.


  • 9 days later
  • You can do it by importing the grayscale image as an image overlay, setting up a color-to-altitude conversion, and running it. It might take some trial and error to get right, but it should work.
  • jslaytonjslayton Mapmaker Moderator, ProFantasy
    I would recommending the MOLA data directly from NASA at

    To use the data in the FT demo (we'll use the lowest resolution topography because it's only a 2 MB download):

    Download for the topography data.
    Download for metadata.
    Start FT
    Use File>>New to bring up the new file wizard.
    Select Binary File and click Next.
    Click Choose Elevation File to bring up the Binary Data dialog.
    Enter your .img file name into the File Name block.
    Open the LBL file in NotePad.
    Look for the "OBJECT=IMAGE" record and note the following information:
    LINES is the height of the image.
    SAMPLE_TYPE describes the data type for each. MSB_INTEGER means that the MSB of each sample is first (that is not LSB first).
    SAMPLE_BITS is the number of bits for each sample (16 bits is 2 bytes).
    Now that you have enough information, enter the data into the Binary Data dialog as shown in the attachment and click OK.
    Click Next and then Finish to complete the new file definition.
    You should now see your data in FT.

    If you would like this data to stay with the FTW file rather than relying on an external file then you'll want to set the map big enough to contain your input data and place that data into the offset channel. Change the editing size by using Map>>World Settings and changing the value on the Editing tab to your desired input (our data is 1440 samples across so we'll want to set the editing value to at least that) and click Apply. Tools>>Actions>>Burn In To Surface will convert the input data into the offset channel in the FT data file.
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