Texturising Terrain in Blender

  • Blender model of Wellington with Orthophoto texture
    Blender model of Wellington with Orthophoto texture 
  • Colour map and commercial building texture
    Colour map and commercial building texture 
  • Colour map and roads texture
    Colour map and roads texture 
  • Colour map, roads, and commercial buildings texture
    Colour map, roads, and commercial buildings texture 
  • Orthophoto and land parcels texture
    Orthophoto and land parcels texture 
  • Orthophoto, land parcels, and commercial buildings texture
    Orthophoto, land parcels, and commercial buildings texture 
  • Orthophoto and roads texture
    Orthophoto and roads texture 
  • Photo of Wellington city from Mt Kaukau
    Photo of Wellington city from Mt Kaukau 

This tutorial will show you how to apply a series of textures to a terrain model in Blender. For this example I'm using a model of Wellington city, New Zealand.

  1. Download all the files listed at the bottom of this tutorial
  2. Open Start .blend
  3. In the Properties shelf >> Shading >> Change Multitexture to GLSL
    Multitexture to GLSL
  4. In the Properties viewport Properties >> Textures Textures >> Add new texture
    Add a new texture in Blender
  5. Change Type from Cloud to Image or Movie
    Change texture type from Clouds to Change texture type to Image or Movie
  6. Scroll down to Image >> Open >> Navigate your filesystem and find Wellington - Colour Map.png
    Open texture
  7. Repeat steps 4 to 6 for each of the textures you downloaded
  8. Toggle the visibility of the textures by clicking on the check boxes in the list of textures at the top.
  9. To improve the quality of the model, in the Properties viewport Properties>> Object modifiers Modifiers >> increase the Multiresolution modifer Multi Resolution ModifierPreview setting from 8 to 9 or 10

Discussion about textures

The textures for this tutorial came from Koordinates. I used QGIS to export them as bitmaps. The colour map was created procedurally from the heightmap, the rest were from vector outlines of roads, land parcels, and buildings. This method works, but it is not the only method, nor is it neccesarily the best method. To be more efficient with RAM and CPU it would be prudent to merge the textures using a programme such as GIMP. Also, use a texture size that has dimensions that are a power of 2, such as 64x64. 128x128, 256x256, 512x512, 1024x1024, 2048x2048, 4096x4096. For more depth, check out the Blender documentation on Image Textures.




I am newer of blender and QGIS. Thank you very much!

tomas javurek

Hello,thanks for tutorial!I do not understand what does the point 8 mean? Namely where I can find this: "on the check boxes" and this "list of textures at the top".Is that somehow possible to cover the modeled height map by some grid (I understand that it is not clear how exactly) so that I can afterwards unwrap that and put the pictures of the mountain faces on the faces of our model?Thanks, Tomas.  

Rogerio Tojeiro

Thank you for the tutorials.What is Blender version you used? I am with some dificulties, may be different versions.

tomas javurek

Hi, I am using 2.62.0. What type of difficulties you have? 

Rogerio Tojeiro

I am using 2.73.My knowledge of Blender is next to zero, so I am just trying to follow the steps of your tutorial. I did it until step 6 but the "overlay" texture does not appears. Is it necessary that the image of the texture has the same dimensions of the "base"?Please excuse my poor english. I am portuguese ( just at the antipodes!)

tomas javurek

Hello,well this is not mz tutorial, but I think you have to render it, if you want to see tha texture (preoss f12). If you want to see that directly in 3D view, there is small sphere icon at the drop down menu (bottom), just set it to texture. Did it help?Cheers, Tomas.  

Rogerio Tojeiro

It worked. Thank you very much.

john's picture

Rogerio Tojeiro's question was answered by Tomas, I expand his solution below with pictures

So that 'Ball' is:-

If the model appears black, with no texture, try going to the properties bar and selecting Materials
and look below, or scroll down, and check the Shadeless box

john's picture

Tomas Javurek, Blender has an in built grid that can be generated as a texture for your model e.g.

At step 6 in the tutorial, instead of clicking open, click new

This will give you a box:-

Choose the type of grid you want from:-

Options being:-

john's picture

For more depth see the video Introduction to UV unwrapping.

john's picture

Tomas, to choose which texture is being displayed use the  checkboxes in Properties > Textures:-

tomas javurek

Thanks a lot John, very helpful! 

Rogerio Tojeiro

Thank you.



Have been able to successfully follow your tutorial thanks except for displaying the orthophoto. I get a message "cant load image" under source and I get a pink image overlay over the 3D model.

The rest of the textures work fine, ie buildings, color map, roads etc.

I have googled this extensively but cant find any suggestions as to why or what can be done to fix it other than for some reason pink textures but that doesn't make sense for a PNG orthophoto / rgb image.

Would be grateful for any suggestions



john's picture

David is talking about:-


The solution is to download file wellington-2004-2005-orthophoto.png and find it using . This is a work around. It appears some things have changed in Blender since I created the file for this tutorial. Once implemented this should permanently fix the issue.


Hi John,thanks a lot!!!! Very very helpful :)GreetingsMario

john's picture

You're welcome!

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