May 28

Unturned – Creating a heightmap from real world locations

Unturned is an free to play open world zombie survival game, with a built in map maker utility.

Right now the game has no ability to automatically import real world location data into its maps.

This guide will show you how to use real world heightmap data to create a realistic looking map.


Tools Required

Your going to need a couple of programs to get this working.


Getting the map data

  1. Download Google Earth
  2. Open Google Earth and find a nice place that you wish to use to create your map.
    In my example I have chosen the Faroe Islands in Scotland
  3. From the top toolbar, select a placemarker and place it on the area you want to use.
    The properties panel for it will open up and give you the longitude and latitude of the location, For me it is Latitude: 61°54’26.74″N Longitude: 6°49’11.20″WGoogle Earth - Faroe Islands
  4. Now go to or, but we will focus on the former. These sites contain global heightmap data.
  5. Select the region your location is in. In my example it would be EurasiaSRTM3
  6. The site will give you a list of files for each North/South, East/West coordinate.SRTM3 - 2
  7. Now since in my example the coordinates were Latitude: 61°54‘26.74″N Longitude: 6°49‘11.20″W,  round them up, you get N62 W7
  8. On the site with the heightmap data, search for your coordinates. For me it will be Now unfortunately it wasn’t on the first website, but I found the heightmap for the Faroe Islands on
  9. Download the zip file and extract it somewhere easy to get to, my downloads, desktop etc.  You should have a .hgt file ready for use!HGT Files

Congratulations you have your heightmap data!

Making the heightmap data usable


Unturned requires a heightmap image, not raw data, this section will show you how to get the heightmap image you need for your awesome map!


  1. Create a folder on your desktop or somewhere for you to work.
  2. Download and install MicroDEM for opening the raw heightmap data.
  3. Open MicroDEM from your start menu. When it starts it will ask you to open a project, click close.
  4. It will then ask to update several things, click yes to everything as it comes up.MicroDEM update
  5. Once the program is updated, at the top right, click the second icon from the left, then browse to your HGT file from earlier and open it.DEM Open Browse
  6. If you have multiple heightmap files and want to merge them together, go to File > Open > Open and Merge DEMs, then select the multiple hgt files.
  7. You should now have a nice heightmap image!Faroe Map
  8. If you want to confirm you got the right area, right click the image and go to Export > Quick Map to Google Earth. It will overlay your heightmap image on Google Earth, so you can confirm you got the right area!Overlay
  9. Back in MicroDEM. We need to make sure the depth is correct for the heightmap.
  10. Right click your image, select Display Parameter then Elevation
  11. What we do here is set the range of colours so we get nice smooth transitions and set our sea level correctly. Select Gray Scale (monochrome)elevation
  12. The “Missing” colour block, which is black, is our sea level colour, Black = Deep, White = High.
    If your map shouldn’t have any sea in it, and there is some black parts on your heightmap, this is missing data. You should change your Missing colour block to a grey closer to the shade around the missing area, so you don’t have sudden oceans or rivers where there should be none.
  13. Click t he z Range button
  14. The “z Range” defines the range of heights that will map to our grayscale, 0-255 values.
    The Max and Min values are the range of heights picked up from the heightmap data. So in my example since 2593 is the highest elevation, that is the max for the z range. These areas will be bright white. Min is the lowest elevation in the heightmap, as such they will be black.
    Any “missing” data will be black as well as I have said previously.You can change these values to make a height map overall more flat, or steep. Simply raise or lower the Max value. Raising it say, to 4000, will put the range from 853 to 4000, meaning our actual highest elevation in the heightmap of 2593, will be just about halfway on the z range, so it will be a grey colour rather than white. Effectively flattening the map. Lowing the Max value will have the opposite effect.In my example I left the values default.
  15. Click OK to close the z Range and Elevation Window. Your image should now be a nice grayscaled heightmap.
  16. Click File > Save image > name your file > Save Type as PNG > Click Save.Heightmap
  17. You can now Close MicroDEM.

Adding the heightmap to unturned.

In this section we will generate our map with our heightmap image.

From the last section we have our heightmap.png file, this image may be too large for the map size we want, we need to resize it to fit the Unturned map sizes.

The image we saved from MicroDEM was 389 x 830 pixels.
We either need to resize it to one of the below sizes, which would squash it/stretch it.
Or only use a section of the heightmap image.

This below table shows the resolution you need for each map size.


HeightMap Resolution Map Size
513×513 Large
257×257 Medium
129×129 Small

I will resize / crop the heightmap to fit a Medium map.

  1. In Photoshop / GIMP / create a new image 513×513 (or your desired map size resolution)
  2. Add in your heightmap image. In photoshop, I opened the image then selected the entire image (ctrl+A) and then pasted it as a new layer into into the 513×513 project. this is so we can keep the full resolution of our original image.Non cropped
  3. You can now either stretch or shrink the image to fit the specified resolution. Or you can keep it the same resolution and crop it to fit the 513×513 image size. In this example I stretched it to fit the resolution.stretched
  4. Flip the image horizontally as Unturned flips it for some reason. Then save the image as heightmap.png
  5. Open up Unturned in Steam.
  6. Go to the WorkShop > Editor
  7. Create a map of the size fitting your heightmaps resolution. In my case, Large.
  8. After clicking Add, minimize Unturned.
  9. Open up the Unturned folder in your Steam/Steamapps/common folder
  10. Open the maps folder
  11. Open the Folder with the name of the map you just created, in my case Faroe Islands
  12. Open the terrain folder
  13. Delete the Heights.dat file if it exists.
  14. Copy your Heightmap.png file into the terrain folder.
  15. Go back to Unturnned. Click on your map and click edit.
  16. The map will be black, so hit terrain > materials > then in the bottom right Bake

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