How To Create Hills And Valleys in SCARM

The current version of SCARM shapes the terrain (the green-colored land surface in 3D) automatically, according to the heights and mode (normal, tunnel or bridge) of the rails in the track plan. The user-defined terrain shaping feature in the program is still under deve­lopment and in alpha testing. However, even now, you can make hills and valleys in the layout, by using of the figures. The whole trick is explained below in examples.

The figures in SCARM have the ability to change the terrain shape. This is controlled by the option “Snap terrain to bottom” in the Properties window. When checked, the terrain will be forced to snap to the bottom part of the given figure. And when the shape and “Vertical position” field of several polygons are managed properly, we can arrange them to represent a hill or a valley in the layout.

Lets start with a simple oval layout like the showed below:

We will now make a hill in the center and then a valley with a river in the right side of the plan. Note, that the level of all tracks is set to 100mm (~3.95″) height. This is needed for the making of the valley, which will be set below the level of the tracks.

Before you begin, take a look on How to work with figures FAQ topic in the documentation, if you were not acquaint with it.

1. Raising a hill

For creating of the hill, I will use several Polygon figures, one over another.

To display the Figures in the selection panel, open the Libraries selection menu (where all producers and track systems are listed) and click on Figures item, located at the bottom of the menu.

Lets start with the base of the hill. Draw a polygon and set its Properties to the following values:

Vertical position = 120mm (~4.75″)
Height – leave to zero
Color >> click over the white bar to open Color dialog box and select some light-green shade (you may also leave the color to be White)
Snap terrain to bottom >> place check-mark here

The track plan now should look like the one below:

Continue with the second polygon. Create it inside the first one and set all properties like before, but make the Vertical position to be 140mm (~5.5″). Create several polygons in the same way, making each next to be inside the last one and with higher Vertical position. When ready, your layout should looking as close as the following:

You can make the hills with any size and shape in this way. You can also make a valleys, using the same technique.

2. Digging a valley

Lets make a valley from the hill to the bridge in the right side of the plan. Draw a polygon, color it in some light-blue shade (to distinguish it from hill polygons), set the Vertical position to 50mm (~2″) and place a check-mark at “Snap terrain to bottom”. Because the height of the figure is below the level of the tracks, our new polygon will represent a valley:

Depending on your needs, the valley can be represented with one or more polygons.

3. Shaping the river

Now we can make a river. It will take its source from the hill and will pass through the valley and under the bridge. Again, all that is needed is a polygon with the following Properties:

Vertical position = 35mm (~1.4″)
Height = 1mm (~0.04″), because we need the river to be visible in 3D
Color >> click over the white bar to open Color dialog box and select deep blue color
Snap terrain to bottom >> place check-mark here

The river’s polygon is located below the level of the valley, so it will also form the spring place inside the hill and a bed for our river, as showed below:

And finally, I will place several trees to complete the scene of this tutorial layout:

This is the way for creating hills and valleys for now. Download the sample SCARM project file form the links below to practice and experiment with the figures in it.

See also
How to work with figures

Sample track plan

9 thoughts on “How To Create Hills And Valleys in SCARM

  1. Another way is to use track in tunnels. The program automatically puts terrain above a tunnel. You can use flexi track that doesn’t connect anywhere to create hills and slopes. Eg if you want your actual track in a cutting put some curves of flexi track parallel to it and turn them into tunnels. You can slope the cutting end by changing the terrain track heights.

  2. OK. How do you draw a polygon? I get the shape drawn, but when I try to close off the polygon a red circle with a line through it appears. I can’t “finish” the polygon so to speak.

  3. Milen
    Thank you for a wonderful facility. I am new to this.

    Please advise, when setting vertical height and drawing valley, I cannot see it. I think it is because (in 3D) track is raised but not terrain. Height of track is set at 2 inches.

    I think I am missing a setting. Your assistance will be appreciated.

    Thank you


    Cape Town

  4. Milen

    Yes, I have and it is in order.

    Must be a setting.

    Thank you for coming back to me


  5. Check the 3D options from “Tools” > “Settings” and check also for other overlapping or improperly set polygons. If you thing that these are also OK, send me the track plan to for reviewing.

  6. Love SCARM. One question – is there any way to add a “Bring to Top” or “Bring to Front” feature (like clip art in MS Office & others) so that when I create a new shape around an existing building, it doesn’t “hide” in in the 2D view. The vertical positions are correctly set, it’s just that the order of the shapes seems to matter when it shows them in the 2D view.

    As a work-around, I’ve cut and re-pasted the “hidden” shapes and then they show up, because they were created later (during the re-paste operation). It works, but it’s just inconvenient when placing a yard under an existing building.

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