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Extended terrain in StarCraft, created by CecilSunkure.

Terrain is the landscape of a map. Terrain's primary functions are to depict the environment, limit movement of ground units, construction of structures and impose vision restrictions. Terrain has an impact on the ranged attacks missing rates. It's layout determines a strategical scenery of the level. Well-placed terrain adds aesthetic appeal to the map.

Terrain mechanics


The tile grid in StarCraft.

The most basic unit of terrain is the tile. Tiles are rectangular 32x32-pixel images with the attached properties that contain passability, sight transparency, elevation (low, medium, or high) and construction suitability information. Only third-party map editors allow you to alter terrain on a per-tile basis.

Usually, tiles are combined to form predefined groups of isometric pieces; this is the way that Blizzard Entertainment intended for them to be assembled. However, third-party map editors allow users to assemble tiles in unusual ways to create custom terrain formations called "extended terrain" or "blends".

Isometric tiles (ISOM)

The isometric grid in StarCraft.

Isometric terrain, or ISOM, is the normal unit of terrain; this is the unit that StarEdit can work with. Isometric terrain is "secretly" made of rectangular tiles, which were designed to fit together. When placing terrain normally, you manipulate isometric pieces rather than individual tiles.


Brushes are groups of tiles that may be stamped anywhere onto a map's rectangular tile grid. They are contained in brush files, which act like palettes for terain. So far, only two editors (SCMDraft 2 and StarForge) support brushes. Brush files make it easy to reuse and share blends. SEN has a forum topic where useful brushes can be shared.

To open SCMDraft 2's brush dialog, go to Windows > Brush Palette. Brushes can be opened by clicking Open File, and selecting a brush. Multiple brushes can be opened at a time. To use a blend, simply select it in the Brush Palette window, and then click on the map to apply it. To create a new brush, select the appropriate tiles, type a name into the text field on the Brush Palette window, and then click Add Brush. Brush files can be saved by clicking Save File on the Brush Palette window.

Extended terrain and blends

Generally, any configuration of terrain tiles that cannot normally be placed in StarEdit is called extended terrain (or blended terrain). "Blended terrain" refers to extended terrain in which the tiles have been blended -- that is, placed in an attempt to match them and create a seamless configuration of tiles. "Square terrain" (terrain consisting of rectangular tiles placed with no regard for how well they blend) is extended terrain, but not blended terrain.


Custom ramps are a common element in extended terrain. The two most common types of custom ramps are backwards ramps and ramps between two types of terrain that cannot normally connect together. Lengthened and shortened versions of standard ramps have also been made.

Stacked cliffs

A diagram showing how to stack cliffs on Badlands and Jungle.

Stacked cliffs are relatively easy to create on most tilesets. On Ash World, Badlands, Jungle, stacked cliffs can be created with ridiculous ease. Simply take the tops of Dirt-to-Water (or Dirt-to-Magma) cliffs, and paste them over the tops of Dirt-to-High-Dirt cliffs. Then, copy the middle and top sections of Dirt-to-High-Dirt cliffs, and paste those just above the Dirt-to-Water tops.

Multiple levels of stacked cliffs (such as High-Dirt-to-Dirt-to-Dirt-to-Water cliffs) can be created using this method.

Custom doodads

Custom doodads are terrain blends that are aesthetically or functionally similar to doodads on some tilesets. Here is a custom doodad built by mirroring two opposite-facing doodads on the Jungle tileset:

SC1 Custom Jungle Doodad.png

Square terrain

Square terrain is terrain placed tile-by-tile, with little regard for how well the tiles blend. It is often used for interiors on maps.

Here is an example of square terrain, used for an interior in Leeroy_Jenkins' Middle of the Ocean RPG.

SC1 MotO Hospital.png