The Sims 4 Terrain Modification

Building with the New Terrain Tools

The Sims 4 Terrain Tools Patch News
The latest Sims 4 patch brought free terrain tools in an update that also includes first person mode and a new stylist career.

The Sims 4 team just delivered a patch that allows players to modify the terrain on lots. Along with this came an important improvement: you are now able to give structures different foundation heights and modify the heights of individual blocks on the fly. The terrain tools add an extra dimension to building, allowing for creative but functional designs. Let's look at how some of the system works, so you can get to work planning your dream home.

How to Change Terrain Height

How to change terrain height - select the terrain tools button in build mode
Head to build mode and use this button, then 'Terrain Manipulation' to get started using the new patch's terrain tools.

Press F3 to go to build mode. You'll find terrain tools on the far right side, near the tree. From here the interface changes, showing you three options - paint, eraser, and terrain manipulation. When you select terrain manipulation, the entire land area highlights with a yellow green that shows where Sims are able to build.

Raise and Lower Terrain

Terrain can be raised and lowered in small or large areas, with the shape of circle or square. Holding shift while scrolling your mouse wheel will change the size of the area, though you can also use the sliders in the interface or press [ left and ] right bracket to cycle through the sizes and shapes.

The pacing at which all terrain tools work is modifiable via the adjust speed slider. If you want to make small changes, I suggest you move it far to the left as the tools do not mess around when it comes to making massive hills. Control + Z to undo will be used frequently while you get used to things. If you need to fine tune, tap the mouse button to gradually make changes until you're satisfied.

Buildable Area

The buildable area is represented by the green blocks
The green blocks represent buildable area. Any objects must fit with room for a Sim to use them. Foundations can automatically rise to fit, or will cut into surrounding hills, so don't worry about perfection here.

There are a few things the terrain tool mode shows you that are all important. First, the squares denote where you're able to build. If you make a hill, you will not be able to place any larger objects on the slope, though decorative objects may be placed so long as they are not on an extremely steep grade.

Height Markers

This slope is too steep for Sims to climb the hill
This is an example of a slope that is too steep for Sims to climb. If you can see the height markers clearly, it's too steep. Make the slope much more gentle or use stairs for Sims to walk up or down this terrain.

On the sides of hills, there are height markers. When these are present, Sims are unable to walk up the slope. They can take a decent grade with no problem, but the lines must be extremely faint or non-present. Smoothing things out to where your Sims are able to walk upward is not necessary unless you wish to avoid stairs, as stairs will make most hills traversable.

These height markers came into play with the next tools we'll cover. Using them as a guide, you can select to have the tools automatically bring the land to a set height or smooth around that height.

Smooth Terrain

Smoothing terrain in The Sims 4 free patch update
Smoothing terrain can be helpful to ensure a gentle slope, so long as you do it gradually and paint the area to smooth with your mouse. Tap gently for subtle changes, hold for bigger changes and remember the speed and area of modification are adjustable with the slider.

Terrain smoothing looks at the brush size you've selected and smooths based on the average height of the areas inside the brush. This will help you to fix any little dips and, when used slowly, can help to smooth a large area and make it walkable without stairs. If you slowly smooth from the top to the bottom of a hill while paying careful attention to the height markers on the hill and how they react, you can get a feel and 'paint' a grade that a Sim is able to walk.

Flatten Terrain

Flatten terrain uses the area in the center of the brush to determine the elevation
When using flatten terrain, the area at the center of the brush is the elevation that will be used. Move the mouse to different areas and watch the square's location on the slope lines to get a feel for how high you'll flatten.
Flatten Terrain will bring the surrounding area to that of the first clicked area. You can see the height you'll get by looking at the square icon that appears to show you heights. This cannot be adjusted unlike the next tool, but you do have direct control based on where you place your mouse. If you want something more specific, use Flatten to Height.

Flatten to Height

The flatten to height tool is incredibly useful - this will help you to ensure building area or connect to separate hills and ensure they are on the same level.

This tool is extremely important if you want to connect two hills and make the land level. Using Control + [ and ] will allow you to fine tune the height. If it is solid colored, it's above ground or level with the ground. If it goes dim, it's below ground. It will then raise and lower terrain based on the speed and size settings, bringing all terrain level. If you want a more gentle slope, build with a larger circle or square brush as to meet certain heights it may need to make hills extremely steep.

Flatten Lot

Aside from undo, you may also flatten the entire lot back to its default state if things are unsalvageable. If you do this on accident, you can, of course undo that as well and get your messed up hills back. Learning to use these tools may take some trial and error but they're not difficult at all, it's just going to take a bit of creativity to make something nice using these new powers. Good luck, and if you're interested we have other building guides (found in the navigation panel top right on desktop, below on mobile) which can help you to make your houses better.

Terrain Tools & Different Foundation Heights

Click to Enlarge. Foundation height can be adjusted via the slider that appear when you click on a block.

Different sections of a building would be known as blocks. As noted in the intro, these new tools mean that builders will be able to have varied foundation heights. When you click a block, you're able to drag a slider up and down to determine the height of the foundation. See the gif above to understand what I mean.

Foundations and Terrain

Walls will cut through hills and automatically gain a foundation that supports them
Walls will cut through hills, depending on where you start the wall, and automatically gain a foundation that will support them.

As you can see in the following image, walls will cut straight through terrain to accommodate what you want to build. You don't have to worry about perfection when it comes to your hills.

Connecting Blocks

Click to Enlarge. Blocks will glow when they are on the same height level.
In order to connect two blocks, they must be on the same plane. This can be determined by the glow that appears on the other block when you've adjusted the height. In fact, all blocks of the same height will glow in this way to tell you that the elevation is correct.

Other Building Guides

Sims 4 House Building
Building Cheats
Counters and Islands
Decorating Inside Homes
Decorating Outside/Landscaping
Island Living (Stilt Foundation, Glass Floors)
Split Levels and Lofts
Stairs and Basements
Terrain Tools
Platform Tool

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Comments (5)

Great guide! Such a great feature to finally have Smile
One more small yet important detail, about roofs.
An option to remove floor from topmost level isn't available by double-click any longer.
'Hammer' tool will do this job.
Will be handy for houses with glass roofs.
Hi I have a house boat that is sick and I can not move it dose anyone known a fix for this

Dude, how can I turn public lot to residential? Please help me


In build mode you can choose what lot type you want.


Is there any way to create a straight smooth slope? I've got my house on foundation with a fake garage and am trying to create a smooth slope up to the garage "door" to match a real world house I'm copying. I have tried creating flat levels exactly one "blip" above the next and then using the smooth tool to try to smooth the angles. But the smooth tool seems to create a bumpy uneven surface rather than a straight line like / its not even very steep, I just want a gradual slope, but I want the slope to to flat not bumpy. Like a paved driveway as opposed to lumpy bumpy hills. Is there any way to do that? The smooth tool seems to use areas outside of the box to work out the average rather than only within meaning I'm already having to use a smaller size box than would make visual sense.

I honestly miss the Sims 2 terrain editing when you could just click in the corners to move edge quarter tile down as you wanted. Got lovely smooth slopes with that!

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