[Tutorial] Basics of the Borderlands Editor

In this tutorial we will cover the basics of the Borderlands Editor. This editor is not the most stable and can crash frequently and randomly causing headaches and fits of rage, but with enough practice you can learn how to treat it how it likes and it will behave most of the time.

Note: I am still in the middle of writing this tutorial so don’t panic when it drops off mid sentence.


  • Interface
  • Snap widgets
  • Left hand bar
    • Modes
    • Brush Shapes
    • CSG Add / Subtract
    • Add Volumes
    • Show / Hide Actors
  • Viewport bar
  • Main bar
  • Menu bar
  • Viewports
  • Moving around
  • Functions
  • Content browser
  • Navigation
  • Packages
  • Resources
  • Kismet
  • What is kismet?
  • Simple example


As you can see my interface may look a little different than yours as I only have three viewports, the main viewport on the left, the top down viewport on the top right hand side and the front facing viewport on the bottom right hand side. You will mainly work in the larger viewport, the other ones are helpful at times, but not too often.

If you prefer the same viewport configuration as I have this is where you can change how they display. Experiment with this until you find an option that suits you. You can also resize each viewport by clicking and dragging the borders.

Interface - Snap widgets

We will now look at the bottom right hand side of the editor where you should see the following.


The first icon we will look at is the floppy disc with the green check mark, I would recommend disabling this right away for stability purposes. This is the auto-save feature which can cause random crashes while you are working on your projects. Get use to remembering to manually save, like I said crashes can be completely random and sometimes frequent.

The next icon is a “5%” with a check box, the check box decides if this feature is enabled or not. This would pretty much be a snap feature for scaling objects in increments of what ever you desire, the default is 5%, but you can change this value by clicking the down arrow beside the check box.

The next icon is exactly the same as the last, except this time it controls the rotation snap increments.

And again we have a similar looking icon which again does the same thing, but only this time it controls moving objects along your axis XYZ.

And the last few boxes in this area of the interface here are the DrawScales of objects in your world, this refers back to the scaling widget we just saw which controls the sizes of objects. From left to right the first box is a uniform scale of XYZ, the second box is your X scale, the third is your Y scale and the fourth is the Z scale.

Interface - Left hand bar

This is the next bar we will look at, as you can see there are five seperate sections to it that you can choose to show or hide with the little black upward arrows. We will cover each button going from top to bottom left to right.

The first group of four buttons are the different modes that you can work in. I will go into depth on all of these separately later in the tutorial.

  • The first button we have is the camera, this is the mode you will work in most of the time
    work in most of the time and the default setting that the editor starts in.

  • The second button which looks like a 3D cube is geometry mode where you can adjust the
    shapes and sizes of your brushes and volumes.

  • The third button with a picture of a mountain is the terrain editor, this is where you will create
    all the shapes and textures of your landscape with a paint brush-like tool. This is a really neat
    and fun tool for new users to experiment with.

  • The last button we have is a T with arrows all around it, this is for panning (moving) and
    scaling (changing size) textures on BSP surfaces.

The next group we will quickly look at are the brush shapes, these are all fairly similar in what they do. You may have noticed the red wire brush in your viewports this is your builder brush. When you click any of these shapes your builder brush will conform to the shape you have selected. If you right click any of these buttons you will receive a pop up window with a bunch of different properties you can adjust to create a specific shape.

The next group of buttons we see below all work together with the red builder brush and the shapes that we just went over.

  • The first button we have is CSG Add. When this is used it will apply the current builder
    brushes shape and create a volume of the exact same dimensions.

  • The second button is pretty much the opposite of the previous button, this one is CSG
    Subtract. When this is used it will subtract from any additive volumes that it intersects
    with, we will delve deeper into this later.

  • As for the other two buttons I am not entirely sure what they are used for, but I have
    never used them in all the time I have been developing.

This next button we will look at below here is the blue 3D cube on the right hand side.

  • This is for adding special volumes to your world. Special volumes can include many
    things such as blocking volumes, post process volumes, trigger volumes and a bunch

  • I am unsure if the other button here on the left hand side is even functional. I have
    never used it.

And the last group of buttons we have here are for hiding and showing actors. This helps by getting things out of your view when you are trying to work in tight areas where you need room to see what you are doing, or because you keep clicking large transparent meshes when attempting to select something else.

  • The first button will make it so you only see the current actors you have selected.

  • The second button will hide the current actor you have selected, this will be more
    common one to use.

  • The third button here doesn’t really have anything to do with hiding actors, but it
    will invert your current selection meaning if you have one actor selected and you
    invert your selection you will then have everything except that one actor selected.

  • The fourth button with the eye and the X is the show all actors, use this to unhide
    everything you have hidden.

Interface - Viewport Bar

The next selection of buttons we will be looking at are the viewport buttons. You will find a row of these buttons above each viewport that you have enabled. These buttons have effects on their respective viewport. We will cover each button left to right.

The little black downward arrow is the first button we see this can toggle what you see in your viewport such as static meshes, terrain, grids, sprites and so much more. I would suggest you get use to using the hot keys that are displayed in this menu.

This next joystick looking button is called real time, you will see this in multiple places. This button toggles actors that have some sort of movement involved with them for example if you have a smoke particle system it will just be a sprite in your viewport, but with real time enabled you will see the actual smoke moving.

The next button up is the matinee preview. All I can see that this button does is toggle frame text in the upper left of the viewport.

The next light bulb button is unlit movement this makes it so when ever you move your camera in a level with lighting it will disable it while the camera is moved. This is to help performance and shouldn’t be necessary if you have an up to date computer.

The next button is the brush wire frame view, this will let you see all your brush volumes in the selected viewport.

This next button is similar to the last except this time it will show wire frames of all your meshes.

The next cube button is unlit mode, this will display your map without lighting enabled meaning you will see everything as is.

Next up is lit mode, this will display the level with lighting so if you don’t have any lighting in your level you wont see anything.

The next button is a neat one, this is lighting only meaning you wont see any textures or anything just your lighting. This is a very helpful tool when perfecting your lighting.

Next is lighting complexity, this will display the actors in your world as different colors depending on the complexity of the lighting.

The next button is texture density, this will display how dense textures on objects in the world are. The closer you are to red the denser the texture, this can cause performance issues when there is too much red on large surfaces.

Shader complexity - Don’t click this, you will crash.

Next is your normals view, selecting this will display your world with bump maps (normals).

Next are the different views you can select PTFS, these all stand for Perspective, Top, Front and Side.

The next is the padlock which is suppose to lock your viewport, but I do not believe this functions in this editor.

This next eye button is used to lock a selected actor to your camera.

Occlusion Parent - I’m not quite sure what this guy does.

This next button is used to display level streaming volumes.

The next little red button is the post process previs, this will enable what your post processing effects look like in the viewport.

The next “S” button is squint mode, I’m unsure of what its purpose is.

These next three blue squares are the speed at which your camera will move, the fully blue one being the fastest setting.

This next button is PIE, which means Play In Editor. This will allow you to play your level inside the editor itself.

This next button with two windows is the tear off feature. Using this will create a new separate viewport window that you can move around freely.

This next button is used to maximize your viewport.

Main Bar

The next section we will focus on will be the main top row of buttons from left to right. I will only go over the buttons that are regularly used since some of these buttons do not even function. There are also a few common buttons you will probably recognize without ever using unreal.

Note: Click image to increase size

The first button we have is the new button. This will create a new map.

Next we have open, this will open an already existing map.

The black arrow beside your open button will display recently opened maps.

This is your save button, it will save your map.

Next is the save all button, this will save all levels including streamed levels.

Cut - do I need to explain these next few buttons?





This next bar will set the render distance in your viewports. I myself usually leave this at maximum without any performance issues.

This next one is a very handy tool it is called selection mode, with this tool enabled it will not let you move, rotate or scale your actors. This is a helpful tool for when you are selecting multiple actors and do not want to accidentally move any of them.

This next button with the four arrows is translation mode, in this mode you can move your actors along the XYZ axis. This mode can be toggled using the space bar.

This next button with the circle arrow is rotation mode, in this mode you can rotate your actors along the XYZ axis. This mode can be toggled using the space bar.

The next button is uniformed scaling, this is to change the sizes of your actors while keeping their proportions the same.

Non uniform scale

3D widget toggle

Movement type

Find actors

Fullscreen mode

Content browser



Brush poly toggle

Build geometry

Build lighting

Build pathing

Build cover nodes

Build all

Play in editor


Added this to the “Post your user created…” forum topic!