Tutorial: Introduction

Welcome in this tutorial designed to help you to do racing tracks for SuperTuxKart.

I (the lead artist of SuperTuxKart) will explain how to do an arena for the 3 strikes battle mode. However keep in mind the process is very similar if you want to create a racing track. The main difference is the playground. The landscape, objects, lights, the general process and tools used are identical.

The goal is:

  • Upgrading the current "The stadium" arena which is old and not very beautiful
  • Merging the ideas from the Las Dunas Stadium made by GeekPenguinBR
  • Explaining to people the whole process, the choices, with step by step explanation
  • gathering live feedback
  • This tutorial won't cover how to use blender. I assume you have already a basic knowledge in blender.

Before starting

To follow the tutorial you need the fellowing tools and software on your computer:

  • 3D with our exporting tools
  • A 2D image manipulation program (I will use gimp or krita but you can also use photoshop)
  • A vector image program (inskape or illustrator is fine)
  • The development version of SuperTuxKart. Instructions on compiling the game can be found in the README.md file
  • A copy of the the media repository
  • Pencil and paper
  • Time and motivation

Don't forget our own resources:

So, we are ready to dive into the creation of our arena. The next step is to gather references that will help us to keep one foot in reality.

Gathering references

For instance if I ask you to create a concrete barrier, everyone knows how a concrete barrier look, you probably see them everyday when you go to work. So you open blender and do something like

The problem is you are missing a lot of details and over simplifying the object. It looks very cheap and if you do all your objects like that the end result won't be as good as it could be. The solution is simply to gather pictures, drawing, ideas, etc that will help you during the process of creating the map. Yes it's a bit like cheating but it's recommended and allowed. The goal is to have the right inspiration. Now if I show you a picture like

this one, you can see all the details and reproduce them for your track/objects/etc.

See the big difference. The barrier is interesting to see, there is a lot of details like the wires on top to load them, the warning strip at the bottom etc. It's not photorealistic but now at least we got an object with interesting details that could be a real life barrier. (And besides, the goal isn't to be completely realistic—just mostly realistic.)

It's important to gather references from the biggest object to the smallest detail. In our case we are interested in stadium and what's inside them.

Large scale references

Las Dunas is a city located in the United Counties of Amarigo (UCA). It is mainly based on the city of Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Santa Monica. Ideally the stadium should be a "mix" between one from Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Ideally we should go to Los Angeles/Las Vegas to take references unfortunatly I don't live near those cities so my main research will be online and by going to the stadium of my city. You have to understand we don't go for the generic stadium found in all cities. We go for something big and epic. People should be able to remember very easily the architecture.

References for the stadium

We are looking for references for stadium. Also note even if we are inside the whole time of the battle, we gather references from stadium and surrounding to get an idea how it looks both inside and outside. The outside may seems useless for you but if we do a track outside in the city it might be interesting. It's also good to model a part of the area around the playground so we can do screenshots and use it in the trailer.

Stadium in real life are designed to handle large crowds, they have built in safety features like emergency exit, crowd control and management (inside the design in a way that avoid stamped). Here is some interesting documents about that.

It might be interesting to meet an architect who build them. We won't do that for the tutorial but it gives you an idea of the depth and analysis that comes into next generation supertuxkart tracks.

References for the city

Even if we won't do the city here is some interesting landmark. Maybe we can make them visible from inside the stadium. Don't forget Las Dunas is a crossover between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. So we should take inspiration from both cities

References for the blimp

In the original Las Dunas stadium there is a small blimp. I really like it and I got some ideas for it. Here is some references of blimps

References for the general mood

Pictures above where mainly for geometry and architecture. Now we want some information about how the track should look (the sky, the color, etc). I will respect the original idea of a track during night time. Since the city is in a desert we should go for warm colors in the yellow/orange. The sky is bright and we can see the stars and the moon

I will try to avoid pinkish colors to not make a clone of Candela City who has already a pinkish sky. Each track should have it's own color palette. It helps to make them different and interesting for players

References for racing inside a stadium

We want to see how stadium are modified for racing purpose

The last one is the most interesting one. The resolution is quite big and allows you to see many small details. It will be one of my main reference for inside the stadium.

Small scale references

Now we have a lot of pictures about stadiums/arenas/etc. We need to focus on the details in the playground. It's very important to get as many references as we can. These are the objects near the player that must have the highest quality possible


Around the player there will be bench where the public sit down. You can see there are differences between the WIP area and the area for the public.

Motocross Track

When there is a lot of bike who drive in the same track they dig a trench. Here is some interesting references.

Hay bales

It seems the barrier between different sections are made of hay bales. Which is interesting because we have hay bales already in the library (we will see later how to use them)


What we learned so far:

  • The tools needed to create a map
  • We gathered a lot of references from real world. As I said you can have more pictures. I have roughly 100 pictures to create this arena
  • References pictures are copyrighted so we can't use them in the game. They are only used for inspiration. It's VERY IMPORTANT TO RESPECT COPYRIGHT
  • There isn't a big difference between a track and an arena. You can apply this tutorial to create a track.

In the next part we will test the current tracks and other games to create the list of stuff we want in our arena

If you have questions you can ask on our forum or IRC channel.

Part 2 of the tutorial is available here

Navigation data for AI

For computer players to work, a navmesh for the arena is required, details here.