Tag: 3D

CityEngine 2011 Release, October 26, 2011


The next planned release of CityEngine will be available on October 26, 2011 and will be announced live this Wednesday at the Esri European User Conference, in Madrid.

CityEngine 2011 will allow ArcGIS users in urban planning, urban design, defense, simulation, and entertainment to use their existing GIS data to create high-quality 3D content.

Gert van Maren

3D / CityEngine Product Manager




Posted in 3D GIS | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

2D to 3D


ArcGIS allows you to visualize 2D data ‘in 3D’ in ArcScene and ArcGlobe. However this is done through setting layer properties in the Base Heights tab, leaving the actual feature geometries as 2D.

Sometimes it is necessary to turn the 2D geometries into 3D features using on an elevation model. This is especially true when you want the feature to interact with the surface (e.g. burn building footprints into the terrain) or use them in 3D spatial analysis.

The new 2Dto3D template shows the process of creating 3D features from 2D using an elevation model. The data used in this template is a subset of the buildings available in the Virtual City template.



3D Product Manager


Posted in 3D GIS | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

New Glare Analysis template available

We have made a new glare template available in our template gallery.

This template describes the process of creating volumetric glare objects using the new Skyline Tools available in ArcGIS 10.

Have a look at this video to see what glare analysis can do for you.


Gert van Maren

3D Product Manager.

Posted in 3D GIS | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Esri CityEngine showcased at INTERGEO 2011

Esri CityEngine will be shown at the INTERGEO 2011 Conference in Nuremberg, Germany, which will take place September 27-29. The INTERGEO conference is one of the largest exhibitions for geodesy, geo-information, and land management.
Esri CityEngine is used in urban planning, urban design, defense, simulation, and entertainment to create high-quality 3D content with existing GIS data.
Come see us in booth A37, hall 7 for a live demo of Esri CityEngine.

Gert van Maren

3D Product Manager 
Posted in 3D GIS | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Esri Acquires 3D Software Company Procedural


In case you missed it: we are very exciting to have the team from Procedural join the Esri family. Procedural’s CityEngine is one of the world’s most innovative 3D modeling and design software tools.

Official press release here.

More information on the road ahead, integration into ArcGIS, licensing, support and training will follow in the next couple of weeks.

Have a look at a preview of what CityEngine can do for ArcGIS users.

Exciting times ahead!

Gert van Maren

3D Product Manager


Posted in 3D GIS | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

3D network support in ArcGIS10

Here is an interesting blog post from our network team on support for 3D networks:

“What do you get when you cross the 3D Analyst extension with the Network Analyst extension?”

Gert van Maren
3D Product Manager

Posted in 3D GIS | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Creating 3D cross sections for use in ArcGIS Explorer

After a recent post we received quite a few inquiries as to how cross sections are created for visualization in ArcGIS Explorer desktop, and we’ll go through the steps here.

The screen capture above is displaying seismic and geologic profiles (along with wells and well traces) as cross sections in 3D space. In the steps below we will use a photo of Mount St. Helens from it’s May 18th, 1980, eruption and visualize it as a 3D cross section in ArcGIS Explorer as a layer package. The techniques are the same for subsurface and above the surface visualization. Below is a screenshot of what our end result will look like:

In short, what we want to do is use a raster file or photo (the cross-section we want to display) as a point symbol, and scale and rotate it as needed.

To start we need a point feature to use for the location of the image. You can use an existing point feature or create a new one. One easy way to do this is to create a point note for Mount St. Helens in ArcGIS Explorer and share it as a layer package. Just right click the note on your map, choose share, then save as a layer package.

Open the layer package in ArcGlobe. We want to use an image as point symbol. This image will represent the cross section (Mount St. Helens in this example, and the seismic and geologic sections in the earlier example). To use an image as a symbol for the point we need to specifiy and adjust several properties.

In the ArcGlobe table of contents right-click on the layer and choose properties. Click the Globe Display tab, and do the following:

  • Check “Scale 3D symbols with distance”
  • Uncheck “Rasterize feature layer”

Then click OK and dismiss the dialog. Even though there are more properties to set it is important to click OK when you have modified properties on a tab. ArcGlobe has properties that are only available in certain combinations. If you set properties on one tab and then switch to another tab, a property that you want to set may not be available until the properties from the previous tab are applied. Sometimes this is the case on the same tab. For example, on the Globe Display tab “Scale 3D symbols with distance” is disabled until “Rasterize feature layer” is unchecked and applied. So remember to Apply or OK your changes as you make them.

Next, on the Elevation tab specify “Floating without a surface” and click OK.

On the layer properties Symbology tab we will specify the type of symbol and the image (ultimately our cross-section) to display as the point symbol. Choose “Single symbol” and click the symbol button.

Next, click “Edit Symbol…”

And choose “3D Markersymbol”

Now browse to or copy/paste a URL to the image you want to use as the symbol. For this example I will use this photo from the USGS website:


Click Open and the image loads in for use as a point symbol.


From here, the values you set will depend on the image you have chosen and how it scales in real world space, and some experimentation is necessary.

Increase the Size (Z) of the symbol to 30. Also uncheck “Keep aspect ratio.” After doing this it is important that you do not modify the Size (Z) setting again. If you do, you will have to start over and reload the image. Also set the Width (X) and Depth (Y) to equal amounts. We will use 10,000 as our starting point, but will modify those to achieve the desired scaling for this particular photo. Click 1:1 to see the entire image in the 3D Preview as shown below:

Next click the 3D placement tab and uncheck Display Face Front and set the Rotation angles X value to 90, as shown below:


Click Apply and see what it looks like in your map.

It is pretty close to where we want it to be but still needs some adjustment. The image looks a little bit bigger than the 3D mountain, so let’s fix that first. (Note that the size of the symbol in the table of contents is controlled by the Size (Z) that we originally set before un-checking Keep Aspect Ratio.)

Back at the size settings, I’ll size it to 9000 and see how that looks.

The scale of the image looks a little better now. Next I will slide the image down so the rim of the volcano in the image matches the 3D terrain. To do this, use layer properties and the Elevation tab and set the Layer offset to a lower value. In this case I will use -800.


After that adjustment the volcano rims are lining up better. But the horizontal alignment still looks to be a bit off. To correct that I’ll adjust the X offset. Here I have set it higher than it need be to -90 so we can get a better Idea for what this property does:

With a little more experimentation we find that a value of -18 looks pretty good.


We’re satisfied with how things scale and align now, but one more thing we can do to make the image look better is turn off the layer lighting property.

We’re finished, and now ready to create a layer package that we can open in ArcGIS Explorer desktop.

The layer package created above can be found on ArcGIS Online and you can also view a couple of videos on the Esri Facebook site that show what the layer package looks like in use:

  • Video 1 - a 360-degree tour of the cross section.
  • Video 2 - this one shows how you can view the lower edge of the photo through the surface. To navigate below the surface make sure to check Surface Avoidance off under ArcGIS Explorer Options > Flight Characteristics.

(Submitted by Mark Bockenhauer, ArcGIS Explorer program manager and lead product engineer)

Posted in 3D GIS, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

3D Subsurface Wells, Seismic Profiles, and Geologic Cross Sections

We’re getting ready for the upcoming Petroleum User Group (PUG) conference and here’s a peek at what we’ll show.

Below is a subsurface view of seismic profiles, wells, formation tops, and a geologic cross-section shown using ArcGIS Explorer. All features are below the surface. The Explorer navigation tools are designed for above the surface navigation, but can still be used for subsurface navigation with a little practice. By creating views or a presentation, Explorer can be a very effective tool for visualizing your subsurface data, and making it available to a broader audience. 


First, you will want to enable subsurface navigation by turning the surface avoidance option off. Go to your Explorer Options, then Flight Characteristics, and look for the checkbox:

The data had been asembled originally in ArcScene, and (thanks to Mark Bockenhauer) it was brought into ArcGlobe, and exported as layer packages. ArcMap is what you want to use to author 2D layer packages, but to create 3D layer packages, like these shown below, use ArcGlobe. To view these in Explorer, all I needed to do was add the layer package.

We’ll be taking a closer look at this during our PUG workshop at 10:30 on Tuesday, and also in the showcase area. So if you will be at PUG, stop on by!

Posted in 3D GIS, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Viewing tubes / pipes in ArcGlobe

Some users have noticed that the option to display lines using 3D Simple Line symbols – tubes, strips and walls – is not available in ArcGlobe. This is a current technical limitation with ArcGlobe’s rendering pipeline (which has not been addressed in 10 or 10.1).

So, if you need them, how do you display tubes in ArcGlobe? The answer is to generate multipatch features from the displayed geometry in ArcScene.

The process is fairly simple:

  • Symbolize your line data in ArcScene as tubes (using a 3D Simple Line Symbol)


  • Use the Layer 3D to Feature Class GP tool to create a new multipatch feature class from the symbolized layer.

  • Then display the multipatch data in ArcGlobe

Things to be aware of:

  • Do not ratchet up the tube ‘Quality’ slider when you define the layer – this will minimize the number of triangles to be displayed later
  • Generate a full data cache for that layer in ArcGlobe (available on the layer’s context menu in the TOC
  • Aggressively use the distance-based visibility setting so you don’t see too many tubes at once
  • The layer will work marginally better as “floating” (ie: has absolute z-values embedded) than as “draped”

For those unfamiliar with multipatch features, it is simply a geometry type (like points, lines and polygons) where the geometry is captured in 3D triangles.  Like all other geometry types, it supports database concepts such as attribute fields, subtypes, relationship classes and table joins.  Multipatch layers can also use the various rendering options, such as attribute-driven colors, distance-based visibility, HTML popups, etc.

It’s also worth mentioning that the most current release of ArcGIS 3D Analyst (soon to be 10.0 SP2) contains a significant amount of performance improvements for displaying multipatches.

Nathan Shephard


Posted in 3D GIS | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Measure in 3D


New at ArcGIS is the ability to measure in 3D space. You can:

  • measure a 2D line distance over ground.
  • measure a direct 3D straight-line distance.
  • measure height in 3D.
  • measure an area.
  • measure a feature



Have a look at this video to see measurements in 3D.


Gert van Maren
3D Product Manager


Posted in 3D GIS | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment