Monthly Archives: February 2011

How to Visualize 2D Data in 3D

GIS 101: Representing real-world feature locations in a digital format requires projecting a 3D surface (like the earth’s surface) to a 2D surface (like a flat screen). What if you want to do the reverse? How do you go from 2D to 3D? More specifically, how do you display 2D features in a 3D perspective?

First of all, to visualize data in 3D you need the right software. From Esri, ArcGIS 3D Analyst provides a 3D viewing environment.

If your GIS data source has z-values (such as elevation values), it’s 3D data. For many of us, however, 2D data is more plentiful than 3D data. If adding z-values to existing features in a production GIS database is not an option, there are several methods for displaying 2D features in 3D. Continue reading

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