Tips on Terrains

One way to build a terrain in Rhino 3D is to use an image of the surface, and use the Rhino Heightfield command to convert those grayscale values into a mesh which closely represents the actual surface in question.

The problem for myself was in locating a accurate Heightmapper tool, and one that I could locate maps from around the world, and also the surface texture maps (usually satellite maps) that needed to be registered and cropped to the same rectangle as the Grayscale Height Image.

There is a plug-in for Photoshop called “3D map generator - Terrain” (by “”) that supplies excellent world class height images needed to generate terrain in Photoshop. This same height image generator can be used with the Heightfield Command in Rhino to develop terrain and the subsequent surface texture maps to complete the 3D Rhino terrain.

This youtube link defines part of the process for Photoshop which can be applied to Rhino. How to create a 3D Terrain with Google Maps and height maps in Photoshop - 3D Map Generator Terrain - YouTube


model .

This seems to just produce a static view. Also no way to accurately control scale in x/y or height (Z).

What is the question?

to Ivelin: You are correct “Tips” are not “Questions”.

to nick: It is only static in 2D photoshop, It is a 3D rectangular mesh with texture map in Rhino.

Its not often you get an application for under twenty-five USD that lets you model the world.

Example: I zoomed in on Banff, Alberta … Mesh and texturemap

I have a better result to display… I have come closer to the true scale of the 3D heightmap I created. Relative to the width of the rectangle I created, I made the mountains (on import) to high. Previously 0.75" it now is 0.25".

Here are the zipped files that will let you test its construction in Rhino: Construction (6.8 MB)
and the instructions:
The procedure to develop Terrain from Height Map Generator:

  1. Open a new file in Rhino (i use 6)

  2. Make it Small Objects - Inches.3dm

  3. Type the command “Heightfield” into the Rhino Command line

  4. Locate the “height map example.png”

  5. Go to the TOP VIEW in Rhino, Click LMB and drag (from left to right) 10 inches wide and click LMB a second time.

  6. The second click evokes a Heightfield settings window… fill in as per my sample and click OK.

  7. A second window is evoked by the OK click, it is a warning: Click NO.

  8. Wait for the mesh to develop (a landscape orientated black rectangle will appear,

  9. Make your Perspective View, the only view, and as large as possible.

  10. Switch between wireframe and rendered to get a feel for what has been created

If you want to create contours, the settings for distance between contours is: 0.01

If you want to add the matching texture map… type “picture” in the command line and locate the unzipped file “texture map example.png” and in the top view click and drag (snapping) to the left and right BOTTOM corners of the Heightfield mesh.

You now have two items, a mesh and a picture. Select the picture and via the Gumball move it up above the mesh 4 or 5 inches, in the Materials Window you should see a new materials icon “Texture map example” Select the icon and drag and drop it on the mesh. Hide the TextureMap Picture, and in the Perspective Window Select “Rendered”.

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Thanks for the clarification!

Thoughts on being scale accurate with certain types of maps, sketches and renderings.

If the earth was the size of a basketball, Mt Everest would be 0.00658 inches or 0.167mm high, and the 9.5 inch basketball world would be a very smooth surface.

Plan and Elevation drawings must be accurate, but some Site maps and most Location maps allow the author some freedom of vertical enhancement or distortion in order to make a visual point and also to minimize the “basketball effect.

Here are two examples of location maps that are not scale accurate (the relief would have less height) but they still have an accurate “Standoff Scale” look.

Also, does anyone have an idea for how to create a realistic partial cloud cover.