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How to Create a 3D Rendition of a DEM With a Draped Image

NOTE: Prior to performing these steps with your data you would want to ensure that the DEM and image have the same geographic extents.

Item 2: Coordinate system of the map

Using Geographic Imager, open your DEM file and set the desired schema type. In this case the DEM was “Auto stretched”.

Item 2: Coordinate system of the map

With the DEM now opened and rendered as a 16-bit grayscale Image we can now make use of a number of Adobe Photshop tools to render it in 3D and to drape the image.

Item 2: Coordinate system of the map

The following steps will outline the Adobe Photoshop procedures required to create the 3D rendition:

1. Create a 3D mesh: Under the 3D menu within Photoshop select “New Mesh From Grayscle->Plane”

Item 2: Coordinate system of the map

2. We then use the “3D Object Rotate Tool” located in the Photoshop toolbar to manually rotate the mesh tilting it backwards, resulting in something like this

Item 2: Coordinate system of the map

3. The resulting mesh is too exaggerated for a realistic rendering of the landscape so we will adjust the y orientation of it using the “3D Object Scale tool” setting the Y: scale to 0.10

Item 2: Coordinate system of the map

This is the image after vertically rescaling it

Item 2: Coordinate system of the map

4.Once the 3D mesh has been rescaled the image can be draped

In the Adobe Photoshop “3D Materials” panel, click the “Edit Diffuse texture” button (as denoted in the screenshot below) and select the “Load Texture” option. Now locate and select the image you wish to drape on the 3D mesh.

Item 2: Coordinate system of the map

5. Within the Layers panel turn off the visibility of the Rocky Mountain DEM (as in the screenshot below).

Item 2: Coordinate system of the map

The end result should be a 3D model such as this.

Item 2: Coordinate system of the map


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