Lesson 7 - Creating a 3D Surface Map

The 3D surface map shows the grid with a 3D aspect and color filled areas.

Surfaces are three-dimensional shaded renderings of a grid file. Surfaces provide an impressive visual interpretation of data. Surfaces can be layered with other surfaces, so that the surfaces will intersect with each other. Surfaces can also have layers of other map types, excluding 3D wireframes. Surfaces allow you to generate an elevation model of your area of interest and then add layers of data on the top of the surface. You can control the color, lighting, overlay blending, and wire mesh grid of a 3D surface.


For example, if you have location (X, Y) and temperature (Z) data for a region and you have the same location (X, Y) and corresponding elevation (Z) data for the area, you could create a grid file with the Z variable being elevation and a grid file with the Z variable being temperature. You could create a 3D surface of the elevation grid to represent topography, then add a contour map of the temperature variation. You could continue to add map layers, such as a classed post map layer with the temperature collection stations that have different symbols depending on the elevation.


We are going to use the same grid file you used to create the tutorial contour map. The 3D surface map will provide a new perspective to the contour map you have already created. Although we are going to create this map in a new plot window, the surface map could easily be added to the existing plot window.

  1. Click the File | New | Plot command or click the button on the quick access toolbar to open a plot document.

  2. Click the Home | New Map | 3D Maps | Surface command.

  3. In the Open dialog, select the grid file Tutorial.grd from the list of files. The Tutorial.grd file was created in Lesson 2 - Using the Map Wizard.

  4. Click Open and the 3D surface is created using the default settings.



Back to Lesson 6 - Saving a Map

Next to Adding a Mesh