3D View Environment General Properties

The Environment page contains the 3D view window background, vertical exaggeration, antialiasing and water properties. Select the Environment object in the 3D view Contents window to modify the 3D view and 3D symbol properties.


Set the 3D view background and water properties in the General page.

Background mode

The Background mode property specifies the background style. Select Color to use a solid color for the 3D view window background. Select Skybox to use a skybox for the 3D view background. A skybox is a scene that creates the illusion of three-dimensional distant surroundings. The skybox is also useful for keeping track of the camera orientation when rotating the view.

Background Color

When Background mode is set to Color, the Background color property is displayed. Select the desired Background color from the color palette or click to create a custom color in the Colors dialog.


When Background mode is set to Skybox, the Skybox property is displayed. Selected the desired Skybox from the list. Select (none) to use the previous solid color background.


The Antialiasing property is selected by default to enable multisampling antialiasing. Copy-to-clipboard and export-to-image functions also employ the multisampled framebuffer when Antialiasing is selected. Older versions of Surfer and computers which do not have modern graphics cards will not show the Antialiasing property.

Vertical Exaggeration

The Vertical exaggeration property is a unitless scale factor for Z coordinates in the 3D view. The Vertical exaggeration scales the Z direction to maintain a proportional appearance in the 3D view when Z values are in different units than the XY coordinates or when the XY extents and Z extents have significantly different ranges. The default Vertical exaggeration scales the maximum Z extent to one-fourth the maximum X or Y range.

Increase the Vertical exaggeration to accentuate the differences in the surface Z values. Decrease the Vertical exaggeration to flatten the appearance of the objects in the 3D view. The slider can be used to decrease the Vertical exaggeration to one-tenth of the default value, and the slider can be used to increase the Vertical exaggeration to ten times the default value. To specify a Vertical exaggeration value outside this range, type the desired value directly in the Vertical exaggeration field.

The Vertical exaggeration is originally calculated based on the X, Y, and Z extents of data loaded into the 3D view when it is created.

Auto-adjust Vertical Exaggeration

By default, the Auto-adjust vertical exaggeration option is checked. When checked, the Vertical exaggeration is recalculated when the extents of the visible data changes due to changing visibility for surfaces or vector data in the Contents window.

Uncheck the Auto-adjust vertical exaggeration option to maintain the defined Vertical exaggeration regardless of the visible objects.


Select the Water property to display a water level plane on the 3D view. Clear the Water property to remove the water level plane from the 3D view. A water level plane is an XY plane that extends across the extents of the map in the 3D view.

Water Level

The Water level property sets the Z value, or elevation, for the water level plane in the 3D view window. Type the desired Water level in the field or click and drag the to change the Water level.

Water Color

The Water color property sets the color of the water level plane. Select the desired Water color from the color palette or click to create a custom color in the Colors dialog.

Water Opacity

The Water opacity property sets the opacity of the water level plane. A value of 0% is completely transparent. A value of 100% is completely opaque. Type a value between 0 - 100 in the Water opacity field or click and drag the to adjust the water level plane opacity.

Semi-Transparent Water Level and 3D Surface Layers

Semi-transparent water levels require certain settings. When applying a Water opacity less than 100% to a 3D view, the following properties should be used:

  1. Make sure Show surface background is selected on the surface General page.
  2. Clear any 3D surface layer texture check boxes on the surface General page.
  3. The surface should include at least one other layer texture.

If these options are not used, the water level opacity may be inconsistent. Note that this requires the 3D surface layer texture to be removed. Use a color relief layer instead of a 3D surface layer to maintain a colormap on the surface with a semi-transparent water level in the 3D view.

See Also

Camera Page

Lighting Page

3D View Window