Over the last week I have done a lot of studying about height maps and elevation models, so i would like to share my findings with you as a 3D artist I think you may find this a useful article. So ill begin with a few months back….
Topo Elevation Models – Heightmaps for your 3D program
I downloaded the free version of world machine and started playing around with it, if you haven’t tried it already and you like producing landscape scene you have to try it… Yes it’s bloody brilliant and as a 3D artist you should have this tool in your arsenal. I would also like to add that Terragen 3 is out now as well which I still need to try!
Before these programs were out I was always looking for height maps to generate in Cinema 4D but could never really find what I was looking for to get the results I wanted. Over the last few years though the data to produce these scenes are becoming more available and easy to find. I noticed just today acutely that Google maps now have a full 3D view!! Yes it looks cool I must admit, you should check it out. Anyway I just wanted to point out that it is becoming increasingly popular with 3D artists and game developers to use this data in their games or 3D art.
I came across a website that provides topology data to you from any were in the world, you can find the website here called The National Map Viewer Just search for the area of the height map you want and you can download the elevation GEO tiff files.
Note if you want a larger area of surface you will have to download more sections of the map, you can stitch these tougher using a tool called SimpleDEMViewer With this tool you can stitch tougher the maps and convert them to grayscale and save back out as 16bit tiff files to be used in Cinema 4D on a relief object add more subdivisions and you are good to go.
Another great way to extract elevation data to be used in Cinema 4D is a website called Openstreetmap.org With the OSM data file that you download you can produce some very nicely detailed scenes of any major city.
Find a location you want the data for and download the OSM file, to get the data out of the file and into geometry you can download a tool called OSM2World Export your 3D model and check it out!
I hope that you found some of the information quite useful in this article.
Data to produce this image Canary Wharf Vray © OpenStreetMap Contributors.