I’ve been working away on SketchUp and needed to do some test urban/residential areas in a fictional Middle East city… For some reason the videos are better quality on my PC to what has been uploaded and processed by YouTube. YouTube seems to have squashed them… I’ll try and fix it when I get time (my upload speeds aren’t great so I don’t really want to do it again just yet…)
So they are two different models using the same road layout but different rule files. Both use CityEngine to place or build the city model and Lumion3D to render and make the video (with a little edit from Windows Live Movie Maker). SketchUp has been used for a few of the elements (a villa, cars, sign posts and the tram!).
Middle East City Part 1 :
Middle East City Part 2:
I’m always looking for new ways to combine data and visualisation techniques. Partly I’m inspired by the likes of the DigitalUrban blog but mostly I’ve always liked mucking about with 3D software and real world data (3D Construction kit for the C64 anyone?).
So here is what you need for what I’m about to do, there’s a lot of different ways of achieving the same thing and at different costs. Inevitably if you have lots of money the steps are more streamlined.
- ArcGIS or QGIS for creating and exporting your GIS data to …
- SketchUp Pro (to export as FBX files) or SketchUp Free (plus the OBJ importer/exporter and AutoDesk FBX convertor)
- CityEngine (no free alternative for this as far as I am aware but there’s educational licensing)
- Unity (I’m using the free version but Pro works as well!)
- Unity Web player (for running around your model in a web browser)
Okay this will be a very quick run down as I’m not going to go into the details. I suggest you familiarise yourself with each piece of software paying attention to the import export functionalities of each.
This guide, as the blog is in general, primarily a notebook of workflows for myself so I don’t have to remember them all!
Recommended reading? Digital Urban and this “Google SketchUp for Game Design: Beginner’s Guide”
- Create City Streets or download from OpenStreetMap
- Edit data in ArcGIS or QGIS (and save as shapefile) or even use SketchUp pro and export as dxf
- Import data (edited in ArcGIS/QGIS or otherwise…) into CityEngine shapefiles/DXF/GDB/OSM/DAE/OBJ *or you can import OSM data directly*
- Generate your city using various ‘assets’, for example, city streets and plots from a GIS or straight from Open Street Map data. Using rules you can create your own building models as well.
- Once complete export your city model to a FBX format, in CityEngine FBX export dialog box I change the Misc Options Global Offset and click the ‘Center‘ button
- You can also create more more models (signs, trees etc) that can be placed in Unity separately. In SketchUp Pro its just a case of exporting as an FBX file, but if you have SketchUp Free use the OBJ exporter and AutoDesks free FBX converter.
- Either you have exported the city model to the correct Asset folder for your Unity project or you can click on the Assets menu in Unity and select Import New Asset
- In Unity select your newly imported model and using the Inspector window change the scale factor to 1 select Generate Colliders and Import Materials choosing the right Material Naming and Material Search options. The click apply and wait while your model is prepared.
- Once complete drag your model from the Project window into the Scene window and position. Now drag from the Standard Assets–>Character Controllers folder drag and drop the ‘First Person Controller’ onto your model.
- Add a light by selecting the menu GameObject–>Create Other –> Directional Light and then position it in over your model in the Scene window. If you can’t find it double click on the Directional Light heading in the Hierarchy window.
- Add a SkyBox (yes with nice fluffy clouds) by selecting the Edit–>Render Settings menu heading and clickin the little circle to the right of the SkyBox Material heading in the Inspector. In the Select Material dialog box type ‘sky’ and a list of the skyboxes will appear. Select one of these.
- To create a standalone playable demo of your model first make sure it all works click the play button, if you fall off your model press the play button again to stop and make sure the First Person Controller is placed above your model and that you selected the create colliders on your imported model in the Inspector window.
- Select File Build Settings, click “Add Current” to build the scene you are working on. Now click on Web Player (or PC and Mac Standalone) and click Build and Run
- Navigate to the folder where the HTML file has been created an double click on it, if you have installed the Unity Web Player your model walkthrough should load up just as if you had pressed play within Unity itself..
I’m quite partial to a good workflow, so here’s the result of one I’ve posted on GeoPlanIT’s YouTube channel:
Lumion3D is a great rendering/visualisation tool I hope to be using much more in the future. It might not give you full control over everything but if you want quick and easy renderings of your models it’s brilliant. A word of caution though, you might want to upgrade your graphics card… (or like me your entire PC). You can download a free (limited feature) trial now from here.
Update: Geolocating the DEM in SketchUp has been solved see at bottom of page!
So you have SketchUp and you’ve heard wondrous things about the UK’s Ordnance Survey OpenData?! In particular you hear there maybe some contour/elevation models out there for free as well! This quick workflow guide shows you how get that elevation model into SketchUp so you can plan horrible developments in undeserving places (I’m a planner so I know…).
- Windows Vista (I’m sure XP, Windows 7 etc.. all work as well)
- SketchUp Pro (although you can import DEMs with the free version) http://sketchup.google.com/intl/en/product/whygopro.html
- MicroDEM – follow the install guide to get yourself up and running http://www.usna.edu/Users/oceano/pguth/website/microdem/microdem.htm
- OS OpenData, in particular the Land-Form Panorama dataset, select the download option enter your details (it only requires your email address) and then wait for 523MB zip file to download https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/opendatadownload/products.html
- Google Earth (to check your DEM is georeferenced properly)
- You need a basic working knowledge of MS Windows, SketchUp and some file management skills.
Once downloaded you need to know what OS Grid square you want to import. You can read the wiki article or I have used StreetMap and once you’ve searched for your location you can look just below the map and it says “Click here to convert coordinates” on this page LR seems to relate to the OS grid.
Double click on the ‘panorama_gb.zip’ file and navigate to this directory ‘\DTM\ASCII\data’. Yes there are other types of data (contours as DXF and DEM as NTF) but this is what worked for me.
1 – Extract a tile from the directory name corresponding to your chosen OS tile. In this case we’re going to use Sedbergh, Cumbria tile which is under ‘\DYM\ASCII\data\sd\sd68.asc’. You can copy it to any directory but in this instance I tend to copy it to the ‘mapdata\DEMs’ directory created by your installation of MicroDEM (you did install it right?)
2 – Load up MicroDEM and then click File –> Open DEM now navigate to the ‘mapdata\DEMs’ directory and select the ‘sd68.asc’ file.
3 – MicroDEM will ask you to pick its projection parameters as its OS OpenData my guess is that these settings are okay and then click ‘Mercator’ instead of ‘OK’
4 – The DEM should load up and look something like this :
5 – If you want to get rid of the legend and scale bar and any grid that may appear right click on the image and select ‘Legend/marginalia’. Uncheck the boxes and click the ‘Grid’ button and select the option ‘neither’
6 – Click ‘OK(Close’ and say ‘yes to redraw… I often get errors and warnings at this point which I ignore….
Now click on the menu heading file again and save this as a DEM and in particular a USGS ASCII one:
7 – Once it is saved close MicroDEM and open up SketchUp… I’m assuming you will import into a fresh new SketchUp Model, so click on the File menu and select import.
8 – Choose the file type DEM (*.dem, *.ddf) and find that file you saved in MicroDEM, before you click open click on Options:
9 – Here you can see I’ve entered 20000 points to import the lower the number the less detail for this tile 20000 as suggested by Chris Fullmer’s tutorial seems good. I suggest you experiment with this to get what you want though! Also I’ve check ‘Generate gradient texture’ this is entirely up to you, I suggest you first try with and then without.
The DEM should be imported and the axes, click the zoom extents button to check it’s all there:
10 – Now to get rid of all those lines, double click the DEM (to edit component) and select all of the DEM (keyboard shortcut : ‘ctrl-a’). Now right click the selected DEM and click on ‘Soften/Smooth Edges’:
11 – As per Chris Fullmer’s suggestion slide to around 90 degrees and check both boxes (Smooth normals and Soften coplanar)
12 – Et voila! You now have a terrain model for placing your models on!
|mmm smooth elevation model!|
13 – One important thing to note this is not GeoReferenced. I haven’t figured out why SketchUp doesn’t load the DEM in the correct place. If anyone has any suggestions please tell me (via Twitter or otherwise) and I’ll add it to this tutorial.
Geo-Reference (or Geo-Locate) your DEM
14 – First you need to know where your DEM is in Latitude and Longitude you can do this by going to nearby.org Coordinate Convertor and putting in your OS tile number (in this case SD68), I suggest you select output as Coordinate Conversion only:
15 – You are now going to copy the Lat and Long coordinates into SketchUp so leave this webpage open and….
16 – In SketchUp click on the menu ‘Window’ then ‘Model Info’ and select ‘Geo-Location’
17 – Give the Country name and location something meaningful…. and copy and paste your latitude and longitude’s full number (and letter after) in the appropriate places.
Now to test it press the Preview in Google Earth button:
18 – If you’re computer is up to it you should see the DEM appear in the correct location in Google Earth, it may take a while to load though so be patient!
|DEM Placed in GE|