Home » BIM and training » Modelling a 3D terrain with contour lines

Modelling a 3D terrain with contour lines software BIM Edificius

Modelling a 3D terrain with contour lines

How can we design a 3D terrain digital model with contour lines? Let’s find out how to easily and rapidly reproduce this operation thanks to a BIM software for the architecture

The contour lines are used to represent an architectural or landscape element in three dimensions on a two-dimensional surface in geography, in cartography and in architecture as well. They serve to thus graphically reproduce the height of a place, which would otherwise be impossible to render on a paper or digital sheet.

The closed line shape of contour lines reflects the land survey to be outlined, while its nodes are designed on the same surface where to model the terrain elements.

Further on this article, we’ll see how to manage the “Terrain” environment with contour lines using an architectural design BIM software (Edificius) or a software for landscaping and outdoor spaces design (Edificius-LAND). There are different ways to get contour lines and to implement the digital terrain model. Let’s find them out.

How to model the terrain with contour lines


We can start off from the Terrain environment, where we can select the Survey level and draw the perimeter of the terrain.

Still in the Terrain environment, we can select the Contour Lines and proceed to design the terrain.

We can complete the Lines insertion clicking on the Finish button. Furthermore, we  select the contour lines and define their elevation in the Properties tab.

Finally,  we can edit the contour lines using the magnetic grid or through an offset. We can remove or insert nodes, change the segment into Arc and graphically modify the elevation in the 3D View accordingly.

How to define contour lines with automatic DXF and DWG drawing recognition

In the Terrain environment, whithin the Survey level we can proceed to trace the terrain perimeter.

The first step is to select the DXF/DWG Survey and chose the model to upload.

From the DWG/DXF Import pop up we can insert the factor number so to report the drawing units in meters.
We can then place the contour lines drawing according to the terrain perimeter.

Next we can select the DXF/DWG automatic generation in order to automatically recognize the lines and the relative elevation while enclosing the model in a selection rectangle.
If the uploaded drawing is in 2D, we can manually assign the different dimensions to the contour lines.

Contour lines elevation and characteristics

In the Contour Lines sidebar we can assign the elevation dimension and chose whether to display the lines or not.

Additionally, we can get the closed lines perimeter surface and length and define the selected line length and inclination angle.

From the Contour Lines sidebar we can finally view the coordinates of a selected line specific point so to be able to modify its position.