Home » BIM and training » Terrain modelling using contour lines and a BIM software

terrain modelling using contour lines

Terrain modelling using contour lines and a BIM software

Terrain modelling using contour lines and a BIM software? All the details with Edificius

The “Terrain modelling” environment in a software should be designed to provide the user with the best terrain design organization with levels and an easy to use graphical modelling editor while maintaining full integration between the architectural environment of the BIM model.

Further on in the article, we’ll be seeing how to manage the “Terrain” environment using Edificius the architectural BIM design software solution.

Edificius is a simple and effective tool for integrating architecture and landscape design. A dedicated BIM environment for the design of gardens and outdoor spaces where you can re-create the land survey of your site in 3D, model the terrain and even dynamically compare your land survey and the proposed design.

In the “Terrain” environment, you can quickly build up a BIM model of a land survey by working in either plan view (2D) or directly in 3D, thus obtaining professional results using highly intuitive modelling tools with contour lines, contour plans and elevation nodes.
The software provides specific features to model a complex topographic survey with the automatic acquisition of all relevant map related information (planimetric and altimetric) from topographic land surveys in both 2D or 3D CAD drawing formats or even acquire a Terrain model directly from Google Maps® together with its satellite imagery.

Modeling the terrain with a BIM software

Activate the TERRAIN editor in Edificius and go to the SURVEY level. With a right mouse button click, we can start off by choosing the area plan entity to trace the terrain’s perimeter. Alternatively, choosing Import from Google Maps, you can take advantage of a seamless process that automatically imports the selected area and the relating digital terrain map from Google Maps®.

In our case, we’ll simply trace the perimeter of our terrain using the left mouse button to set each node on the perimeter and then click the “finish” button to terminate this first step.

The next step is to define the terrain’s elevation profile and we’ll do that by tracing the contour lines inside the previously defined perimeter.

Simply conclude a contour line definition by pressing the Finish button and repeating the same operation for all other contour lines.



Each contour line can now be defined in terms of thier elevation value. A simply click on each contour line allows you to either define the height by graphical input or by typing in its precise value.

setting elevation

setting the elevation

These new values are dynamically shown in the 3D model too.

viewing contour line elevation values

Viewing the elevation values

Added flexibility makes this design phase truly easy to use because the contour lines can easily be adjusted graphically or from the properties toolbox.

Contour lines can also be imported from external CAD files. Edificius will automatically generate the entity by reading the elevation values directly from the drawing. In this case, simply select the import feature to acquire the elevation values directly from a DXF/DWG CAD file.

Per riconoscere le quote del disegno CAD inserito basta utilizzare la funzione di generazione automatica della barra multifunzione che permette, selezionando le curve, di assegnare automaticamente le quote del file CAD.

To recognize CAD drawing elevation nodes, you can use the auto-generation feature to automatically assign the CAD file contour line elevation by selecting the individual lines.

selecting contour lines


Click here to download Edificius, the architectural design software