Create Surface from Survey Measurements

Transform the elevation points of your topographic survey into a Surface in AutoCAD.


In the following tutorial, we are going to explore the ability to create Surfaces from files that contain elevation information about our project area. The availability of accurate elevation datasets in all stages of the design process is very important, as engineers need to know what the applied elevation values represent, in order to be able to reach safe conclusions and make the right decisions.

The "Create Surface from Text File" command of Plex-Earth 5 can be very useful in cases where the user has already created a topographic analysis of their area of interest and wants to generate a precise Surface model. The aim here would be a more accurate view of the terrain's morphology. It might also come in handy with other available features of Plex-Earth 5, including the creation of 3D Imagery and the "Snap Objects to Surface" functionality.

Step 1: Georeference your drawing

First, the drawing's georeference must be set correctly, in order for Plex-Earth 5 to know where to place the elevation data available.

NOTE: You will not need to adjust any settings if the drawing has already been georeferenced with your CAD's built-in functions. In this case, you will be able to use Plex-Earth directly, as the software automatically recognizes the coordinate system applied. 

Step 2: Select File

Now, in order to create a surface from an external points file, go to the Plex-Earth 5 ribbon and choose the "Create Surface from File" command from the "Import Terrain" dropdown menu:


You will then be asked to identify the file you want to use. Select the desired file (txt, prn, csv) and click ''Open'':


Step 3: Create Surface

In this step, the column number must be defined for each one of the X,Y,Z axes on the command line. This will allow the software to recognize which values stored in your text file correspond to each axis.

You can insert the desired values by typing them on the command line displayed in the images below and hitting the ''Enter'' button on your keyboard:





Then choose the preferred delimiter between measurements. This will allow the software to recognize which specific character was used to separate different values in your text file, giving you the ability to pick between multiple format options when gathering and saving your primary data.

You can go with the character that meets your needs by clicking on the respective option on the command line, as seen in the image below:



Finally, a boundary can be selected in case there is one for our terrain. We then can specify the opposite corner and click "Enter". This will allow the software to recognize the particular area on the screen as the one which will utilize this specific feature of Plex-Earth 5. For optimal results, it is recommended that you specify the exact area your inserted elevation data refers to. Alternatively, you can skip this step.



And here it is! The Surface is ready in our AutoCAD, waiting for us to begin our design.



Creating surface models is very important in landscape and city modeling, as well as for various other visualization purposes and design applications, and by doing so, we may avoid consuming precious time and resources. With Plex-Earth 5 you can have the best of two worlds. You can combine the measurements of local surveys, or data obtained from other applications, and use this information to create Terrain Meshes into your CAD software.



Feel free to contact us at for any questions you may have and don’t forget to start your free trial today.





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