This post covers how to insert 3D symbols into an ArcGlobe scene.

So you’re doing some analysis of the best place to put a windfarm and would like to really wow your client (or lecturer…) with some 3D visulisations.  We’ve probably all seen the kinds of point symbols that we might put on a 2D map, and below is an image from ArcMap of how we might show the locations of wind turbines – just boring old points on a map:


This is showing an area of northeastern Banks Peninsula on a ridge between Little Akaloa and Okains Bay.  Here are the same data in ArcGlobe.


The push pins are nice by default, but since we’re working with ArcGlobe to create 3D visualisations, wouldn’t it be nice to add some 3D turbines?  Well here’s how.

In the Table of Contents, double-click on the point layer name and go to Properties > Symbology tab:


Click on the Symbol button to get to the Symbol Selector window:


Next, click on the Style References and tick the “3D Industrial” box and then OK:


Back in the Symbol Selector, scroll down until you see the three windfarm tower symbols.  I’ve chosen tower 3.


We’re not quite done yet, because we can scale the tower to actual size provided we know how tall it is.  Click the Edit Symbol button:


This window gives us a lot of control over how the symbol looks.  Try out a few of the options when you get a chance, but for now, let’s assume we’re working with wind turbines on 70 m tall towers and 30 m blades.  At its maximum, the turbine would be 100 m tall, so let’s set the “Size (Z)” to 100.  Click OK once you’ve done this, then OK, and OK again.  Here’s the result:


While the towers are blending in a bit against my topo map, they are still reasonably visible and allow my audience to get a sense of what the towers will look like on the landscape.  As  a next step I might try adjusting the transparency of my topo map using the 3D Effects toolbar.  The same process will work in ArcScene (in general I’ve been using ArcGlobe more and more, simply because it does a much better job of displaying raster images, like topo maps and satellite images [plus, it doesn’t crash nearly as often as ArcScene does]).

So there you have it – an insight into how you can add 3D symbols to your 3D visualisations.