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I'm looking for software that can perform local adjustments in DEMs with tools similar to paintbrushes used in graphics editing programs but streamlined to respect geomorphology.

To give you an idea of what I have in mind check out this video of SimCity 4 terraforming mode. I would give a lot to have such a tool in ArcGIS environment.

Any local DEM modification in ArcMAP is a hassle.

Let's say I have a DEM with river bathymetry imprinted in it but there is a river port along that wasn't covered and has the height of the water surface (that's the usual case with LIDAR derived DEMs - water bodies are filled).

The only information about the harbour is the maximal depth. So to transfer this information to my DEM, I erase the entire harbour area (null values), imprint a small raster with maximal depth in the center of the harbour basin and then I fill the remaing null cells with a moving window filter.

The results of this operation are usually sufficient but the whole process is complicated. If only I had a "lower terrain paintbrush" :)

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You may like to have a look at: gis.stackexchange.com/questions/5239/… –  Tomek Jul 31 '12 at 11:45

1 Answer 1

I've found a program that basically does what I asked for.

It's called Earth Sculptor. It has a couple of nice tools for terraforming: raise, lower, level, grab, smooth, erode, push and ramp. It's not GIS aware but takes tga, bmp and png rasters with maximal size of 4097x4097 px.

I shall see if I can edit a real DEM raster and return with more info.

enter image description here

EDIT: I've found that Earth Sculptor isn't particularly suited for manipulating DEM. Mainly because it doesn't support 32-bit float rasters. The best you can work with is 16-bit png.

ArcGIS can only export to unsigned 16-bit png, so it leaves you with integers from 0 to 65535. You can move your elevation data to that range with raster algebra, but one problem still persists. After loading my translated elevation into ES it turned out really flat. It seems that I would have to do some kind histogram stretching to fit my elevation into 0 to 65535 range.

In conclusion. Its a bit to much work to get your data into ES to justify the benefits. The ideal software would have to work with 32-bit float tiffs.

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