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Is there any software that will generate a 3D view given a DTM/height data and raster mapping, and output an image in a printable resolution? I am looking for something similar to what you'd find in a commercial hike planning application, but free or open source preferably.

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Converted to Community Wiki, since the answers will be of the "list of" variety that are generally not encouraged on Stack Exchange. (Thanks for asking though! it's a good list to have around.) – matt wilkie Aug 30 '13 at 20:36

For 3D (and 2D), try GMT (, here some 3D examples:

GMT some time ago upgraded to the version 5, here is the gallery examples link:

For rasters, this is a nice plot in 3D (but it can be more detailed if needed):

This tutorial may help you to get started:

GRASS is another neat option:

Hope this helps,

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Am I correct in thinking this is some kind of command line tool? – ElendilTheTall Aug 30 '13 at 13:11
you're correct, I think there is a GUI GMT (I think iGMT) somewhere, I think it's here:, but I never used. Command line is tough at the beginning, but it is worth. – Gery Aug 30 '13 at 13:12
Hmmm. I think the whole thing appears to be geared towards visualising scientific data rather than easily outputting a good looking 3D view. Thank you for your suggestion though! – ElendilTheTall Aug 30 '13 at 13:14
I've used it for a long time now, it's definitely not only for scientific data, you're welcome =) – Gery Aug 30 '13 at 13:22
The Links are dead; Is it possible to update the links? – Devdatta Tengshe Jan 17 '14 at 7:10

With this tutorial (unfortunately only in German) I managed to make some 3D-maps from Openstreetmap data and SRTM height data using Povray:

enter image description here

(To be honest, the left one is by me, the right one by maxbe)

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Pretty basic, but 3DEM may do what you want.

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With the open source VTP - Virtual Terrain Project you can load custom elevation & imagery (VTBuilder) into an interactive 3D environment (Enviro), from which you can export a high resolution snapshot (pixel dimensions limited by your video card).

The default shadows can be a little harsh when draping topo map imagery, using a lighting factor of ~0.3 seems to work well.

VTP Enviro snapshot

It won't be an out of the box experience though, expect to spend some time learning how to use the software. It takes a bit to understand how the image sizing and tiling system works.

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If you're after the ultimate in control and configuration, the best open source application I've used so far for fusing elevation and imagery into relief maps is the OSSIM project's ImageLinker. See the "How to create a shaded relief" tutorial.

ImageLinker relief map

Even more than VTP though, expect to devote significant time to learning.

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Mostly your topo data is going to be in shapefile format to be visually parsed.

What you want to do is convert your the topo lines vector layer into a "DEM" or "Digital Elevation Model". I'm working on this too.

My plan is to use grass once I've gotten my topo data convert into some for of DEM like ".hgt". But I'm also trying out the main answer guy's tutorial because it looks like a faster route to the finish

Here's a related question I'm finding very helpful How to generate a DEM from a countour Shapefile?

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