I have a 3D map with latitude and longitude details. Is there a way I can take a 2D image (a png image) from 3D model in such a way that my 2D image also have the latitude and longitude as it is in 3d model ?

Can 2D image have the details as latitude and longitude ?

Which software should I use for doing this. Can anyone please point me to some online tutorial if available ?


  • 1
    Welcome to GIS SE! What format is this map/model in? Usually native application provides a way to export such models to 2D images. – Jakub Sisak GeoGraphics Aug 24 '11 at 1:22
  • Its a shapefile with geospatial coordinates – NBibodi Aug 24 '11 at 2:33
  • What software are you working with the map in? – Patrick Aug 24 '11 at 2:36
  • I converted my .shp file into .vrml using ArcGIS and then imported .vrml file into 3ds max. I was able to render 2D images. But I realized I am not getting my latitude and longitude after this conversion. – NBibodi Aug 24 '11 at 4:05
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    @zearth, say what? – Patrick Aug 24 '11 at 6:56

If you need to georeference a handful of PNG files, you should just do it manually in ArcMap. The Georeferencing toolbar allows you to add multiple control points to align an image.

If you need the process to maintain geographic location through the conversion to 3d and then rendering in 2d, you'll need a 3D software that will maintain geographic coordinates throughout your workflow. I rather doubt there are any packages like that with the capabilities of 3dsMax, but you can do more basic 3d graphics in AutoCAD, Sketchup, and even ArcScene, while maintaining the same coordinates.

Although I don't know of any software that will then allow you to produced a georeferenced rendering....


Based on the comments above I am assuming that your starting point is a shapefile, not a map. Likely a 3D shapefile. @Patric already suggested an array of software that will let you visualize and export such data into a 2D image. If I understand correctly you actually want to export the image with the reference grid (latitude and longitude) as a part of the image. i haven't worked with AutoCAD in a long time but i think you can export your model to an image that includes the reference grid. (plot) This becomes more complex when the reference grid needs to be visualized over a surface.

In ArcGIS the reference grid can be easily added to your map in 2D space (ArcMap) but not so easily in 3D (ArcScene). You will have to create the grid as another shapefile (lines) and then either set it's base height appropriately with the scene or drape it over a surface if you are visualizing it over an uneven terrain.

I know I can export reference grids with models out of specialized geology/mining software but that might be an overkill in this case.

You could use ArcScene (a part of ArcGIS if you have the 3D analyst extension) but it's expensive. Your best bet is probably SketchUp. It's free and it's a fantastic true 3D drawing environment.


I don't think PNG will let you have georeferencing within the file itself. A format like GeoTIFF would include georeferencing. PNG won't. The best you can do is have what I would call a 'sidecar' file - such as a .wld file to specify georeferencing for that file.

If you move the image to the correct place in ArcGIS, I would assume it's creating some sort of referencing of this type.

If you want some software to do this for you, then I use FME (though I do work for Safe Software who develop it). It will read Shape data, let you rasterize it, then write to PNG (with a .WLD file to act as georeferencing).

Of course one other question is what you expect to see in the PNG. Since Shape data doesn't contain any idea of feature colour, what colour will you expect to see in the PNG?

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