This might be easy, but I'm a newbie in using ArcScene and I can't figure out how to do it. I have a 3D terrain model - srtm dem (*.tiff) file visualized in ArcScene. I need to add to this model some 3D objects like a sphere, cube etc. and export it all as one *.wrl file.

I can't find the right way. It works when exporting a terrain model alone. Then I tried to add some point features (*.shp) and visualized it as a 3D simple marker - sphere. But when I try to export it, it always crashes down. Probably because of the incompatibility of tiff and shapefile?

So I made a sphere in SketchUp and exported it as a vrml file and tried to add it to the terrain model in ArcScene. But I dont know how to put it right on the model surface and how to change the size and colour, if possible. And the exportation fails as well. So I can't export more than one layer to the *.wrl file?

How to do it then?

  • Which VRML viewer are you using? What is your end goal? To export 3D objects out of ArcScene to be used in other 3D modelling applications? OR Import / add external 3D models and objects to ArcScene? Dec 30, 2015 at 15:45

1 Answer 1


It is a LONG time since I used ArcScene and Exported to VRML. However, I used to do something similar a lot. The VRML exported from ArcScene is verbose and not always well-formed so I didn't like it and therefore do not recommend that you try to export your whole model in one go. It also didn't used to properly instantiate repeated objects - making the VRML rather inefficient and difficult to edit later. However, it would export the terrain reasonably efficiently.

My approach was to export just the terrain and any extruded polygons (building footprints etc). All objects represented by points I would create as a VRML object in a modelling package and then inline the object to the VRML file and add instantiate it at the point locations.

You need to adjust your coordinates unless you opt to use real-world coordinates. I used to use Excel to quickly generate pseudo VRML as I could create rows with my coordinates and then auto-fill the VRML code around them. To get the Z value I used extract values to points.

As a general note, VRML is VERY old and was superseded many years ago by X3D. I don't know if ArcScene ever did support X3D in the end (see this thread - where you will note that the OP there also suffered a similar crashing issue to yours). Even so, I would recommend that you export just the basic terrain to VRML, convert to X3D and go from there. X3D gives you much better animation, physics, editors and viewers etc

ArcScene is really nice for very quick demos but limited for anything beyond that. A much better alternative option is to use a 'proper' 3D modelling package like Blender. There are plugins that will take georeferenced rasters, DEMs and shapefiles. You can import all your layers into Blender, use the point-data shapefiles as particle instances to instantiate your point objects (or use a raster as a particle generator to control size and density of the instantiated objects). The great advantage of this approach is you have vastly more control over animate, lighting, fly-throughs, texturing etc.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.