I'm an archaeologist and have been using photogrammetry to record rock art sites in northern Australia. That is working very well (we're using Agisoft Photoscan, it's fantastic).

My question relates to taking 3D models into ArcGIS 10.3 for further work. The end point I am aiming for is to be able to create vector datasets that represent the art within a geodatabase. This, I'm hoping, can be done by 'tracing' evidence of artwork to create new records within feature classes within a geodatabase, together with domains and so on to classify artwork. GIS 101, really. Getting to that point is the problem, as the imported models lack textures or meaningful symbology in ArcScene.

Can anyone recommend a general workflow for doing this, or good resources to help? ArcGIS helpfiles are a little vague around these issues. At present, and in brief, I have been:

  1. Exporting the model as a collada (*dae) file from photoscan.
  2. Downsampling/editing/ in meshlab
  3. Importing as a multipatch into ArcScene

That works fine, mostly, but how would one apply texture files? Also, others I have spoken to suggest exporting/creating LAS pointclouds, which also works, but again I am stuck with no meaningful symbology at the end of the journey.

As you can probably tell, the 3D modelling thing is new to me.

  • We could do at least some of this with R, keen to explore if you want. My username at Gmail iyi.
    – mdsumner
    Mar 3, 2016 at 14:45
  • you need to look at FME Mar 3, 2016 at 18:48

1 Answer 1


you can export an orthomosaic in the a set coordinate system with its prj file. Import this in Arcmap. You could then create an empty shape file and trace the rock art as a set of polygons with whatever attributes entered into the the attribute table during an edit session.

If you want to see these in 3D import the 3D files as an untextured surface - first export from Photoscan as a raster DEM, Then you can open both the orthomosaic and DEM in ArcSpace, assuming you have the licence for this and in the properties of the orthomosaic layer set elevation values to be derived from the DEM. Do the same for the artwork shape files. Voila you will have a georeferenced vectorised 3D artwork on a textured 3D surface.

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