I have a bunch of LiDAR data that I need to make a raster DEM & DSM from. From what I can gather my options are use the Point to Raster tool directly on the Multipoint feature or make a terrain first and generate the rasters from that. There are no breaklines or anything besides the LiDAR data that need to go into this. Interpolation will be required as well. The documents I read about this choice all say the Terrain to Raster produces higher quality results, but they don't elaborate. What exactly do they mean when and why do they say this? In my case that has just LiDAR data going in is it worth making a Terrain first or not? Does the Terrain method provide better interpolation options or something?


You can take you LAS files and add them to an LAS Dataset in ArcGIS. Then, use the LAS Dataset tool to filter the point cloud for different returns. Finally, use the LAS Dataset to Raster tool to create surfaces from your LiDAR data.

See An overview of displaying LAS datasets in ArcGIS.

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