My task is to create before/after photo visualization of a wind turbine which is planned to build.

A photo is taken from a point of known coordinates, and coordinates of a turbine are also known.
How to accurately place this turbine into the photo?

What I already do is to identify some object on the photo and on an aerial photo. Then I measure distance on the aerial photo map to this object and estimate its heiht. Next I measure a height of this object in the photo in pixels and by proportion calculate height of the turbine.
It's very rough calculation because real object heiht estimation is biased.

Next problem is with a direction where to place the turbine. I tried some angular calculations, but they were rather misleading and I ended up with drawing line from point to turbine and further, and looking on what background I should place the turbine.

If you have any ideas how do this smarter and more accurately, please share.

  • Your tag has '3D' in it. Why aren't you modeling the wind turbine site in a 3D modeling package? Oct 28, 2013 at 14:19
  • You can do that in gl-garradhassan.com/en/software/GHWindFarmer.php Oct 29, 2013 at 7:35
  • @Ryan I tried to model the wind turbine in 3D Analyst but I didn't find a way to move from model to photo.
    – Marcin
    Oct 29, 2013 at 9:23
  • @Matthew I'm aware there's dedicated software for wind farms, but I'm looking more general solutions with multiple purpouse use tools.
    – Marcin
    Oct 29, 2013 at 9:26
  • Martin, 3D Analyst is for analysis, not modeling. I have be 3D modeling for 10+ years. There are many different software tools available liek @LandArch said, I would use SketchUp to make the turbine model, and then associate that model in ArcScene or another 3D visualization tool. Oct 29, 2013 at 14:30

2 Answers 2


Two Options:

  1. Model the turbine in Sketchup and use Sketchup's photo match option. Export and post-process as needed. This would be the easiest, results are questionable sometimes.

  2. Enter the coordinates to make points in QGIS or similar software, then export as a dxf. import the dxf in sketchup. Model the turbine in Sketchup, place the object at the correct coordinates. Then place a Sketchup camera that matches the photo camera at the photos coordinates. You need to ensure that the elevations are correct for both the turbine and the Sketchup camera. Export the view and overlay in Gimp or similar software. Post-process as needed. I would recommend rendering the view out with Twilight Render to match the original picture.

This is an inexpensive solution, ultimately only costing about 500 bucks if you want to purchase Sketchup Pro and 99 bucks for Twilight Render. There is usually a 30 day trial of Pro, so give it a whirl first. Twilight Render is based on Kerkythea, so you might be able to set the scene up in Twilight and export for rendering in Kerkythea without purchase. I just bought it since it was so inexpensive. There are also Ruby Script Plugins that may allow for the import of dxf/dwg files, so you would not have to purchase Pro. Although output of a quality image may not be allowed. QGIS and Gimp are open source and free to download and use. If this combination works, please consider donating to advance the programs.

Check out this for a free companion Chapter to Rendering in Sketchup that focuses on Twilight Render. I recommend Rendring in Sketchup and Daniel's other book Google Sketchup for Site Design.

  • Thanks, your option 2 is quite clear to me up to the point when you write about "rendering the view". I associate term rendering with artifficial object, not photos. Is rendering really necessary here? Btw, I've Sketchup "standard" and it indeed lacks dxf import. Does it lack precise camera setup also?
    – Marcin
    Oct 30, 2013 at 9:08
  • When I say rendered view, I mean using Twilight Render you can add photo-realistic textures to the turbine and set sun and shadows to similar conditions of the existing photo. Then render the view and saving the output to and image file for layering on the existing photo in GIMP or similar software. Make sense?
    – LandArch
    Oct 30, 2013 at 12:27
  • I updated my original answer with some links that may help. Download a trial of Sketchup Pro or Google dxf/dwg import Sketchup plugin and find a ruby script add-on. As for the camera setup, you should be able to set up the camera to match the camera taking the original photo. You may need to retake the photo and ensure you gather all the appropriate information. Look for the advanced camera tools. Also if you utilize the GPS location, you should be able to set the precise location.
    – LandArch
    Oct 30, 2013 at 12:41
  • Thank you. Now rendering make sense. There're a lot of new things I've to grasp, but I hope I finally get professional looking results
    – Marcin
    Oct 30, 2013 at 13:02
  • I'm after several SketchUp Photo Match tutorials and still have no idea how to properly match the landscape photo (with no significant lines to match) to SketchUp scene. The same with overlay: SketchUp scene is in different scale than photo. I'm stuck how to align scene with the photo. Do you have any hints?
    – Marcin
    Nov 10, 2013 at 13:02

This is not an inexpensive solution.
But from my experience (I once helped design a boat hull in 3d), you can draw pretty much anything in AutoCAD.
Now they have industry specific design suites that are geared for plant, product, architectural, and civil.
They add toolsets to accomplish each but you still have autocad underneath.
Inventor is a mechanical part design software that is very sophisticated in functionality. It does not work like autocad.
If you desire a full featured solution. With, as you said - "Multi purpose use".
I am sure a dealer would be willing to help with demonstration and more.

You need several things.
1. A software to either design or import the 3d design turbine to get it to a usable format. Autodesk has this
2. A software to depict the photo in 3d space with your design placed correctly. Autodesk Navisworks
3. Then model, animate, and visualize. 3Ds Max
All of these products are available in a Design Suite.
Another possibility might just be the inventor software

  • Could you please be more specific. I'm not fluent with Autodesk software so specifying which functions to use are greatly appreciated:)
    – Marcin
    Oct 29, 2013 at 9:36
  • I wish I could help. I use civil design software and have the suite. Which means all the simulation and visualization software come with it. But I haven't used it yet. It looked like to me inventor could model and visualize both. Autodesk has long had photo matching in 3ds max.
    – Brad Nesom
    Oct 29, 2013 at 13:38
  • photo matching you probably are aware is the process of identifying horizon lines, view angles, and sun direction to mimic camera and lighting in your rendering software.
    – Brad Nesom
    Oct 29, 2013 at 16:01

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.