I am trying to follow this workflow: [How to generate a DEM from a contour Shapefile?] and it's running fine, and when I hit view output or view results I end up with a flat raster with shading associated with the heights of my contours on screen.

However, I want to see the 3D terrain with hillshading etc, and potentially export a 3d mesh, and from research, think that the nvis module in GRASS can do this for me, but when I try to run this I get the error "module nvis not found"? And QGIS crashes and dies.

When I go to Manage and Install Plugins, Grass is there, and it has let me perform all the other modules I've needed? So not sure what to do with this??

Any ideas or help much appreciated!

Edit: Link to sample data here (.shp+.gml): https://www.dropbox.com/sh/mwxlr3ij78d8gkr/lKwgu3Pafu

  • 1
    Have you tried working on Grass instead of using the Grass plugin in Q-GIS? I had a similar problem (Grass plugin didn't work properly and Q-GIS crashed) so I performed my analysis in Grass environment.
    – dof1985
    Nov 21 '13 at 15:41
  • 1
    Lisa is this shapefile publicly available? If you can please share the source data - then GIS-SE can provide some help in creating the DEM with that data (or raise any issues.)
    – Mapperz
    Nov 21 '13 at 16:42
  • Hi @Mapperz - I'm actually using sample data from the OS at the minute in the format I know I will be downloading, as this is a process I know I'm going to have to go through pretty regularly, and so as a GIS newbie I'm just trying to get to grips with it in advance! (I do know the data is also available as ascii grid data which would make my life much easier, but there are reasons I need to begin with the contour based info.) Link to sample .shp and alternative .gml file here: dropbox.com/sh/mwxlr3ij78d8gkr/lKwgu3Pafu
    – Lisa SH
    Nov 21 '13 at 16:54
  • Hi @dof1985 - I've downloaded Grass on it's own, but I'm pretty new to GIS and don't have any script experience so I'm finding Grass pretty tough going! If I need to persevere with that I will though, thanks for your suggestion.
    – Lisa SH
    Nov 21 '13 at 16:56
  • Lisa did you ever have any luck resolving the problem? I am getting the same error "module NVIZ not found"
    – user29846
    May 3 '14 at 1:09

You have two solutions:

1) from the GRASS plugin: you are working in GRASS GIS, not in QGIS, so you need to know GRASS GIS

  • you need to first open a LOCATION/MAPSET of GRASS (from the plugin) or create a new LOCATION/MAPSET

enter image description here

  • you will then have access to the GRASS Tools

enter image description here


  • import the shapefile in the MAPSET (v.in.ogr.qgis)
  • transform the shapefile in a raster if you want to use the r. modules (v.to.rast)
  • fix the GRASS region (g.region)
  • use r.contour, r.surf.idw, r.surf.idw2 or v.surf.rst to generate the DEM
  • use nviz to visualise the DEM, change the color, drape a raster layer or add another DEM and/or vector files.

enter image description here enter image description here

2) from GRASS in the Processing Toolbox:

  • you are working in QGIS. In fact, the use of GRASS GIS is transparent, no need to open GRASS GIS, import the shapefile in a LOCATION/MAPSET or fixing a region, everything is done automatically by Processing.

enter image description here

3) What is the difference ?

The Processing version is more limited, you may only view the DEM, with no possibility to drape a raster, add another DEM or vector layers

  • Thanks for this, really helpful, though I was attempting to use the grass plugin method, and all works fine until I try to use nviz, where I still get the error message "module nvis not found". Reassuring to know I'm not actually doing anything wrong as such - I will maybe try uninstalling and re-installing! Thanks
    – Lisa SH
    Dec 19 '13 at 16:36

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