Taiwan 3D

Taiwan 3D is a study in developing meaningful geographical models of the Pacific island Taiwan (Formosa).

Due to the political nature of maps here in Asia, topographical data has been largely unavailable and difficult to acquire.

A recent project by the US Geological Survey, the Global 30 Arc Second Elevation Data Set, available on CD-ROM and 8mm tape media has changed this somewhat.

GTOPO30 is a global digital elevation model (DEM) with a horizontal grid spacing of 30 arc seconds (approximately 1 kilometer).

GTOPO30, completed in late 1996, was developed over a 3 year period through a collaborative effort led by staff at the U.S. Geological Survey's EROS Data Center (EDC). The following organizations participated by contributing funding or source data: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the United Nations Environment Programme/Global Resource Information Database (UNEP/GRID), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Instituto Nacional de Estadistica Geografica e Informatica (INEGI) of Mexico, the Geographical Survey Institute (GSI) of Japan, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research of New Zealand, and the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR).
[ http://edcwww.cr.usgs.gov/landdaac/gtopo30/gtopo30.html ]

DEM's can be extrapolated in a variety of ways. For this project we used 3 DEM v19.0 which is a freeware DEM viewer written by R.S. Horne where the program can be downloaded:


You can also download it here.

The process had to be tested trial and error. The best and easiest results so far are achieved via the following steps:

1. Select a GTOPO30 tile (a piece of the global map) where the area
of interest is.

2. Use 3DEM to parse the DEM file.

3. Use 3DEM to create a custom grey scale color table.

4. Re-read the DEM with 3DEM.

5. Move the exact area of interest on the new grey scale projection.

6. Do a routine screen capture (Print Screen - Win95)

7. Retouch as needed in Photoshop or similar photo editing software.

8. Save as a greyscale PCX (256x256 pixels).

9. Import PCX as DEM in Vistapro.

10. Work on it in Vistapro (lighting/animation) or export as DXF
and take it elsewhere (other 3d modeling packages which accept
DXF format).

Figure 1 is the grey scale output taken from a screen capture of the 3DEM program. Figures 2 and 3 are Vistapro renderings realized from the grey scale image. And Figure 4 is a 3D Studio v4.0 rendering of the DXF output from Vistapro of the same grey scale source. Figure 5 demonstrates surface mapping. Using a political map from the Central Intelligence Agency as texture map over a DXF model in 3D Studio r4.

Note: Vistapro V4.0 was the last release. The software was originally developed by Virtual Reality Laboratories, Inc. in San Luis Obispo, California. VRLI then sold the product to RomTech International. Last check at their site (April 26, 1998) turned up absolutely nothing about Vistapro. So looks like the product might have been discontinued. There is a demo version on hand. You can contact me to arrange getting a copy.

Copyright © 2005 Tao Lodge
Art/Design Tao Lodge
Tao Lodge