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Shaded Relief in Blender

- - - - - shaded relief hillshade Blender

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Morgan Hite

Morgan Hite


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  • Location:Smithers, British Columbia, Canada
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I thoroughly enjoyed your Blender tutorial and I was 100% successful in producing my first Blender shaded relief, which was for the 093L/14 quadrangle in Canada, also
known as "Smithers." 

A few observations...

1. Cycles Render Engine and Ubuntu Linux.  Under Ubuntu Precise, the version of Blender from the repository does not include a crucial script
for the Cycles Render Engine, so you can't use it. By simply downloading the Ubuntu version from blender.org, however, and untarring it somewhere, 
and running it from the Blender icon within, you do get Cycles.

2.  16-bit greyscale TIFF image.  I think you've run your DEM through Photoshop to get it ready for Blender, and you wind up with a 16-bit 
Unsigned integer TIFF. However, one can alternatively Displace with a GeoTIFF exported directly out of Quantum GIS (rt-click, Save As...). The key
settings here when exporting are to select "raw data" (as opposed to "rendered image," which will give you a four band colour TIFF), set 
the projection you want the hillshade to be in,  and to make sure the DEM's "no data" values are set correctly.  The result is integer 
16-bit greyscale and georeferenced. When applying it to Displace, it looks like setting the Strength of the modifier to 100 (and Midlevel = 0) 
gives you approximately 1x vertical exaggeration. 200 gives you 2x. Etc. This is assuming you set the dimensions of the plane, as you did, 
to scaled values between 1 and 10.

3. A side bonus of using a GeoTIFF is that you can easily georeference the final hillshade produced by Blender. During the initial export of the
GeoTIFF set the additional parameter TFW=YES, and it generates a TIFF World File. As long as the output dimensions of the shot taken by the camera 
in Blender are the same as the dimensions of the Geotiff, and you save the Blender image as TIFF, you can re-name this TFW to apply to the TIFF
created by Blender, and pull it into your favourite GIS, georeferenced. 

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: shaded relief, hillshade, Blender

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