3D View

The 3D View in Global Mapper allows registered users to view gridded elevation data and any overlying raster or vector data in a true perspective 3D manner. In addition, any vector data with associated elevation values can also be displayed in true 3D and videos may be created using the Global Mapper Fly-Through feature. The 3D viewer can also display 3D model formats, and render multiple terrain layers in a stack.

When selected, the 3D View button displays a window containing a 3D view of the data in the current workspace. This can also be added as a map frame using Map Views. Any imagery or vector data being drawn on top of the elevation grid(s) in the main Global Mapper view will automatically be draped on top of the elevation data in the 3D View window. If so configured, any 3D vector data will be displayed in space as well.

The following features and tools are available in the 3D View

2D/ 3D Link

To link the 2D and 3D views, select the Link 2D/ 3D views button found on the Global Mapper Viewer Toolbar. This will link the relative panning and zooming of the 3D view when the primary 2D map view is panned or zoomed. The 3D view will also refresh based on any changes to the Overlay Control center, such as loading data, turning on and off layers, or running tools that create new data. The link is turned on by default.

When the link is disabled, the 3D view will not refresh to match changes in the primary 2D map view display until the cursor is over the 3D window. Panning and zooming the 2D view will not change the 3D map display.

Keyboard Shortcut: To refresh the 3D view, use the Ctrl+3 or F5 hot keys in the 3D viewer.

Rotating, Moving and Zooming in the 3D View

Use the mouse to rotate the view around as well as zoom in, using the 3D View tools for rotation, moving and zooming described below.

 Rotate the view

Rotates 3D window view with the mouse left-click. Keyboard shortcut: Pressing the Ctrl+R key will activate Rotate mode in the 3D view. Rotating and Moving in the 3D viewer


Moves / pans the 3D window with mouse left-click and drag.

Keyboard shortcut: Pressing the Ctrl+M key will activate Move mode in the 3D view.


Zooms the 3D view in and out using the mouse wheel.

Keyboard shortcut: Pressing the Ctrl+Shift+Z key will activate Zoom mode in the 3D view.

 Walk Mode

Switches view to a 'walk mode'. Left-click and drag back to pan the view back, mouse left-click and drag forward to move the view forward.

The default Walk Mode height may be set in the Change Display Properties dialog.

Keyboard shortcuts: Pressing the Ctrl+W key will activate Walk mode in the 3D view.
The 'Pg Up' and 'Pg Dn' buttons or mouse wheel will adjust the Walk Mode height
The arrow keys may also be used to move.
Hold the mouse wheel and move up and down or press V+ arrow keys to change the Walk Mode pitch.

Wireframe View and Default View

The Wireframe and Default Views will change between a Wireframe (TIN) and the Default 3D view.

Feature Selection and Measuring Tools

The Selection and Measure Mode tools allow for the selection of vector features in the 3D viewer, and provide options for measuring distances and areas. Right-click with either of these tools to access additional options and settings.   

Digitizer Mode

Activating the Digitizer Mode in the 3D Viewer will enable selection of 3D point, line or area features in the 3D View window. The right-click menu will bring up the following Digitizer feature creation and feature editing options in the 3D View.  

Keyboard shortcut: Pressing the D key will enable or disable digitizer mode in the 3D view.

 Measure Mode

Activating Measure Mode will allow you to left-click in the 3D View to define a line for distance measurement, or a polygon for area measurement. Right-clicking will end the line or polygon feature to finish the measurement. In the upper left of the 3D View window measurement values will be displayed, right-click to access the 3D View window's Measure Tool menu.

In the 3D View window, the measure tool's cursor will change color depending on whether or not it is snapped. Green is snapped, orange is not snapped. When orange, the measure tool is draped on the terrain to show the corresponding terrain spot for where the cursor is located at '0'.

Note that the Measure tool is linked between 2D and 3D, and selecting either button will enable the tool in both 2D and 3D.

Keyboard shortcut: Pressing the M key will enable or disable measure mode.

Snap Cursor

With snap cursor enabled, the digitizer selection tool will show a point feature indicating the nearest selectable point or vertex if one is nearby. Otherwise the selection cursor will change color to red to indicate when a selection is available.

Using the Zoom tools

The zoom in and out buttons will zoom in or out on the center of the 3D view.

You can also use the arrow keys and numeric keypad to pan and zoom the 3D image without using the mouse. The following keys are recognized:

3D View Keyboard Shortcuts

Display and Navigation

Tools and Settings

3D Digitizing and Editing

3D View Keyboard Shortcuts by function 

Movement Modes: These are represented by the first four toolbar button on the 3D toolbar. They govern how you move around in the 3D world, that is, how mouse and keyboard actions affect the view.

Interaction Modes: These modes govern how you interact with objects in the view.

Predefined Views: There are some predefined views that can help you to navigate in the 3D scene:

Locking the view movement:Sometimes it can be useful to restrict the movement of the 3D scene in one dimension or another. You can lock the movement to either a horizontal or vertical plane using the H or V keys. Note: locking is not allowed in Walk mode.

Vertical Exaggeration

Water Level

Fly Through

Saving a screen capture and editing the background display

Save Image

Selecting this tool will bring up the 3D Screen Capture Options dialog (below), used for saving an image of the 3D view to a JPEG, PNG, TIFF or BMP image format. Additional sizing options are also available.

Show Compass Rose

This option displays a compass on the map. For more settings go to 3D View Properties.

Show 3D Axis

This option displays a 3D Axis out from the center of the map. For more settings go to 3D View Properties.

Drop Down SkyBox Menu

The drop down menu may be used to set a specific sky texture background or to set a solid background (None). The color of the solid background may be specified in the 3D View Properties dialog.

Change Display Properties

This button is used to access the 3D View Properties dialog (below), which contains options to configure the 3D view settings, including the vertical exaggeration, the water display, background color, 3D vector display, as well as the terrain and draped image resolution.

Embed in Main View / Pop out

For more information about windows and map frames see Map View Manager

3D Vector Display - Advanced Discussion and Options

3D vector data is exaggerated along with the terrain so it will align correctly. A bridge going over a gorge with heights of 100m and 110m on either end would not match up with the terrain heights of 100m and 110m if both weren't exaggerated. If relative elevations of 0m and 10m are used, those would end up as 0m and 30m which would still allow the bridge to match up (NOTE: these values assume a vertical exaggeration value of 3.0).

You can provide additional control over how 3D vector features are rendered by providing attributes for those features. The supported attributes are as follows:

3D_EX_HT— the value of this attribute will override the default extrusion height and extrude just that height in meters

3D_ZOFFSET — the value of this attribute allows you to provide an additional offset (in meters) when rendering a 3D vector feature

EXTRUDE — used to extrude 3D areas down to the ground. If an area has the EXTRUDE attribute with a valid boolean value (YES, Y, TRUE, T, or 1 for enabled, NO, N, FALSE, F, or 0 for disabled), that setting will be used in place of the 3D View Options setting to extrude 3D areas down to the ground.