June 11, 2024

Visualizing 3D Data in Global Mapper: 3D Viewer

Written by: Mackenzie Mills


Global Mapper’s 3D Viewer is the star of the show for viewing and visually exploring data in 3D. Displaying multiple 3D layers together, and even draping imagery over raster terrain layers, the 3D Viewer provides a full and interactive scene of the data loaded. While some of the visualization options available in the 2D view, like hill shading, display in the 3D view as well, there are many additional options specific to data rendering in the 3D Viewer.

See also: 

Visualizing 3D Data in Global Mapper: 2D View

Visual Vertical Scaling

In some datasets the level of elevation change is small, or when viewing data for a large area, the vertical change does not look as pronounced in 3D as is desired. The vertical scale of the 3D data for visualization in Global Mapper’s 3D Viewer can be increased or decreased using a vertical exaggeration factor.

Vertical exaggeration settings in global mapper 3D view
Found in Configuration and the 3D Viewer toolbar, adjusting the vertical exaggeration in the 3D view emphasizes changes in elevation.

Vertical exaggeration set in Global Mapper’s Configuration options for the 3D Viewer does not alter the Z values in the data but is used purely for visualization of the data in this viewer. Increasing the vertical exaggeration makes the elevation changes in the displayed data more pronounced by stretching the data vertically. This is especially helpful when viewing data with smaller or more subtle elevation changes.

Eye Dome Lighting

While point cloud layers in Global Mapper can be colored by elevation, classification, or a myriad of different attributes, the data often needs some lighting enhancement in the 3D viewer to better show the depth of field from an oblique perspective. Eye dome lighting provides this visual enhancement to point cloud and terrain data in the 3D viewer as it shows a subtle outline on the edges of the displayed features to better show depth in the 3D viewer. This lighting effect is enabled in the 3D Viewer Configuration settings, and the intensity of the eye dome lighting can be adjusted to provide you with an ideal level of depth detail.

Feature Info

In Global Mapper v25 the Feature Information tool was extended for vector features in the program’s 3D Viewer. Enabled with the Feature Info button on the 3D View window toolbar, this tool allows vector points, lines, polygons, and point cloud returns to be selected in 3D and displays the feature information just as with the 2D view Feature Info tool. 

Feature info tool in Global Mapper's 3D View
A feature selected with the Feature Info tool in the 3D shows the same information window as the tool activated in the 2D view.

The Feature Info tool in Global Mapper’s 3D Viewer is especially useful for exploring overlapping 3D vector features or returns in a point cloud. Being able to adjust an oblique view of the data and specifically select a feature for which to display information provides better access to some 3D features when compared to the top-down, 2D perspective. 

With 2D, 3D, and cross-sectional data viewing available in Global Mapper, any 3D data loaded into a workspace can be completely and thoroughly explored. Within these views, edits can be made to various data types using the Digitizer or Terrain Painting tools. To view your 3D data in Global Mapper with all the tools and options mentioned in this blog, download a 14-day free trial today!

Companies using Blue Marble’s geospatial technology