Can I import USGS data into HDPro


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The USGS provide GIS files and LAZ.  The .laz format is preferred since it has more precision.  The USGS guy that I spoked to scoffed at the formats I described that I could find in the import menu.  Evidently the TIFF files that they provide also has elevation data in it.


I'm on a dead line the County I live in requires a rendition of the house on the property and without the 3d model of the terrain I can't even start the project.

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You should be able to start the house plan and draw the landscape afterwards. Do you have a plot plan that was done by a land surveyor? If it's in pdf format, you can import it into the plan. If the house is drawn on it, use the tool to set the scale from known dimensions. You'll want to make sure the structure is drawn square to the screen and you can rotate the pdf to align. Once that's done, you can draw your topography from the info on the plot plan. 

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You will have to preprocess using a GIS package.


I use QGIS (, a free and open source alternative to the costly but capable industry-standard ArcGis. It has a bit of a learning curve, but no worse than HD Pro! (I'm biased, I admit. I'm one of the many QGIS contributor-developers.)


It can read and display the elevation data that you have as a raster TIFF file, it seems. You can then "geoprocess" using one of the included algorithms into a vector layer of contours, at the desired intervals (e.g. one foot) and with some amount of smoothing. Then export the contours from QGIS as a DXF file, that you then import into HDPro. See for one wrinkle to deal with.


If you do have a printed or pdf surveyor's plan with contour lines, you'll probably find it easier to import it as an image straight into HD Pro and selectively trace over it there, bypassing GIS and tracing just enough lines carefully enough to get a faithful-enough representation of the terrain in your 3D models. You can then decide whether for your submission documents you will show the elevation data layer (your traced lines), the primary contour layer (HD's interpolated terrain contours implied by your traced lines), or the underlying PDF along with your house footprint. The GIS solution I describe above is in the case that, as seems to be your situation, you have the elevation data from a government agency in digital format instead. It tends to generate way overkill in terms of information needed in HD Pro for the actual terrain modeling, but it gets the job done. 


Editing to add:

If you want a quick'n'dirty solution, 1) import the TIFF elevation data into QGIS, 2) use the contour raster renderer to display it on-screen as contours (rather than geoprocess to an actual contour vector layer), 3) screen print the QGIS mapping canvas with the contours and turn it into a PDF, 4) import and scale this PDF as needed into HD Pro, 5) trace over important contour lines with HD Pro elevation lines as if you had a PDF of a surveyor's plan instead. Personally I think it's worth doing "properly" as I described above, but this will bypass some of the QGIS learning curve in geoprocessing and DXF exporting as the expense of a bit more manual work tracing over the contour lines. 


Edited by Houska
add quick'n'dirty
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  • 3 weeks later...

TY guys... I ended up doing the following:

  1. Went to Google Earth
  2. Found the property
  3. Created marks on the property (~10k)
    1. A single line in straight lines (took about 5m to 10m)
  4. Output that data as KML from Google Earth
  5. Gave that to a friend who had qGIS
  6. He gave me a GPX file with Elevation Data
  7. I then had to import it several times.  
    1. HD Pro added some extraneous data not in the GPX data
    2. Adding a terrain border at the same angle as the property seamed to solve that issue.
  8. Rotated the property so the front was down
  9. Generated the model

It seams fairly accurate but not sure until I get more of this project completed.

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Happy it worked for you, and thanks for reporting back here. As digital GIS data proliferates, questions on how to import it come up here more frequently. All workflows that worked will be helpful to someone.


Personally, I'd have used QGIS to export the elevation data as contours, or a grid of points, in DXF format rather than GPS format. But if it works, it works, especially when on a deadline!

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