Creating a Surface from a Point Cloud in Civil

14 March 2016All, Architecture and Engineering, Construction


Creating a Surface from a Point Cloud in Civil

As I talk to more and more clients and we begin the discussion of LIDAR data and how to use it in Civil 3D it is evident that some folks have missed the message on how to import LIDAR point cloud data into Civil 3D. This has been possible in Civil 3D for sometime now but it has been either underused or ignored altogether. Here’s the process. . .
In a new drawing, in the Settings tab, right click on the drawing name, and select Edit Drawing Settings:

In the Units and Zones tab set the coordinate system of the drawing:

In the Prospector tab, right click on point clouds, and select Create Point Cloud:

Give your point cloud a name and assign it a style.  I like the LIDAR Point Classification style because if the LIDAR data is collected properly you will see a color assigned to the points based on their code:

Select your format (in this case LAS).  Hit the plus symbol to import the LAS file then use the ellipse button to assign the coordinate system to the file. You can add more than one LAS file if you choose, but understand the more you add the longer it takes to process.  VERY IMPORTANT – specify where you want this point cloud database to be saved or it will place it in a bogus folder (I believe it’s MyDocuments):

You will then see this (click Close):

After some time (maybe a few minutes) you’ll see this (click the blue text):

Here is your point cloud:

But I only want to see the ground data.  This is why I chose the LIDAR Point Classification style earlier.  In the Prospector tab, select the point cloud, right-click, and select Edit Point Cloud Style:


Uncheck everything except the 2Ground classification:


Your point cloud will now look like this:


Now create a surface.  In the Prospector tab, right click on Surfaces, and select Create Surface:


Set your name and style:


In the Prospector tab, right click on the point cloud you created earlier and select Add Points to Surface:


In the box that appears set it to add the points to an existing surface and verify the name of the surface:


In the next box set the area which you want the surface to be created:

You will now see your surface on top of your point cloud:

Now you don’t need to see the point cloud anymore.  In the Prospector tab, right click on the point cloud name and select Point Cloud Properties:

Set the point cloud style to _No Display:

You are left with only your surface:

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