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Site model from topo data


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Hi all,


Does anyone know if it's possible to create a site model from the topo data I have, all of the tutorials I have watched have had contours across the whole document, mine doesn't appear to have as many. I may well be reading it wrong, as it's the first time i've tried to do this. The document does contain plenty of elevation info as text and 2d shape but there doesn't appear to be any contour lines throughout the entire document as I've seen with others. The only contour lines is has are for either side of the 'track', top/bottom edges and the dry stone walls surrounding. I've attached a series of images of parts of the topo to give an overview.



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It looks like you need to do some pre-processing to get this to work.  Note, I am not a DTM (Digital Terrain Model) expert, so others may give you much better information.


In my understanding, it does not look like the drawing you have has data in a format that the DTM can use.  It appears to have the information you need, but not in the right format.


The little crosses are locus points, but they are 2D.  Next to each locus point is a block of text that appears to be the elevation at that point.


What you need are 3D locus points with the Z position of the locus set to the value of the text. 


If you can, I would go back to whoever generated the drawing and ask for a spreadhsheet of the locations with X/Y/Z coordinates. There is a command to import this data and generate 3D loci that can then be used to make a DTM.


The alternative is a long day of manually placing a 3D loci at the point of each 2D loci and manually changing the Z Value. I recommend you do this on a separate layer with Show/Snap layer options.


I thought there was a script at one time that tried to look at local text and apply that as a Z value, but I can't find it.


Good Luck.

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It is by dint of having files such as this one that I have created a "Marionette" network to transform the altitude texts into 3D points that can be used to create a DTM.
First, the elevation texts must be in the same class and cleaned up a bit.  After the creation of the terrain you may still have to remove some unnecessary points such as cornice heights, house walls, etc.

Here is the link to try :



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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Hi @burgcj,

You can certainly place stake objects manually if there aren't too many but if you want more of an automated way you could use a marionette script as @Nico_besuggested. It looks like you have an object representing a spot elevation (x) and a text value next to it. The following Marionette is quite valuable to automatically place a 3d loci on the (x) marker and use the text value for it's "z" parameter.



  1. Use "Test Proximity" to make sure the text value is pointing to the right marker (x)
  2. Use "Text to 3D Loci" for placing a 3d loci on the marker (x). The "z" value will automatically use the text value pointing to it.


I covered this in a webinar https://university.vectorworks.net/course/view.php?id=2434  you can fast-forward to 22:30


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Hi all,


Sorry for the delayed reply, I've been occupied with drawing bridal gates and stiles before I can get back to this model!


All of the info/options you've provided look spot on, I'll have a look through all of the various links and also try to go back to the topo contractor for the spreadsheet of info as I'd like to try both methods if I can.


In case anyone is interested, the topo data is of a Byway (BW) which i'm tasked with repairing/ resurfacing and installing sufficient drainage (working with drainage team) to mitigate the water erosion and damaged caused by 4x4 vehicles. I've floated the idea of bringing the levels back up on the BW to a similar gradient as the natural slope of the hillside to allow the water to run off in the direction it would have prior to someone bench cutting a big track down the middle of it.


Thanks again for all of the great advice, i'm sure i'll be back with another question regarding 3D modelling existing terrain and layering proposed improvements clearly.



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This is what i'm getting, you can just about make out the track that cuts through the land. most of the data is supposed to represent drystone walls and verges that i'm not quite getting.


I ran the data validation and removed duplicate points. It seems to want me to have my lower elevation set at 0.


Not sure why i'm getting the spikes in the bottom left either!


Any help would be greatly apprecaited. Happy to attach a file

Terrain snip.png

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Also you might want to add some of your own points around the perimeter to fill in the gaps where the survey data is absent, so that the site model isn't spanning the outermost points + creating unnaturally stretched areas between them (probably could be explaining this better).

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