The Visual Computer

, Volume 32, Issue 10, pp 1293–1309 | Cite as

Interactive 3D content modeling for Digital Earth

  • Faramarz SamavatiEmail author
  • Adam Runions
Original Article


Digital Earth is a global reference model for integrating, processing and visualizing geospatial datasets. In this reference model, various data-types, including Digital Elevation Models (DEM) and imagery (orthophotos), are universally and openly available for the entire globe. However, 3D content such as detailed terrains with features, man-made structures, 3D water bodies and 3D vegetation are not commonly available in Digital Earth. In this paper, we present an interactive system for the rapid creation and integration of these types of 3D content to augment Digital Earth. The inputs to our system include available data sources, such as DEM and imagery information depicting landscapes and urban environments. The proposed system employs sketch-based and image-assisted tools to support interactive creation of textured 3D content. For adding terrain features visible in orthophotos, and also the basin of water bodies, we use a multiscale least square surface fitting to generate an adaptive triangular subdivision. For modeling forests and vegetation, we use image-based techniques and take advantage of visible regions and colors of forests in orthophotos. For 3D man-made structures, starting from a single photograph, we provide a simple image-assisted sketching tool to extract these objects, correct for perspective distortion and place them into desired locations.


Digital Earth Computer graphics Interactive modeling Sketch-based modeling Subdivision surfaces Image-based modeling 



We would like to deeply thank Kaveh Ketabchi for his numerous contributions to this paper. This work was supported in part by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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