Applicable plans
Valley Ridge Peak

One of the primary uses of Virtual Surveyor is to create lightweight CAD models. Creating a lightweight TIN Surface from your elevation terrain can be seen as a first step in many surveying workflows. Within Virtual Surveyor a surface enables you to calculate volumes, display contour lines and create Cut/Fill maps. Of course, it is also possible to export your 3D surface to a common format for usage in other CAD software.


  1. Import your drone survey.
  2. Clean the dataset.
  3. Create a clean boundary.
  4. Create a Q-points survey.
  5. QA / QC the Q-points survey.
  6. In the HOME tab, click Triangulate All (3D).
  7. Check and edit your surface.
  8. Display contour lines.
  9. Export the surface.

Import data

Drag and drop your drone survey dataset (Orthophoto + DSM)  into the project view to create a Terrain State. If you have more than one drone survey of the same area use the Terrain State feature to manage these (Peak version user only).

Clean data

Use the Replace Terrain and Remove Object tools to erase all the machines and other unexpected objects from your dataset. Make sure that the elevation terrain matches the surface you want to survey.

Note: Cleaning is useful for getting good results using Q-points in the next step.

Survey items

Create a boundary to define the area where you want to create the surface. Use the Boundary tool available in the HOME tab. Drape that boundary onto the elevation model. Select the boundary, go to the SELECTION-TOOLS tab and click Densify.

Create survey points within the boundary. Use the Q-Points feature available in the HOME tab.

Check the created points and remove erroneous points.

Surface Triangulation

Select the boundary. In the HOME tab, go to the Toposurface group. Set the triangulation method as 3D and click Triangulate Within. The TIN surface is created.

Some TIN segments may need to be removed. Use the Remove Triangles tool available in the TOOLS tab to clean the surface.

The surface creation can be seen as an iterative process. If you are not satisfied with the surface model, delete it, add more survey items and relaunch the triangulation. 

Surface visualization

By default, surfaces display as TIN. Nevertheless, you can hide the triangles and show the contours. You can also change the styling using the surface style settings in the TOOLS tab.

Surface export

If you want to use your surface in a another software, export the surface as a .dxf, .xml or .shp file. Export feature works with the concept "what you see is what you get". Whatever contour lines and/or survey items are displayed or active, they are exported together with the TIN surface.   

Tips & tricks

  • If you want to model a simple surface only defined by its boundary, you can use the Quick Surface tool available in the HOME tab. 
  • If survey specifications only require a line survey, take a look to this article.