Tip #114: Creating Contour Lines Over a Surface

By Erin Johnson posted 06-26-2020 08:04


Good morning TBC’ers! Have you ever created a surface and wished you were able to easily visualize the topography and elevation differences within it? Well today I will be demonstrating how to create surface contour lines that include elevation labels and colors. 


Once you have a surface created in your Plan View or 3D View, navigate to the Create Contours tool under the Surfaces Ribbon:

With the Create Contours command pane opened, select the surface you wish to add contours to from the Surface drop-down list. Enter a value for the vertical distance between contours in the Contour Interval field. The estimated number of contours appears under the Surface Information heading at the very bottom of the Create Contours command pane. Next, enter a value for the spacing of index contours in the Index Frequency box. Index contours are the major contours, while other contours are the minor contours.

To add elevation labels and colors, first choose a layer on which to place the contour object in the Layer list. You can then select a display color for the minor contours in the Color drop-down list, as well as a thickness for the minor contours in the Contour line weight drop-down list . Then you can select a color for the major contours in the Index contour color drop-down list, and set a thickness for the major contours in the Index contour line weight drop-down list. 

You  also have the option of checking the Color contours by elevation and Smooth contours check boxes. You can check the Color contours by elevation check box to override specified contour and index contour colors. You can check the Smooth contours check box box to round contours at each vertex. (For this demonstration, I chose to color my contours by elevation and to smooth my contours.) 

Lastly, confirm the style of your contour labels by designating your Text style and Distance between labels. To add additional elevation labels at the extents of the contours, check the Label ends of contours check box. 


With your input settings complete, you can click OK to display the contour lines and labels in the Plan View or 3D View. The following is my example of the resulting contour lines and labels from a top-down point of view in the Plane View:

Alternatively, here are the contour lines and labels displayed over the surface in the 3D View:


I hope this tip comes in handy next time you are working with surfaces in TBC!