3-D View: Everything You Need To Know


On a topographic map, elevation changes are represented by contour lines. Terrain Navigator Pro gives you an additional way to get a sense of the shape of the terrain: 3-D View. Both topographic maps and aerial photos may be viewed in 3-D.

Using the 3-D View

Entering the 3-D View 

Press the 3-D button, and the area you're viewing will be displayed in 3-D, so that hills and valleys are pictured as actual contours. In 3-D view, you can see the land's rises and dips in relation to each other, which makes it easier to judge relative height. Special controls along the left side of the screen let you view the terrain from any angle, including from above.

You can also enter the 3-D view by opening the View menu and choosing 3-D.

Moving North, South, East and West

Use the Compass Rose in the upper left hand corner to move the 3-D area to the North, South, East, or West. In the thumbnail view (just below the compass rose) the blue box indicates the view area, and a red dot indicates your vantage point as you rotate the image.

Zooming In/Out:

These arrows control how close you are to the landscape. The notation above the arrows tells you the direction in which you are looking. You can choose whether the arrows should move your viewpoint, or move the landscape. Terrain Navigator's default setting is for the arrows to move your viewpoint, which means that if you press the forward-facing arrow, you'll be moved in closer to the landscape. Open the File menu and choose Preferences, 3-D to change the way these arrows work. (For additional information about the 3-D Preferences, please see this knowledge base article.)

Raising/Lowering your Viewpoint:

Drag this sliding lever to adjust the height from which you are viewing the map. The three vehicles give you an idea of the height of your viewpoint.


These arrows let you adjust the angle at which you are viewing the landscape. You have two choices for how these arrows work: they can either move you (your viewpoint), or they can move the landscape. This setting also controls the zoom in/out arrows, above. Click File > Preferences > 3-D to change the way these arrows work.

When you first start Terrain Navigator, the arrows are set to refer to your viewpoint. For example, suppose the map is centered on a summit. To view the summit from the right, click the Right arrow. This will rotate the map, giving the effect that you are moving around the summit, to your right. To view the map from higher up, click the Up arrow.

Each time you click an arrow, the map image shifts slightly. Click the arrows as many times as you need to find the angle you want.

Height Exaggeration Buttons:

Use these buttons to exaggerate the vertical scale of the 3-D display. For example, press the Up arrow to increase the vertical scale, and accentuate height differences in areas that are relatively flat. Or, if you're viewing a particularly mountainous region with deep valleys, you may sometimes want to decrease the vertical scale (with the Down arrow), to make it easier to read map data along steep slopes.

The exaggeration amount is shown on the toolbar at top right corner of your screen (next to the latitude/longitude display). The default setting is 1.5x. This means that the elevations depicted are shown at 1.5 times their actual value. This makes elevation differences easy to distinguish, with minimal distortion.

3-D Glasses/Anaglyph View:
 What's 3-D without 3-D glasses? We could not resist adding this feature, just for fun. Put on red/blue anaglyph 3-D glasses (available here), press the 3-D glasses button (or open the View menu and choose 3-D Glasses View), and enjoy the anaglyph view. (Sorry, map rotation is not possible in 3-D Glasses view. We got dizzy enough just sitting still.)

Adjusting the View

Viewing a Different Area of the Map
In 3-D View, Terrain Navigator shows a portion of the topographic map. To view a different portion of the map, do one of the following:
• Change zoom level (press one of the four zoom level toolbar buttons)
• Change to a different map scale (again, use the toolbar), or
• Use the Map Overview or the Compass Control to move to a different area of the map.

Using Your Cursor to Rotate/Tilt the Map
You can rotate and tilt the map image simply by clicking on it and dragging your cursor in the direction you want the map to turn. To get a sense of how this works, imagine that you are reaching out and taking hold of the map's foreground, and moving it by hand. If you click and drag to the right, the map will rotate counter-clockwise. If you click and drag up, the map's foreground will rise, which brings your viewpoint level down closer to the surface of the terrain.

3-D Landscape Effects
Changing the lighting setting in 3-D Preferences lets you apply different effects to the 3-D display. View the landscape in fog or by moonlight, or replace the map image with a wire frame or white shading to accentuate the relief.

Getting Back to 2-D View

To return to regular 2-D map view, just press the 3-D toggle button again. Alternatively, you can open the View menu and choose 2-D.

3-D Preferences

Open the File menu and choose Preferences, 3-D to configure options for viewing maps in 3-D. For details on each of the configuration options, please see this knowledge base article: 3-D Preferences.

Recording a 3-D Video Clip

You can record an .AVI video file of any 3-D landscape, shown in 360° rotation. You can also record a route video clip, showing the landscape while progressing along the route line. These features can be found by opening the File menu and choosing either Export, Rotation Video Clip, or Export, Route Video Clip.

For detailed instructions and tips, please see this knowledge base article: Recording 3-D Video Clips


Generally speaking, most issues with the 3-D display are due to faulty or outdated video display drivers. For details, please refer to these knowledge base articles:
Why isn't 3-D functioning?
Video and Printer Driver Updates: How to apply them to improve TNP

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