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How To: Create TIN triangles from contour lines

Summary

Triangulated irregular networks (TIN) are a form of vector-based digital geographic data constructed by triangulating a set of vertices. The connection of the vertices with a series of edges forms a network of triangles. TIN surfaces can be created from vector data, raster data, and terrain datasets.

The instructions provided describe how to create TIN triangles from contour lines.

Procedure

Note:
A 3D Analyst license is required to use the tools mentioned in the instructions below.

  1. In the Catalog window, open the Create TIN tool by navigating to Toolboxes > System Toolboxes > 3D Analyst toolbox > Data Management > TIN > Create TIN.
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  2. Ensure the data being created are aligned. Select the appropriate coordinate system by clicking the button next to the Coordinate System text box.
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  3. Select the contour layer as the Input Feature Class.
  4. Select the field containing the elevation values for the Height Field.
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  5. Select Mass_Points for the SF Type.
  6. Check the Constrained Delauney check box, and click OK.
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    The TIN data is displayed in the map.

    Note:
    By using the constrained Delauney triangulation, the breaklines are not densified, and each breakline segment is added as a single edge.

  7. In the Catalog window, open the TIN Triangle tool by navigating to Toolboxes > System Toolboxes > 3D Analyst Tools > Conversion > From TIN > TIN Triangle.
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  8. Click the Input TIN drop-down arrow, and select a TIN layer as the input. Click OK. The TIN triangles are displayed in the map.
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