Find the new elevation range in a heightmap after the terrain is aligned to shapes

Last Published: April 25, 2020


In Esri CityEngine, a terrain is defined by a heightmap, basically as a black/white picture file. The minimum and maximum values correspond to specific heights, for example, 0 (black pixels) to 250 (white pixels) meters above sea level.For the design process, CityEngine has the ability to align a terrain to shapes to make the terrain follow the 'curvature' of the design. The difference is saved in a 'delta' picture that is stored in the data folder.Due to this adaptation, it may happen that the minimum and maximum values of the terrain may shift. Thus, after the adapted terrain has been exported to a bitmap using the corresponding terrain export option, the user may wonder what the new range actually is.


Since CityEngine version 2010.3, this new range is written into the 'metadata' of the exported .png terrain file. Metadata are additional text entries in the picture file which can be accessed by third-party solutions such as Image Metadata Viewer.

  • CityEngine 2010.3: An easy way to find that metadata in 2010.3 is to use the Image Metadata Viewer. Browse to the terrain.png file on your hard drive and read the extracted metadata as text to find the new minimum and maximum values. The new terrain is usually created in subfolder of the data folder of the current project. The file is only created when the scene file is saved. The subfolder is named the same as the scene file.
  • CityEngine 2011 and newer releases: Finding the range is easy. Simply drag and drop the new terrain picture into an open scene's viewport. This opens the import terrain dialog, which also shows the range.

Article ID:000011363

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