How to convert flat contours into terrain automatically?

Hi all,

I have contour map with topographical lines, each line representing 5m vertical increment. There is over a hundred of lines, I would like to avoid shifting each individual one as much as possible. Is there a one-click solution to to arrange them vertically?

Alternatively if I closed the space between all the lines creating surfaces, is there an extension that would allow to extrude them by fixed increments with one click?

Any suggestions and help would be much appreciated!


I think that without some additional metadata the situation is basically ambiguous and so no fully automated tool can solve it reliably. Consider the attached contours. Do they depict two hills, two depressions, or one hill and one depression? Without labelling the contours it is impossible to tell.

Hi slbaumgartner,

Thank you for your answer. Yes you are absolutely right, in the example you provided there is no way to tell what is what.

I am in a slightly more fortunate position. The terrain I need to model is around a river, and as far as I can tell each line away from the river represents an increment upwards.

Here’s a simplistic version, using weld, pushpull and move, then some erasing to tidy up…

Get my weld from here:



I like the idea of a measuring stick. Unfortunately my increments are 5m and the whole map covers few square kilometres, so when I zoom out I won’t be able to see much on the stick… Good idea though!

Most 3D topographic maps that I’ve seen are vastly exaggerated in the Z direction. Perhaps, make your “measuring stick” in 50M increments, and treat each real world 5M contour line as 50M in the model. That should make it easier to work with.

Once done, if you want to eliminate the exaggeration, select the entire model and scale the Z direction by .1.

And if 50M isn’t enough, go to 100M and scale by .05, or 200M and scale by .026 - you get the idea!

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You don’t have to use a measuring stick…
PushPull the first contour face by 5m up.
Then double-click on the next contour face twice - the previous PushPull value is remembered so that move up 5m x 2 = 10m and so on…
Obviously there’s a sanity limit to double-clicking repeats, but you get the idea…

Steve, TIG,

Both great suggestions. I didn’t know about the trick with the double-click. Then again, like you said - once I get over 50m height and it takes me 10 double clicks just for one section, I think I will die :slight_smile:

Larger increments and re-scaling sounds good to me though, if there is no other option available, I think I’ll give it a try!

There’s a plugin called “Stepped Extrude” which speeds up the double click push pull for this task…


With it as a simple install RBZ here

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Oh boy. I got so excited about this one! Unfortunately it seems to increase the step levels indefinitely… So lets say I have increments of 5m and two peaks on the hill. I go step 11, 12, 13 on the first peak, and I want to repeat them on the second peak, but it’s already on step 14 and increases the first layer by 20m rather than 5m. Any way to manually overwrite the step levels?

Haven’t tested it, but don’t a restart of the plugin (shortcut?!) do this?

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Aha! It does! It resets it to zero, but that’s not a problem, since I can pull using standard tool to required height, and then continue the operation from there, brilliant! I just need to test that welding plugin made by TIG, because by contours go crazy when I close them, and I should be ready to go. Thank you very much good peoples!

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Thank you all for tips and suggestions. What seemed like a daunting task, turned out to be quite painless thanks to you!


Phew !
That was more complex than I envisaged…
BUT you did it.
Well done…


Well, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without your and others’ help so thank you once again and I will be back soon with more questions :wink:


Probably to late in the conversation but this was just published in the EWH. It only works in stepping all Up or Down but not both.




Hi Chris,

Apologies, I was without an access to internet for few days. I have created my terrain now, but I’m sure it will be useful in the future if I ever need to do it again. Many thanks!

This whole page was a very fun read.
Thank you all for participating. Very cool stuff here.

Hi Guys… sitting with a similar situation. Two quick questions about the process.

  1. Did you have to weld your contour lines first?
  2. I’ve downloaded the two extensions (weld plus StepEx) What is the process for StepEx? - I set the contour height to 5m intervals but how do you end the task and have the contours retain the newly assigned height? Capture

I’ve uploaded an image of the site in question, it is also quite large and detailed.

Thanks in advance for any assistance.