Importing terrain contours from external sources

For the most part, when I’m modelling houses for clients, I have access to the terrain survey data in either geodetic points or contour lines which I can easily convert to terrain using Toposhaper. However when I don’t have this this data, things get painful and I’m hoping someone with more experience has a solution.

Currently, my workflow is as follows:

  1. Go to my local GIS Map, turn on contours
  2. Use the windows snipping tool to get the image
  3. Import into Sketchup and manually trace every contour line
  4. Manually place each contour to the correct height.

This is extremely time consuming and never as accurate as the original contour map. I have tried using CorelTrace and other vector conversion tools to generate a vector version of the image with unsatisfactory results.

I assume the data in GIS was vector to begin with - is there any way to bring that directly into Sketchup? Even if I could bring the lines in on a flat plane would be a huge improvement - it’s the tracing that’s driving me nuts.

For reference, I am using for GIS data. Navigating into their services directory I find this: I am able to save a kmz file but Sketchup will not import it and I do not have access to ArcGIS software.

Any help would be appreciated.

Yes, draw a rectangle around your study area, turn on Contours in the layers panel Export that to area to Shapefile.

Shapefile (SHP) is a 3d vector format, similar to DWG.

But SHP can’t be imported to Sketchup so you’ll first need to convert it to DWG (or3DS, or DAE) using a 3rd-party tool.

You should be able to import aerial photos and all other map layers in this way.

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