3D PDF Generation

Question: I’d like to be able to generate a 3D pdf from a 3D visualisation I’ve built using 3D Analyst. As far as I can tell it’s not currently possible to export directly to 3D pdf, but is there a “good” way to complete this workflow? (even if it’s using third party software, such as SketchUp, or other tools?)

Answer: First, you need to get your data into ArcScene.  Once you’ve symbolised your data in ArcScene so the model is how you want it to appear you click File > Export Scene > 3D which will create a VRML format file.

You can then enact 3D PDF functionality in one of three ways (all require Adobe Acrobat Pro Extended Edition):

  1. Drag and drop the .VRML file into Adobe Acrobat Pro
  2. Embed a 3D PDF window into a Microsoft Word document
  3. Embed a 3D PDF window into an existing PDF document (e.g. a blank 2D PDF document)

Taking the last option as an example, if you open a blank PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro, choose Multimedia > 3D tool. Draw a bounding box in your PDf document. Browse to the .VRML file in the subsequent dialog box. The 3D model will appear in the embeded 3D window. You can then save the 3D PDF and distribute.

There are also Export to 3D PDF functions in the ArcGIS Data Interoperability extension so you can create 3D PDFs directly from ArcGIS.

Formerly a Mapping Center Ask a Cartographer  Q & A.

About the author

Dr. Aileen Buckley is a cartographer who’s been at Esri since 2003. She finds and shares best practices for mapping and analysis with ArcGIS, which leads her to publish widely and present world-wide.


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