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Quick lesson: Create a scene

Using 3D technology to extend your 2D maps allows you to present your information in a more realistic manner. In this lesson, you'll experience the power of 3D for yourself. You will assume the role of the director of the Parks and Recreation department for Portland, Oregon. You are presenting an urban tree management plan to the city council for approval. One of your responsibilities is urban tree management for the city. Trees are vital to an urban environment as they, among other things, provide needed shade for pedestrians during hot, sunny days and minimize water runoff during heavy rainfall.

Your department has collected tree data with location and height attributes of each tree in the city. Using this data, you will present a comprehensive plan to the city council outlining your department’s vision for urban tree management. Unfortunately, you don't have 3D models of the trees. However, you recently learned that you can use Scene Viewer to convert your 2D tree data into realistic-looking 3D trees highlighting the spatial relationships between the trees and urban elements, such as buildings. Re-creating the trees, buildings, and streets of Portland in 3D in Scene Viewer will help the city council understand current urban conditions and make more informed decisions. Throughout this scenario, you'll be guided through the following skills: creating a new scene, adding data to a scene, changing symbols with 3D styles, capturing slides, and saving the scene. This lesson is designed for beginners—anyone who is new to ArcGIS Online, GIS, or 3D. Estimated time: 20 minutes.

View the finished scene

Search for Portland, OR

To create the scene, you'll need to sign in and search for Portland, Oregon, as described in the following steps:

  1. Go to https://www.argis.com and sign in.
    Note:

    If you haven't joined an organization and don't yet have an account, you can sign up for a free trial or create a free ArcGIS Public Account.

  2. Once you're signed in, click Scene at the top of the site to open Scene Viewer.
  3. Click New Scene in the gallery.

    A new scene opens.

  4. Zoom with the navigation controls or use your mouse wheel. You can also navigate the scene using the mouse buttons to pan and rotate.

    Next, you'll refocus the scene to the location you want.

  5. Click the Search button Search. In the Search box, type Portland, Oregon and press Enter.

    Scene zoomed to Portland, Oregon, with Search result pop-up

    The scene zooms in to Portland, Oregon.

Add a 2D data layer to a new scene

The 2D tree data that your team collected for downtown Portland is critical for planning and visualization because it contains the tree location and attributes such as species, plant date, and tree height. Your team shared the data as a point feature layer in ArcGIS Online, so it is ready to add to your scene. You'll add the data as a new layer to the scene. As you move around your Portland scene, you will start to see how your 2D points interact with the 3D terrain.

  1. If necessary, click the Modify scene button Modify scene to open the Designer pane.
  2. ClickAdd Layers Add Layers .
  3. In the Add Layers pane, copy and paste PortlandTrees owner:ArcGISOnlineExercises into the search box.

    This search phrase ensures that you'll find the correct layer for this lesson.

  4. Press Enter or click the Search button Search.

    Add Layers pane with search result for PortlandTrees

    The search results appear in the Content list.

  5. Click the Add button Add next to PortlandTrees.

    Scene with 2D points representing trees

    The tree layer is added to the scene as 2D points. Scene Viewer automatically zooms to the extent of the layer.

  6. Click Done.

Change your 2D points to 3D objects

You can use the tree layer attributes to turn the points into authentic-looking trees with real-world heights. You will configure the tree layer with 3D symbols that use real-world heights and are colored by tree type to gain a better understanding of tree patterns and behavior in an urban setting.

  1. Pan and rotate the scene to explore the PortlandTrees layer.
  2. In the Designer pane, click PortlandTrees to configure the layer.
  3. For Choose the main attribute to visualize, choose Common to style your trees by the common tree type name.

    Note:
    If you choose a numeric attribute from the list, you can style the trees more thematically with the Counts and Amounts 3D style that uses proportional symbols and color.

  4. For Choose a drawing style, click Select to change the selected style to 3D Types and apply it to the scene.

    Configure Layer pane with the main attribute set to Common and the drawing style set to 3D Types

  5. Zoom in and rotate the scene to observe your changes.

    Scene and legend with 3D cones representing tree types

    The 2D circles changed to default 3D cones representing Portland's trees. These are 3D object symbols with real-world dimensions.

Next, you'll change these 3D cones to custom tree symbols that can be visualized in Scene Viewer.

Change symbols to trees

To change the cones to custom tree symbols, complete the following steps:

  1. In the Configure Layer pane, click Options to open and modify the 3D Types style.
  2. Click select all at the top of the list of common tree types.

    For the purposes of this lesson, you'll apply a single tree style to all the common tree types. With the 3D Types style, you can give each tree type a unique tree style, if you have time.

  3. Click Symbol.

    Style section with all tree types selected and a green square around the Symbol button

  4. In the window that appears, change the symbol category from Basic Shapes to Vegetation.

    The symbol options change to a wide variety of tree styles.

  5. Click the American Chestnut symbol (the third tree in the first row).

    Vegetation symbols with American Chestnut selected

  6. Click Done.

    Symbols changed to trees

    The cones have changed to realistic trees.

  7. Click Color and apply the third color palette with the lighter colors.

    Next, you’ll apply real-world heights to the trees to make your trees more authentically reflect the urban condition in downtown Portland.

  8. Scroll down to the All symbols section. For Size, choose Crown_Height.

    The tree data that your team collected has tree height values in feet, and the dimension units for the scene need to match.

  9. If necessary, change the unit to ft. Leave all other settings unchanged. Zoom to the trees and navigate the scene again.

    All symbols section showing Size setting and scene with updated tree symbols

    The color and size of the trees have changed.

  10. Click Done twice to return to the Designer pane.

Add an additional layer with transparency

The last layer you will add to your scene to give it context will contain 3D models of downtown buildings in Portland. After you add the buildings, you will see the trees with actual heights and their spatial relationship to the buildings, which give a realistic representation of the Portland urban environment.

  1. Click Add Layers Add Layers and search for PortlandBuildings owner:ArcGISOnlineExercises.
  2. Click the Add button Add next to PortlandBuildings and click Done.
  3. Navigate around the scene. Zoom out some so you can see more trees and buildings in the city.

    Buildings added to the scene

    With the buildings added, you may notice that it is more difficult to see the trees among the buildings. You'll add a transparency to the buildings so the trees are more visible and easier for your audience to identify.

  4. In the Designer pane, click PortlandBuildings to configure the layer.
  5. For Choose the main attribute to visualize, leave the setting to none.
  6. Click Options to modify the selected Color style.
  7. In the Transparency section, set the transparency to 50 percent so you can see the trees.

    Scene updated with transparent buildings

  8. Click Done twice to return to the Designer pane.

Capture a slide

When presenting your plan to the city, you want to present your ideas in such a way that council members can quickly understand and grasp the key concepts needed to drive decision making. Use scene slides to focus your story and intuitively guide viewers through highlights of your scene. Slides are like bookmarks and allow you to quickly navigate to important points of your scene that indicate where tree landscaping is sufficient and perhaps where more tree planting is needed.

  1. Zoom, pan, and rotate the camera to show the viewpoint and extent you want to capture. Find an area where there are a lot of trees.
  2. Click Slides.
  3. In the Slides pane, click + Capture Slide.

    Slides pane with new Slide 1 and scene with slide gallery below showing the slide thumbnail

    The slide is added to the Slides pane with a thumbnail and a default name. The slide also appears below the scene when you point to the scene.

  4. Note:

    If you don't like the way a slide looks, you can click the Remove Slide button Remove Slide to delete it. Additionally, you can navigate to a new extent and click the Update Slide button Update Slide to change the slide.

  5. Click Slide 1 and rename it TreeSidewalk.
  6. Zoom and find a pedestrian area along the waterfront that could use additional trees for shade cover.
  7. Click Capture Slide.
  8. Rename the slide Waterfront.

    Slides pane with two renamed slides

  9. Click Done.

Save the scene

Now you can save the scene to share with others in your department or members of the city council. Furthermore, in the future, you could also embed the scene in your department's website and create a 3D web app or story map to share with the public.

  1. Before you save the scene, adjust the scene to the viewpoint you want for the thumbnail of the scene.
  2. Click Save Scene.

    Thumbnail example in the Save Scene window

    If you don't like the thumbnail, you can capture a different viewpoint.

  3. Provide a title, summary, and tags, and click Save.

    Your scene is saved and is ready to be shared with others.

Next steps

Using Scene Viewer, in less than 20 minutes, you've taken 2D tree data with location and tree heights, applied a few configure layer options, and created a compelling 3D visualization of the urban tree environment for Portland, Oregon. Viewers can use this scene to make informed decisions about urban tree management issues, such as where there are enough trees and, alternatively, where additional tree planting is needed.

To find more scenario-based lessons, browse Learn ArcGIS. To start, try Get Started with Scene Viewer. You can also visit The ArcGIS Book and The ArcGIS Imagery Book websites.

You can also explore ArcGIS Online on your own and discover what else is possible. A few ideas are listed below. Some require an organizational account with publishing or administrative privileges and may consume credits.