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Create 3D meshes and point clouds from imagery

A 3D mesh, also known as a reality mesh or integrated mesh, is a detailed geospatially accurate 3D model of a project area in which the ground and above-ground feature facades are densely and accurately reconstructed. A point cloud is a collection of dense spatial points that are represented as x,y, and z-coordinates with additional attribute information. 3D meshes and point clouds are typically generated by processing large sets of high-resolution images to create realistic 3D reconstructions of the world that can be explored and analyzed from any perspective. Point clouds can also be collected using terrestrial lidar or airborne lidar.

Use 3D meshes and point clouds to support a variety of applications, such as urban planning, construction and engineering, environmental monitoring, and disaster response. The high level-of-detail and accuracy in a reality mesh can provide insights into the physical characteristics of a location or object that might be difficult to discern from 2D imagery or traditional surveying methods. Use point clouds to generate new content such as elevation surfaces and 3D models of features like buildings, trees, bridge surfaces, and powerlines. You can combine 3D meshes and point clouds with other geospatial data, such as maps or sensor data, to create even more detailed and informative 3D models of real-world environments.

Create 3D meshes and point clouds in ArcGIS through a family of products, called ArcGIS Reality Suite. This is a suite of photogrammetry software products designed to enable reality capture workflows for sites, cities, and countries, leveraging drone and aerial imagery.


The first step in creating 3D meshes and point clouds is to acquire the imagery data. You can use drones and aerial imagery as input. Using drones, you can plan and run your flight path first using Site Scan for ArcGIS or ArcGIS Drone2Map. The next step is to align and process the images into a high-quality 3D mesh and point cloud which you can share with your organization and clients as an integrated mesh scene layer and point cloud scene layer.

If you have already captured aerial imagery at city or country scale, use ArcGIS Reality Studio. If you are working within an existing GIS workflow, use ArcGIS Reality for ArcGIS Pro.


ArcGIS Reality Suite consists of several products that support reality mapping. Consider using Site Scan for ArcGIS or ArcGIS Drone2Map if you are capturing your own imagery using drones. Large scale aerial imagery collected by multiple crewed flights and multi-head cameras are processed with ArcGIS Reality Studio or ArcGIS Reality for ArcGIS Pro.

Required software

ArcGIS Reality Suite is a family of products for site, city, and countrywide reality mapping. If you are using drones, you will need Site Scan for ArcGIS or ArcGIS Drone2Map. ArcGIS Reality Studio is a scalable stand-alone application for processing aerial imagery at city- and country-wide scale. ArcGIS Reality for ArcGIS Pro brings reality mapping to ArcGIS Pro. Once the results are generated, you need an ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise publisher account to publish your 3D meshes and point clouds.

Explore the following resources to learn more about creating 3D meshes and point clouds.

ArcGIS help documentation

Reference material for ArcGIS products:

ArcGIS blogs, articles, stories and technical papers

Supplemental guidance about concepts, software functionality, and workflows:


Esri-produced videos that clarify and demonstrate concepts, software functionality, and workflows:


Guided, hands-on lessons based on real-world problems:

Esri training

Authoritative learning resources focusing on key ArcGIS skills:

Esri community

Online places for the Esri community to connect, collaborate, and share experiences: