Work with static models

A static model is any geometrical model imported as is, without modification by CGA rules, textures, or individual vertices within CityEngine. Static models can be moved, scaled, and rotated, but the geometry and the textures cannot be edited. This makes static models a good choice for landmark or hero buildings in a scene.

  • Since it isn't possible to apply CGA rules to static models use shapes instead. Static models are imported from formats such as OBJ, DAE, FBX, glTF, USD, and KMZ/KML.
  • After importing, static models are linked to the source file. Consequently, renaming or moving the source file breaks the reference in the scene. In this case, CityEngine replaces the missing model with a white generic cube. Select it and check the Asset_file entry in the Inspector to fix the reference.

Place a static model

A static model can be positioned and scaled within the scene by tusing the Move Tool (W) , Scale Tool (E), and the Rotate Tool (R).

The origin of the model is centered and bottom-aligned (except for KML import). This can be changed in the Inspector.

Move, Scale, Rotate tools
Move, Scale, Rotate tools. Note the bottom-aligned point of attack / origin of the tools.

Settings in the Inspector

As static models are referenced only, the adjustments made here are not to be saved in source data. The settings are saved in the scene and reapplied to the source when reopening the scene.


Location of the asset in the workspace. This is especially useful if the reference to the asset got broken.


  • Colors the model to increase visibility of an object in the scene.
  • Setting it to white (#ffffff) turns tinting off.


Controls the transparency of the model.


Cleans up and reduces the geometry. It can help to improve the frame rate in the viewport.


Controls the shading of the model. Choose between all soft or all hard edges in the model. Auto determines the hardness of an edge based on the angle between the adjacent faces and the hardness of adjacent edges. By default, the settings as defined in the source data are (keep original).


Places the origin of the model to the bottom or to the center of the model.


Places the origin of the model to the center or to the location as it is defined in the source file. If Pos_Bottom_Align is set, the vertical center is overridden (default, except for KML import).


Some models are created in a z-up coordinate system instead of the CityEngine y-up system. Use this switch to correct this.

Align static models terrain

Static models alignment is a tool to align static models to arbitrary terrains (map layers with attribute elevation defined) or to the y=0 level. All currently selected static models and all static models of the selected layers are aligned.

  1. Select the models you want to align to a terrain
  2. Click Terrains > Align Static Models to Terrain.



The terrain to align the shapes to. All terrain layers and attribute layers with an attribute named elevation are listed here.


Specifies how far the model is placed above or below after alignment.


The model is not draped onto the terrain. The point of origin only is placed exactly onto the terrain (offset not included). Therefore, other parts of the model may disappear in the terrain or hover above it.