What’s the Difference Between 3D Modeling and 3D Mapping?

picture: Pix4D

If you’ve ever questioned what the distinction is between 3D modeling and 3D mapping, you’re not alone.  There is a few overlap between the two in know-how and options.  We requested the consultants at Pix4D to clarify the distinction.

Pix4D is one among the main suppliers of photogrammetry options for drones, creating each 2D and 3D info from photographs.  Dr. Christoph Strecha, Pix4D’s founder and CEO, says that the distinction is in how the knowledge is used.  “There is no difference scientifically,” explains Strecha.  “A map is really 2D, something flat – but with modeling, the result is not a 2D map but a triangulated model where you can also see facades.”

3D Mapping

While the map is flat, most drone know-how corporations name it 3D mapping – as a result of creating an correct map from aerial photographs offers a consequence that doesn’t look something like the type of map you purchase in a fuel station.  Instead, it’s a exact image of terrain – together with all of the buildings and pure elements of the terrain.  It can provide a way of dimension and depth.  It’s typically mixed with different info, corresponding to thermographic knowledge or trade particular knowledge (suppose agriculture crop counting methods) to make the map an actionable device.

picture: Pix4D

picture: Pix4D

Data options use photogrammetry (the science of taking measurements from footage) and orthomosaics to create 3D maps.  Orthomosaics is a mixture of  processes.  Ortho-rectifying or creating an orthophoto means adjusting a picture for topographic reduction, lens distortion, and digicam tilt: permitting it for use for true measurement.  “Mosaics” is stitching collectively a number of photographs into one.  The ensuing maps – now extremely correct – can be utilized for a variety of business functions, corresponding to building, surveying, city planning, and land administration.

3D Modeling

Strecha says that extra and extra purchasers now need to transcend mapping into 3D modeling.  “Even in traditional surveying and mapping, the needs are changing,” says Strecha.  “On the professional side, there is more and more interest in 3D modeling.”  Strecha makes use of the instance of the ubiquitous Google maps – as soon as strictly 2D however now giving customers the expertise of strolling down a neighborhood avenue, viewing the homes.

While the gear required is the similar for each processes, drone operators who desire a 3D mannequin because of this might want to present extra indirect pictures, offering photographs of the facades.  With these, modeling software program can create practical 3D fashions or fly-through movies.

3D modeling can be utilized for industrial functions like actual property; or, like the picture at the high of the web page, to create extra informative maps.


There is nice information for the drone operator: processing software program and platforms can do all the work, constructing maps or fashions from the photographs they supply.  The operator may must make their consumer conscious of what’s out there.  While agronomists should still discover 3D maps most helpful, building, geospatial or actual property functions are discovering extra profit from 3D modeling.



Miriam McNabb is the CEO of JobForDrones, knowledgeable drone providers market, and a fascinated observer of the rising drone trade and the regulatory atmosphere for drones. She writes for DRONELIFE on present information, monetary traits, and FAA laws. Miriam has a level from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of expertise in excessive tech gross sales and advertising for brand spanking new applied sciences.
Email Miriam
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