3D Models

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Best practice for Creating Exceptional 3D Models with DroneDeploy

Utilizing 3D models is a powerful way of visualizing objects in three dimensions. DroneDeploy automatically processes 3D models when you upload your image dataset. However, please note that Live Maps and Geotiff Uploads won't have associated 3D models.

Below is a guide describing the best practice for capturing oblique imagery during flight and uploading oblique imagery to DroneDeploy.com, alongside a 3D model example. 


Read this guide to best ensure that your 3D models turn out like the "After" image.

Oblique imagery:
A set of oblique images consists of photos taken at an angle as opposed to straight down (nadir). For us, our flight plan's obliques will typically be around 65 degrees.

Flying with DroneDeploy Enhance 3D:

Enhanced 3D will combine parameter 3D with Crosshatch mode for optimal 3D capture. This feature is only supported for drones created after the Phantom 4. Any drone before the Phantom 4 will be incompatible with enhanced 3D mode. Please take a look at our list of Supported Drones to determine the compatibility of your drone and DroneDeploy flight app.

Parameter 3D Mode captures oblique images from the perimeter of your mission plan, facing towards the center of your subject and being careful not to include the horizon in the shots. But, in order to obtain even more obliques over your subject, you may want to add crosshatch mode. This should typically be done when one wants a good 3D model of an entire area or block as opposed to a single structure. For a single structure, nadir images taken from the top with just perimeter 3D are ideal.


Scheme showing how Perimeter 3D of Enhanced 3D Mode works.

When flying Perimeter 3D mode the drone will take images at 65 degrees down, looking towards the centroid of the map area. When Enhanced 3D mode is turned on, Perimeter 3D mode and Crosshatch mode are combined to create the type of flight template displayed below.

              Fight 3D.png

Enabling Enhanced 3D Mode

Best Practice to Capture Oblique Image

Capturing oblique imagery is critical to improving the appearance and shape reconstruction of 3D models.

Example of Difference:


No low-level obliques added.


With low-level oblique images included.

To capture oblique images manually:

  1. Pilot the drone to the same altitude as the original mission but with a camera-to-ground angle of 45 degrees.
  2. Navigate the drone at this altitude and camera gimbal angle until you have the entire object you wish to model in the frame. Depending on the size and surroundings of an object this camera angle or altitude may not work. Please use your judgment.
  3. From this location pivot your drone in a radius around the object, capturing photos as frequently as possible.


  • Higher overlap in both the DroneDeploy mission and oblique imagery yields higher-quality models. This is achieved during manual flight by flying slower or taking photos faster. You can think of the drone as a spray can, and the images as paint. When you fly the area of interest you want to take enough pictures to coat the area of interest with one coat of paint. One thing to remember is that obliques have a diminishing return, and if too many are taking can make it more difficult to stitch a map. 
  • To improve 3D model recreation of objects with overhanging features, such as roofs, eaves, or archways, capture oblique images taken at lower altitudes and shallower angles (Set 1). Oblique images stitch best if there is no sky in the background (although sometimes it is unavoidable).
  • Oblique images stitch best if there is no sky in the background (although sometimes it is unavoidable). Steeper camera angles usually capture less sky which is why camera angles less than 45° are preferred (Sets 2 and 3).
  • Point of Interest Tool in DJI - DJI pilots can use the point of interest tool to easily generate the orbits in the diagram above. Please see here for an instructional video.
  • GPS and 3D Models: Noisy GPS or lack of it may adversely affect your map and model. It's always good to make sure you have calibrated your compass prior to flight to avoid these issues.

Example of 3D Structure Workflow:         

Example 3D structure workflow courtesy of http://www.aerialeye.ie/

Including Oblique Imagery During Upload:
You can upload your set of oblique imagery with your nadir imagery to DroneDeploy. Please refer to our How to Process Datasets guide to learn how to do so.

Adding more imagery to an existing DroneDeploy map:
If you've processed a map with DroneDeploy and you want to supplement your mission by adding oblique images, please use the steps described in our Adding Additional Images to a Map guide.

Example of 3D Model - Technique: 

  • This map covered 1.3 acres and included 128 images.
  • Some images were directly above the object of interest to establish context.
  • Others were taken at oblique angles to capture the side details of the turret.

Nadir image at 173 ft Above Ground Level (AGL)


Oblique image at 130 ft AGL

Guide to Making Great Maps: 
For more details on making great 3D models and maps check out our Making Great Maps ebook.

Where to from here?

You can share your maps with users in or outside of DroneDeploy! Check our Data Sharing guide for instructions to share your 3D model.

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