Anyone in architecture using World Machine?

My career took a hard turn into architecture from entertainment so I have this toolset like World Machine and other software that the architects are all a little leery of. I understand their concern with liability and such. If they find out other architects are using a tool they usually relax. I’m just curious if there’s anyone I can point to for precedence in architecture, engineering, landscape architects etc.

For instance - I got a Part 107 license and do a lot of photogrammetry drone mapping with Reality Capture. I can get a pretty decent grayscale elevation map of an existing site. Lanscape architects will typical hand me a cad file out of Civil 3dwith the expectation it be accurately represented. I don’t think there’s a cad elevation data to World Machine workflow already, but it’s something to explore.

Never used WM for this type of thing, but my favorite thing to do with WM is to try to find new uses for it, so I wholeheartedly support this!

For a more helpful answer: a quick Google search shows that Civil 3D is an Autodesk product, so there is likely some way to easily turn that CAD data into an obj file (Also, not knowing how CAD software works, the following steps may be possible within the software itself).

Disclaimer: the remaining steps will be described using Cinema 4D as a reference point, as that’s the 3D package I’m most familiar with. You should, however, be able to do this in any software, I think.

From the obj file, you should be able to import into a 3D package, and assign a material to it that will essentially make a heightmap texture. In the case of Cinema 4D, what you’re going to want to do is assign the color or luminance channel of a standard material to a gradient, set the gradient type to “3D Linear” and then in the gradient settings, change the start values to 0 on all 3 axes, and the end value to 0 on the X and Z axes, and then whatever you want/need the maximum height to be on the Y axis (for best results, I’d do a multiple of WM’s default height, just to ensure the map will load in as expected without any adjustments).

Once you have the procedural texture correct, you’ll want to bake it down into an image texture. When doing this, I’d suggest doing the highest quality you can get away with just to make sure the data is accurately represented. I’d also suggest a 32-bit tiff or exr file, to avoid banding.

Once that’s done, you should have a map that can be brought into WM as height data! I haven’t done this method for producing a heightmap in a long time, so I’m gonna run through it real quick and see if there’s anything I missed in there, but at least until some kind CAD integration is possible within WM, this should be a good workaround if you need it!

As a note: You’ll want a polygon count higher than your intended resolution, at least if using Cinema 4D, as it looks as if C4D bakes according to the UV map.

Editing to add: Depending on the data type you’re given, looking into software such as QGIS may also help, and would actually probably be more helpful than running it through a 3D package, now that I’m thinking about it. It’ll really depend on the data type you have.

I’m in Archviz, primarily working with 3ds max and etc. software. Occasionally we do industrial scale projects, like visualizing factories yet to be built… specifically maritime/coastal-based ones. The other day I got my boss to agree to letting me use worldmachine for a project up in northern Norway, even though the project is far from finished, client loved it. Combine worldmachine with quixel mixer, and you’ve essentially got some really nice terrain for a background atmosphere. Tbf, I do wish we could use it more, but alas that’s the extent my boss has allowed it to go for now :confused:


In my experience World Machine is a bit overkill for architecture. The only use I can think of is cleaning up elevation data, or minor conversions. In general, world machine sucks at very small or very big scales. Scale itself is arbitrary, so use in CAD would mean complications galore.

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