Heightmap from Shadow Relief, and other data?

Hey, I’m wondering if anyone knows if it’s possible to create a heightmap from a Shadow Relief map?
I’ve my hands on a lot of data from one partiucal place, but what I can’t get my hands on is an actual heightmap (unfortunately).

The most detailed map I’ve got access to is a Shadow Relief map, so I was wondering if anyone know if there’s any way I can use this to map a (somewhat) accurate heightmap.

#1 ://i.imgur/303QYl4.jpg

#2 ://i.imgur/hocYSHh.jpg

#3 ://i.imgur/Zo508BJ.jpg

As you can see there’s a lot of information I have access to, apart from the most important one.
So does anyone here know of any software or similar that I can use to try and make this in to a heightmap.
Obviously it doesn’t have to be perfect as I can do post adjustments myself to try and get it as accurate as possible. But it would help a great deal if I could get something nice to work from.

You could try to find this place on google earth -> you can get the heightmap information from there
Otherwise take a look at this thread (about the shadow relief map) -> :///forum/showthread.php?182829-Heightmap-from-a-picture :slight_smile:

Here are some links that used google earth and Nasa topography. Hope this helps. ://www.massgate.net/read.php?77960,111959,171840


I don’t think you can really convert a shadow relief map into a height map. Even if you knew the position of the sun that shades the relief, it would still only tell you the angle of the surface normal, not the height itself. Not sure if can derive the height from it.

There are some software that approximate height map from normal map. If you can convert shadow relief map to normal map then just convert that to height map. ?v=MTR7u_FMhFU Some quick google results.

Nope. Not reliably anyway.

Even if it is doing NdotL lighting without shadowcasting, there are multiple directions of surface normal that can produce identical brightness and you have to guess light direction too.

If you had lighting from 4 different directions, though, then you could create normal map from it, and then heightmap.



I believe you can extract location height data and convert it into mesh using SketchUp. Keep in mind that free version of sketchup is non-commercial only.


Hej Peppe,

I’ve been working on a video tutorial to do this kind of thing, but it’s not done yet.

For locations in the United States, the USGS has plenty of geodesic/geodetisk data available, but I haven’t been able to find any from the SGU, but my Swedish isn’t so good, so maybe I missed it.
The Shuttle Radar Topography Mission coverage is almost worldwide (the poles aren’t mapped), but the resolution for Karlshamn is unfortunately pretty low, something like 90m per pixel. The file/section you’re looking for would probably be 56 North, 14 East: ://dds.cr.usgs.gov/srtm/version2_1/SRTM3/Eurasia/N56E014.hgt.zip
The file in there is raw height data in hgt format, and you’ll need something like VTP/VTBuilder to process it. I had a quick look at the file, and there are some areas of missing data which show up as extremely high elevations, and you’ll need to remove these.

Quick tutorial:

  1. Install VTP and open VTBuilder. Download the SRTM data and unzip it somewhere.
  2. Import N56E014.hgt by dragging it into VTB.
  3. Use the Area Tool button at top to section off the area you want. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
  4. To make it nice and square, go to Area Tool > Numeric Values and under Origin and Size, round the numbers there off to a decimal point or two. For example, the values I ended up with were (14.8, 56.1)(0.1, 0.1) - the important part here is the (0.1, 0.1) at the end that gives us a square sample.
  5. Hit Okay and make sure that the square still covers the area you want. If it doesn’t, adjust the first pair of values in #4, under Origin and Size.
  6. See those white pixels on the map? Those are bad/missing data. To get rid of them, first hover the mouse cursor over some of them and notice that they’re negative. Go to Elevation > Remove Elevation Range and specify a negative range. I used -9001 0 (note the lack of comma) to remove everything from sea level downwards.
  7. Now we need to fill this area back in. Go to Elevation > Set Unknown Areas and set them to -10. Since having negative values will be a huge problem when we import this into UE, go to Elevation > Offset Elevation Vertically and enter 10.0 to bring the lowest elevation up to 0m.
  8. Back on the buttons toolbar, click on Sample Elevation. Grid Size needs to be set to a value that will play nicely with UE’s terrain system, so choose one from https://docs.unrealengine/latest/INT/Engine/Landscape/TechnicalGuide/index.html and enter it in both fields. I used 253. Click Okay.
  9. On the left, under Elevation, select (*) N56E014.hgt and click the eyeball button on the toolbar to hide it. Verify that the remaining layer is your intended area.
  10. On the left, under Elevation, select Untitled. Up at top, go to Elevation > Export To and select PNG. Choose a filename and folder and save it.
  11. In UE, drag a new Landscape actor onto the map. Under New Landscape, select Import From File and then click the …] button. Navigate to the PNG you just exported from VTB and select it. Scroll to the bottom of the New Landscape pane and click Import.
  12. Before clicking anything else, go back into Place mode (the cube and lightbulb). Find the landscape and position it where you want it.
  13. Since it’s wildly scaled, squash it in the Z-axis until it looks right. I ended up with a scale value of (100, 100, 4) for the whole terrain. Note that you’ll need to scale it in X and Y, also, to make it fit the size of the player.
  14. Add a plane with a water texture on it and you’re good to go!

Thanks for your answers, unfortunately neither of them really helps that much, I’ve tried using the NASA data, but it’s just too low res to be of practical use.
I have however managed to get my hands on a very high detailed Topographic map after many hours of research.

So I’m just going to manually paint each “layer” in photoshop, and then probably run it through World Builder to get a decent heightmap.
Thanks again for your many answers!

TL;DR For anyone wondering the same: Using a relief map it’s most likely not possible.