Join Jeff Bartels for an in-depth discussion in this video Adding aerial photography, part of AutoCAD 2014 New Features.
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When designing a site plan, it's always helpful to see your work in context with its surroundings. One way to do this is by referencing an aerial photograph as a background. In the past, finding high-quality, current imagery always involved working with a third party. Now, using the new Autodesk Live Maps feature, you can easily reference aerial photography into your drawing without leaving AutoCAD. On my screen is a drawing that represents a plant of survey. Let's say that I'm a surveyor, and I want to send a field crew out to shoot the topography on the site.
Before sending them out, I would like to do a little reconnaissance on the property to determine how long the work might take, and if any additional equipment might be needed. To do that, I'll reference an aerial photo. I'll start by visiting the Insert tab. And then, down here in the Location panel, I'll click Set Location, and I'll choose From Map to access the Autodesk Live Map service. Note that you will need to be logged in to your Autodesk 360 account to use this feature.
At the tablet dialog box, I can enter the address of my site, or a latitude and longitude. Since this is a fictitious example, I'm going to use the name of a town, rather than a specific address. I'll type St. Charles, Illinois; then, I'll press Enter. From here, I can navigate the map by holding the left-mouse button down to pan. I can roll the mouse wheel forward and back to zoom. Zooming can also be accomplished using these icons, or the slider.
As I do this, I can see my recording software is preventing the cursor from displaying over the photograph. I apologize for that. The site I'm interested in is northWest of the downtown area, so I'm going to pan in that direction. Then, I'll zoom in and center the site on screen. To register this photo with my drawing, I'll use a marker. This marker will identify a common point that exists both in the photo and in my file. I'll place the marker by right-clicking, and I'll choose Drop Marker Here. I can then drag the marker to my desired location.
I'm going to choose the Intersection of Crane Road and Old Farm Road. If you look below, you can see the latitude and longitude of that location. Next, I'm going to select a GIS coordinate system. You see by adding this marker, we are essentially assigning a specific coordinate system to the drawing. Since my drawing was created in feet, I'm going to select a coordinate system having the same units. Opening the Coordinate System menu will display all of the recognized GIS coordinate systems in this area.
Now, which one do we choose? Typically, when selecting a coordinate system, you will want to select the same one being used by the other members of your project team. In this case, since the goal is simply to add an aerial photo to this drawing, we can get away with selecting virtually any coordinate system, so long as the units are feet. I'm going to choose this one, HARN/IL (that's Illinois) - EF (that stands for East Zone Foot), and I'll click Continue. I will then pick the point in my drawing that corresponds to the marker location. I'll zoom in, and select the intersection of these two center lines.
And finally, I can specify the North direction. You would use this option if your drawing was rotated, and you wanted the aerial photo to rotate to match your line work. In this case, my drawing orientation is fine. So, I'm going to press Enter twice to accept the default North rotation. And, I can now see the aerial photo in my drawing. Now, this isn't bad, although I'd like the align it a little bit better. To do that, I'll click the Reorient Marker button. This tool allows us to pick up the image from the marker, and place it at a new location in the drawing.
For example, if I clicked a new marker location down here, and pressed Enter twice to accept the North rotation, you can see the photo was shifted to that new coordinate. Think of this marker as being a handle on the photograph. Knowing that, I am going to zoom in a little bit closer. I'll choose Reorient Marker. And, based on the location of the marker, I believe it would be placed right about here in my drawing. I'll press enter twice.
We could always continue to tweak that if we wanted to. For right now, this is pretty good. If, at any point, you wanted to start over completely with a marker, you could come over and use the Edit Location, and go right back to Live Maps Service. Now that the photo has been aligned, I can pane around, and see that there obviously isn't a lot of tree cover on the site. In fact, the only trees appear to be in the southeast corner. And as I zoom in, it looks like the field crew is going to have to cross a creek, such that they can collect the topography for the entire site.
You know, as long as I'm here, let me show you that there is a limit to how close you can zoom in on the aerial photo. For instance, if I get too close, the display will change to show me there isn't enough resolution available to continue to display a high-quality image. I am going to do a zoom extends by double-clicking my mouse wheel. At this point, you may be wondering if it's possible to create prints of this drawing that include the aerial photograph, and I'm afraid the answer is no. At present time, the aerial photographs available through Autodesk Live Maps are for display purposes only. One day, hopefully, that will change.
In the past, working with aerial photography was a challenge. Using Autodesk Live Maps, you can easily reference high-quality, current aerial photography, making it easier to evaluate your design in context with its surroundings.
- Creating an Autodesk 360 account
- Collaborating with the design feed
- Saving AutoCAD settings to the cloud
- Accessing content from the command line
- Using file tabs to manage drawings
- Managing Exchange apps
- Adding aerial photography and coordinates
- Processing point cloud data
- Preventing virus and malware attacks