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Buildings in 3D!

I recently figured out there’s a fantastic addon to Blender which can import buildings from Openstreetmap data. The result is that you can render a real city, or edit it to your will, with all the goodies that Blender 3D has. Neat! The possibilities are endless.

Once you learn to use the addon, it takes only about 3 minutes to make a city scenery like this:

Here’s how:

  • download the importer script (‘addon’ from now on)
  • install the addon to Blender; explicit steps below
  • the tool appears in Create > osm
  • click on ‘Select’ in the tool tab, to select an area in a new Openstreetmap web site view
  • select an area of a map you want in your Blender 3D
  • click open the ‘Export’ tab next to map
  • Click ‘Export’ button below the map
  • find your download .osm map data file
  • open Blender
  • import the .osm data: set parameters, and go!

Installation of addon (explicit steps)

  • place the .zip file in Blender’s addons folder
  • start up Blender
  • click Preferences > Addons
  • in the Addons list, activate the new addon – by ticking its box
  • now the new tool appears in Blender interface in Create > osm tab

Openstreetmap is done by people, for people. It’s basically 2D vector map, which has a lot of metadata on objects.

The key called ‘height’ in Openstreetmap data

The metadata associaeted with buildings in Openstreetmap is being used to create the 3-dimensional building. Whereas we might at first be tempted to think that Openstreetmap map data would leave us guessing the building heights, this is luckily not true. There’s a key called ‘height’ in OSM data.

You can quickly create realistic grounds for your fictional or real city. This, in fact, has been a dream of mine for a long time. I kind of vaguely imagined that there would be possibility to do the import, but how feasible? Well, it’s totally feasible!

The result to expect of city data from OSM

  • 3D lowpoly buildings
  • typically buildings consist of 6..50 faces
  • real walking paths (walks) will be represented as Blender’s “Paths”
  • you can set the vertical scale before Importing. This decides how much height a building will get for each ‘level’ in Openstreetmap
  • you can modify quite easily the .py python importer source code to change details of the import for your needs

Step-by-step: import Openstreetmap map data

Here’s the steps to follow:

  • install the addon to Blender (instructions)
  • activate the addon in Blender’s menus (User Preferences)
  • select a rectangular area from Openstreetmap web page
  • Export the area from Openstreetmap
  • Import the exported .osm file into Blender

Why?

I’m practising visualizing things and places, for a Teknovelho novel that I write. Wait.. ‘a’ Teknovelho novel? Yes.

TV 1 begins the series. Do you know h.. ahh. Okay, it’s still in Finnish. I hope that I can bring it to English one of these days!

Back to the track: it’s somewhat therapeutic to visualize things, compared to the book-writing agony.

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