Home > AutoCAD / AutoDesk > How to create contours with AutoCAD Civil 3D

How to create contours with AutoCAD Civil 3D

Long ago, this was done with Softdesk, it was another story, but in this case we will see how to do it using AutoDesk Civil 3D in six steps.

clip_image0011. Surface Styles

The styles are viewing geometry settings that are created in AutoCAD, where are defined the type of lines, colors, layers, smoothing curves or different conformations that the geometries will have. Since it is not the case of this post I will use a file that already has stored styles, in the end it is indicated how to download the file.

These styles can be viewed and modified in the “Settings” tab; it can also be copied and make new ones.

2. Create the surface

To do this, on the pane toolbar, select “surfaces”, right-click mouse by choosing “create surface”. In the panel indicate that it is a TIN type area, and select the layer where it is hosted, in my case I will do so in C-TOPO.

As its name we assign “Geofumadas Land” and “Field test” in the description.clip_image002

Doing OK we can see that the surface has been created, with object structure that will characterize it. You can edit by right-clicking the mouse button on the surface and selecting “Surface clip_image003Properties”.

3. Add data to the surface

In this case, let’s add a file of points, before we saw how to do it from an external database. Now what I have is a txt file with coordinates in the form x, y, z.

So to do this, activate the “Definition” option, and in this we look for “Point files”. Here we do right button of the mouse by clicking “Add” option.

clip_image004In the panel we will indicate that what we are importing are items on the ENZ order Easting Northing Zelevation (X, Y, Z), and separated by commas. Then look for the txt file path and do ok.

In this way the points are loaded to the file, but not only been admitted as a layer of points but have become a surface operation.

To see this, let’s do right click with the Mouse button on the surface “egeomate Land”, y Surface Properties, we’ll see the “Definition” tab that in the lower panel appears as an operation.

To see the surface created, let’s do right-click on it, and select “zoom to”. You should see the surface, with points in red and white contours, since this is the standard style.


4.  Customizing the contours.

Now, to view the curves just give another style, what we will do is right-click of the mouse on the surface “egeomate Field”, then “Surface properties” and “Information” tab select the style of surface.

In case of using “Borders & Contours”, after playing the option, we have this:


If you place “Borders & Contours & Slopes” it displays the contour map with a colored slope.


There are other styles, so I leave you to try them.

5. Other Information.

It is also possible to see more data in regard to the surface created, for example in the “Analysis” tab and always in “Surface Properties” tab we can get a statistical picture of slopes, choosing range and pressing the down arrow.


6.  Labeling the curves

To label contour lines, what we do is, from the top menu “Surface / Add surface labels” (here you can select different alternatives, we’ll use “Contour – Multiple”, in this case), then marks the polyline and it will be marking the dimensions.


If you want to exercise it can be downloaded here:

The txt file of the points

The dwg which contains the template

The dwg with the prepared exercise

In this links you can see alternatives to to create contours with other programs:

Contours from Poilines in Civil 3D

Contours using ArcGIS

Using Bentley Site

Using Google Earth

Using Manifold GIS


  1. projektowanie stron www

    Fachowy tekst, tak jak i cała strona… Twórz w dalszym
    ciągu, a karierę masz gwarantowaną! ;-) Pozdrawiam!

  2. Anonymous

    it helped me out a lot with the assignment,, thank u

  3. chiara

    hello, sorry if I have only point and text and trying to create a surface this came completely flat…how can I see the slope of the ground, considering that I don’t have any contours?? thanks

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.