3D Models

Best practice to obtain an outstanding 3D model within DroneDeploy

3D models are a great way to visualize the 3 dimensionalities of your object of interest. 3D models will automatically be processed on all of your DroneDeploy maps.

Below is a guide describing the best practice to capturing oblique imagery during flight and uploading oblique imagery to DroneDeploy.com, as well as an example 3D model.

Read this guide to best ensure that your 3D models turn out like the "After" Map.

Read this guide to best ensure that your 3D models turn out like the "After" Map.

Oblique imagery

A set of oblique images consists of photos taken at short intervals during a rotation around the desired object at a fixed altitude, fixed radius, and fixed camera angle.

DroneDeploy was featured by Flite Test for a great video tutorial on 3D modeling. The process described in this video is explained below.

Flying with DroneDeploy Structures Mode

Structures Mode captures oblique images from the perimeter of your mission plan, facing towards the center of your subject and being careful not to include the horizon in the shots. This feature is only supported for drones created after the Phantom 4. Any drone before the Phantom 4 will be incompatible with structures mode. Please take a look at our list of Supported Drones to learn more about the compatibility of your drone and DroneDeploy flight app.

Scheme showing how Structures Mode works

Scheme showing how Structures Mode works

When flying the perimeter, the drone will take images every 5 meters, at between 60 and 50 degrees down, looking towards the centroid of the map area. Also, the image capture is performed at the set flight altitude.

Enabling Structures Mode

Enabling Structures Mode

Best Practice to Capture Oblique Image

Capturing oblique imagery is critical to improving the appearance and shape reconstruction of 3D models.

Example of difference:

No low-level obliques added.

No low-level obliques added.

With low level oblique images included.

With low level oblique images included.

To capture oblique images manually:

  1. Pilot the drone to the same altitude as the original mission. However, this time with an angle between the camera and the ground of 45 degrees.
  2. Navigate the drone at this altitude and camera gimbal angle until you have the entire object you wish to model in the frame of the shot. Depending on the size and surroundings of an object this camera angle or altitude may not work. Please use your judgment.
  3. From this location pivot your drone in a radius around the object capturing photos as frequently as possible.


Higher overlap in both the DroneDeploy mission and oblique imagery will always produce higher quality models. This is achieved during manual flight by flying slower or taking photos faster.

You can think of the drone as a spray can, and the images as paint. When you fly the area of interest you want to take enough pictures to coat the area of interest with one coat of paint. One thing to remember is that obliques have a diminishing return, and if to many are taking can make it more difficult to stitch a map.

To improve 3D model recreation of objects with overhanging features, such as roofs, eaves or archways, capture oblique images taken at lower altitudes and shallower angles (Set 1).

Oblique images stitch best if there is no sky in the background (although sometimes it is unavoidable). Steeper camera angles usually capture less sky that is why camera angles less more than 45° are preferred (Sets 2 and 3).

Point of Interest tool in DJI

DJI pilots can use the point of interest tool to easily generate the orbits in the diagram above. Please see here for an instructional video.

Example 3D Structure Workflow

Example 3D structure workflow courtesy of  http://www.aerialeye.ie/

Example 3D structure workflow courtesy of http://www.aerialeye.ie/

Include Oblique Imagery During Upload

You can upload your set of oblique imagery with your nadir imagery to DroneDeploy. Please refer to our How to Process Datasets guide to learn how to do so.

Adding more imagery to an existing DroneDeploy map

If you've processed a map with DroneDeploy and you want to supplement your mission adding oblique images, please use the steps described in our Adding Additional Images to a Map guide.

Example 3D Model


This map covered 1.3 acres and included 128 images.

Some images were directly above the object of interest to establish context.

Nadir image at 173 ft AGL.

Nadir image at 173 ft AGL.

Others were taken at oblique angles to capture the side details of the turret.

130 ft AGL

130 ft AGL

Where to from here?

You can check out our 3D model gallery on Sketchfab or check our Data Sharing guide for instructions to share your 3D model.