About Working With Point Clouds
A point cloud is a large collection of points placed on a three-dimensional coordinate
system. Collected by 3D laser scanners or other technologies, millions of points create
3D representations of existing structures.
Point cloud files support the design process by providing real-world context where
you can recreate the referenced objects or insert additional models. Once a point
cloud is attached to a drawing, you can use it as a VCadeline for drawing, change
its display, or apply a color stylization to distinguish different features.
Using Autodesk® ReCap to Create and Segment Point Clouds From Scan Files
Point clouds are derived from raw data gathered by using a 3D scanner to obtain points
from such things as buildings, topographies, or manufactured items. Before you can
use the data, it needs to be converted to readable point cloud files. Use ReCap to
convert raw scan data to scan files (RCS files), and to create project files (RCP
files) that reference multiple RCS files. Both these formats can be attached to an
ReCap also segments data, which is a process of identifying groups of points in a
point cloud that represent different surfaces. AutoCAD identifies these segments and
extracts geometry 2D from the point cloud.
Attaching a Point Cloud to a Drawing
Attaching an RCS or RCP file to a drawing is much like attaching any other external
reference (xref). If the unit of measurement in the attached point cloud differs from
the units in the target drawing, the point cloud is automatically scaled based on
the unit type in the target drawing.
a 64-bit system, and hardware acceleration must be turned on.
Visualizing Point Clouds
Change display settings to simplify the display and improve performance. Apply color
stylizations to visually represent the data you’re interested in.
- Modify point cloud density and point size. Manage program performance and visual noise by increasing or decreasing the number
of visible points, as well as point size.
- Use color stylization. Color stylization helps you analyze features within the point cloud. You can retain
the original scan colors or stylize the point cloud based on object color, normals
(point orientation), intensity, elevation, or LAS classification data.
Cropping Point Clouds
Crop rectangular, polygonal, or circular areas to show only the most relevant parts
of the point cloud.
Extracting Geometry from Point Clouds
There are several types of geometry you can extract from a segmented point cloud.
- You can extract the line marking the edge between two detected planar segments in
a point cloud.
- You can mark the point of the intersection between three detected planar segments
in a point cloud.
- You can extract the centerline of a detected cylindrical segment in a point cloud.
- You can section a point cloud and extract 2D geometry from the objects within the
Extract 2D Geometry from a Sectioned Point Cloud
Sectioning a point cloud allows you to extract the geometry from it. The PCEXTRACTSECTION
command identifies the underlying 2D geometry in the point cloud and creates a 2D
line drawing. By default, the geometry is created on a plane coincident with the section
You can define the which part of the geometry you want to extract, the layer it is
created on, the color of the 2D lines or polylines, the width of the polylines, and
adjust tolerance settings.
Standard Editing Operations for Point Clouds
- You can cut, copy, paste, move, scale, rotate, and erase point clouds.
- You can change general properties such as color and layer in the Properties palette.
Also: Modify the insertion point, rotation, and scale; lock and unlock the point cloud;
show or hide cropped areas; and choose a color stylization and color scheme.
explode a point cloud.
Navigating Point Clouds
Several tools are available for navigating around point clouds.
- Use the Point Cloud Manager to reveal or hide separate regions (RCS files) within
a point cloud project (RCP file). Double-click a scan in the Point Cloud Manager to
view the point cloud from the vantage point of the camera location for the scan. Use
the 3DSWIVEL or 3DWALK commands to look around.
- Use the 3DORBIT command in conjunction with the ORBITAUTOTARGET system variable to
set a target point when orbiting about a point cloud.
- The 3DORBIT , 3DSWIVEL , and 3DWALK commands are available from the Display panel of the Point Cloud contextual tab:
- Use the Object option of the UCS command to align the UCS with the nearest point on
a point cloud or one of its planar segments (if the point cloud includes segmentation
data from Autodesk ReCap).