Autodesk labs | Interactive Terrain Shaping for Civil 3D

imageThe toolset that many have been waiting for was just released on Autodesk labs. The Interactive Terrain Shaping for AutoCAD Civil 3D. These tools give Civil 3D users the capability to shape and mold various features related to grading, with direct pick, apply, and drag functionality. The Labs site stated that the intent was to "facilitate the development of comprehensive grading plans that can be easily tuned through the development cycle".


A new Ribbon tab is installed in Civil 3D, and contains numerous tools including terrain feature shapes, including:

  • Parking Lots
  • Berms
  • Swales
  • Ponds
  • Spillways

Additional grading tools are provided that allow easy creation and future manipulation of cut / fill operations. More advanced features can be developed, like retaining walls for example, to develop a comprehensive finished grade model.

 image  image

I look forward to seeing these tools used in development. What is not clear yet is how these are stored back into the Civil 3D model. The Labs site went on to say that the terrain shaping is not stored in the Civil 3D model, and that the shaper must be installed in order to modify the features. This may limit the number of people that can really put this toolset to the test as team members can’t make changes, and the features can’t be modified once the Labs offering is shut down (something to consider). However, this may indicate a distinct change in Civil 3D’s future Prospector panel, as these features are stored separately at this time.


Head over to Autodesk Labs and give the Interactive Terrain Shaping tools a try. Remember to comment on Labs about your experiences with the tool, and any feedback that you have.


  1. Jose Ponce says:

    Very interesting. Thank you vey much.

  2. Todd W says:

    Installed it but it is not showing up. Any ideas?

  3. Phil says:

    I installed, restarted, nothing. C3D states all tabs and panels are on.

  4. John Evans says:

    What version are you guys running?
    The Tech Preview is only for 2012 64 bit.

  5. Gordon McLean says:

    I am also having the same problems with loding the software in.
    Loaded the software, it said installation successfull, but no ribbon.
    I have 2012 64 bit

  6. John Evans says:

    I was reminded of the Getting Started Section of the Labs site. You have to manually load the panel. Read the settings, as you need to make changes to your config.

  7. Conan Witzel says:

    I installed per instructions and can get it to work.
    Amazingly slow on a one year old computer with 8 gigs of ram, Windows 7 64 bit. 30 second lags are very common just to select something.
    I see no way to edit anything after it is created. Changing the feature line does nothing.
    From what I have seen, in an admittedly short period of time, I see no reason for this tool other than maybe the ability to create a solid. It wants a feature line to start, so why wouldn’t I just create a surface?
    I may continue playing with it, but right now I don’t see the point.

    • John Evans says:

      I didn’t like having to start with a feature line either (it just bugged me since I was looking to get some relief from the super dependent grading system). I’ll play with it some more and get back with everyone here.

  8. Scott says:

    Copied from Autodesk website John Evans listed above. Item 1 should solve the Ribbon issue. Item 2 should solve “Amazing Slow” issue Conan Witzel encountered.

    Getting Started

    To get started with the Interactive Terrain Shaping for AutoCAD Civil 3D technology preview, here are the Set up Instructions:
    To get the ribbon tab, please type cui and load ts.cuix as partial customization file. The default path for ts.cuix is:
    C:\Users\your user name\AppData\Roaming\Autodesk\C3D 2012\enu\Support\

    For good performance, change the following settings:
    a. In Options->Selection, turn off selection preview.
    b. In Options->Display, turn off rollover tooltip.
    c. In Options->System->Performance Settings, turn off Adaptive degradation. Go to Manual tune. Turn on Enable hardware acceleration.

    Set the values of system variables as follows:
    DYNMODE: 2

    Make two viewports. Set the shademode to Shaded in one viewport (for 3D view) and 2dwireframe in the other viewport (for plan view).The new selection functionality would work only in 3D view.

    Refer to the user guide to find the description of new commands and known limitations and workarounds.

    Refer to the tutorial videos to understand how to use these commands.