An overview of the Terrain and TIN Surface toolset

Terrain and TIN Surface tools allow you to create feature classes that extract 3D information from terrain or TIN surfaces. Using the Terrain and TIN Surface toolset, you can determine patterns that are not readily apparent in the original surface, such as slope and aspect. You can derive contours or isolines and convert polygons to multipatches based on elevation information.

The Terrain and TIN Surface toolset allows you to create a polygon feature class that models the slope or aspect of a surface to determine suitability for development of various land-use applications. You can also interpolate an existing polygon feature to a multipatch feature class based on a Terrain or TIN surface to create features that closely conform to the surface.

Learn more about measuring aspect

Learn more about understanding slope

Learn more about working with contours

The following lists the tools in the TIN Surface toolset with a brief description of each.

Geoprocessing Tool


Decimate TIN Nodes

Creates a TIN using a subset of nodes from an input TIN.

Extrude Between

Creates 3D features by extruding each input feature between two triangulated irregular network (TIN) datasets.

Interpolate Polygon To Multipatch

Creates surface-conforming multipatch features from a polygon feature class and a raster, terrain, or TIN surface.

Locate Outliers

Locates points which appear to be anomalies when compared to a surface. These points represent points that may be blunders and may need to be eliminated from the creation of the surface.

Polygon Volume

Calculates the volume and surface area between a polygon and terrain or TIN surface.

Surface Aspect

Calculates the aspect, or direction of the steepest downhill slope, of each triangle in a TIN or terrain dataset and writes the output as a polygon feature class.

Surface Contour

Creates contour lines derived using a terrain or TIN surface.

Surface Difference

Calculates the volumetric difference between two surface models stored as either a triangulated irregular networks (TIN) or terrain dataset.

Surface Slope

Creates polygon features from the triangle slope values of a TIN or terrain dataset.

Terrain and TIN surface overview

The following tools that were available in the ArcGIS 3D Analyst toolbox prior to version 10.0 have been removed, since they are no longer applicable.

Geoprocessing Tool


TIN Aspect

Use the Surface Aspect tool to extract aspect information from a TIN surface.

TIN Contour

Use the Surface Contour tool to extract contours from a TIN surface.

TIN Difference

Use the Surface Difference tool to calculate the volumetric difference between two TINs.

TIN Polygon Volume

Use the Polygon Volume to calculate the volumetric and surface area between polygons of an input feature class and a TIN.

TIN Slope

Use the Surface Slope to extract slope information from an input TIN.