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How to create 3D Models using Drones & Hammer Missions

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

3D model using a drone


In this article, we will be discussing how to capture data for 3D models using drones.

3D Mapping is growing in popularity, now with the ability to capture data using drones and then render that data into a fully realised 3D model the possibilities for structural survey and inspection are even more in demand.

So how do we capture that data and what are the best methods to use?

Data Capture

Using Hammer Missions as your automated flight software solution will give you the scope to capture the required amount of data to produce high-quality 3D renders.

There are several methods of data collection and we would highly recommend combining the 3D Mapping Mission with a mission that collects data to obtain the obliques (sides and edges) of the structure.

3D Mapping Mission

This type of mission is useful for creating 3D models of an area, farms, construction sites, structures/assets, etc. In this mission, Hammer generates a double-grid flight path inside the user-defined shape, flies the drone along the generated flight path, and takes pictures continuously, maintaining the correct image overlap in between pictures.

We would recommend an overlap of at least 70% to 80% to ensure you are collecting the best quality data.

3D Models Using Drones
3D Mapping in Hammer Missions

Oblique Capture

As stated above, oblique capture is the capture of the sides and edges of the building or structure that you are looking to 3D Map. The 3D Mapping Mission will only capture certain elements from its nadir position and it is always best to combine the 3D mapping Mission with a form of vertical capture so that there are no gaps or shortfalls in your final render.

We would highly recommend one of the following missions to be combined with the 3D Mapping Mission.

Tower Mapping

This mission module is useful for capturing 3D mapping data for any structure that has tower-like profile pylons, cell towers, water towers, etc. In this mission, Hammer calculates a flight path around the tower based on the altitudes and distances provided by the user. This is done by keeping the correct picture overlap into account so that the resulting photos can be used for inspection and/or a 3D model.

The Tower Mapping Mission gives you more options to fine-tune your distance, flight mode, and overlaps, having both the option to circle the structure or move vertically up and down the structure depending on preference.

You will only need one pass or row (one altitude) to create the obliques needed, this can be accomplished by setting your top altitude and bottom altitude close together.

Drone 3D Mapping Obliques for Photogrammetry
Tower Mapping in Hammer Missions

Facade Mapping

This mission is useful for inspecting building walls/façades and other vertical structures such as cliffs, waterfalls, etc. In this mission, Hammer calculates picture points inside a vertical frame placed at a fixed distance from the building/vertical structure. From a top-down view, this is visualised as a line generated parallel to the building. Hammer then flies the drone from top to bottom in altitude on this line, taking a picture with the camera facing forwards.

This Mission is ideal for mapping the side elevations of the structure or building which can be added to the nadir data collection from the 3D Mapping Mission. Again we recommend you set the overlap to between 70% to 80%

Drone 3D Mapping Obliques for Photogrammetry
Facade Mapping in Hammer Missions

Lateral Capture

This type of mission is useful for inspecting any structure laterally i.e orthogonal to the structure's geometry on the map - e.g roof gutters, railway tracks, cliffs, etc. In this mission, Hammer generates a flight path orthogonal to the marked structures with the camera looking forwards and automatically adjusting the gimbal to look at the target structure.

This mission when used alongside the 3D Mapping Mission is best used at height with the gimbal tilted towards the building or structure. Once the Lateral Capture Mission has been planned in the Hammer Hub it can be opened in the Hammer App and the gimbal can be set to automatically align with the target so you do not have to worry about manually adjusting the gimbal to make sure the target is in shot.

As per the last two missions, we recommend setting your overlap to 70% to 80%

Drone 3D Mapping Obliques
Lateral Capture in Hammer Missions

Combining any one of these, depending on your environment or mission type, with the 3D Mapping Mission will ensure the data you collect is of high quality and that your final render will have all the elements it requires with no missing areas.

Note: If you combine two or more methods of capture (nadir + oblique) using mapping and facade capture missions, please ensure that the resulting datasets have a good overlap between them for best results!

3D Mission Example Using Hammer Missions

Below you will see an example of a Mission that was planned using Hammer Missions using both the 3D Mapping Mission and Tower Mapping Mission these were then rendered in the cloud using Hammer Missions 3D

Drone 3D Model
Processed 3D Model in Hammer Missions

You will see from the map layout on the left that there is an orbit of the structure, which was performed by one pass using Tower Mapping, and a grid formation over the top of the structure, which was performed by the 3D Mapping Mission.

Our 3D photogrammetry processing solution is scheduled to be released by request access whilst in beta. This will allow you to upload drone datasets captured using the Hammer App, to our web platform - Hammer Hub. Here, you will be able to process the drone images into 3D models, and use them for improved context in your drone inspections. If you would like to learn more about our 3D processing capabilities and share your thoughts, comments, or feedback, please feel free to get in touch with us at

Creating 3D Models Using Drones: Conclusion

We hope this guide helps you understand more about capturing data for 3D models using drones. If you'd like to learn more about how to capture high-quality data and get the most out of your drone missions, please feel free to visit our learning resources.

If you haven't got a Hammer account as yet and would like to try Hammer Missions you can get started on our free trial.

To learn more about our enterprise solutions, including mission collaboration, data processing, and AI solutions, please contact us at

We look forward to hearing from you.

— The Hammer Team

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