Heightmap from a picture

Hi all,

How would I go about generating a heightmap from this image, if it is possible:

If it isn’t possible, do you know of anywhere else I can get heightmaps of the Apollo landing sites?


should work the same

You’d need a large amount of additional info about the shot – the actual real-world scale (width & breadth) of the features shown, the exact angle of the sun in relation to the mean elevation of the picture, and the exact vertical height of at least one major feature casting a shadow. With this a good coder/mathematician/mapmaker could (maybe) calculate the (close approximate) vertical relief and translate that into a greyscale image usable as a heightmap. But from the pic alone, it’d not be feasible except by trial & error.

George, sorry to disappoint you, but your picture is NOT a height map. It’s just a grayscale, shaded photograph.

Check this blend file out (it’s a 2.5 file):

I probably sub-divided the mesh way to much, but here’s how I did this fairly quickly.

New plane > Sub-divide plane for lots polygons to be displaced
Add Material to plane, add texture (your image), but don’t worry about mapping the texture to your material. Instead, goto your modifier panel and add a displacement modifier, you can see the settings I made in my blend file.

Seems like this could work for you.

Guys, his image won’t work as a heightmap or displacement map because the greyscale tones do not correspond to height values – they are shadows and highlights caused by the relief. The dark shadows would become deep pits and the bright highlights tall peaks, none of which would actually match the real terrain. He wants a way to use the image data to generate a proper heightmap.

@george7378 – I found some lunar heightmaps at the USGS astrogeology site --Geomatics:


Doesn’t look like they have much more on hand but you can search the site, it’s the most likely source for what you want.

Thanks for the input everyone. I can’t find any grayscale heightmaps, but it doesn’t matter. Thanks for the info about displacing - it creates some nice terrain. I will be using it in the future (and have used it to create a rough terrain for testing the simulation).

I may just do it manually with paint.net.

Thanks again!

The ones shown on the page linked to above can be downloaded as TIFF files, suitable for use as heightmaps in Blender:

This is just applied to the NOR channel, so there’s no actual relief, but it can be used for displacement as well, with some cleanup.

If you have some Photoshop/Gimp skills, the TIFF images could be used to create a mocked-up terrain for your sim, if you don’t need the actual topography to be dead-on accurate.

there is a script to make heightmap from real picture
that can take a color photo that you should normally convert to Black and white
but i did it with color and seems ok

and you can get the height map from nodes also
but i have to find thsi example for nodes

interested or not ?