Welcome to Grid Creator 1.1 help

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For technical support and questions, please email support@geospatialdesigns.com

Grid Creator relies on the underlying technology of Surfer in order to run properly.  Surfer is produced by Golden Software, Inc.  Geospatial Designs is not in any way affiliated with Golden Software, and only provides Grid Creator as a tool to expand on the capabilities of Surfer for 3D rendering.  It is assumed that users of Grid Creator are already familiar with the concepts of 3D graphing associated with Surfer.

Grid Creator was developed in a Windows XP environment, using the Microsoft .NET Framework.  It should run on Windows 2000 and XP with no problems.  If you have not previously installed a program using the .NET Framework, or you haven't download the latest Windows updates, you may not have the necessary runtime files installed on your machine.  Please visit the Microsoft .NET Framework website to check if you need these files installed.  If you do not have them installed, the program will not run.

Grid Creator was designed to provide 3D graphics capability for the standard drawing tools in Surfer.  Currently (as of version 8), Surfer does not allow you to render drawings in three dimensions, or to overlay them on grid files easily, because they are referenced to page coordinates and are not considered a "map".  Grid Creator allows you to turn your drawings into grid (.grd) files, so that they can be displayed using the map types that Surfer allows.  This not only allows you to create 3D surface maps using your drawings, adding unique graphics to your Surfer plots, it also allows you to export filled basemaps to a grid, setting the polygon color to a specific value (such as when you'd like a land grid at a specific elevation, to merge with a bathymetry grid).

Grid Creator provides three basic tools, which are found as buttons on the Grid Creator window:

Convert drawing into grid

Stretch drawing grid to another grid

Blank grid


Convert drawing into grid

This turns all of your selected graphics into a grid file, by creating a new grid and assigning each grid node a value that corresponds to the grayscale value of the graphics.  This is done by exporting your drawing as a bitmap file (tiff), then reading the individual pixels and transferring them into grid nodes.  Note that the bitmap files are always exported at 100 dpi.  The conversion process sets the grid node value to the RGB color value of the tiff (which should match your drawing exactly at 256 color resolution).  For instance, if you have a drawing that is 7 inches wide by 4 inches tall, it will be exported as a 700 x 400 pixel tiff file, then converted to a grid file with 700 rows x 400 columns, with each grid node having the same value as the corresponding tiff color value.  The grid's x minimum and maximum would be 0 to 699, while the y minimum and maximum would be 0 to 399.


Stretch drawing grid to another grid

In many cases, you will want to overlay maps or other grid data onto your 3D drawings.  By stretching your drawing to another grid, you give your drawing the same x and y limits as the data grid, so they share the same coordinate system (since most Surfer grids are geographic data, you are essentially "georeferencing" your drawing).  This way everything can be overlayed to create special map effects.


Blank grid

In some cases, the drawing exported from Surfer may have a few rows or columns that do not blend in with the rest of the drawing as intended.  This is due to the tiff export process from Surfer, which sometimes leaves a border along one or more edges that is a different color than the rows/columns just inside of it.  In these situations, you will want to open your drawing grid and have the edge values turned to Surfer's "no data" value (1.70141+e38) so they are not drawn on your map.  Alternatively, you may want to specify a particular value in the grid that is always blanked, such as the base of your drawing.  You can select the "Value" option and specify the grid value to blank.


Step-by-step instructions:


1.  To start, double click the Grid Creator executable or shortcut.

A new instance of Surfer is opened, and the Grid Creator window appears at the top of your screen.  The Grid Creator window will always stay on top, so you can work on your Surfer plot and still see Grid Creator.  You must use the instance of Surfer that opened with Grid Creator to edit your drawings.  You can check if you are using the correct instance by looking at the Surfer window title, which will say "Surfer with Grid Creator".  You may open plot documents, and perform other Surfer operations, but Grid Creator will always use the selected objects in the active window for export.

2.  Create your drawing using the Surfer drawing tools.  If the Surfer tools do not provide enough capability, you can do your drawing in another program and copy/paste it into your Surfer plot.  Anything that can be put into a Surfer plot can be exported as a bitmap and converted to a grid.

3.  When you are done drawing, select all of the items you want exported together, then click the "Convert to grid" button on the Grid Creator window.  A dialog box will open asking where you'd like to save your grid.  Click "Ok" and your grid will be created using all of the selected objects on the page.

4.  If you would like to stretch your new grid to another grid, click the "Stretch drawing grid to another grid" button on the Grid Creator window.  A dialog box will open allowing you to browse to the grid you want to stretch, then another asking you to find the grid you want to stretch your drawing to.  When you've clicked "Ok" to both of those dialogs, your drawing grid will be stretched.  Note:  The grid extents of your drawing grid will be overwritten to match the new grid.

5.  If you need to blank one or more rows or columns from your drawing grid, click the "Blank grid" button on the Grid Creator window.  A dialog box will open allowing you to browse to the grid you want to blank.  After you have selected your grid, another dialog box will open where you specify how many rows or columns you would like blanked, or, specify the grid value you want to blank.  Click "Ok" and the specified rows/columns or values will be blanked.  Note: the values you specify will be overwritten in your drawing grid.  Also note that this is the only Grid Creator function that will work if you do not have Surfer installed, or if you have closed Surfer already.

6.  When you are finished, close the Grid Creator window.  The Surfer instance that was opened with Grid Creator will automatically close as well.



For best results, it is recommended that you do your drawings in grayscale.  The grayscale values stored in a tiff image are a smooth gradation from black to white, whereas colors may jump around within the spectrum.  For reference, the RGB values for the Surfer Black colors are as follows: 100% (black) = 0, 90% = 1644825, 80% = 3355443, 70% = 5066061, 60% = 6710886, 50% = 8421504, 40% = 10066329, 30% = 11776947, 20% = 13421772, 10% = 15132390, 0% (white) = 16777215.  You can easily use Surfer's Grid | Math option to replace specific color values with a data value of your choice.

In most cases, using Surfer's filtering tools will help your 3D drawings look their best.  Using a Gaussian median filter on your drawing grid is a good way to create smooth 3D transitions.  Remember, once your drawings have been converted to grids, any of Surfer's grid analysis tools can be used to process the data.  The example shows the difference between unfiltered and filtered grids.

It is generally best to use a black rectangle as the background for your drawings, because black is "0", so it will be the bottom of your surface.  Also, grids are rectangular, so this will ensure that all of the background nodes are at the same elevation on your surface.



The following images were produced using Grid Creator with Surfer, and demonstrate the step-by-step process from a basic drawing to 3D graphics with a map overlay.


First, a drawing is created using the standard Surfer drawing and text tools, then exported as a grid using Grid Creator.


Next, the drawing grid is loaded into Surfer as a surface map in order to determine what adjustments need to be made.


This filtered image is the surface map after using Surfer's Grid/Filter tools to process the drawing grid.  A Gaussian filter was applied with 100 iterations in order to smooth the edges.  Once the grid was loaded, the lighting and coloration were adjusted.


Here is the topo map we are going to overlay.  It's a standard Surfer contour map with filled contours.


Here is the final product after overlaying the contour map.