3D mapping with Aerialod (for Windows)

Map terrain, population density, cities + more - from simple datasets to stunning 3D maps with this amazing tool!
Free tutorial
Rating: 4.8 out of 5 (134 ratings)
2,608 students
1hr 40min of on-demand video
English [Auto]

How to make stunning 3D maps of cities, landscapes and population density
How to navigate your way around Aerialod
What all the settings in Aerialod are for and what they do
How to map landscapes
How to map high-resolution Lidar data for an urban area
How to map global population density
How to export high quality images from Aerialod
How to overcome some common problems in Aerialod
How to add 3D text to images
How to save different view settings in Aerialod


  • No prior experience is necessary
  • Aerialod is a Windows-only piece of software (32-bit or 64-bit)
  • No previous mapping experience is required


Aerialod is a fantastic piece of 3D rendering software for Windows, from ephtracy

Update: my courses now have more than 3,000 students across 129 countries. Join now to see why!

Aerialod is simple, but also deceptively powerful - and at first it can be a little confusing, so that's why I've put together this short, FREE Udemy course. It doesn't cover everything, but it has more than enough to get you up and running.

This short course is for anyone who wants to learn how to make stunning 3D visualisations of terrain data, population density data, or any other kind of data that varies across geographic space. In fact, it doesn't even have to be geographic data - you can use it to visualise any raster image (e.g. png files, jpg files, tif files) in incredible detail. In the introduction I even show you what it looks like when I open a photo of myself in Aerialod - weird, yet also fascinating!

Want to make a 3D map of Scotland? No problem. Want to create a beautiful 3D representation of a cityscape? No problem. Want to create a 3D visualisation of population density in a country, or the entire world? Yep, no problem. Aerialod can do all of this, and much more.

To really maximise the potential of Aerialod and render images quickly then you'll need a high-end graphics card in your computer - like the ones in most good gaming PCs. But even without that you can create some truly stunning visuals - you just need a little bit more patience.

What exactly is Aerialod?

In technical terms, Aerialod is 'an interactive path tracing renderer for height maps'. This may not mean much to you but, to put it another way, Aerialod is a small piece of software that lets you create realistic 3D representations of real-world things like mountains and cities, or visualise patterns of human population such as population density. You could also visualise things like weather (e.g. hurricane tracks), rainfall, and a whole lot more. You just need imagination, patience and - usually - a bit of guidance to get up and running.


After the course introduction, we dive straight in with videos on how to use all the different settings in Aerialod. Don't forget to watch the introduction though - this explains quite a lot. Here's the basic structure of the course, with each section having multiple video tutorials within it.

  • Section 1 - introduction (background, installation, navigation, adding data)

  • Section 2 - visualising landscapes (using example data from Scotland)

  • Section 3 - visualising cityscapes (using an example from Manchester in the UK)

  • Section 4 - visualising population density (using an example dataset for Asia)

  • Section 5 - The End Zone (extra tips and tricks you might find useful)

We hope you find this course useful and interesting :)

Check out my Map Academy courses if you want to learn QGIS!

Who this course is for:

  • Data analysts
  • Data journalists
  • Students
  • Scientists
  • Researchers
  • Anyone with an interest in maps and learning


Map Academy: let's make maps
Alasdair Rae
  • 4.8 Instructor Rating
  • 696 Reviews
  • 5,302 Students
  • 3 Courses

Hi, I'm Alasdair! 

Millions of people love maps, but not everyone knows how to make maps - and I'm on a mission to change that. I have thousands of people learning with me here on Udemy, in over 135 countries. I hope you'll join me on my Map Academy courses - and we'll have fun along the way.

Qualifications: I'm a former university professor based in Sheffield, England. I have a PhD in urban and regional analysis, I'm the co-author of three books, and I've published more than 20 academic papers - on data analysis, mapping, cities and more. In my academic career, I set up and led an MSc in Applied Geographic Information Systems (GIS), ran research projects, and taught thousands of students.

What I do: I run Automatic Knowledge Ltd, a geospatial data analysis, visualisation and training company. Part of our mission is to teach the world how to use data to make insightful maps, make better maps, and to ensure you have fun along the way! We also give back to the wider GIS community by publishing free data and tutorials, and we're a small funder of the QGIS project. If our Udemy courses generate extra income, we'll give even more money to the QGIS project :)

In the media: My research with maps and data has featured in a wide variety of global media outlets, including the BBC, Axios, WIRED, Visual Capitalist, The Economist, National Geographic, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, Business Insider, Google Trends, the World Economic Forum, and many more. You'll see maps everywhere online these days, and many of them are made with QGIS.

So, I'll show you how to make all kinds of maps with the world's leading free and open source GIS package - QGIS - plus other amazing tools like Aerialod.

Sign up for one of my courses to begin your mapping adventures.

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