How To: Convert LiDAR to DEM

Note: The projection information is not provided in the LAS file. We need information to be given to us from another source (e.g. a metadata file).

1. Create a new File Geodatabase --> Create new Feature Class
  • Type of features stored in this class: pull-down to Multipoint Features
  • Geometry Properties: check Coordinates include Z values. Used it store 3D data. Next
  • Assign the appropriate coordinate system. Next 
  • Field Name: on blank line type INTENSITY; select Data Type as BlobFinish
Note: The .las must be converted to a multipoint before importing to ArcMap

2. ArcToolbox--> 3D Analyst Tools--> Conversion--> From File--> Las to Multipoint
  • Input: select the .las
  • Output Feature Class: Navigate within the File Geodatabase created in part 1 and specify a name for the Feature Class 
  • Average Point Spacing: enter 0.01 
  • Input Return Values: always select Last_Returns 
  • Input Coordinate System: click icon on right and click on Import… Navigate within the File Geodatabase created and part 1 and select the Feature Class you’ve created in part 1. Click Add. Click OK
  • Everything else is left default. Click OK
3. To create the DEM Raster: ArcToolbox--> 3D Analyst Tools--> Raster Interpolation--> Natural Neighbor
  • Input point features: select the multipoint layer that you just created
  • Z value field: dropdown and select Shape.Z
  • Output raster: Create a subfolder within your working folder and specify a name (this will be our DEM Raster) 
  • Output Cell Size: enter
  • Click OK -- and done!
Note: The DEM may display in ranges by color. If so, right click on layer in table of content and go to properties... Click Symbology tab--> under Show in left box, select Stretched.

You might want to create a SHADED RELIEF or HILLSHADE of the Dem...
  1. In ArcToolBox, select 3D Analyst Tools --> Raster Surface --> Hillshade.
  2. Select the raster you just created.
  3. Accept all defaults.
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