3D Surface Maps

The 3D surface map uses shading and color to emphasize your data features. Change the lighting, display angle and tilt with a click of the mouse. Overlay several surface maps to generate informative block diagrams.

surfer-surface 2

Create exciting 3D surface maps from your XYZ data!
Image courtesy of Igor Yashayaev, Bedford Institute of Oceanography,
Fisheries and Oceans, Canada.

3D Surface Map Features

  • Specify surface color gradation, shininess, base fill and line color
  • Control mesh line frequency, color, style, surface offset
  • Set lighting horizontal and vertical angles, ambient, diffuse, and specular properties
  • Overlay contour maps, image maps, post maps, shaded relief maps, raster and vector base maps, and other surface maps for spectacular presentations
  • Choose overlay resample method and resolution, color modulation (blending) of surface and overlays
  • Save and load custom color map files for the exact desired display
  • Use one of the built-in presets as the color map
  • Add color scales to explain the data values corresponding to each color
  • Disable the display of blanked grid nodes or map the blanked areas to a specific Z level

surfer-surface 3

Combining surface maps is an excellent technique to visually compare data sets.
Image courtesy of Igor Yashayaev, Bedford Institute of Oceanography,
Fisheries and Oceans, Canada.

surfer-surface 4

Overlay surface maps to visually depict changes with depth!

Wireframe em38

 Show the surface as a construction of mesh lines, and overlay filled contours on top for a powerful display.

surfer-surface 5

Create photo-realistic 3D models containing both terrain and ground cover detail by
overlaying 3D surfaces with aerial photography, satellite imagery or other images.

3D Wireframe Maps

Surfer wireframe maps provide an impressive three dimensional display of your data. Wireframes are created by connecting Z values along lines of constant X and Y.

Use color zones, independent XYZ scaling, orthographic or perspective projections at any tilt or rotation angle, and different combinations of X, Y and Z lines to produce exactly the surface you want. Drape a color-filled contour map over a wireframe map to create the most striking color or black-and-white representations of your data. The possibilities are endless.

surfer-wireframe 2

A wireframe map can be used to display any combination of X,Y, and Z lines.
A USGS SDTS DEM file was used to create this map and color zones were defined for the X and Y lines.

3D Wireframe Map Features

  • Display any combination of X,Y, and Z lines
  • Use automatic or user-defined color zones to highlight different Z levels
  • Stack any number of 3D surfaces on a single page
  • Optional hidden line removal
  • Overlay any combination of contour, filled contour, base, post, and classed post maps on a surface
  • Views of the top or bottom of the surface, or both
  • Proportional or independent scaling in the X,Y, and Z dimensions
  • Full control over axis tick marks and tick labels
  • Add a base with optional vertical base lines
  • Display the surface at any rotation or tilt angle


Apply color to 3D wireframe maps to emphasize the change in Z value.

Additional Features

Your Surfer package comes with many additional features to help you work smarter, not harder!

  • Save a project in Surfer version 13, 12 or 11 SRF file format
  • Reload map data and grid files with a single command
  • Draw a polyline or polygon to measure distance and area
  • Use the Text Editor to easily format, superscript, subscript and edit text or insert symbols or equations
  • Substitute a new grid or data file into an existing map without changing the map properties
  • Save a grid from a grid-based map, or save a data file from a post or classed post map.
  • Display the XYZ coordinates of the cursor location in the status bar
  • Windows Clipboard support for copying maps to other applications
  • Use the mouse to resize objects on the screen
  • Define Surfer's default preferences
  • Easily find XYZ coordinates by digitizing point locations
  • Automatically save digitized coordinates as BLN or text data files
  • Print to any Windows supported printer or plotter
  • Display and print subsets of completed maps, complete with subset axes
  • Adjust the number of Undo levels
  • Click on a map and pinpoint the same XY location in a different map
  • Click on a map and highlight the nearest data point to that location in the worksheet
  • Create your own keyboard shortcuts for common functions
  • Customize the toolbars by adding or removing buttons
  • Floatable toolbars
  • Download free updates automatically


surfer-additional 2

Use the Measure tool to draw a region over the map and 
measure the length and area of the region!


surfer-additional 3

Use the Text Editor to easily create and edit custom text.


surfer-additional 4

Export your map in KML or KMZ format for convenient display in Google Earth!



Create your own scripts to automate repetitive tasks! Don‚Äôt spend time doing the same process over and over again ‚Äď write a simple script to simplify your life! Operations performed interactively can be controlled using an automation-compatible programming language such as Visual Basic, C++, or Perl.

Surfer includes Scripter, a built-in Visual Basic compatible programming environment that lets you write, edit, debug, and run scripts. Why do more work than you need when you have Surfer working for you!

Visit the Support Central page where you'll find over 35 sample scripts to help you get started.


surfer-automation 2

Write simple scripts to call repetitive tasks

Base Maps

Surfer can import maps in many different formats to display geographic information. Base maps are created from any number of file formats, such as SHP, DXF, GeoTIFF, and PDF. In addition to loading existing files as base map, you can also download georeferenced imagery automatically from countless free online Web Map Service (WMS) servers through Surfer's built-in WMS browser. Connect to the online data source, pick the layer of interest you want to download, and then watch as Surfer downloads the image and seamlessly loads it into your project.

Combine base maps with other map layers in map overlays, or create stand-alone base maps independent of other maps on the page. Load any number of base maps on a page. It is easy to overlay a base map on a contour or surface wireframe map, allowing you to display geographic information in combination with the three dimensional data.

When using base map data with attribute information (such as the data in SHP files), you can manage the attribute data easily in the attribute table and query objects based on object property or attribute information.

Surfer Base Map

Display your base maps in Surfer alone or overlay them on other maps.

Base Map Features

  • Edit the line, fill, text and symbol properties for individual objects in a base map
  • Download and import online base maps directly from WMS servers
  • Import georeferenced images files in real world coordinates
  • Manually georeferenced images files in real world coordinates
  • Calculate the area and perimeter length of polygons in a base map
  • Calculate the length of polylines in a base map
  • Copy, paste, reshape, move and delete individual objects in a base map
  • Add new objects to a base map
  • Adjust the layer opacity
  • Label objects with attributes
  • Manage attributes easily to add, edit or remove attributes or attribute values
  • Query map objects based on object properties or attribute values

Surfer Base Map

Display all your information! Attributes are imported with your base map files, or can be created. All objects in a base layer can be labeled with attributes. The polygons in this map are labeled with the Secondary attribute.


Download base maps, such as aerial or satellite imagery, automatically
from online mapping servers and it loads directly into your map!

Surfer-Base Map

Load all your base map files to create location maps for your data!
Overlay other map types, such as classed post maps, with your base map.

Contour Maps

Display contour maps over any contour range and contour interval, or specify only the contour levels you want to display on the map. And with Surfer you can add color fill between contours to produce dazzling displays of your maps, or produce gray scale fills for dramatic black and white printouts..

surfer-kontur 3

Create colorful contour maps with custom levels, colors, and a color scale!

Contour Map Features

  • Display automatic, logarithmic or user-defined contour intervals and ranges
  • Full control over contour label format, font, frequency, placement, and spacing
  • Drag contour labels to place them exactly where you want them
  • Automatic or user-defined color for contour lines
  • Color fill between contours, either user-specified or as a custom color map of your choice
  • Save and load custom color map files for the exact desired display
  • Use one of the built-in presets as the color map
  • Full control over hachures
  • Save and load contour map level files that contain all the level information, so you can easily and quickly create contour maps with consistent properties
  • Regulate smoothing of contour lines
  • Blank contour lines in areas where you don't want to show any data
  • Specify color for blanked regions, or make them transparent
  • Add color scale
  • Create any number of contour maps on a page
  • Add base, vector, shaded relief, image, or post map layers to contour map layers
  • Drape contour map layers over 3D surfaces or 3D wireframes for dramatic displays
  • Export contours in 3D DXF, 3D SHP or 3D TXT formats
  • Adjust the layer opacity

surfer-kontur 4

Create vibrant and informative contour maps and overlay them with post maps of the original data points!


 Create logarithmically distributed contour levels to
identify both high and low areas on the map.


Use date/times as an X or Y variable when gridding and creating maps!
Reverse an axis to show the data in the correct direction, such as depth
data increasing downwards.

Coordinate Systems

Choose from an endless list of coordinate systems for your map to display. Specify the source coordinate system for each of the layers in your map, and choose to display the map in any other coordinate system! For example, load data and grid files in UTM or State Plane coordinates, and display the map in Latitude/Longitude coordinates! It is simply that easy!

Create custom coordinate systems by defining projection and datum parameters, and save the coordinate system for future use. You can also assign coordinate system information to your grid or data file and save it as an external file for future reuse. Searching for coordinate systems by name or EPSG number makes finding the one you want a snap!

surfer-map-projections 2

This map was created using ten different data sets in more than five different
coordinate systems! No extra effort is required to convert data sets, Surfer works
seamlessly with all coordinate systems. Image courtesy of Eric Dickenson,
Environmental Science and Engineering Division, Colorado School of Mines.
Infestation data was obtained from USDA Forest Service,
Forest Health Protection and its partners.


Customize Your Map

Make your map look its best by customizing it to fit your needs! Surfer offers numerous map features to enhance the look of your map. Use Surfer's defaults, or customize your map by including scale bars, editing colors, lines and fill styles, showing only portions of a map, adjusting the scale and setting axis properties!

Map Features

  • Change the tilt, rotation and field of view angle for the map
  • Specify the view projection as perspective or orthographic
  • Set XYZ scales in map units or page length
  • Choose proportional or independent XY scaling
  • Display the map using the data XY limits or choose to display the map using a subset of the data
  • Control background fill and line color and styles
  • Full control over the axis limits and scaling, axis title, axis line style, tick labels, tick spacing, tick display, and grid lines

Other Customizations

  • Create any number of maps on a single page
  • Create independent maps or create a combined map with multiple types of map layers
  • Add scale bars
  • Add additional axes
  • Add text, polylines, polygons, symbols and spline polylines
  • Edit text, line, fill and symbol properties
  • Set the transparency for images, fill patterns and most map layers
  • Define custom line styles and colors
  • Add any number of text blocks at any position on the map, using TrueType fonts
  • Include superscripts, subscripts and Greek or other characters in text
  • Add arrowheads to lines

surfer-customize 2

Customize your map using the abundant options available to you!


surfer-customize 3

Create multiple maps, scale bars, and text annotations to clarify your project.


surfer-customize 4

Create the most informative maps possible by adding text, scale bars, location maps, and other details!


Faults and Breaklines

Define faults and breaklines when gridding your data. Faults act as barriers to the information flow, and data on one side of the fault will not be directly used to calculate grid node values on the other side of the fault. Breaklines include Z values.

When Surfer sees a breakline, it uses the Z value of the breakline in combination with nearby data points to calculate the grid node value. Unlike faults, breaklines are not barriers to information flow and the gridding algorithm can cross the breakline to use a point on the other side to calculate a grid node value. Use breaklines to define streamlines, ridges, and other breaks in slopes.

The gridding methods that support faults are: Inverse Distance to a Power, Minimum Curvature, Nearest Neighbor, and Data Metrics.

The gridding methods that support breaklines are: Inverse Distance to a Power, Kriging, Minimum Curvature, Nearest Neighbor, Radial Basis Function, Moving Average, Data Metrics, and Local Polynomial.


surfer-fault-original 2

Original contour map without faults or breaklines.

surfer-fault-original 3

The same data set gridded with two faults
and displayed as a contour map.

surfer-fault-original 4

The same data set gridded with two breaklines
and displayed as a contour map.

Geoprocessing Tools

Many geoprocessing, or vector editing tools are available for you to edit your vector features the way you need. Some uses for geoprocessing tools include reshaping features to a new shape, adding or deleting rings, simplifying or smoothing features, and calculating intersections between overlapping polygons. For example, create polygons of proposed development areas, create other polygons delineating flood zones, and create new polygons showing where the two overlap.

Geoprocessing Tools

  • Reshape polylines and polygons
  • Simplify polylines and polygons
  • Smooth polylines and polygons
  • Create buffers around points, polylines and polygons
  • Create points at all intersections of two more or polyline or polygon objects
  • Convert polylines to polygon (and vice versa)
  • Connect and break polylines at user-specified locations
  • Break polylines at every intersection with another object
  • Combine and split islands/lakes
  • Create a new polygon by combining multiple polygons
  • Create a new polygon only of the area(s) common to all selected polygons
  • Create a new polygon of the original selected polygons, minus the area(s) in common


Create buffers around streams, roads,
wells or any object at specified distances
to visualize offsets or setbacks!