Terrain Transparency

I have a composite 3D model with terrains, roads, pipe networks, and etc.  The terrains have materials applied (draped rasters for the existing terrain and the "Grass" material for the proposed terrain). I would like to be able to use the "Transparent" display style so that I can see the pipe networks through the terrain.  When I choose the transparent display style, however, all of the elements except the terrains become transparent.

I did some tests in a separate file with a simple solid and simple terrain model and I got the same result - the solid becomes transparent but the terrain does not.  Am I doing something wrong or is this a known issue?  Is there a way to make terrains with materials applied transparent?  Any feedback is greatly appreciated!


  • 1. If you only want to dhange the transparency in the current file , use Level Manager to amend the transparency of the level 'E_Terrain_Triangle' to (say) 70%.

    2. To have this be the default, amend the level in the DGNLIB 'Element_Templates_Metric' - or Imperial if that is your library.

  • Mark,  I appreciate the feedback but I don't think this addresses the issue I'm having.  I attached a video that may clear things up.  As you can see, transparency seems to be working fine until I apply a material to the terrain.  After doing so, it doesn't seem to matter how much I change the transparency of the element or the level - it doesn't have an effect.

    By contrast, when I use a similar process for solids (i.e. create the solid, attach material, and set display style to transparent), everything seems to work as expected.  Please let me know where I'm going wrong.

  • Can I suggest that you put something behind the surface shown in your video - say a thick red line - and try the transparency again. I remember doing something similar what you have done, and seeing no difference, but once there was something behind, it did show up the changes. Just to check that the terrain is becoming transparent.

    I normally have aerial photos attached to my terrain (in a demo) and I have the terrain semi-transparent, so I know it is possible (please note, I am not in any way a visualisation guru - I just know I got it working) :-)

  • Mark,

    I added a red line for reference and tried again.  I also added a solid for reference.  As you can see, the terrain still does not become transparent.  This is not shown in the video, but I also changed the element and level transparency but with no success.

    I did find that changing the transparency of the material itself caused the terrain to be transparent (see screenshot).  My goal, however, is to be able to quickly switch from opaque to transparent using the display styles, so having manually change to transparency of the material isn't what I'm looking for.  Any other suggestions?


    Thanks again,


  • I would then suggest changing the transparency of the material in the *_Materials.dgnlib so that is is always the way you want it, and will show up correctly when you switch to 'Transparent' display mode.

    You may want to post this query to the MicroStation Visiualisation forum, as that is full of people who really know what they are talking about :-)