3D city model is a digital representation of the Earth’s surface and it’s related objects such as building, tree, vegetation, and some manmade feature belonging to urban area. The demand of 3D city modeling is increasing rapidly for various engineering and non-engineering applications. Generally four main image based approaches were used for virtual 3D city models generation. In first approach, researchers were used Sketch based modeling, second method is Procedural grammar based modeling, third approach is Close range photogrammetry based modeling and fourth approach is mainly based on Computer Vision techniques. SketchUp, CityEngine, Photomodeler and Agisoft Photoscan are the main softwares to represent these approaches respectively. These softwares have different approaches & methods suitable for image based 3D city modeling. Literature study shows that till date, there is no complete such type of comparative study available to create complete 3D city model by using images.
This paper gives a comparative assessment of these four image based 3D modeling approaches. This comparative study is mainly based on data acquisition methods, data processing techniques and output 3D model products. For this research work, study area is the campus of civil engineering department, Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee (India). This 3D campus acts as a prototype for city. This study also explains various governing parameters, factors and work experiences. This research work also gives a brief introduction, strengths and weakness of these four image based techniques. Some personal comment is also given as what can do or what can’t do from these softwares.
At the last, this study shows; it concluded that, each and every software has some advantages and limitations. Choice of software depends on user requirements of 3D project. For normal visualization project, SketchUp software is a good option. For 3D documentation record, Photomodeler gives good result. For Large city reconstruction; CityEngine is a good product. Agisoft Photoscan software creates much better 3D model with good texture quality and automatic processing. So this image based comparative study is useful for 3D city user community. Thus this study will provide a good roadmap for geomatics user community to create photo-realistic virtual 3D city model by using image based techniques.