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Tiling Drone or Satellite Imagery

Cesium ion allows you to tile drone or satellite imagery, combine it into a mosaic, and drape it on global 3D terrain.

This guide explains how.

Data import satellite imagery

Satellite imagery from Bing maps draped over Cesium World Terrain at Glen Canyon, Arizona.


You need a Cesium ion account to take this tutorial.


Cesium ion is an open platform for tiling and hosting.

Supported formats

FormatFile extensions
GeoTIFF.tiff, .tif
Floating Point Raster.flt
Arc/Info ASCII Grid.asc
Source Map.src
Erdas Imagine.img
JPEG.jpg, .jpeg
Other common raster formats

Imagery files must be georeferenced before being loaded into Cesium ion.

  • Files may be zipped.
  • Include any sidecar files when uploading (such as .aux, .xml, .tab, .tfw, .wld, .prj, .ovr, .rrd).
  • Uploaded imagery is automatically reprojected to EPSG:3857.


Cesium ion tiles your imagery into WMTS/TMS. Here’s a sample GeoTIFF you can download to try this out.

  1. On the My Assets tab of Cesium ion, press Add Data to upload your model.
  2. Select Raster Imagery.
  • Imagery files must be georeferenced before being loaded into Cesium ion.
Data import my assets import


The easiest way to visualize and share your asset is using Cesium Stories.

  1. In the Stories tab, click New Story.
  2. Under Assets, click the Add asset button and choose your asset.
  3. Click on the zoom button (magnifying glass) to go to your asset in the scene. Adjust the view to your liking.
  4. Click on Capture view to save the view.
  5. Click Share and give your story a name.

You can now share your data in an interactive scene! Learn more about Stories with this tutorial.

Use your asset in a custom app

When you click on an asset in My Assets, you’ll see a preview panel on the right side of the screen.

  • The preview panel displays the asset ID, which you’ll need for loading this asset in CesiumJS or other engines.
  • You’ll find a code snippet for loading this asset in CesiumJS at the bottom of this panel.
  • Click Open complete code example to see your asset in Sandcastle.
Data import asset preview

You’ll find a code example for adding this asset to your CesiumJS app at the bottom of the asset preview window.

Learn how to set up a CesiumJS app with the quickstart guide.

Live code examples for imagery

Check out these live code examples to see what you can do with imagery:


  • Compress your GeoTIFF with LZW or other compression methods for faster uploads.
  • Tiling time will vary based on size, resolution, and projection of the data. Imagery that’s already in EPSG:3857 will tile faster.

Content and code examples at are available under the Apache 2.0 license. You can use the code examples in your commercial or non-commercial applications.