RUAS’ Angel of the North – 3D Model Projects of Iconic Landmarks

The UK is home to many great features dotted across its landscape and cities, setting it apart on the world stage as somewhere that can show iconic landmarks, structures and works of art in all their glory. One such landmark that people flock to is the Angel of the North, situated at Gateshead just a few minutes from Newcastle. With its arms wide open, it literally welcomes visitors and thousands of passers-by every day as it looks down from its perch.

Now with drone technology opening up new avenues of how data can be captured, the capability for creating 3D models to archive fantastic works such as the Angel of the North has never been easier, and at such a high quality, it can be created with in the detail that it deserves. Check out the model below on fullscreen to interact with it and see our work!



With a history of creating 3D models for our clients, RUAS wanted to demonstrate its commitment to capturing some of these iconic UK structures and monuments to be preserved digitally. And what better way to start than with such a famous work of art such as the Angel?

The Angel of the North seemed like an obvious starting point for many reasons. Despite its fairly recent installation in 1998, it is a beacon to those who frequent close to the Scotland/England border. Recommended consistently as a place to visit through such services as Tripadvisor, it has become a place for locals and visitors alike to frequent on a daily basis.

Angel of the North Point Cloud

Gateshead Council have put it best, by saying ‘With its prime location, on a panoramic hilltop by the A1, the Angel of the North has become one of the most famous artworks in the region.  The sculpture was installed in February 1998 and over the last twenty years has become one of the most recognisable pieces of public art ever produced, winning many accolades and awards.’

‘It was in 1990 that the site, a former colliery pithead baths, was re-claimed and earmarked for a future sculpture. When sculptor Antony Gormley was selected as the winning artist in 1994, his designs originally caused uproar. The controversial material and site of the sculpture were frowned upon. However, once in place many people’s original views on the piece changed completely. Local residents have fallen in love with the Angel and it has become synonymous with Gateshead.’

To undertake this task, the RUAS team was equipped with a full DJI Matrice 300 RTK aircraft and kit, along with a powerful Zenmuse P1 camera that is capable of capturing high-definition stills of 45 megapixels, provided by our good friends at heliguy™, who are the leading suppliers in the best drone equipment to the entire UK. The Matrice 300 has been able to drastically change the way flight planning can be undertaken and with the Zenmuse P1, it makes for a powerful combination, all of which had been sourced directly from heliguy™.

Drone in front of AOTN

Battling through some classic British winter weather, the RUAS drone pilot team conducted the operation through a combination of automated flight missions, planned and executed through the DJI Matrice 300 software, as well as some well targeted manual flights.

With all 3D modelling, the trick is to capture images that create an overlap with one another to ensure that the detail is sufficient to remain, otherwise it may look like a murky corner of Google Maps. This is why automated flight plans are important to use because it achieves this without any trouble. Whereas manual flights are more difficult to stay consistent with, especially if the target is as big as the Angel of the North, with its 54 metre (175 foot) wingspan is bigger than a Boeing 757 or 767 jet and almost the same as a Jumbo jet. To ensure full coverage was achieved, more than 2000 images were captured after only a few hours.

Over the years RUAS has undertaken similar projects like this, gaining our experience within the railway and oil and gas industries respectively, where capturing this kind of data safely and quickly is of paramount importance. Accuracy is something that needs to be achieved with every flight.

Drone Operator After Training

Thanks to the Matrice 300’s RTK system, not only are the images of an exceptional quality, but it allows for very accurate integral logistical data which is so vital for this kind of project. This then allows for images and photogrammetry data to be effectively meshed and stitched together to create the finished product, with an accuracy that surveyors can rely should any further work need doing to the structure.

Once the pilots were satisfied, the data was then passed through our in-house processing to create the model you can see here, showing the Angel of the North in a high detail that captures its features and design in a new way that even previous visitors may not have seen before.

With such a successful demonstration of what drone technology is capable of when applied in this way, RUAS is looking forward to undertaking future projects of such icons that really highlight and display the very best in similar works across the country.

To see our 3D model in full, visit our profile here as well as all our other work on our Services Page. Contact us for more information at or 01633 746170.

Liarne Fox

March 06

An airborne drone during a GVC transition training course.

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