Shaded Relief

Ideas and Techniques about Relief Presentation on Maps


The goal of this site is to assist cartographers with the presentation of shaded relief, 3D panoramas, and related raster art on maps. I work as a cartographer for the US National Park Service, Harpers Ferry Center.

For additional shaded relief information I recommend:

Tom Patterson...Bio

Disclaimer and copyright

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New and updated stuff!

March 19, 2017

Making 3D Terrain Maps

Here you will find ideas, advice, and tips about creating obliquely viewed 3D terrain maps, including examples of national park maps. The emphasis is on preparing small-scale scenes with Natural Scene Designer Pro and Adobe Photoshop.

Natural Scene Designer Pro 7.0 Tutorial

Natural Scene Designer (NSD) Pro 7.0, now available for Mac and Windows, offers a slew of new features for creating 3D scenes and shaded relef maps. I review my favorite features and improvements, including tips on their use.

Relief Presentation on US National Park Service Maps (PDF, 3.8MB)

Patterson, T. (2016). Mountain Cartography. 16 Years ICA Commission on Mountain Cartography. Chapter examining the evolution of relief presentations on maps by Harpers Ferry Center, the media service center of the US National Park Service.

Manual Shaded Relief of the Contiguous US

The relief art also includes southern Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. It is available as a grayscale GeoTIFF (12,578 x 9,494 pixels), registers with Natural Earth 1:10 million vector data, and is in the Web Mercator projection.

World Political Map

A map of world countries that is in the public domain. You can download a PDF or an Adobe Illustrator map file with editable layers, including MAPublisher georeferencing. The map is available in your choice of three projections.