Alternatives to relief shading

Michal M’s latest experiments on automated cartography brought back memories on some experiments I made myself in trying to replicate old map style cartography using modern (free and open-source) GIS packages. The idea is simple, I’m looking for alternative background styling for topographic features (like hills and mountains) that is different from the usual shaded relief approach.

My experiments didn’t pass the production stage, but it’s good to know that the guys at Stamen are exploring better ways to do this with the latest tools of webmapping.

Hillsign icons. The peaks were extracted from DEM using the GRASS GIS’ terrain parameters extraction (morphometric features) module. The points were symbolized with custom icons depicting hills and mountains.

Hachures and half toning. Following Kennelly and Kimerling (2000) paper on “Desktop Hachure Maps from Digital Elevation Models“, hachures were extracted from DEM derived slope and aspect point data. The arrows depicts the direction of the surface (aspect) while the line thickness depicts the steepness of the gradient (slope).

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