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5,383 post(s)
#04-Oct-18 09:48

I've been reading John Nelson's blog posts on Imhof style cartography. John Nelson is an ESRI cartographer who has made many nice contributions to using Arc styles, in particular, some very appealing "antique" or otherwise unexpected styles.

Imhof style cartography combines a number of effects, such as an altitude palette that ranges from transparent in higher elevations to a shade of green in lower elevations. When used as a layer above hill-shaded relief, such a layer allows higher elevations to show through the transparency while increasing amounts of green "haze" reduce detail lower.

I've been playing around with this stuff in 9, primarily to get some look-ahead on what people might expect from 9 in terms of styles and other effects. For example, Nelson talks about use of multidirectional hill shading. That's not in 9 yet, but it will be. Likewise, there is a lot of appeal to the idea of being able to import into 9 or otherwise consume .style and stylx files created for ESRI products. Why go to the effort of re-loading and duplicating all those colors, symbology, etc., when you could just load them with a point and a click, right? :-)

But it turns out that if one is willing to spend a bit of tinker time at it (Nelson had to do that with Arc, too), you can get some very interesting presentations with 9 just as it is today, without even doing the "full Imhof" thing. There is a new example on the Gallery page for that.

What's interesting is how radically you can change the "look" of the thing by manipulating opacity settings in the Layers panel, adjusting colors slightly in the palettes used, and so on.

The direct link to the big image is

The direct link to the PDF mentioned (A4 paper size) is


5,383 post(s)
#04-Oct-18 13:33

Two more PDFs, using the same style, follow below. The Imhof effects tend to work best when you tune them to a range of altitudes in a particular area of interest. I was interested in how well these scaled to other locations if absolutely nothing was done. It turns out they look different, but not necessarily "bad different."

Taking away the "dark" layer that masked out everything but Switzerland in the antique Swiss views, we get a worldwide view using the settings that were seen within Switzerland. In the layout you can then pan and zoom to get views of different parts of the world. One PDF shows mountains in Oregon and Washington with the Columbia River Gorge running through the middle. The other PDF is a closer view of Mount Rainier, Mount Saint Helens and Mount Adams.

To play with Imhof effects I grabbed the first project that was conveniently at hand, a GTOPO30 terrain elevation raster for the whole world. GTOPO30 is not all that detailed, but at least it is worldwide. On top of that the various "sfumato" layers were built using copies of GTOPO30, so the project ends up having four layers of the entire GTOPO30 data set for the whole world, making for a project that is over 5 GB in size.

But given this is 9 that all pans and zooms and otherwise works instantly, plus you get the whole world at once in the same styling. So, despite the laziness of using a whole-world data set to try out cartography for various regional areas of interest, it all works OK.

Mounts Rainier Helens Adams.pdf
NW mountains.pdf


1,264 post(s)
#04-Oct-18 14:29

Encouraging to see you looking at John Nelson's work for inspiration for what users may want from Manifold 9. Weirdly I was also looking at John's work yesterday too. I found a document that combines many of his map styles, including the example you worked with, here. The geek in me would love to create some Middle Earth style maps.

drtees64 post(s)
#05-Oct-18 16:27

I live danger-close to the volcanoes in your Mounts Rainer Helens Adams.pdf, so I was very interested to see the results you came up with. The pdfs, as displayed on my computer (I use Firefox as my go-to browser), have a number of horizontal white lines somewhat evenly spaced across both of the images you posted. These didn't appear on the Switzerland image, so I was wondering what caused the lines?

Side note: Go a bit further north with your dataset and you will also include Glacier Peak, Mt. Olympus, and Mt. Baker. All these volcanoes, coupled with the Cascadian subduction fault of of the Olympic peninsula, and you have a recipe for massive future destruction of the Pacific Northwest area.

Other than that, it is a really beautiful area. You should visit sometime!


5,383 post(s)
#05-Oct-18 18:45

have a number of horizontal white lines somewhat evenly spaced across both of the images you posted.

The PDFs appear fine in Adobe Reader, Opera, Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Microsoft Internet Explorer, so I guess it is something in Firefox.

I agree it is a beautiful area... in clear weather when you can see several of the volcanoes at once, truly spectacular!

apo59 post(s)
#04-Oct-18 20:10

This is remembering me the work of a university mate who is dealing with cartography for years, first in Zurich and now in the antipodes. His work is in replicating the work of Imhof and other swiss cartographers as the official swiss topo maps.

One component of the ancient maps he worked on was the underlaying terrain, which was made using an airbrush. This page shows the tool used to improve the shading


8,687 post(s)
#04-Oct-18 21:10

Yes Bernhard Jenny is a force for good.


5,383 post(s)
#05-Oct-18 06:31

Thanks for the link! The Terrain Sculptor tool looks interesting and the effect is appealing. I read the technical paper and it seems you could do all that given a matrix filter or two as 8 provides, like the low-pass filter, plus another transform or two and a combination facility. When all that appears in 9 it would be easy to create a combo transform that applied the effect, or an add-in that could interactively apply it with sliders, like their Java app does. That such matrix filters naturally GPU-parallelize fits well with the 9 framework, as well. It's interesting they used Java... I suppose that would be a natural guide for any V8 implementations. :-)

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