ArcGIS Pro

Imhof-ish cartography: now everywhere can look like Switzerland

Remember when you were a mid-century master of terrain mapping? When you imagined the play of light on a topographic surface and sketched in shadows with your graphite stick and layered your photographic plates to generate one renowned cartographic wonder after another by day, then dabbled in paints and washes exploring the luxurious interplay of colors and flourishes in your charming landscape brushwork in the evenings? When you influenced generations of map makers with your effortless and painterly sense of depth and meta-realism and founded the International Cartographic Association?

Me neither. But we can imagine a little slice of it! Let’s take a stroll down that ambitious lane together, shall we?

In this how-to video series I pay honor to the excellent Eduard Imhof, renown Swiss cartographer, and peer closely into the techniques that may give his terrain maps a sense of gravity via a little lecture just loaded with graphics. Then we throw it into reverse and try to apply some of those lessons to our own terrain mapping with an elevation service in ArcGIS Pro. Sind Sie bereit?


0:00 Pleasantries (to be skipped)
0:34 Introduction to Eduard Imhof
1:51 Showing structure and materiality by painting light and shadow
2:33 Atmospheric perspective…a renaissance brain hack
4:12 Using hue to connote warmth and cold
4:48 The variability of representing landforms as hillshade
6:22 A digital traditional hillshade
6:40 A digital multidirectional hillshade
7:23 How to merge the benefits of each?
7:44 Case in point: sunlit colors
8:12 Shade colors
8:39 Applying atmospheric perspective to elevation
9:06 High elevation colors
9:20 Low elevation colors
9:55 Applying these colors to digital hillshades
12:33 Applying these colors to elevation
13:18 Assembling all these layers
14:04 Examples when applied to various locations
15:01 The goods! Grab this ArcGIS Pro style, and follow along in the next video!


0:37 Downloading the Imhof style for ArcGIS Pro
1:07 Adding the Imhof style to a project
1:47 A sneak peak at the symbols in the Imhof style
2:20 Imagery as a base
2:30 Adding in and elevation layer (TopoBathy image service from Living Atlas), or whatever DEM you want
4:00 Ohhhh Raster Functions
4:22 Building a traditional hillshade layer
4:43 Building a multidirectional hillshade layer
5:34 Applying the Imhof style symbol to traditional hillshade
6:15 Applying the Imhof style symbol to multidirectional hillshade
6:30 The glories of building up semitransparent hillshade layers
6:34 Applying the Imhof style symbol to the elevation layer
7:07 Dynamic Range Adjustment (normalize symbology by only data in current map view)
7:27 All the layers conspiring to look Imhof-esque
7:55 Because it’s an elevation image service, I can zoom and pan anywhere and the effect applies


That’s it, my friends! Here’s that link again if you are feeling like you want to assume the mantle of a painterly Swiss cartographer! I do hope you grab the style, I desperately wish you pull in an elevation layer to your ArcGIS Pro project, and I eagerly await your turquoise and amber terrain maps. Did you try it? Share the results in the comments! Encourage your fellow map nerds (including me) with your work.


About the author

I have far too much fun looking for ways to understand and present data visually, hopefully driving product strategy and engaging users. I work in the ArcGIS Living Atlas team at Esri, pushing and pulling data in all sorts of absurd ways and then sharing the process. I also design user experiences for maps and apps. When I'm not doing those things, I'm chasing around toddlers and wrangling chickens, and generally getting into other ad-hoc adventures. Life is good. You might also like these Styles for ArcGIS Pro:

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