ArcGIS Pro

Riffing with light and shadow

Remember that feeling you got in your first remote sensing class when Dr. Grossa told you about the wavelengths of light and how blue scatters more easily than red which is why the sky is blue and sunsets are red and you just couldn’t wait to impress your friends and family with this specialized bit of trivia? Me too.

Lets return to that well of self-satisfaction and apply our now well-worn anecdote to hillshades. In this sort of rando video, I’ll play around with varying amounts of blur, coloration, and blending, to make a hillshade technique that smooshes multiple scales of shade to create something a bit different and fun.

0:10 Check this blog post for some pondering about wavelengths, our perception of color, and a horrible injury I sustained as a kid.

1:10 Let’s start at the very beginning (a DEM), the very best place to start…

1:37 Slinging some shade.

2:10 Cracking open the Edit Function Chain option to pull back the curtain on the glorious Raster Functions.

2:43 Blurring a hillshade (which is just a way of generalizing it).

5:30 Changing the grayscale color scheme to a red, green, and blue color scheme, depending on their hillshade’s blurriness.

6:56 Blending the three layers together with blend modes.


Enjoy thinking about light and experimenting at bending and blending it! John

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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