I'm working on updating a planning document. Whoever was in charge of cartography last time around used a great technique to identify and showcase focus areas (where to focus money and effort for maximum return on investment). I'm trying to use this same type of technique by interpreting and recreating the work-flow.

Digital terrain

As you can see, it certainly tells more of the story than a standard flat-filled polygon especially when considering the landscape from a restoration perspective.

The focus area seems to be a terrain / colored hillshade -- could I recreate this with the national elevation dataset (NED) from USGS? Suggestions for a solid workflow to get me going would be great.

1 Answer 1


I've done maps like this before in ArcGIS years ago. I would clip the elevation raster (usually NED from USGS) to the vector polygon of the study area. Next, create a hillshade of the elevation raster, drape that over the source NED raster, then play around with the transparency/contrast/color ramp of the hillshade to get it to look like I wanted - you might have to create your own custom color ramp by modifying an existing one. Then just overlay all of the that over the counties or states to get the look above. You can overlay the smaller yellow and purple polygons onto the hillshade, then apply a transparency to them as well. By the way, my old stompin' grounds where I grew up are on that map - Santa Rosa County, FL.

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    Clip using the Extract by Mask tool, help.arcgis.com/en/arcgisdesktop/10.0/help/index.html#/…
    – artwork21
    Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 16:16
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    – Thad
    Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 17:30
  • @Thad - Those Image Analyst functions make this a lot easier than it was just a few years ago. Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 18:05
  • @ChadCooper Yeah they do. And WAYYYYY more quickly - and not just ease of use, but from a processing standpoint, they are very efficient.
    – Thad
    Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 18:36
  • @Chad Cooper - Any idea where I can get my hands on actual elevation rasters these days? USGS NED seems intent on trying to force WMS services on me that won't work with geoprocessing tools.
    – Roy
    Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 16:41

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