Shaded Relief in Blender

August 2013
I generate most of my shaded relief using a 3D modeling program called Blender. Since Blender is designed for 3D work, it does a great job calculating shadows and light scattering, which gives a much more realistic-looking and attractive result than a standard hillshade out of ArcMap or its equivalent.

If you’re interested in trying this yourself, there’s a tutorial on my blog to get you started. Since I first started working with this technique in 2013, I’ve been pleased to see a lot of other cartographers take it up, yielding some great-looking maps.

To see a giant zoomable Blender relief of the western US/Canada, click here.