Above Ground Shaded Reliefs

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Yesterday in the Great Smokies
Webcam archive
Using lidar derivatives in ArcGIS Pro, Blender, and Python Notebooks

Boyd Shearer

Long tradition in cartography of making shaded reliefs.

There's a ArcGIS Pro style for this.

Image sources

Accuracy & Atmosphere

LiDAR -> above-ground

Hillshade a DSM

Blender 3D

  • Professional, free and open source 3D software
  • enables ray tracing to create subtle shading effects.

Ray tracing

  • Renders an atmospheric quality
  • by illuminating nearby objects with reflected light.
  • Takes a long minute to render.

How to use in a GIS?




  • Create DSM in ArcGIS Pro.
  • Export as scaled 16-bit TIFF raster with world file.
  • Render in Blender matching original raster aspect ratio.
  • Using world file, bring raster back into AP and color with NDVI.

Python Notebook

Some notable cells from the notebook...

Blender time

  • Make sure you have a 16-bit TIFF with a world file
  • and you know it's pixel dimensions.
  • Use this Blender project file
  • with the plane, camera, and light already set up.
Thank you