Thursday, July 07, 2016

Painting Mountains with a Rainbow

Mapzen's new Walkabout map style uses a technique called sphere mapping to shade the elevation data. It is a a technique borrowed from video games and VFX to inexpensively add detail to 3d objects.

The technique is explained and illustrated with a number of interactive maps in this Sphere Maps blog post. If you aren't that interested in the explanation then you can just skip to the end of the blog post to play with the Sphere Map Demo which allows you to create your own multi-colored shaded relief maps in real-time.

The demo includes a color-picking tool. Just pick your color from this tool and paint into the circle on the little canvas above the color-picking tool. As you paint into the canvas the terrain map is automatically updated with your choice of colors. Try out the full-screen Sphere Map Demo for the best results.

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