Color Shaded Relief Models

Traditional images in geomatics are often two dimensional, meaning that all data in the image can be referenced by X and Y coordinates.
Three dimensional color shaded relief (CSR) perspective view of high resolution LIDAR

Three dimensional images (3D) incorporate a third dimension (the Z component) which represents the elevation or depth aspect of the data. To incorporate it into an image requires creating special geomatics value added products that allow users to perceive the presence of the third dimension into a traditional two dimensional setting (because most paper and computer screens are flat or two dimensional).

A color shaded relief (CSR) utilizes chromo stereoscopic techniques to help emphasize the depth of the Z dimension from traditional shaded relief models that already portray the presence of an elevation difference. Using carefully edited RGB (red, green, blue) pseudo colors and then encoding them into the shaded relief image provides the user with an even more enhanced feeling that they can perceive a third dimension from a two-dimensional medium (also helping to quickly decipher between high and low elevated regions). When a feature of the same color in the image is shaded darker than the shade of its background, then the background color will predominate in determining its perceived depth position in the image.

Color shaded reliefs utilize chromo stereoscopic techniques to help emphasize the depth of the Z dimension from traditional DEMs

There are several different software packages that can be used to create CSR models, but I have found that Geomatica software by PCI Geomatics has proven to produce some of the better results in CSR models generated from DEMs. ChromaDepth 3-D glasses can often be used to further enhance the three dimensional feeling as well. These glasses use sophisticated micro-optics technology to transform color images into stereo 3-D. If you do not currently have PCI Geomatica then you can obtain a trial copy of it from their web site; then follow the steps outlined in the following CSR tutorial.

Here are some more Examples of some of the many color shaded relief (CSR) models that I have created

Orthophoto & LIDAR CSR for New Brunswick

Color Shaded Relief related documents:

 

Digital Elevation Models (DEMS)

Digital elevation model (DEM) of Lismore, Nova Scotia

A digital elevation model (DEM) or sometimes referred to as a digital terrain model (DTM) is a quantitative representation of the topography of the Earth (or sometimes other surfaces) in a digital format. They are a common component of geographic information systems /remote sensing and are usually represented by cartesian coordinates and numerical descriptions of altitude. In contrast with topographical vector maps, the information is stored in a raster format. That is, the map will normally divide the area into a rectangular grid of cells or pixels and store the elevation of each one as a DN value.

Traditionally most common DEMs used in the Geomatics industry only contain elevation values of the true ground’s surface but DEMs can also sometimes contain other features found upon the ground’s surface as well. When it contains all features it is often referred to as a digital surface (DSM). Digital surface models contain elevation values representing the ground as well as any other objects such as buildings and trees.

The resolution of the DEM, or the distance between adjacent grid points (often the size of the cell or pixel), is a critical parameter in determining the amount of detail that a user should except to represent in the DEM. The smaller the resolution, the more details or features that will be present, e.g. a 1 m resolution DEM will contain more details then a 20 m one and be better suited for hydrological analyses.

DEMs are used as a source of elevation (and to create other digital terrain models) for many different purposes such as:

  • to orthorectify imagery
  • as a source of topographic information and to create contour lines from
  • to identify geological structures in topography
  • to identify risk areas and hydrological flow patterns
  • to identify flood risk areas
  • to determine accessibility
  • to identify regions of visibility for radio or cell towers
  • to predict how the terrain can effect signal strength and reflection
  • and many more uses

Digital elevation models may be prepared in a number of ways, but they are frequently obtained by remote sensing rather than direct survey. Older methods of generating DEMs often involved interpolating digital contour maps from aerial photography produced by direct survey and interpretation of the surface.

Many mapping agencies produce their own DEMs, often of a higher resolution and quality, but frequently these have to be purchased, sometimes at considerable cost. The two methods of creating DEMs that are covered on this web site deal with LIDAR and Photogrammetry methods.

 

Digital Terrain Modeling – Color Shaded Relief Models

Traditional images in geomatics are often two dimensional, meaning that all data in the image can be referenced by X and Y coordinates.

Three dimensional color shaded relief (CSR) perspective view of high resolution LIDAR

Three dimensional images (3-D) incorporate a third dimension (the Z component) which represents the elevation or depth aspect of the data. To incorporate it into an image requires creating special geomatics value added products that allow users to perceive the presence of the third dimension into a traditional two dimensional setting (because most paper and computer screens are flat or two dimensional).

A color shaded relief (CSR) utilizes chromo stereoscopic techniques to help emphasize the depth of the Z dimension from traditional shaded relief models that already portray the presence of an elevation difference. Using carefully edited RGB (red, green, blue) pseudo colors and then encoding them into the shaded relief image provides
the user with an even more enhanced feeling that they can perceive a third dimension from a two-dimensional medium (also helping to quickly decipher between high and low elevated regions). When a feature of the same color in the image is shaded darker than the shade of its background, then the background color will predominate in determining its perceived depth position in the image.

Many different software packages can be used to create CSR models, but PCI Geomatica has been proven to produce some of the better results in CSR models generated from DEMs. ChromaDepth 3-D glasses can often be used to further enhance the three dimensional feeling as well. These glasses use sophisticated micro-optics technology to transform color images into stereo 3-D.

Color shaded reliefs utilize chromo stereoscopic techniques to help emphasize the depth of the Z dimension from traditional DEMs

Below are link to pages that contain several examples of Color shaded relief models that I have created for various projects and clients. PCI Geomatica has been proven to produce some of the better results in CSR models generated from DEMs. ChromaDepth® 3-D glasses can often be used to further enhance the three dimensional feeling as well. These glasses use sophisticated micro-optics technology to transform color images into stereo 3-D. If you do not currently have PCI Geomatica software then you can obtain a trial copy of it from their web site; then follow thesteps outlined in the following CSR tutorial, you can also use ArcGIS and other GIS software as well.

A perspective view with a color shaded relief model

Color Shaded Relief related:

 

 

Digital Terrain Modeling

Digital Terrain Modeling is the process of simulating or representing the relief and patterns of a surface with numerical and digital methods. It has always been an integral component to geology related fields such as geomorphology, hydrology, tectonics and oceanography but over the past decade has also become a major component to non geophysical applications such as GIS modeling, surveying and land use planning.

Terrain Models are derived from data represented by digital elevation models (DEMs) and can include shaded relief models, slope and aspect models, perspective scene generation, and drainage basin analysis (and other models).

Digital Terrain Modeling – Aspect models

Real world example of slope and aspect

Aspect is measured in degrees (similar to a compass bearing) clockwise from magnetic north.In digital terrain modeling the Aspect of a surface refers to the direction (azimuth) to which a slope face is orientated. The aspect or orientation of a slope can produce very significant influences on it, so it is important to know the aspect of the plane as well as the slope. Together the slope combined with the aspect of the surface can virtually define the surface plane completely in digital terrain modeling.

Aspect is measured in degrees (similar to a compass bearing) clockwise from magnetic north. A surface with 0 degrees Aspect would represent a north direction, an east facing slope would be 90 degrees, a south facing slope would be 180 degrees and a west facing slope would be 270 degrees.

Aspect map derived from a digital elevation model of Lismore, Nova Scotia

The example shown to the left (for larger image click here) is a raster aspect model of Lismore, Nova Scotia was derived from a digital elevation model (DEM) calculated using PCI Geomatica remote sensing software. It is represented with a grey scale color ramp and helps to indicate what direction slope faces are orientated.

The image above is of an actual bedrock cliff with some technical information embedded onto the image to help better understand slope and aspect relationships. The black arrow represents the slope or the measured angle that the rock is dipping towards.

The aspect is the orientation that the arrow (slope) is pointing with respect to North, therefore the aspect for this slope would be in an easterly direction and often represented by 90 degrees. The blue arrows represent the X, Y and Z dimensions that the combination of both the slope and aspect would use to represent the terrain features.

Example of an Aspect Map

The image below is an Aspect Model that I derived from a digital elevation model (DEM) of Lismore, Nova Scotia. The aspect values of the slopes of the DEM are represented in the model by a 0-255 grey scale color ramp. Click here to learn a little more about Aspect Models and how the image below was created.

Aspect map derived from a digital elevation model of Lismore, Nova Scotia

Slope

image of a cliff demonstrating Slope calculations

The slope or the gradient of a straight line within a Cartesian coordinate system is known as the measure of how steep a line is relative to the horizontal axis.

In calculations; it is generally represented by the letter m, and defined as the change in the Y coordinate divided by the corresponding change in the X coordinate, between two distinct points on the line (X1, Y1 and X2, Y2). Since the Y axis is vertical and the X axis is horizontal by convention, slope is often referred to as the rise over the run or the change in the vertical coordinates, divided by the change in the horizontal coordinates.

Basically, the larger the slope value, the steeper the line is. A horizontal line has a slope of 0, a 45 degree line has a slope of 1, and the slope of a vertical line is typically undefined. In trigonometry two lines are considered to be parallel if and only if their slopes are equal or if they both are vertical and therefore undefined. Two lines are considered to be perpendicular if and only if the product of their slopes is -1 or one has a slope of 0 and the other is vertical and undefined.

There are two common ways to describe slope. One method is to use the angle of the slope in degrees (0 to 90), and the other is to represent the slope as a percentage (0 to 100). Expressing slope as a percent is common but can be confusing because a percent slope can be greater then 100%. A 100% slope is actually only a 45 degree angle due to the fact that the rise and run of a 45 degree angle are equal and when divided always equals 1 and when multiplied by 100 will equal 100%.

Slope Model / Map for Lismore, Nova ScotiaIn terrain modeling we generally model an entire surface and not just one line so we need to calculate the slope of a best fit surface plane (which is made of lines). Because the terrain model is usually continuous across the entire surface, it is important to be able to calculate how to represent grid cells (or pixels) when going from one elevation to the next. To do this we generally need to know the aspect or the direction that the surface plane is sloped as well. Together the slope combined with the aspect of the surface can virtually define the surface plane completely.

In the example shown to the left, a slope map of Lismore, Nova Scotia was derived from a digital elevation model (DEM) calculated using PCI Geomatica remote sensing software. It is represented with a grey scale color ramp therefore the color white represents a 0 slope and the shades of grey increase through to black which represents an undefined slope. The majority of slopes for this map do not exceed 17 degrees (except for vertical slopes) as this is a relative low lying area of Appalachian terrain.

The image above and to the right is of an actual bedrock cliff with some technical information embedded onto it so it may be used to help better understand slope. The black arrow represents the slope or the measured angle that the rock is dipping towards. The slope in the image would be 45 degrees approximately so the slope would be 1 or 100%. The rise and the run of a slope with a 45 degree angle will always equals 1, thus when multiplied by 100 to calculate percent slope will equal always equal 100%.

Example of a Slope Map

The image below is a Slope Model that I derived from a digital elevation model (DEM) of Lismore, Nova Scotia. The values of the slopes of the DEM are represented by a 0-255 grey scale color ramp, therefore the color white represents a 0 slope and the shades of grey increase through to black which represents an undefined slope. The majority of slopes for this map do not exceed 17 degrees (except for vertical slopes) as this is a relative low lying area of Appalachian terrain.

Click here to learn a little more about Slope Models and how the image below was created.

 

Slope Model / Map for Lismore, Nova Scotia