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Showing elevation behind or on top of solid polygons

April 30 2009 | 0 comments
Categories: Symbology

I've looked for the best way to do this everywhere and it's driving me nuts that I can't figure it out for myself. Say for example I have a map of the 50 U.S. states with each state being a separate solid color. What would be the best way to show the topography of the U.S. (using DEMs, hillshades, whatever) so that the topography wouldn't really change the color of the individual state but blend in with it. I've seen this used everywhere but I haven't been able to do it myself.

Mapping Center Answer:

You would symbolize your hillshade using a gray to white color ramp, so that when you place a solid hue (red, yellow, green, blue, etc...) over it, the hue would simply be lighter or darker depending on the terrain. This means that you cannot depict BOTH elevation (which is commonly shown using a layer tint in which DEMs are symbolized with bands of color to depict elevation zones) and a theme (in your case, states each shown with a different hue).

We wrote a blog entry about how to symbolize the hillshade when you plan to overlay a theme on it - take a look a this to see if it helps: Hillshades for analysis maps.

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