Query: Resources to learn manual hillshading (pre-computer)

Jennifer Johnston's picture


I'm interested in learning the hillshading technique that existed before the computerization of map making.  Does anyone know of any books, instructions or people who who would be happy to instruct me on how to do this?


Jennifer Johnston

The key source would be Eduard Imhof's *Kartographische Geländedarstellung* (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1985), which was published in English as *Cartographic Relief Presentation*, translated by H. J. Steward (New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1982).

I'm sure there are other texts. Maybe John Campbell's *Introductory Cartography*. It's hard to know as all my cartographic manuals are in the office, inaccessible, and not at home.

Although it seems to have been something often taught through practice. David Woodward, for example, taught himself how to do shaded relief with charcoal, which would be photographed with a fine screen for inclusion in the final map (photo-mechanical era of map compilation).

Hope this helps.



Erwin Raisz included two chapters (Chapters 10 & 11) on relief representation in the second edition (1948) of his General Cartography textbook. His Principles of Cartography textbook (1962) also contains a chapter on this topic.


John Bauer

Hi Jennifer,

You might try Erwin Raisz's General Cartography (1938) (you can borrow it from the Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/generalcartograp0000rais). If I remember correctly, it goes into a few techniques for how to go hill shading and relief.


This is not exactly about hill shading, but about topography. For her master's thesis, Elbie Bentley (who studied with Margaret Pearce) produced a "Narrative Atlas of the Gunnison-Beckwith Survey for the Pacific Railroad, 1853-1854" in 2009. Her work includes the application of artistic drawing techniques.

Hi Jennifer,

a good start is the Opus magnum from Eduard Imhof:

Cartographic Relief Presentation by Eduard Imhof, edited by H. J. Steward, ESRI Press, Redlands, USA, 2007


There you can learn the basics.

Sarah Bell did a tutorial:

I know a specialist doing hill shading by hand using Photoshop. He did the hill shading for my Asahi-dake map:

Hope this helps a bit.

Best wishes

Markus Hauser
Orell Füssli Kartographie AG
Dietzingerstrasse 3
Tel +41-44-454 22 28 direkt
Tel +41-44-454 22 22

A resource that is probably more useful as 'examples' than technique is Tom Patterson's shaded relief archive sites.


But he does also delve into manual techniques. Not as detailed as the other sources people have offered here, but it's all cumulative. Tom, as a cartographer with the U.S. National Park Service, pulled together quite a few resources for further exploration. Here's one page from that, with lots more via the options on the left side of the page.


Happy drawing,