Modifications of Tanaka's Illuminated Contour Method
Authors: Kennelly, Patrick; Kimerling, A. Jon
Source: Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 1 April 2001, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 111-123(13)
Abstract:Visualization of topography can be greatly facilitated by the illuminated contour method. This method, popularized in a hand-drafted map by Tanaka, uses a gray background with black and white contours. A direction of illumination is assumed, and white contours represent illummated topography, while black contours represent non-illuminated or shaded areas. Additionally, thickness of contours varies with the cosine of the angle between the azimuth of maximum slope (i.e., aspect) and the azimuth of illumination. We modified Tanaka's method by basing thickness of contour lines on twice the cosine of the angle between the surface normal and the illumination vector. The cosine of this angle is most commonly used in analytical hill shading. In addition, we present maps with changes in other visual variables and offer our evaluations. Lines with gray tones instead of black and white lines do not improve the illumination effect. We believe variations in the colors of contours and background with elevation can visually enforce information regarding topography. Our use of colors for aspect and variations in the width of contours for slope adds information to the map but does not assist with visualization of topography.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: April 1, 2001