Shaded Relief Maps

Shaded relief maps are raster images based on grid files. Colors are assigned based on slope orientation relative to a light source. Surfer determines the orientation of each grid cell and calculates reflectance of a point light source on the grid surface.

The light source can be thought of as the sun shining on a topographic surface. Surfer automatically blends colors between percentage values so you end up with a smooth color gradation over the map. You can add color anchors so each anchor point can be assigned a unique color, and the colors are automatically blended between adjacent anchor points. This allows you to create color maps using any combination of colors. Shaded relief maps can be created independently of other maps, or can be combined with other layers. Shaded relief maps can be scaled, resized, limited, and moved in the same way as other types of maps.

surfer-shaded 2

Create detailed shaded relief maps! This map shows a turbidite fan
and was created with multi-beam echo-sounder data obtained
in the Caribbean Sea.

Shaded Relief Map Features

  • Create photo-quality relief maps from grid files
  • Control light source position, relative slope gradient, and shading
  • Overlay with contour, vector, post, or base maps for highly effective displays
  • Shading calculations based on several shading methods, including Simple, Peucker's Approximation, Lambertian Reflection, and Lommel-Seeliger Law
  • Set relief parameters using Central Difference or Midpoint difference gradient methods
  • Save and load custom color map files for the exact desired display
  • Use one of the built-in presets as the color map
  • Specify a color for missing data, or choose to make areas of no data transparent
  • Change the rotation and tilt angles
  • Adjust the layer opacity


surfer-shaded 3

Create spectacular maps in seconds. This map consists of a shaded relief
map overlaid with a contour map detailing the salinity of the Atlantic Ocean
at 100 meters. Image courtesy of Igor Yashayaev, Bedford Institute of
Oceanography, Canada.


surfer-shaded 4

Combine a shaded relief map with contour and base map features.