About Our Elevations Maps

Our Elevation Maps start with a location of interest in a geographic region. The area of interest can be large like the United States of America, or small like the country of Costa Rica in Central America. Once an area of interest is established we will collect geographic data for the region from various sources. One source we use often is the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The USGS provides a number of types of data for the USA as well as the entire earth.

In order to map the terrain for a given landscape, elevation data in the form of a Digital Terrain Model (DTM) is needed to "classify" areas of relative low and high elevations. A DTM is essentially a 2D image of the earth's surface much like that of satellite imagery, however with a couple key differences. Aerial and satellite imagery displays a Red, Green, Blue (RGB) color value for each individual pixel that make the discernable objects we see in the image. A DTM on the other hand, displays an elevation value for each pixel in the image. These elevation values are often in units of Meters or Feet and refer to a reference elevation such as Mean Sea Level. Just as a high resolution image can have many, many pixels that make up the overall image, a DTM image does as well. For example, our Texas Elevation Map is made from a DTM with over 10,000,000 individual pixels!

The next step in our Elevation Map creation is to apply a continuous color array to the DTM data. This can be virtually any color sequence such as black to white, red to green, or more than two colors such as red to blue to white to brown for example. Our maps use a seven color combination. Sometimes more or less colors work better for different types of terrain and overall size of the area of interest. This is our favorite part of the process because we can apply different color schemes and really see the terrain come to life in 3D!

We use geographic mapping software to render and display our elevation maps in a way we can insure quality and accuracy before sending to the printer. We carefully select printers that will not only use quality materials, but also will work with us to provide exceptional expertise on custom orders for our customers. If you would like to inquire about a custom order regarding and area of interest that is not already mapped, or for general questions please visit our contact page or email us at sterlingcarto@gmail.com. We would love to hear from you!