Non-photorealistic rendering and terrain representation

Patrick J. Kennelly, A. Jon Kimerling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


In recent years, a branch of computer graphics termed non-photorealistic rendering (NPR) has defined its own niche in the computer graphics community. While photorealistic rendering attempts to render virtual objects into images that cannot be distinguished from a photograph, NPR looks at techniques designed to achieve other ends. Its goals can be as diverse as imitating an artistic style, mimicking a look comparable to images created with specific reproduction techniques, or adding highlights and details to images. In doing so, NPR has overlapped the study of cartography concerned with representing terrain in two ways. First, NPR has formulated several techniques that are similar or identical to antecedent terrain rendering techniques including inclined contours and hachures. Second, NPR efforts to highlight or add information in renderings often focus on the use of innovative and meaningful combinations of visual variables such as orientation and color. Such efforts are similar to recent terrain rendering research focused on methods to symbolize disparate areas of slope and aspect on shaded terrain representations. We compare these fields of study in an effort to increase awareness and foster collaboration between researchers with similar interests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-54
Number of pages20
JournalCartographic Perspectives
Issue number54
StatePublished - 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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