The contour creation process

The Production Contouring toolbar contains a suite of tools that allows you to work with digital elevation models (DEMs), automate contour creation by allowing you to create contours on multiple rasters at the same time, and find the highest and lowest points on a map. Before creating contours, you often need to prepare the DEMs that you will use when generating the contours. The Set Consistent DEMs Symbology tool allows you to set the minimum and maximum heights to be rendered so the DEMs are all displayed with the same height values. The Merge and Filter DEMs tool merges individual DEMs into a single new DEM and optionally allows you to apply a filter to smooth the z-values throughout the DEMs. The Create Contours tool creates a contour line feature class. Before creating the contours, you can set options to configure the granularity of the contours to be created and their frequency.

The Production Contouring toolbar also has components you can use to enhance the appearance of contours on the map. The Production Generalize and Smooth tool allows you to refine the geometry of selected contours to improve the aesthetic or cartographic quality of the contours. The Contour Symbology Options tool allows you to select a color pattern of five colors that will be used to represent different contour elevations. The Symbolize Contours tool displays the contours according to what is set on the Contour Symbolizer Options dialog box. Once symbolized, the pattern of five colors repeats and can be used to visually identify any anomalies in the elevation values of neighboring contours. The Create Elevation Point from DEM tool allows you to click a location on a DEM and populate the elevation value of the point from the elevation of the DEM at that location. The Create Elevation Point from Contour tool allows you to select a contour line and automatically create elevation points at the highest and/or lowest spots inside the contour based on an underlying DEM. The Validate Elevation Points tool analyzes each closed contour, and elevation points that fall within the contours, as well as those that do not conform to the contour interval, are output to a report.

How to create contours

The Production Mapping contouring tools guide you through the entire process of creating contours on one or more DEM layers. To move through this process, you must have at least one raster layer and one point layer in your map.

The steps for generating contours are as follows:

  1. Ensure the DEMs are consistent.
  2. Merge the raster layers.
  3. Filter the raster layers.
  4. Create the contours.
  5. Load the contours into the geodatabase.