World Builders™                                                                      Session Two  --  Geology 


                  From Contour Map to

                            Landscape Profile

See how your planet will look when you land on it!

     Once you have learned how to make a topographical  map, you can make pictures of the way that your planet will look when you want to use its mountains as a background to your scenes.

Here's how!

 Step 1

Draw a relief map of the land area that you want to work with. Remember that you are showing which parts of the land are high and which are low.

If you are doing an under water scene, use the same steps.

Here is an island that I have drawn as an example for you.

Step 3

Look along the dividing line that you drew across your island or continent.Every time that there is a color change along this line, draw a line straight downward to the colored areas at the bottom.

Go to the same colors as the ones on the map.

If the line is from the lowest part of the color, go to the bottom of the colored strip.

If the line is from the highest part of the colored area on the map, go to the top of that color's strip.

Study this example to see how it works.





Step 2

 Draw a line across the island at the place where you want to draw the profile.

(My line is white.)

This is like making a cut through a cake so that you can see the inside from the side view.

Below the map draw evenly spaced lines that you can fill in with the same color codes as you used on the map. The lowest elevation should be on the bottom.



Step 4

When you have drawn all the lines, join them together in the colored strips at the bottom.

You can see that I have done this at the bottom of this part of the example.

You can see that the lines make an outline of the ups and downs on the map -- a profile view.

It is important to remember that the scale of your profile is out of proportion to your map.

Unless your map is of a very small area, your drawing has made the elevation changes going up and down larger than the same distances going across your map. You have exaggerated the elevation changes, otherwise they would hardly show up at all.


silhouette of landform I have erased the colors inside the lines so that I can see the profile of my island more clearly.


I have colored the profile of the island and removed the colored lines in the background.


I have enlarged the profile of the island and colored it a bit. If I wanted to use this as a background in an illustration, I would use more detail in the coloring.

Copyright ® 1999, 2003.   Elizabeth Anne Viau and her licensors.  All rights reserved. This material may be used by individuals for instructional purposes but not sold. Please inform the author if you use it at