Natural Colours

The use of natural colours according to land use or climate may give the map-reader a realistic feeling of the area.

The following example is from the Tibesti Mountains (Chad, Africa) in the Sahara desert. The reddish yellow colors reinforce the impression of an arid landscape. The choice of different light directions in the map (northwest to northeast) was probably deliberate in order to emphasize certain forms.

“Bardai” (section), original scale 1:25,000, © National Academy for Civil Engineering, Berlin, 1967.
Aerial photography of Bardai.

The map “Die Welt ist bunt” (The World is Colourful) divides the earth’s surface into 10 climate categories. The reddish orange describes the hot, burned soil of the desert. Yellowish orange depicts semi-desert and desert steppe. Green tones, varying between a green-brown (coniferous woodland), green-yellow (agricultural land) to a green-blue (rainforest), stand for humid areas.

“Die Welt ist bunt” (section), original scale 1:40 million (size 48 x 138 cm), © Falk Verlag, 1963. Relief shading by Fritz Hölzel, colours by W. Dylewski.

The following map uses the same shaded relief as the example illustrating hypsometric colours. Here, the brown colour represents the arid desert better.

“Nildelta, Suezkanal, Jordangraben” (section), original scale 1:2 million. © Schweizer Weltatlas, 1997.

Further remarkable examples of naturally coloured reliefs: