I work in the publishing industry and I am often called upon to produce maps. In the early 1990s I began using Geocart, which, for me, has become an indispensable tool. When Geocart version 2 was released, with its ability to reproject images, I began writing TopoToImage in my spare time. I wanted to be able to use the amazing digital elevation models that the USGS was producing. I could find no software for the Macintosh computer that could convert these DEMs into Geocart image databases so I decided to write a program of my own. TopoToImage is the result.

TopoToImage is a program for Macintosh computers that creates color and shaded relief images of the Earth’s surface. TopoToImage is one part of a powerful map production system. It comes with one or more databases which contain elevation data. The main purpose of the program is to save Geocart image databases.


How does the program work?
TopoToImage provides a quick and easy way to create shaded relief or color images of the earth's topography. Click on the icons to see the programs two main windows.

The program allows you to crop out a reasonable sized chunk of its large data sets, or scale down the full data base. TopoToImage uses elevation data to create its images, optionally with cast shadows. TopoToImage gives you precise control of boundaries, scale, color and shading for the images you create.

Simply select the area of the earth you want your map to cover, choose a Gradient Style for your map and export the image. The program comes with hundreds of predefined coloring and shading styles. You can also modify these styles or create your own.

The program saves files in two image formats: Geocart Image databases and TIFF files. Create files of any size. The program is not limited by the amount of memory available. As TopoToImage works it finds the files it needs on the CD-ROMs or your hard disk and tiles them together to form a seamless map.
For complete details download the manual (warning: it big 1.9 MB).



What are the databases?
How much do they cost?

There are three databases currently available: Gtopo, Ustopo, and OceanFloor12. Click on the icon to see the relative sizes of the databases.


TOPOTOIMAGE with Gtopo is $750

GTOPO is a set of files that contain a high resolution digital elevation model of the entire earth’s land surface. In total, the data base contains 1.7 gigabits of elevation, including islands that are larger than approximately 1 square kilometer. The resolution of the Gtopo data base is 120 pixels per degree or roughly one pixel for every kilometer along the equator. The width of the data base is 43,200 pixels, enough data to print a world map 14 feet wide at 250 dpi.

TOPOTOIMAGE with UStopo is $950

USTOPO is a data base containing high resolution elevation data for the land surface of the United States. Using this data base and TopoToImage, you can produce an unlimited number of extremely detailed color shaded relief images of areas within the U.S. The scale of UStopo is 1,200 pixels per degree (ten times the scale of the Gtopo database). There is enough data to create a map of the continental US 24 feet wide at 250 dpi. This data base comes on 7 CD-ROMs.

TOPOTOIMAGE with OceanFloor12 is $250

OceanFloor12 is a single 18 MB file. It contains elevation data for the Earth’s land and ocean floor surface. The scale of the OceanFloor12 data base is 12 pixels per degree. Also included for free with your purchase is OceanFloor30 which is covers the earth between 70° south and 70° north.

TOPOTOIMAGE with all three databases is $1,450


What is the source for the databases?
Gtopo databases were compiled from GTOPO30, which was created in a collaborative effort led by the staff at the US Geological Survey.

The data for the UStopo data base was derived from the USGS 1:250,000 Scale Digital Elevation Model, released in 1998.

The land surface in OceanFloor12 is derived from the Gtopo data base which was scaled to1/10th its size. The ocean floor areas of the data base is derived from TerrainBase World Wide Digital Terrain Data, released in 1995 by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

What projection does TopoToImage produce?
TopoToImage produces maps in only one projection: Plate Carrée. However TopoToImage can save this map as a Geocart image database. (Infact this is the main purpose of TopoToImage). Using Geocart you can reproject the map into any of over 130 map projections. (A map projection is a method of translating the three dimensional coordinates of a globe onto a plane such as a sheet of paper or computer screen.)

The main purpose of TopoToImage is to produce image databases for use with Geocart. Together TopoToImage and Geocart are tools that can you can use to produce publication quality maps.

What is the work flow for using TopoToImage?

  Click on the icon to see a flow chart showing the basic process that I use to create maps.Here is my recommendation for software and data bases to produce maps:
Software: Geocart, TopoToImage, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop
Databases for TopoToImage: Gtopo, UStopo, OceanFloor 12
Databases for Geocart:
Global Shoreline

Why should I buy TopoToImage when the data is available for free?
To access the free data you will have to tile together thousands of files (in the case of the UStopo database) and find a way to render the resulting elevation data into images. What TopoToImage provides is a practical and easy way to turn digital elevation data into color and shaded relief images. These images can then be reprojected with Geocart.

What is the current version of TopoToImage?
TopoToImage is now in version 2.0. You can read about what is new in version 2 by clicking here. Owners of previous versions of TopoToImage please contact me to receive a free upgrade.

How do I order the program?
Contact me by phone or e-mail.

What is Geocart?
Geocart is a program for the Macintosh computer that can draw maps. Its main feature is the ability to reproject images and vector data into any one of over 130 projections. It is a simple yet powerful program that any one who produces maps for publishing will find invaluable.

Where can I get Geocart?

Is there a PC version of TopoToImage?
No, if a PC version of Geocart is ever released then I will produce a PC version of TopoToImage also.

Can I use TopoToImage without Geocart?
Yes, you can save images as TIFF files but you will not be able to reproject them.

Do you sell anything else besides TopoToImage?
Yes, I have one set of vector databases for Geocart:

Global Shoreline
Global Shoreline Vector Database is $550