3D Paper Topography Map of Evergreen Brick Works and Its Surroundings

By Nicole Serrafero

Geovis Project Assignment @RyersonGeo, SA8905, Fall 2016

When learning about geography in the early years of school we had to trace and label contours based off topographic maps. For the purpose of the course work I decided to take inspiration from my younger school days and use modern technologies to attempt to reproduce a topographic map with cartographic elements included. My main inspiration came from an artist by the name of Sam Cadwell who creates beautiful works of arts using layers of paper to represent contours. An example of his work can be seen below and through the link to his website.

Example of Sam Cadwell's Work

The project involved cutting out each contour layer and features using a Cricut machine which is computer guided paper cutter (seen below).

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The maximum paper size that the cutter program can handle is 11” in x 11” so I ensured that the study area would fit within the paper size limitations. The paper used for the project was 12”x12” cardstock paper in a variety of colours to represent each feature. For the layers of contours, a pink to red colour scheme was used as it provided me with up to 15 layers of sequential colours.

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The water features were blue, the rail features yellow, the buildings a light purple, and the roads black.

Data Used

Four (4) datasets were used to produce the topographic model:

  • Contour Lines (Obtained from TRCA)
  • Building Footprints (Obtained from DMTI spatial)
  • Waterways (Obtained from TRCA)
  • Road and Rail Lines (Obtained from Statistics Canada)

Study Area Extraction

All of the files were loaded into ArcMap then all projected to WGS84 to ensure all files were in the same projection. The Evergreen Brick Works was chosen as the study area as its surrounding area contains interesting contours, roads, a major highway, railways, a river. To ensure that the study area was contained within the paper limitations the page size within ArcMap was set to 11” x 11” and the map view was adjusted until I was satisfied with the area. Once the final study area was chosen the features within the view were clipped out and saved as separate files. Below is a screen shot of what the final study area covers.


With the data now clipped the further data processing could be done easily as the amount of data was significantly reduced. The contour lines came as 1m intervals with a range of 22 individual contours levels which is too many levels for the amount of paper that I have available for the contours. The number of contours was reduced by selecting every 4 m contour then extracting the selected lines to a separate file. With the new file the number of layers was reduced to 12 layers which fits within my 15-layer limit. The remaining files did not need further processing within ArcMap.

The next major step to get the files ready for the paper cutter. To do this all layers were saved as scalable vector files (SVG) for each data set. To accomplish this all layers were turned off except for one dataset. Then the Export Map option was used to save the map area as an SVG file. The SVG files were then imported into a program called Inskscape to be edited further. Within the Inskscape program the contours were divided up into their individual 4m interval layers (seen below).


Some of the smaller contour lines were deleted as the cutter would not be able to cut the shape out. The other features were given a layer of their own as well. Each individual layer was then exported and saved as an 11”x11” page in JPEG format.  The program used to work the paper cutter did not work as well with files that came from ArcMap directly which was why Inkscape was used. It is also easier to edit/select the lines and change the thickness within Inkscape.

Printing and Assembling the Model

To cut our each layer the JPEG layers were imported into the paper cutter program. Each layer was placed on the canvas then the corresponding colour was placed on the cutting map and loaded into the machine. Once loaded the paper cutter proceeded with cutting the paper. An example of what a cut layer from the machine can be seen below.

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The contours were cut first followed by the river, then the roads and railway and last was the Evergreeen Brick Works buildings. Each contour layer was stuck together using foam spacers that had tape on each size. These spacers were used to create the illusion of height in the model. The remaining paper features were stuck on using double sided tape. The following images show the assembling process.

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Once all of the paper layer were assembled the legend, scale, north arrow, and labels were added by hand. The final product can be seen below.

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West Don Lands Development: 2011 – 2015

CHRISTINA BOROWIEC | West Don Lands Development: 2011 – 2015 | 3D Printing Tech.

Geovis Project Assignment @RyersonGeo, SA8905, Fall 2016

The model displayed above is of the West Don Lands of the City of Toronto, bounded by Queen St. E to the north, the rail corridor to the south, Berkeley St. to the west, and Bayview Ave. to the east. In utilizing Ryerson University’s Digital Media Experience Lab’s three-dimensional printing technology, an interactive model providing a tangible means to explore the physical impact of urbanization and the resultant change in the city’s skyline has been produced. The model interactively demonstrates how the West Don Lands, a former brownfield, have intensified from 2011 to 2015 as a result of waterfront revitalization projects and by serving as the Athletes’ Village for the Toronto Pan Am/Parapan American Games.

Buildings constructed during or prior to 2011 are printed in black, while those built in 2012 or later are green. In total, 11 development projects have been undertaken within the study area between 2011 and 2015. Each of these development projects have been individually printed, and correspond to a single property on the base layer, which is identifiable by the unique building footprint. The new developments can be easily attached and removed from the base of the model (the 2011 building and elevation layer) via magnetic bases and footprints, thereby providing an engaging way to discover how the West Don Lands of Toronto have developed in a four year period. By interacting with the model, the greater implications of the developments on the city’s built form and skyline can be realized and experienced at a tangible scale.

Areas with the lowest elevation (approximately 74 m) are solidly filled in on the landscape grid, while areas with higher elevations (80 m to 84 m) have stacked grids and foam risers added to better exaggerate and communicate the natural landscape. These additions can be viewed in the video below.

Street names and a north arrow are included on the model, as well as both an absolute and traditional scale bar. The absolute scale of the model is 1:5,000.

To complete the project, a mixture of geographic information system (GIS) and modeling software were used. First, the 3D Massing shapefile was downloaded from the City of Toronto’s OpenData website, and the digital elevation model (DEM) for Toronto was retrieved from Natural Resources Canada. Using ArcMap, the 3D Massing shapefile, which includes information such as the name, location, height, elevation, and age of buildings in the city, was clipped to the study area. Next, buildings constructed prior to or during 2011 were selected and exported as a new layer file. The same was done for new developments, or the buildings constructed from 2012 to 2015, with both layers using a NAD83 UTM Zone 17N projection. Once these new layers were successfully created, they were imported into ArcScene.

In ArcScene, the digital elevation model for Toronto was opened and projected in NAD83. The raster layer was clipped to the extent of the 2011 building layer, and ensured to have the same spatial reference as the building layer. Next, the DEM layer properties were adjusted so base heights were obtained from the surface, and a vertical exaggeration was calculated from the extent of the DEM in the scene properties. Once complete, the “EleZ” variable data provided in the building layers’ shapefiles were used to calculate and display building heights. The new developments 3D file was then exported, as the 2011 buildings and DEM files were merged. Since the “EleZ” (building height) variable was used rather than “Z” (ground elevation) or “Elevation” (building height from mean sea level), the two layers successfully merged without buildings extending below the DEM layer. The merged file was then exported as a 3D file. Although many technical issues were encountered at this point in the project (i.e. the files failed to merge, ArcScene crashed unexpectedly repeatedly, exported file quality was low…), the challenges were overcome by viewing online tutorials of users who had encountered similar issues.

Once the two 3D files were successfully exported (the new developments building file and the 2011 building file merged with the DEM), they were converted to .STL file types and opened in AutoDesk Inventor. Here, the files were edited, cleaned, smoothed, and processed to ensure the model was complete and would be accepted in Cura (3D printing software).

At Ryerson University’s Digital Media Experience Lab, the models were printed using the TAZ three-dimensional printer (pictured below). Black filament was used for the 2011 buildings and DEM layer, and green was used for the new developments. These colours were selected from what was currently available at the lab because they provided the greatest level of contrast. In total, printing took approximately 7 hours to complete, with the base layer taking about 5.5 hours and the new developments requiring 1.5 hours. The video above reveals the printing process. No issues were encountered in the utilization of the 3D printer, as staff were on-hand to answer any questions and provide assistance. Regarding printing settings, the temperature of the bed was set at 60°C, and the print temperature was set to 210°C. A 0.4 mm nozzle was used with a 20% fill density. The filament density was 1.75 mm, and a brim was added for support to the platform during printing. Although the brim is typically removed at the completion of a print, the brim was intentionally kept on the model for aesthetic purposes and to serve as a border to the study area.

TAZ 3D Printer

Once printing was completed, the model was attached to a raised base and street names, a north arrow, legend, absolute scale and scale bar, and title were added. Magnets were then cut to fit the new development building pieces, and attached both to the base layer of the model and the new developments. As a final step in the process, the model’s durability and stability were tested by encouraging family and friends to interact with the model prior to its display at the Environics User Conference in Toronto, Ontario in November 2016.

West Don Lands Development: 2011 - 2015 Project

To improve the project, three enhancements are recommended. First, stronger magnets could be utilized both on the new development pieces and on the base layer of the model. In doing so, the model would become more durable, sturdy, and easier to lift up to examine at eye level – without the worry of buildings falling over due to low magnetic attractiveness resulting from the thicker cardboard base on which the model rests. In relation to this, stronger glue could be used to better bind the street names to the grid as well.

Additionally, the model may be improved if a solid base layer was used instead of a grid. Although the grid was intended to be experimental and remains an interesting feature which draws attention, it would likely be easier for a viewer to interpret the natural features of the area (including the hills and valleys) if the model base was solid.

The last enhancement entails using a greater variety of filaments in the model’s production to create a more visually impactful product with more distinguishable features. For instance, the base elevation layer could be printed in a different colour than the buildings constructed in 2011. Although this would complicate the printing and assembly of the model, the final product would be more eye-catching.

City of Toronto. (2016, May). 3D Massing. Buildings [Shapefile]. Toronto, Ontario. Accessed from <http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=d431d477f9a3a410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD>.

Natural Resources Canada. (1999). Canadian Digital Elevation Data (CDED). Digital Elevation Model [Shapefile]. Toronto, Ontario. Accessed from <http://maps.library.utoronto.ca/cgi-bin/datainventory.pl?idnum=20&display=full&title=Canadian+Digital+Elevation+Model+(DEM)+&edition=>.


Geovisualization Project
Professor: Dr. Claus Rinner
SA 8905: Cartography and Geovisualization
Ryerson University
Department of Geography and Environmental Studies
Date: November 29, 2016

Animating Toronto Parking Enforcement with heatmap.js

by Justin Pierre – Geovis course project for SA8905, Fall 2015 (Dr. Rinner)

Heatmap.js is a project developed by Patrick Wied to create heatmaps online using JSON data and javascript. It’s lightweight, free to use and comes with tons of great customization options.

For my geovisualization project for SA8905 I created an animated heat map of parking tickets issued in Toronto during the 24 hour period of May 1st 2014. Parking ticket data is supplied on the Toronto Open Data Portal.

Thursday May 1st, 2014 was one of the busiest days of the year for parking tickets. There were 9,559 issued in 24 hours. 6am was the safest time with only 25 tickets issued and 9am was the busiest with 1,451.

To create the heatmap I  geocoded the Toronto parking ticket data using the city of Toronto street data with address ranges. About 10% of the records had to be manually geocoded to intersections, which was a time consuming process! Once I had the locations, it was simple to create a JSON object for each hour in excel, like this:

var h=[ {
 max: 100000,
 data: [
{lat: 43.667229, lng: -79.382666, count: 1},
{lat: 43.728744, lng: -79.30461, count: 1},
{lat: 43.778933, lng: -79.418283, count: 1},
{lat: 43.647378, lng: -79.418484, count: 1},


h is an array where each element is a JSON object containing the lats and lngs of each traffic ticket. The count is required for the heatmapping function and is always 1, unless you’re this driver:

Using heatmap.js is super straightforward. Initialize your web map in leaflet or openlayers (I used leaflet), configure some simple parameters:

var cfg = {
 "radius": .008,           //set for interpolation radius
 "maxOpacity": .8,         //set to .8 to show the basedata
 "scaleRadius": true,      //recalibrate radius for zoom
 "useLocalExtrema": true,  //reset data maximum based on view
 latField: 'lat',          //where is latitude referenced 
 lngField: 'lng',          //where is longitude referenced
 valueField: 'count'       //where is the numerical field

Attach that to your heatmap object and point it at your datasource like so:

heatmapLayer = new HeatmapOverlay(cfg);

Remember that h[] is the array where the ticket data is stored and so h[0] is the first hour of data, midnight to 1am. This will create a static heatmap like this:


Now comes the part where we cycle through the hours of data with a setInterval() function:

 if (i>23) i=0;
 $( ".heatmap-canvas" ).fadeOut( "slow", function() 
   $( "#hour").html(i);
 $( ".heatmap-canvas" ).fadeIn( "slow", function() {
}, 2000);

Every 2,000 milliseconds (2 seconds) the page will fade out the heatmap layer, switch the data for the next hour and fade it back in. If the cycle has reached the end of the day it resets. The $( “#hour”).html(i) bit refers to changing the hour printed on the webpage itself.

You can check out the finished project at http://justinpierre.ca/tools/heatmap/ and be sure to let me know what you think at https://twitter.com/jpierre001.

T.Orientation: Colouring the Grids of Toronto

By Boris Gusev, Geovis Course Assignment, SA8905, Fall 2015 (Rinner)


The way in which we settle the land around us can paint a rich picture of how our cities have developed over years.  By the turn of the 19th century, urban planners generally agreed that grid-like patterns were the optimal solution and held the most promise for the future of transit. Physical planning led to the development of automotive cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and Detroit. Toronto’s history of growth can also be traced through its sprawling grid of roads.

In this visualization, a MapZen extract of OpenStreetMap road network was used to represent the compass-heading-based orientation of  Toronto roads. Streets that are orthogonal, meaning that they intersect at a right angle, are assigned the same colours. At a 90 degree angle, the streets are coloured with the darkest shades of orange or blue, decreasing in intensity as the intersection angle becomes more obtuse.

Follow the link to take a look at: Toronto Streets by Orientation


More exciting details and a DIY guide under the cut. Kudos to Stephen Von Worley at Data Pointed for the inspiration and Mathieu Rajerison at Data & GIS Tips for the script and a great how-to.

Continue reading T.Orientation: Colouring the Grids of Toronto