How we make old maps look 3D - Muir Way

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  • Vintage Relief Series

    1932 USA

    Geological Shaded Relief Map

    100's of maps to choose from, including states, National Parks, and international locations.

how we make old maps look 3D

For our Vintage Relief Series, we've taken historical maps to the next level by adding shaded relief, giving them an incredible 3D appearance. The effect is stunning, breathing new life into these beloved classics. Creating the 3D illusion on these older maps is a meticulous process that involves many steps. Here is a simplified version of what we do.

Step 1 - Composite the map

For a map like this 1932 USA Geological, we had to composite the four separate original four separate sections.

Step 2 - Digitally remaster the maps

We correct for obvious degradation that occurred has over the years such as creases, writing, stains, etc.

Step 3 - Georeference the map

We match hundreds of points on the map to modern elevation data that we gather from the USGS. Due to the age of the vintage maps, they don't match modern data so we have to manipulate them so they accurately align.

Step 4 - Create a 3D model and lightsource

Within 3D software we create the elevation model that will be applied to the map that aligns with the georeferenced points on the map. We also generate a digital light source to cast shadows on the terrain and create the 3D illusion.

Step 5 - Combine the digital 3D model with the map

Finally, we are ready to integrate the elevation data with the vintage map to create the shaded relief within the map. We adjust the light source, the exaggeration of the elevation, correct for any errors in the alignment, brightness, contrast, etc.

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Verified Customer Reviews

  • Amazing quality

    I'm so happy with my relief map. It is so well done that it really looks 3D. The colors are vibrant and the paper is excellent quality.

    Incredible 3D effect

    This piece is one I am going to love to hold on for many years and be happy to pass down to future generations. The detail, color, shading/3D effect are top notch. Thank you!!

  • Gorgeous

    I have purchased at least six different maps from Muir way and while each exceeds expectations, this one might take the cake! The colors are vibrant and contrast perfectly! Thank you!

    Great product

    Amazing detail, which makes me glad I followed other recommendations to get the largest size possible. Shadows and colors are eye-popping, really impressed!


Designed, printed, and framed in the USA


Printed with archival inks on archival heavyweight Fine Art paper


If you are unhappy, send your unframed print back for a full refund


Orders over $49 ship free within the US

USA Geological 1932 Shaded Relief Map

Rated 4.7 out of 5
Based on 110 reviews

Experience the beauty and complexity of the United States geological landscape with our exquisite 1932 USA Geological Map. This vintage map has been expertly updated using modern elevation data to create a captivating 3D illusion that will transport you to the heart of the country's natural wonders.

California 1944 Shaded Relief Map

Rated 4.8 out of 5
Based on 53 reviews

Experience the beauty and complexity of California's geological landscape like never before with our stunning 3D illusion map. Crafted from the original 1977 California Geological map, this unique map is designed and printed at the highest level to showcase every detail of the state's varied terrain.

Texas 1916 Shaded Relief Map

Rated 4.7 out of 5
Based on 24 reviews

A beautifully detailed 1916 Texas Geological Map that we enhanced with a unique 3D illusion that will catch your eye. Using advanced Digital Elevation Data technology, we've created a stunning landscape that comes to life with meticulous shading. The shading is printed on the paper, creating a subtle illusion of depth without any protruding surfaces.

Rated 5.0 out of 5
Based on 22 reviews

Colorado 1913 Shaded Relief Map


Rated 5.0 out of 5
Based on 23 reviews

North America 1965 Shaded Relief Map


Rated 5.0 out of 5
Based on 21 reviews

Ireland 1878 Shaded Relief Map


Rated 5.0 out of 5
Based on 14 reviews

Washington 1883 Shaded Relief Map


Rated 4.7 out of 5
Based on 15 reviews

Virginia 1957 Shaded Relief Map


Rated 4.7 out of 5
Based on 21 reviews

Oregon 1991 Shaded Relief Map


Rated 4.8 out of 5
Based on 19 reviews

Idaho 1909 Shaded Relief Map


Rated 4.7 out of 5
Based on 7 reviews

Utah 1937 Shaded Relief Map


Browse the Complete collection

Each Map is a Work of Art

Top-Quality Archival Inks

Each map is produced on our 12-color gicleé printers using premium inks to ensure a highly detailed, fade-free piece.

Printed On Fine Art Paper

We make all of our prints with museum-quality, 100% cotton, acid-free archival paper that’s rated to last 100+ years.

Authentic Hardwood Frames

No pressed wood, no veneer. Every custom frame is handmade from Walnut.

Free Shipping and 30-Day Returns

All orders over $49 ship for free within the US. If you don't love your unframed map, return it for a full refund within 30 days.