Design principles for Swiss-style rock drawing

Bernhard Jenny, Jürg Gilgen, Roman Geisthövel, Brooke E. Marston, Lorenz Hurni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Swiss-style rock drawing uses shaded hachures to show the characteristic forms and the third dimension of rocks and cliffs. Rock faces, trenches, gullies, faults and other rock features relevant for orientation and navigation in mountainous areas are shown as seen from the ground instead of from an orthogonal perspective. The density and dimensions of hachures change with the exposure to a source of illumination to generate a shading effect that highlights the terrain’s threedimensionality. The generation of rock drawings in Swiss style is time-intensive and requires an eye for the artistic rendering of the terrain’s third dimension as well as an understanding of different rock types and their morphology. Design principles have not yet been documented in a detailed and comprehensive manner and only rudimentary algorithms exist for the digital generation of simplified representations. This paper discusses the defining characteristics and specific design principles of Swiss-style rock drawing based on figures and unpublished documentation from the Swiss Federal Office of Topography swisstopo. We identify three main types of hachure-based rock drawing and discuss graphical elements for the most common type. We also discuss the combination of rock drawings with contour lines, their generalisation and the drawing process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)360-371
Number of pages12
JournalCartographic Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Relief map
  • Rock drawing
  • Swiss maps
  • Terrain map

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