Tutorials and hands-on lessons for learning

3D Extrusion Maps

The thematic maps that have been covered thus far, focus on styling two-dimensional data. For data that has a natural z-element (like elevation), or can be perceived as having a third dimension, you may want to use 3D extrusions. Extrusions use attribute data to increase the height of 2D polygons. For example, you can create 3D buildings by increasing the z-dimension by the height value stored in an attribute field. In Mapbox, you can add 3D visualizations to your maps by using the fill-extrusion layer type and specifying the height and base height of a polygon feature.

3D extrusion examples
London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory |Restaurant Complaints in NYC

3D representations are best suited for applications that allow for interactivity. This is because objects in the foreground can hide or obscure objects in the background. Interactive maps allow users to explore via panning and zooming to view objects that may be hidden from view in a static map. Also, while 3D visualizations can provide additional depth to your map, they can also be distracting and difficult to interpret. Think carefully about the data that you are using when creating a 3D representation to make sure that it adds context to your visualization rather than looking ‘cool’.

Examples of data sets appropriate for this map type:

  • Buildings
  • Elevation
  • Population density by census blocks

Practice Tutorials

In the following tutorial, you will use Mapbox Studio to style 3D buildings:

Add 3D buildings to a Mapbox Studio style

Your turn

Use Mapbox Studio to create a 3D extrusion map with the following datasets:

Review questions

  1. What are two limitations of 3D representations?
  2. What type of data is used for developing a 3D visualization?
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