Struggling with Smoothing Contour Lines

Discussion created by jklanck@tacoma.k12.wa.us on Apr 30, 2018
Latest reply on Mar 4, 2020 by Shishona

I am working with my middle school kids on a science project (I am the tech teacher with a laser cutter).  In class, they are doing relief maps with cardboard.  The science teacher has seen some of the stuff that came out of my class, so he challenged me with bathymetric maps cut out on the laser.  I have tried everything I can find online, but I can't get the contours to "smooth."  Every time I smooth them (increase the neighborhood size in Focal Statistics), I lose some of the bays and inlets...but it is still "jagged."


I have all the DEM data loaded, and have been working with the kids on the elevation intervals...all that is working great.


The issue come when I try to process things in Focal Statistics.  I have gone from 1-25 on the neighborhood sizes, tried "rectangle" (and all the others), changed "map" to "cell," changed "mean" to a few of the others, etc.  I have probably process the elevations no fewer than 50 times.  


The only thing I have not been successful with is Python.  I tried some sample scripts I found, but it gave me an error (I am not a programmer...so I an struggling to debug it).  


My solution was to export and use my Illustrator skills to smooth things....but I ended up with the "banding" issue.  That led me down a whole other rabbit hole.  I finally got things "working" and we burned our first map.  It is not bad (we like the ruggedness of the lines), but since I was the "lead" on this project, the kids now want to focus on another part of Washington and make their own.  The easiest way for the kids to do this is use my DEM data we already processed, but when they zoom into the area of interest, things get VERY pixilated.  Since they are 12-14, my goal is to get the ArcMap file dialed in with nice smooth contours (can work with them to customize if needed), export it to AI, then let the kids do their magic from there.  


ANY help on how to get these kids going again would be appreciated.  I think if I can get smooth contour lines, I will be OK with the rest.  The below pictures are:

1. Wide view of the bathymetric contours

2. close-up (not smooth)

3. Same view after changing the neighborhood from 3 to 10...pixels gone...but not smoothed?

4. The project so far


I have been following these instructions as my guide...but I think he uses an older version (I am on 10.6:http://www.instructables.com/id/Lasercut-3D-Topographic-Wood-Maps/ 


I am hoping it is just something I am overlooking....????


Thanks in advance,