The Rayshader Craze

Rayshader is a popular R package that creates high-quality 2D and 3D visualizations from elevation data matrices. Developed by Tyler Morgan-Wall, the package has gained momentum among researchers, scientists, and data visualization professionals for its impressive hillshade maps and 3D views. Rayshader’s powerful raytracing tool allows users to produce realistic and immersive final renders. Notable examples of Rayshader’s usage include web-based 3D representations of population density by Terrence Fosstodon whose work is available on the twitter account (@researchremora).

The work of @researchremora

And while the primary function is lighting and raytracing, other functionalities are included such as a waterbody detection algorithm and saving recordings of the generated perspective in mp4 or gif format. The elevation processing capabilities also allow clever terrain visuals and 3D printing.

Typical 3D representation with Rayshader

Moreover, Rayshader’s built-in functions can be easily adjusted to meet the user’s specific needs. The package’s adaptability allows for easy customization of size, resolution, and color scheme, as well as algorithm selection for shading and texture. Rayshader opens up exciting new possibilities for exploring spatial data in innovative ways. Its powerful functionalities and user-friendly interface make it a go-to package for researchers, scientists, and data visualization professionals who need to create clear and immersive visualizations of spatial data.