Bryce Canyon National Park

Official US National Park Service Map and Brochure

Bryce Canyon Geologic Diagram

The Grand Staircase is a vast geologic formation, mostly in the US state of Utah, that descends in stepwise layers of sedimentary rock from the heights of the Paunsaugunt Plateau to the Chocolate Cliffs before transitioning to the Kaibab Plateau and the Grand Canyon beyond.

I've always had a thing for hand-drawn isometric diagrams and thought that would be the best way of showing the complex geology behind this region. Months after I finished the project, I was flying over the Grand Staircase and was pleased to see it looked in real life an awful lot like the diagram I'd been working on for months.

  • Even before I brought data into Natural Scene Designer to project it into 3D, I knew there'd be an issue: I wanted to capture the Grand Canyon in the diagram, but the distance from the North Rim to the Chocolate Cliffs was quite long compared to the distance of the Staircase. So I foreshortened the DEMs in Photoshop before projecting them. I also, by hand, chopped up the layers of the Staircase and doubled their height to show more detail. Sometimes manipulations tell a better story than the absolute truth.
  • If you ever try your hand at one of these, let me tell you: what your 3D software renders will be much too detailed. I spent dozens of hours hand-painting cliff bands, canyon walls, and just about everything else in the final diagram.

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