Why We Love It

When you see election results on a flat map, you can get a distorted view. In 2D, this map of the 2012 US presidential election is mostly red as Romney voters turned out in force in many areas with low populations. When we flip the map to 3D we see the blue blocks of Obama voters rise up from the map. We love that this map lets you control the view to get a more realistic sense of voter patterns.

Why It Works

This map uses an isometric projection to render prism heights so they are equally scaled across the 3D view. We normally view 3D in perspective, so things that are farther away appear smaller. An isometric projection preserves relative heights so you can directly compare objects in the foreground and background. This map shows the total number of votes cast with height and the percentage of votes per candidate with color. Stronger Republican counties are increasingly red; stronger Democratic, increasingly blue.

Important Steps

In ArcScene, when viewing your map in 3D the first task is to extrude your polygons by the variable you wish to encode in the z dimension.

You will often have to experiment with the vertical scaling so that the overall view is in balance and you don’t have overly short or lengthened prisms.

To get an isometric projection you simply set the view field angle to 1. This has the effect of creating an isometric projection.

When the 3D scene is shared from ArcScene to ArcGIS Online as a CityEngine Web Scene the isometric projection properties and bookmarks are maintained.



The data for this map is percentage share of vote, by county for the 2012 presidential election. Additionally, each county needs the voter turnout which is used to extrude the prisms.


Where a county share is Republican the symbols go from a mid-tone purple (low share) to a rich red (high share). Where a county share is Democratic the symbols go from a mid-tone purple (low share) to a rich blue (high share).


It should take one hour once you’ve created the basic choropleth (color) map.

Series of Bookmarks


Create a series of bookmarks with appropriate titles for quick access to key views; play bookmarks as an animation in the CityEngine Web Scene.



By placing layers into a Group Layer, the Web Scene will allow you to swipe or tile the different layers.

More Information

Map Author

Ken Field

Ken Field

@kennethfield | LinkedIn

Professional cartonerd, amateur drummer and snowboarder. Lifetime encourager of cartographic quality not quantity. Map with the times while building on the past.

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