The Contour (Spatial or 3D Analyst) tool generates an output vector file containing elevation levels (contour lines) from an input raster (in most cases a DEM). Contour lines are frequently used in cartography as they can easily be combined with other raster images (like aerial photos or pixel maps).
To generate contour lines from a DEM:
- Open the Search window.
- Type “contour” (or browse to Spatial Analyst Tools > Surface > Contour in the ArcToolbox).
- Use a DEM as the Input raster.
- Choose a location to save the Output polyline features (vector format).
- Define the Contour interval which will be the distance between the contours (if you are using the Swiss projection this will be in meters).
- Set the optional Base contour value, if desired (contours will start after the base value).
- If using a different unit than meters, click the Z factor input box.
- Click Show Help to learn about Z factor conversions.
- Click OK.
The new vector line file will be generated and added to the document. To achieve better results for visualisation, a smoothing algorithm could be performed on the line feature, e.g. with the tool Simplify or Smooth Line (Cartography Tools > Generalization > Simplify or Smooth Line from the ArcToolbox).