Spencer Schien’s Fascinating Maps Visualize Population Density

Data can be beautiful, but often, it isn’t.

Open up an Excel file, and “inspiring” is rarely the term used to describe it. But take that same data, and visualize it in a useful and graphical way, and it can tell a story, or paint a picture that feels entirely new.

Spencer Schien has accomplished that with his population density maps, which take data around population centers, and visualizes it using an open source tool called Rayshader, which can create 2D and 3D visualizations.


While most of us know generally where the big cities are within a certain state or locale, the visualized maps do an amazing job of showing just how concentrated the populations are, shown with tall, colorful spikes that rise from the maps like topography.


The map of Illinois below show just how huge Chicago is, with the density rising up like skyscrapers. The rest of the state remains relatively flat, except for a single spike in the capital.

It’s a unique way to understand the size and locations of cities, removing the county lines and roads, and focusing solely on population data.

Check out the other maps below, showing population density in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin, Georgia, among others.

See more of Schien’s work on his website.


© Copyright Spencer Schien. Images used with artist’s permission.