Here is some information about how I make the maps. They are landscapes. I did 2D or arcmap maps for a while learning to manipulate elevation data and tried to make 2D show as 3D. Hillshades and slopes were my world. I learned to bring out abandoned railroad beds and logging roads in the woods, marine scarps in the coastal plain, pits and glory holes from prospectors, headwalls from hydraulic mining, dredging scars, and stream meanders, alluvial terraces and other subtle features. I learned to restrict elevation and classify elevations as tools to explore floodpalins. I went looking for mounds, canals and indian tralis, some things last for thousands of years and are visible with lidar. I find very satisfying the use of3D or arc scene with the use of exaggeration, shading and projection really exploded my ability to highlight subtle low relief features in the coastal plain.
Some of the really cool things I have done with lidar is resolve relect tidal channels in fossil bays showing islands and old beach fronts. Former capes mirroring existing capes are found inland in North Carolina. The Capes Fear, Lookout and Hatteras are mirrored inland. Latley I have been investigating glacial outburst flood scarring and glacial lake rings in Montana and New England.
One novel use of GIS was to look for suitable grades for bicycle riding in the mountains around Asheville NC. I have aversion to cranking a bycycle up grades greater than 8 percent.