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    Does anyone know a way to “color” height maps to generate a semi-realistic 3D rendering?

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      Depends on what look you want to achieve, a realistic one that is often referenced is “Ambient Aperture Lighting” [1]. Another one I found interesting and more “cartographic” is [2].

      Edit: there are plenty of citations of [1] which implement extensions to it like global illumination, etc.

      [1] https://developer.amd.com/wordpress/media/2012/10/Oat-AmbientApetureLighting.pdf [2] https://gfx.cs.princeton.edu/pubs/Rusinkiewicz_2006_ESF/exaggerated_shading.pdf

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        If I understood the question correctly, then my advice would be first try the classic way of coloring valleys green, highlands brown and mountaintops white. Basically map height of each point to a color gradient of your choice. See this picture for an example.