A method for providing rapid generation of photo-realistic imagery for use in a display system. The display system includes a memory which contains first and second ortho-rectified data layers. The first data layer includes a digitized photograph of known resolution together with spacing values and the second layer includes digitized elevation data corresponding to the photograph in the first data layer. The method includes the steps of scanning corresponding portions of the first and second data layers out of memory, removing hidden surfaces from the scanned portions, dividing the scanned portions into a plurality of two pixel by two pixel cells so as to form the cells using adjacent pixels from the data layer, further dividing the cells into triangular sections having vertices, projecting the vertices into the viewscreen using the coordinates in the second layer and the known spacing values, and shading the area subtended by the projected vertices. In one embodiment of the invention, the hidden surfaces are removed through an application of a modified Painters Algorithm. An alternate embodiment of the invention uses a Z-buffer to provide hidden surface removal.