5 tips and tutorials for map creation in Illustrator – Christopher Wesson

Each day this week I will be bringing you a tip or technique to help with map finishing in Adobe Illustrator. As I am at the ESRI International User Conference, I shall start with a simple tip for exporting maps from ArcGIS if you plan to then ‘finish’ them in Illustrator. It might seem that with an export to Adobe Illustrator option then this is the obvious best route to take when exporting your map document from ArcGIS into Illustrator. Alternatively you could use the MAPublisher plugin. Personally I tend to favour exporting to PDF. Exporting from ArcGIS as an Illustrator (.ai) file used to be beneficial with layers retaining their organisational structure. However in later versions this is nolonger the case. Clipping groups are formed just like you have clipping masks in PDFs. So why and when to choose PDF. Exporting as PDF becomes beneficial when you have complex vectors that you wish to preserve. Exporting as AI has a vertex limit that for maps often results in point removal (or simplification of your vectors). The way to get around this is to export from ArcGIS as PDF and ensure the PDF resolution is high enough to retain the vertices. I generally find that the dpi setting needs to be at least 1000 and quality seems to be best if the figure is a multiple or half of your final print resolution. For example when I wish to have a final print resolution of either 300dpi or 600dpi, then I export my PDF at 1200dpi and quality 1:1. The results are very good, just remember to choose the correct colour space (and if using CMYK it is the CMYK values that are saved – ArcGIS cannot display CMYK colours on-screen). The main problem you will encounter is text strings as separate characters. I therefore try to get all of my text as good as possible with Maplex first before export. Once in Illustrator you can leave the layers within their clipping masks and select items you wish to modify with the direct selection tool. A typical ‘problematic’ case is deleting or repositioning text. Once you know which layer the text is on (easy to establish by turning layer visibility on and off) this is actually quite easy. Firstly lock the clipping mask of the layer (this helps ensure you don’t move or edit anything that you don’t wish to). The ESRI generated PDF always has each character of a text string next to one another in the layer. So all you need to do is direct select one of the characters, go to the Layers panel and in the drop down (top right of the panel) select Locate object. This will automatically scroll the layers to the position of the selected character. You will find that a text string, e.g. Halton in the example above, will comprise of a compound path for any halo, above which will be each character of the text string as a seperate feature object from the left hand character on the bottom to the final right hand character on the top. To delete the feature. Multiple layers can be selected easily by clicking on the topmost layer, holding the shift key (in Windows) and then selecting the bottom most layer. Then all you need to do is click on the trash can (rubbish bin) icon on the bottom of the panel. If you use the direct selection tool and click to the right of the circle for each object whilst holding down the SHIFT key (in Windows), you can select each character of the string (and any halo). You will then be able to restyle it or drag the text string as a whole to reposition it. A further tip here is to change to the regular selection tool before moving the text, this will prevent accidentally dragging any of the text vertices and ensure you have the whole string. *Please note that the software versions I am currently running are ESRI ArcMap (Desktop) 10.0 and Adobe Illustrator CS6. Source.


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Last Modified: May 31, 2013 @ 12:00 am