How to create custom awesome symbols for ArcMap in five easy steps using Iconfinder & Inkscape.

Interesant articolul. Enjoy!

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Essential in cartography is a legible, self-explanatory and elegant symbology when it comes to symbol point data on our map canvases. Great font based symbol palettes come with our GIS software, either of commercial or of open source code, which has meticulously been designed to meet the requirements of great symbology.

The vast majority of GIS software users will be happy merely to select a good combination of these pre-installed symbols and make a pretty map. And that is very acceptable since we all started from there. Still, they are set in concrete, since there eventually will come the time to start searching for fresher symbols in their system, just to find nothing new in there.

Thankfully, GIS software allows us to import new symbols in picture format, hence unveil a whole new world of opportunities in map design.

Let’s follow this very creative step-by-step procedure to start integrating great symbols to our map.

STEP 1

First of all, we need a credible easy-to-learn and easy-to-use graphic design software to design and/or edit our symbols, before importing them in our GIS.

One really great graphic design software, free to download, free to use, is InkScape. Simply go to https://inkscape.org/en/ and get the installation files from the download button (pic 01).

Picture 01
Picture 01

 

Follow the setup instructions and when done, open InkScape from the icon created on your Desktop (pic 02).

Picture 02
Picture 02

STEP 02

With InkScape we may create our own symbols or edit other symbols, that somebody else designed for us. For this tutorial we will make use of the Font Awesome symbols palette, which we may find in one very rich website for symbols, the Iconfinder.

Hit https://www.iconfinder.com on your browser to navigate to their homepage (pic 03). As you may see, numerous designers from all around the globe upload their symbols up there.

Picture 03
Picture 03

We need to reach the iconset with the Font Awesome symbols, therefore we may either type “iconset:font-awesome” at the search field and hit enter, or just follow this link https://www.iconfinder.com/iconsets/font-awesome. We navigate to the page with all Font Awesome symbols (pic 04), where we may download any of them in a variety of image formats, from which we select the SVG type (pic 05).

MG03-04
Picture 04

The SVG abbreviation stands for Scalable Vector Graphic and it is a format that we may edit in InkScape. Scroll down the page until you find a symbol of your taste and download it in SVG format. In our example we selected the Hotel symbol (pic 05).

Picture 05
Picture 05

STEP 03

Return to your opened Inkscape document, hit “File” from the menu and “Open” from the dropdown list, find the folder in your PC where you stored the SVG file and click on it to open it in Inkscape (pic 06).

Picture 06
Picture 06

By selecting the symbol you may perform numerous alterations for matching it exactly to your map’s style. For example, you may change its fill color (pic 07), as well as its stroke color (pic 08) and its stroke width (pic 09).

MG03-07
Picture 07
MG03-08
Picture 08
Picture 09
Picture 09

The moment you feel happy with your alterations hit “File” and “Save As” from the drop-down list and save the symbol in EMF format (pic 10). EMF stands for Enhanced MetaFile and it is a vector format that can be used in ArcMap.

Picture 10
Picture 10

STEP 04

Open ArcMap and load your point data. In our demonstration screenshot we have loaded a point data FeatureService layer from our ArcGIS Online:
http://staridasgeo.maps.arcgis.com/….  on top of the OpenStreetMap basemap for ArcMap (pic 11). The point layer has been symbolized with unique values.

Picture 11
Picture 11

Click on the default symbol for Hotel to open the Symbol Selector panel and from there hit the Edit Symbol button to open the Symbol Property Editor (pic 12).

Picture 12
Picture 12

At the Properties section select as type the Picture Marker Symbol and hit the Picture button to enter your system’s folders. Navigate to the folder where you have stored the EMF symbol and select it (pic 13) in order to bring it into the Symbol Property Editor.

Picture 13
Picture 13

At the Symbol Property Editor, you may change the size of the picture symbol, as well as its angle, its X and/or Y Offset etc (pic 14).

Picture 14
Picture 14

Click the OK button at the bottom of the Symbol Property Editor and again the OK button at the Symbol Selector. As you may see, all hotels on the map have now been symbolized with the new Picture Marker Symbol we downloaded from Iconfinder and edited in InkScape.

STEP 05

You may now follow the same routine procedure in order to symbol all the values of your point layer in ArcMap. Navigate to the Iconfinder page with the Font Awesome icon set, select the ones that suit you, get them in SVG, edit them with InkScape and save them as EMF to import them as Picture Marker Symbols in ArcMap (pic 15).

Picture 15
Picture 15

Please remember that in ArcMap you may not change the style of the Picture Marker Symbol, that’s why we introduced the InkScape program! You may also search the entire Iconfinder website to explore more icon sets, either free or commercial and to enrich even more your symbology in ArcMap!



 

Spyridon Staridas
STARIDAS GEOGRAPHY Making Maps Pretty !!
info@staridasgeography.gr | www.staridasgeography.gr

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