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Custom Point Symbols in ArcGIS

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#1
wick

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I am curious to know how others create custom point symbols in ArcGIS.
Here are my limitations:
* I am limited to direct ArcGIS output in this case (replacing in Freehand or swapping in Illustrator are not options).
* I need to create icons that are more complex than the ESRI symbol font libraries offer (multiple colors, other shapes).
* I want to preserve the vector lines of my exported artwork, so using bitmap images does not work.
* I am using multiple data frames in the map.

I have used EMF symbols quite a bit, and these almost work for me, however I have 2 major problems with EMF symbols:
1) Often when I have multiple data frames, the EMF symbols do not export in all of the data frames (occasionally they won't export when only 1 data frame is used). The bad exports are unpredictable - some maps with 3 data frames export fine, others with 3 data frames do not. Since I can't rely on my symbols to export when I use EMF symbols, I've been using simpler icons using various (usually layered) font symbols.
2) EMF files are limited to RGB (though if the export problem was resolved, I could learn to live with that).

Has anyone discovered a workaround to this EMF export problem?
If not, what other options do I have? I have tried demos of font creation software, but there are a lot of different programs - I would be interested in others' recommendations/thoughts on going that route to build icons.

Thanks for your help.
Jesse Wickizer
Maps.com

#2
merft

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You have have covered every way I know of and have been able to extract from ESRI to create custom symbols.

- BMP - Okay but rasterizes everything below it.
- EMF - Works, but can be wonky (don't know another way to explain) for the exact reasons you stated.
- Custom Fonts - It's the way Jim Mossman creates his highway symbols. Expensive and time-consuming.

I have found that in 9.x that the use of EMFs is far superior than how they were handled in 8.x but usually if there is a deadline the ESRI artificial intelligence routine kicks in and makes your life interesting.

My question would be what version of ArcGIS are you using, what format are you exporting to, and what are the settings for that export? I haven't had much problem of late and use custom EMFs for my highway symbols. Can't say I use multiple frames much though.

-Tom

#3
Unit Seven

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Custom fonts are def the way to go—you can layer and colour seperate glyphs in the symbol properties and the font keeps all the vector data as it was designed to be drawn and can use cmyk. Also any scripts/prepress process' to set overprints will still and as you can work in cmyk you will get correct black generation which is obviously a major problem if using rgb for black parts of the symbols.

Have done a lot of this and have a quite productive workflow between draing the fonts in Illy and creating corectly registered custom glyphs in fontlab. If you decide to go this way let me know and I can post a few tips here—a lot has to do with the page setup and working units etc.

Otherwise would also be able to help create the font for you from vector files without too much work I would think.

But yes it would be nice if there was some other standard (postscript/pdf based) way of creating fonts easilyt in Arc.

Cheers,

Sam.
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#4
Charlie Frye

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Another option is available in 9.2. Representation markers. These you can color manage and create the artwork yourself in ArcGIS.

There are two ways to create the Artwork:

First you can just open the Style manager and create a new representation marker and create it's graphic from scratch.

Second, using font-based marker symbols, symbolize your layer (or any geodatabase-based point layer for that matter) with the symbols you will need, and then create representations for that layer. Each of the representation symbols can be edited and most importantly saved to a style from the layer properties symbology tab. It's a little tedious, but far better than creating the artwork from scratch. In the Mapping Center blog entry I recently did on symbolizing one-way streets, Step 4 has a download for a style of arrowheads that I created in this fashion; it took about 20 minutes to do that.
Charlie Frye
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#5
wick

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Thanks for the replies everyone. I am using ArcGIS 9.1 and 9.2, ArcView License, exporting to PDF and Illustrator.

I think I'm like to pursue creating custom fonts. Ideally I would like to build the icon in Illustrator and export the different layers of the icon to separate characters of a font so that I can easily re-construct it in ArcGIS. So now I'm looking for general workflow tips as I go this route, as well as software recommendations. I looked at the Fontlab site, and the products page listed over a dozen different products/bundles.

Thanks,
-Jesse
Jesse Wickizer
Maps.com

#6
wick

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First you can just open the Style manager and create a new representation marker and create it's graphic from scratch.


Unfortunately I don't have access to Representations with my ArcGIS license. I'm curious about how you create the graphic from scratch with a representation marker. Is the interface similar to Illustrator with layers and pen tool and free-form drawing? Or is it the same as the "Symbol Property Editor" interface that is standard in the ArcGIS environment.
Jesse Wickizer
Maps.com

#7
James Hines

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I am one of those Cartographers who would be required to download images to create point sybols using the point & click method. Creating custom point symbols in ArcGIS was very much part of the requirement for the 1:100 000 Topographic project which took over 250 hours to do as a final requirement towards graduation. I took the same path as Unit Seven creating custom font symbols not availiable to me from the ESRI Font selections through CorelDraw. I can't remember how I bought it in ArcMap but if I had that on me I could do it like riding a bicycle. Style Manager was used to bring in the font, of course what we have to be careful about is making the wrong symbol too dominant over a very important one, can you imagine a two millimetre building compared to a a town location less then that size? :lol:

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#8
pghardy

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Unfortunately I don't have access to Representations with my ArcGIS license.

Ah, well clearly you ought to have an ArcEditor level licence rather than an ArcView one! :(

I'm curious about how you create the graphic from scratch with a representation marker. Is the interface similar to Illustrator with layers and pen tool and free-form drawing? Or is it the same as the "Symbol Property Editor" interface that is standard in the ArcGIS environment.

It's more like Illustrator - see ArcGIS 9.2 Web Help for an illustration and more information.
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Paul Hardy
ESRI Europe (phardy@esri.com)




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