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Bridge between ArcGIS & Illustrator

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#1
Simon

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I do all of my Maps within ArcGIS. For my needs it offers me enough flexibility to get maps that keep my clients happy.

However, mainly from looking at peoples work here at the forum, id like to have a go at working with maps in Illustrator.

I have pretty much no experience with Illustrator although I do have a copy of CS3 - not had time to fiddle with it yet.

So - some questions...

1. I assume you need to get everything ready to go in ArcMap and then use Illustrator to do "finishing touches" Where do you draw this line and can you go back and forth between the 2 packages without losing the spatial reference?

2. Are there any packages/tools that make this jump between the 2 packages easier to manage?

3. In nutshell - what can you do in Illustrator that you cant in ArcMap?

4. Any links to good tutorials, works of art, tools - really appreciate it.

#2
peanut

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1. I assume you need to get everything ready to go in ArcMap and then use Illustrator to do "finishing touches" Where do you draw this line and can you go back and forth between the 2 packages without losing the spatial reference?


For me it is best to get the map 90% done in ArcMap and then as you say use Illustrator for the 'finishing touches'. You can really only go from Illustrator to ArcMap effectively. The reverse doesn't work so well.

When you export from ArcMap you get a layered AI file. If you need to change some of the data in one of the layers later in the process you can keep everything lined up by re-exporting just the layer you have updated from ArcMap, opening this up in Illustrator and then copy and paste in front in your finished Illustrator document. This works as long as you keep the page size and scale the same in ArcMap.


2. Are there any packages/tools that make this jump between the 2 packages easier to manage?


Many people here use Map Publisher from Avenza Systems.
http://www.avenza.com/

I have never used it but it may be helpful.


3. In nutshell - what can you do in Illustrator that you cant in ArcMap?


Illustrator being a true graphics package provides you with graphical effects that are not available in ArcMap. The main benefit of using Illustrator is that there are tools available that allow get at each and every graphical object quickly and easily. Also Illustrator provides facilities for converting fonts to outlines which will make your maps play friendly with printing services as well as users who don't have the same fonts you are using installed (especially the ESRI symbol sets.)

If you are making maps that will eventually be printed on and offset press using only two colors lets say black and a Pantone color. ArcMap doesn't have any facilities for doing this whereas Illustrator does.

4. Any links to good tutorials, works of art, tools - really appreciate it.


There is much information on this forum about ArcMap and Illustrator.

Hope this helps.

Rich

#3
Matthew Hampton

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I move information from Arc to Ai quite often and would definitely use MapPublisher from Avenza if you want greater flexibility - but it's not absolutely vital - you can always use reference layers in Ai to "rubbersheet" other data back in.

I use ArcGIS for data preparation and Illustrator for data representation/compilation (+ Photoshop for raster data representation).

This workflow allows the user to exploit the strengths of each software.

co-cartographic creator of boringmaps.com


#4
Dennis McClendon

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A whole session at NACIS Madison (I think) was devoted to this question: GIS vs. Illustrator, when do you bail?

Of course, there's no set answer, but most of us who are at ease in drawing programs prefer to get there as soon as possible, where we can directly manipulate the attributes and positioning of objects. I think of the GIS stages as telling a tireless but legally blind assistant in a remote office what steps to perform. At some point, it becomes easier to just do it yourself. So operations that need to be performed 400 times the exact same way are things for the GIS to do; 40 operations that all require judgment are easier to do in Illustrator/FreeHand.

I think Cindy Brewer's book Designing Better Maps offers some useful advice on this topic.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#5
frax

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I do 90% if my cartography work in Illustrator and 10% in ArcGIS (roughly). The raster/bitmap/image data also gets a treatment in Photoshop on the way. No MaPublisher for me.

I only use Arc to prepare the data and limit the area for the map.

Why use Illy? Using a graphics centric package gives you flexibility in a totally different way, and let's you manipulate the features without restrictions. The full power of beziér curves are another main reason to use Illy.
Hugo Ahlenius
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#6
pghardy

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The full power of beziér curves are another main reason to use Illy.

Note that from ArcGIS 9.2, the cartographic representations capabilities of ArcGIS support Bezier curves, with dragging handles etc.
--
Paul Hardy
ESRI Europe (phardy@esri.com)

#7
pfyfield

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This is a topic of much debate, as many people in our field would like to streamline their workflows and work within a single software environment. It's just not there yet.

I use ArcMap, Illustrator and MAPublisher (and Photoshop to a degree). I do no cartography in ArcMap unless the final product is a simple plot for internal review. If a map is intended to be a "finished" product, or go to press, I use ArcMap only for data manipulation/geoprocessing (projecting/clipping/dissolving) then use MAPublisher to import shapefiles into Illustrator.

What ArcMap doesn't do (or do well):

1. A few pre-press necessities, such as overprinting and converting fonts to outlines.

2. Manipulation of non-data elements is very poor in ArcMap. In Illustrator you can position every node of every object. We make a lot of complex map collars on maps laid out on 4x9 panels, but the extent is rarely a simple rectangle. This would be extraordinarliy frustrating in ArcMap. Text properties in ArcMap apply to an entire text block, while in Illustrator text properties can be varied for each individual character. I can't think of any instance where I would not want to vary the leading in a legend.

3. Arcmap does some really funky things on "export to ai." Patterns, transparencies, dashes, fonts- all less than ideal. Building this symbology in Illustrator makes a cleaner file. Transparency in particular is problematic because it rasterizes all layers containing transparency and all layers below, but the cartographer has litle control over the process.

4. ArcMap is very poor at the on-screen display of CMYK colors.

5. A few other things, but I need to get back to work.

Using MAPublisher also allows georeferencing and attribute information to be stored in the ai file. There's no wondering what projection you used, etc. I know there are many who prefer the straight "export to ai" followed by minor cleanup in Illustrator, but this is my prefered method.
Paul Fyfield
Cartographer, Bureau of Land Management
Oregon State Office
Portland, Oregon
pfyfield@blm.gov




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