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CMYK in ArcGIS

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#1
Adrienne

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Hi all,

I teach a cartography class online for a GIS certificate program and always have a good mix of really experienced students from various fields, but mostly GIS-related fields so they almost exclusively use ArcGIS to design their maps.

We've been talking a bit about color in ArcView, and from what I understand ESRI uses a different CMYK to RGB conversion algorithm (compared to Illustrator and such) which makes CMYK colors look poor on screen. I've had a couple people confirm this that work with a specific CMYK color palette.

My question is then, would it be better to work in RGB to pick colors while designing their maps (for print) in ArcGIS? Then they could choose CMYK as the destination colorspace when exporting the map as a PDF or to AI?

Thanks for any thoughts,
Adrienne

#2
David Medeiros

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I haven't done much layout for print in Arc but my first instinct would be to design to the purpose which for print means CMYK. I would ignore the on screen results and instead rely on frequent proof prints to help determine the final output.

Designing on screen for print is a bit of a crapshoot. Experince with your software, hardware, printer and proofs help you determine the relaibility of your on screen representation but who prints the final file and what hardware they use will ulitmatly determine the results.

Having your students design with what may look poor on screen may be a good lesson in "what you see, is NOT always what you get" when printing.

dave

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

www.mapbliss.com

 


#3
Adrienne

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That makes sense; I will encourage them to rely on proofs overall. But still I can't think of what real benefit there is to work in CMYK in Arc if, possibly, there may be a better match between a print and the screen while working in RGB. Just thinking practically for those that make maps professionally but aren't purely cartographers.

Thanks for the quick response.
Adrienne

#4
David Medeiros

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I suppose the benefit comes from gaining an understanding of for-print best practices. Weather you use Arc or Illustrator as your design tool for map creation, if it’s going to be professionally printed you should understand how to create work designed for that process. Your students will have more control over the color space with CMYK, and if they wait until the export stage to convert the color space then they are more likely to be surprised by the results and have to go back into Arc to make changes before outputting again. Admittedly most RGB maps will print just fine on a laser printer. But if it’s going to be included in a higher quality publication it will probably need to be CMYK. I say give your students more information and experience now and let them whittle it down to what’s practical for them outside of class.

And as far as I’m concerned, if you make maps professionally you ARE a cartographer (or at least practicing cartography). Even more reason for GIS professionals to gain as much cartographic specific knowledge as possible up front.

I apologize for monopolizing the discussion so far (hopefully others will chime in soon), but your questions hit right at the heart of a topic I feel very strongly about and that is that many GIS students are not being given an adequate cartographic education (if at all).

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

www.mapbliss.com

 


#5
Matthew Hampton

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This is an excellent topic for discussion and underpins one of my main complaints with ArcGIS. The native colorspace in Arc is RGB and your students are correct that the CMYK conversion is a little wonky.

When I design maps for press I always export my files in RGB and convert to CMYK using Adobe's products. FWIW - I have found it much more reliable working from screen-->print to creatively work with colors on a Macintosh.

co-cartographic creator of boringmaps.com


#6
Adrienne

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David, I couldn't agree with you more about these students being cartographers, and that they should be given as much information as possible to be able to make good cartographic decisions. It is unfortunate that cartography is an elective for many GIS programs - including ours, but it is heartening to see how important many GIS professionals consider visual communication. I see your point and will emphasize the importance of designing for the medium.

My question might almost be more for ESRI, and what they would advise for creating print maps. But I asked my question here because I knew I would get thoughtful responses, but also b/c I am interested in how people practice. It is clear that the software doesn't consider color space an important aspect of making maps. Once symbolization has begun, the only way to work in CMYK is to go into each symbolized feature and make it CMYK (in about 4 clicks for each feature or set of symbols), unless ahead of time you have created a style of colors and symbols you regularly use, which is what I have mentioned as a possibility to students. Or am I mistaken? You can't make CMYK default, nor convert everything to CMYK at once?

Overall, I am trying to figure out how adamant I should be while not sacrificing practicality, and checking to see if there are things I may not realize about the software.

Thanks for your response as well Matthew. It is interesting to hear how you work, and that you consider ArcGIS to have issues regarding colorspace.

Adrienne

#7
ceicher

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Hi all,

re:

"Once symbolization has begun, the only way to work in CMYK is to go into each symbolized feature and make it CMYK (in about 4 clicks for each feature or set of symbols), unless ahead of time you have created a style of colors and symbols you regularly use..."

Great question. I hope that I can explain.

Short answer:

You are correct. Best solution is to create a palette of CMYK colors. Do this once and save in a .style file. Use this .style in all of your maps. Give to your students to use in their maps.

Long answer:


-When you choose a color in ArcMap from the little color palette, you are actually choosing from the set of colors stored in .style files which are referenced from your .mxd.

-Colors defined in .styles KEEP the color space as part of their definition. So, RGB colors "stay" RGB, and CMYK colors "stay" CMYK.

-(aside) Yes, "underneath the hood", ESRI software "does something" with non-RGB colors to be able to draw graphics on the screen. Adobe software does this too, and they don't do it the same.

-The ESRI.style is used by default, and all the colors here are defined in RGB.

Attached File  ColorPalette_ESRI.png   29.84KB   106 downloads

-Some .styles have been designed for cartography. PLTS_Sample.style is one example. You might find other examples on the http://mappingcenter.esri.com/
http://mappingcentre.esri.com/ (hey, we do millimeters too!)

Attached File  ColorPalette_PLTS_Sample.png   28.38KB   79 downloads

-Use the ArcMap Style Manager to define new colors in CMYK. One workflow:
a - copy paste all the RGB colors from ESRI.style to a new .style
b - 2x click on each color. you get something called the Color Selector

Attached File  StyleManager_ESRI_RGB.png   31.21KB   74 downloads

c - in Color Selector change definition to CMYK

Attached File  StyleManager_Personal_CMYK.png   27.44KB   69 downloads

d - press OK

-Again, after you do this once, you can reuse this palette in your maps, share it with your students, etc.

-Finally, you can always change to CYMK space "as you work" inside ArcMap in the Color Palette, but if a color is defined in the .style as RGB, the CP will always revert back to RGB the next time you open it...

... so, again, the solution: define CMYK colors once in a .style.

Best regards and good luck,

-Cory
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#8
François Goulet

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Attached File  ColorPalette_ESRI.png   29.84KB   106 downloads


What's that Genius-DB Edit Palette? Is this something you did yourself? Looks pretty useful!!

#9
ceicher

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The palette is part of a set of ArcGIS components built here at ESRI-Switzerland to streamline cartographic work in ArcMap.

Our goal was to improve the ArcMap editing environment, in this case for cartography.

1 -We started by looking at some usability basics such as:
  • reducing necessary mouse clicks (getting away from deeply-nested menus for example, in favor of "one click" buttons)
  • putting similar functions "close to each other" in the GUI
  • maximizing screen space for the map
The Tool Palette is one result of this.
Attached File  toolpalette.PNG   10.48KB   69 downloads

The palette has both standard ArcMap tool (for example the Representation tools) and custom tools (for example special tools to deal with bezier curves, Destroy & Rebuild, etc.), and it is customizable by the end user.

2 - The operator also needs to take care of "side tasks" to be able to do their "real work". This is true in any similar system, ArcMap isn't special here:
  • changing layer visibility
  • changing layer selectability
  • specifying the target for drawing new features
  • controlling snapping
Our result is the Layers List.
Attached File  LayersList.png   5.21KB   59 downloads

This replaces the standard ArcMap Table of Contents. You gain screen space, and the list does what you expect: allowing you to sort, filter, and make changes en masse to both visibility and selectability.

Behind the scenes tools can automatically handle things like the target layer and snapping.

... so, there you go, definitely a long answer to short question! We are very keen to hear feedback, including ideas, questions, and criticism.

-Cory

#10
Unit Seven

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Thanks for the info Cory.

The layers list is something I have wanted in ArcMap for as long as I've been using it. Talked to our developer but he didn't think it was possible to have the multiple check boxes due to not being implemented in MS components or something.

Selectability, visibility and snapability are all too difficult to access for a user who is not editing thousands of one type of feature at a time.

All I know is I want it so hopefully Redlands will take note of what you've done there!

Cheers.
S a m B r o w n

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