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turning Illustrator linework into GIS data

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#1
Dennis McClendon

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What's the current thinking on the easiest way to turn a complex map drawn in Illustrator into GIS data that then can be reprojected, etc.? I'm thinking about the best way to integrate my Chicago street map into a regional bikemap drawn with the new TIGER linework.

I have ArcGIS (and Manifold, but never figured out how to use it.) Is there some simple process using DXF and typing in the coördinates of four known street intersections?
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
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#2
David Medeiros

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The easiest way is probably MAPublisher. Licenses cost around $1400 I think? So not super cheap. I can say that creating maps for publication using MAPub to handle the GIS data import is very nice. Reproduction of MAPub created files happens inside Illustrator. Line work can be exported at .shp as needed.

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

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#3
François Goulet

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It's also possible to save your maps as .dwg from Illy and then, open it in and use spatial adjustment in Arc to georeference them.

I know there's an powerpoint somewhere on the web explaining all that (if I remember correctly, it was to export a bunch on .ai geological maps back into shapefiles), but I can't find it...

#4
Hans van der Maarel

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I'd vote for MAPublisher too. It's a bit of a hassle to georeference an existing Illustrator file, but once that's done you can export to shape, mid/mif, kml and a few other formats.
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
Red Geographics
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#5
PhiNgo

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I've done it several times. You can export you ai file as a dwg. In ArcMap, use the georeference tool to georeference the dwg file. You can only use two control points and you can use the snapping feature. Also, your ai file can't have bezier lines. It'll show up in the AutoCAD but not in ArcMap. If anybody knows how to get around that, I'm all ears. Probably the best bet is to export from ArcMap to ai.

Hope that helps.

#6
Mary Edin

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I have converted Adobe Illustrator linework to ArcGIS 9.2 and 9.3 with good success, by exporting to either DWG or DXF. There are a number of steps involved. I hope this gives you the general idea:

1) If necessary, sort the linework to layers based on the attributes you want the GIS data to have. The layer names will end up in a field "Layer" in the converted data, so be as descriptive as possible.
2) Curves in Illustrator must be converted to lines before export. Use Object>Path> "Add Anchor Points" command to add nodes to the curves (may need to invoke several times), and Object>Path> "Simplify" command to convert to lines.
3) Export to older version of DWG or DXF (R14 works).
4) View in ArcGIS, and export the data to a shapefile (at least in 9.2 this only works with a shapefile -- the Spatial Adjustment tool does not work with a personal geodatabase -- I don't know about 9.3 or 9.4)
5) Use the Spatial Adjustment toolbar in an edit session to match the linework to points on a known projection (the ArcGIS Help has quite a bit about this). You can match as many points as you wish, and you can choose the method ArcMap uses to align the data.
6) Export your data to a geodatabase feature class and set the projection.

This would provide a visual overlay of your data onto the desired projection. A further issue is spatially joining the resulting data to other GIS data, such as the TIGER linework you mentioned. For us, joining the data to our citywide centerline has required custom development to reduce the amount of 'manual' cleanup needed.

Edited by Mary Edin, 20 January 2010 - 02:22 PM.


#7
Dennis McClendon

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Thanks all.

Since I will be coming back into Illustrator/FreeHand to produce the finished product, perhaps it would be easier for me to rubber-sheet my map by eye to fit with the GIS data after export. That's how I've done previous editions.

One thing I'm curious about is how folks working in GIS can pick and choose linework. For example, say you have centerlines from a city and you have centerlines from the county (which also includes the city) on a layer underneath. How can you go through and discard the segments from the county in areas where you think the city linework is better? In Illustrator, we can just select a segment and discard it directly, but in ArcMap there doesn't seem to be any way to directly select a line or polygon, much less to discard or change it.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#8
Charles Syrett

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Interesting question. You (like me) are coming from a different paradigm -- one in which lines are graphic objects, rather than displays of geographic information. A lot of the time you can do what you're asking for simply by selecting by attribute. For example, if your county streets have an attribute column that specifies jurisdiction, then you would select all the streets that are within the city, and then delete. Neat and quick! But that's only if the dataset is attributed that way. Don't ask me how to do it in Arc though; I use Manifold for stuff like this, and it's pretty easy.

You can also do this with MAPublisher, if you have it, right within AI/FreeHand. B)

Charles Syrett
Map Graphics
http://www.mapgraphics.com

Thanks all.

Since I will be coming back into Illustrator/FreeHand to produce the finished product, perhaps it would be easier for me to rubber-sheet my map by eye to fit with the GIS data after export. That's how I've done previous editions.

One thing I'm curious about is how folks working in GIS can pick and choose linework. For example, say you have centerlines from a city and you have centerlines from the county (which also includes the city) on a layer underneath. How can you go through and discard the segments from the county in areas where you think the city linework is better? In Illustrator, we can just select a segment and discard it directly, but in ArcMap there doesn't seem to be any way to directly select a line or polygon, much less to discard or change it.



#9
David Medeiros

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As Charles says you can querry by attribute if they have attributes associated with them. But you can also do a direct selction in Arc and multiple direct selections with the shift ket. If your city and county centerlines are on seperate layers you could select all instances of county streets that you'd like to discard, do an "invert selection" which will give you a select set of the remaining county streets to keep, then output that selection as a new layer. Turn off the original county layer and you should now have a partial county centerline display that ties neatly into your city linework.

Something like that anyway... all off the top of my head, I'd have to be on Arc to be sure of the steps.
HTH

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

www.mapbliss.com

 


#10
frax

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I have converted Adobe Illustrator linework to ArcGIS 9.2 and 9.3 with good success, by exporting to either DWG or DXF. There are a number of steps involved. I hope this gives you the general idea:


If there was a way to 'star' or 'rate' a post, this one would receive the highest marks from me! I have gone through this process before (also by trial-and-error, took me a while to figure out the bezier issue) and this ia very good summary/write-up - thanks!
Hugo Ahlenius
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#11
Unit Seven

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I have converted Adobe Illustrator linework to ArcGIS 9.2 and 9.3 with good success, by exporting to either DWG or DXF. There are a number of steps involved. I hope this gives you the general idea:


If there was a way to 'star' or 'rate' a post, this one would receive the highest marks from me! I have gone through this process before (also by trial-and-error, took me a while to figure out the bezier issue) and this ia very good summary/write-up - thanks!


+1 and a first post to boot—thanks Mary.

While I don't often have to do this it's great to have it all down summarized in one spot. It's one of those things I struggle through each time I need to do it and then forget until I need to struggle through it a year later. Copied for future reference.

Mapub is prob still the easiest way but it hasn't really ever quite fitted with my workflows but it's defiantly been tempting for features like this.

Cheers!
S a m B r o w n

U N I T S E V E N
unit.seven@gmail.com

Miramar, Wellington
N E W Z E A L A N D

#12
natcase

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Could someone who has worked both ways comment on the advantages/disadvantages of the AI->DWG->Arc path, vs the AI->MaPublisher->Arc path? I have worked a limited amount on the latter path and will be doing it again soon, unless there is a compelling reason to go with the former.

A quick pointer the nice folks at Avenza gave me recently: it is possible to export text labels from AI as point data via MaPublisher: you need to set the "#Name" field to "visible" to see it, but it is where Adobe stores the text content of an object. If you create a new attribute field for that layer and set it equal to the #Name field, when you export a shapefile, the text becomes points with that attribute field intact (point type is set at the location of the anchor point. not sure about path and text-in-a-block).

Not all that different from how GNIS was created from USGS topo maps.

Nat Case
INCase, LLC

Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
maphead.blogspot.com



#13
pfyfield

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Nat, could you explain this process in more detail? Specifically, setting the #Name field to visible, how exactly is that done? We have been trying to come up with a way to bring text from our Illustrator maps back into Arc to check against annotation.
In response to the original post, I use Illustrator/MAPublisher all the time to edit GIS data and export shapefiles back out. It's fast and easy, works really well.
Paul Fyfield
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Oregon State Office
Portland, Oregon
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#14
Hans van der Maarel

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Nat, could you explain this process in more detail? Specifically, setting the #Name field to visible, how exactly is that done? We have been trying to come up with a way to bring text from our Illustrator maps back into Arc to check against annotation.
In response to the original post, I use Illustrator/MAPublisher all the time to edit GIS data and export shapefiles back out. It's fast and easy, works really well.


If you go into the Map Attributes window and edit the schema (the "pencil" button at the bottom) you can see the hidden attributes and set them to visible.

Attached File  Screen_shot_2010_01_25_at_10.19.53_PM.png   50.55KB   21 downloads
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
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#15
kay

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Nat, could you explain this process in more detail? Specifically, setting the #Name field to visible, how exactly is that done? We have been trying to come up with a way to bring text from our Illustrator maps back into Arc to check against annotation.
In response to the original post, I use Illustrator/MAPublisher all the time to edit GIS data and export shapefiles back out. It's fast and easy, works really well.


Message to Dennis:
I use MAPublisher and Adobe Illustrator, too.

Message to Paul:
I am not sure if it helps you.. but I would like to suggest two more things to what Hans said. :) You can export the MAP Attribute table information to a text file with latitude/longitude (or eastings/northings) value. You can import the text layer to ArcGIS.

Also, the text layer can inherit (obtain?) the attribute information from the original source layer when the text labels are created when you select the option “Base attribute schema on” (note1-whenCreatingATextLayer.png).

Combining those two, you can create a point layer from a text layer with many attribute fields.

1 - when creating a layer for the text label layer, make sure that you select the option “Base attribute schema on < the source layer > (note1-whenCreatingATextLayer.png).

2 - Do the Hans suggestion (All those fields starting with the “#” symbol are usually hidden fields).

3 - Export attribute. Since the sample data in the screencapture has the eastings and northings information, the exported attribute data can be used as a point layer . You can import it in ArcGIS. :)

I hope this information is useful... :)

Cheers,
kay

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