Introduction

This document describes a workflow for designing maps, based on GIS data, for professional printing and the web.

This is the current process used for designing DCR trail maps (Greenmaps and multicolor maps). It is one of many possible workflows, using the following software (most of the workflow will work fine with different versions of the software as long as they're not too old):

  • Am ArcMap (10.3)—as a geographic data source
  • Ai Adobe Illustrator (CC 2014/CC 2015)—for designing your map
  • Id Adobe InDesign (CC 2014/CC 2015, optional)—for additional page design
  • Ps Adobe Photoshop (CC 2014/CC 2015, optional)—may be useful for certain tasks relating to images

I have not used software like MAPublisher (a cartographic plugin for Illustrator) because it is expensive and we don't have a license. It is very popular among cartographers and would probably solve many of the issues covered in this guide. There are also numerous free and paid software packages that can help with tasks such as creating hillshades etc. I have not experimented with them yet.

The notes below are largely based on the first Greenmap we created, for Ames Nowell State Park, plus the revised Middlesex Fells Reservation 4-color map (both ) the revision from scratch of the Myles Standish State Forest 4-color map () for that park's Centennial, and the Walden Pond State Reservation map revision.

A "Greenmap" is a single-color DCR trail map, printed by a professional print shop using a green spot color. This is the standard type of trail map produced for most DCR parks. A few parks have special maps with more colors (i.e. Middlesex Fells Reservation, Myles Standish State Forest (starting with the 2016 Centennial map), Blue Hills Reservation, Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, Norwottuck Rail Trail, Connecticut River Greenway State Park, Natural Bridge State Park, Wompatuck State Park, and others).

This document is intended for an audience of my coworkers, and for other GIS professionals who want to learn how to create relatively simple print maps in Adobe Illustrator. I was unable to find an internet source with this kind of detailed instructions. It is the result of me teaching myself how to do this based largely on internet sources, plus graphic design classes I've taken. There is a wealth of information out there (see my list at the end of this document and the links throughout the text), and this document is certainly not a substitute for a rigorous cartographic education.

The basic workflow is as follows:

First Steps

The first thing you must do is decide on the final trimmed paper size of the printed brochure, and the size of the map section(s) within it.

For consistency's sake we will continue to use the existing standard DCR map sizes. All these maps fold down to 3.75" wide by 9" tall, and are made up of "panels" of that size. They can be between three and six 3.75" panels wide, and one or two 9" panels tall. They can be single- or double-sided.

This decision can be based on the size of the existing map for the facility (if one exists), the size and shape of the park, the density of the trail network, and the availability or desirability of additional text information. Some parks can have separate summer and winter maps (typically on a double-sided brochure), or two separate map sections for different sections of a park, or separate overview and detail maps. Most parks will just have a single map.

The important decisions to make before you go too far are:

  • Brochure page size: choose single- or double-sided, with the paper size typically a multiple of the 3.75″ × 9″ panel size. This choice will have a major effect on the printing cost.
  • Color: most DCR maps are greenmaps, printed in a single spot color (you can design the map in grayscale and tell the printer to print it in your spot color, in our case PANTONE 342U). It is also possible to print in four-color (process/CMYK, the industry standard color printing technique) or even two-color). This choice will have a major effect on the printing cost.
  • Map Rotation: by default, most maps will have north facing up. In some cases (Walden Pond State Reservation is an example) you may wish to rotate the map to a different orientation (in the case of Walden they wanted the map oriented to the direction of a visitor standing near the parking lot facing the pond). Or some park shapes might fit the page better if angled differently (e.g. Mt. Tom State Reservation).
  • Page Rotation: in some cases you might have a map placed sideways on the page (e.g. Leominster State Forest), which you can do by creating the map upright but inserting it into an InDesign document rotated 90°. In this case the symbols and labels on the map will be rotated along with the map, so the user will turn the paper sideways to read the map.
  • Map Extent/Scale: you can experiment with this while you are creating your map in ArcMap, but you should make a final decision before exporting to Illustrator. You want to show the important parts of the park and a bit of context around it, while zooming in as far as you can so you can show as much detail as possible. In some cases you can include more detailed inset map(s) for key sections of the park, or split part of the map into a separate section so that you can maximize your page real estate. For instance, a long thin park might be cut in half and shown side-by-side or on two sides of the page so that you can zoom farther in. I like to have my scale ratio be a nice round number (e.g. 1:12,000) if possible, but this is not essential.

These decisions should be made in consultation with park staff, other interested parties within and outside of the agency, and with an eye towards the budget allocated for printing.

Sample map
This typical DCR trail map brochure is 5 panels wide, one panel high, and single-sided. This is a common map size and layout. The leftmost panel is the cover, the second panel contains text, and the last three panels contain the map.
Sample map dimensions
This shows the dimensions of the paper and the map section.

Once you have decided on a paper size and a map size (the portion of the paper that is covered by the map), you can start creating your ArcMap GIS map.

ArcMap Setup

Set ArcMap to the correct page size and map extent for export into Illustrator format.

Am The first and most important step is to set your map's Page and Print Setup size to equal the eventual map size (not the paper size, just the portion that is the map). This will usually be based on the panel size—in our example map the map section is three panels wide by one panel high, or 11.25" by 9". Most DCR maps bleed off the page; that is, the map goes all the way to the page edge. There may be cases where you want the map to be smaller than the paper (i.e. fitting the map into a box with a neatline); in those cases you could make the map size equal to the size of the box you want to put it in (plus a bleed?).

Then zoom (in Layout View) to the desired park extent you want on the map (you can experiment with this as you add data and tweak the map, but once you export to Illustrator and start to edit the map there, changing the extent is not a good idea). You should do most of your work in Layout View, unless you need to edit GIS data. You can also rotate the map at this point, if necessary. 90 degree increments are best unless the park's shape makes a different rotation essential. We will use MA State Plane NAD83 meters (MassGIS's standard projection) for all maps.

While in Layout View, set a Bookmark to the chosen extent. You may wish to set your Extent Used By Full Extent Command (Data Frame Properties—Data Frame tab) to this same extent so you can use the Full Extent button to zoom.

ArcMap Layers

Now prepare all the map datalayers and elements. Kind of like making a normal GIS map, but without trying to make it look pretty. We will include the main map, legend, north arrow (optional—required if map is rotated to a non-cardinal direction), scalebar(s), inset map(s) (optional) and locus map.

Am Add the datalayers you want to show on the map. Most of these will be MassGIS data. We may create a template ArcMap .mxd to make this easier. You will probably need (from bottom of TOC up):

  • MassGIS background datalayers:
  • DCR Trail datalayers:
    • DCR Roads And Trails (lines)—use MassGIS version unless full or recently updated DCR dataset is needed
    • DCR Road And Trail Points—use MassGIS version unless full or recently updated DCR dataset is needed
    • DCR Trail Loops (specially created line datalayer, only for certain parks)
    • Separate DCR Parking points datalayer, if created
    • Separate DCR Gate points datalayer, if created
    • Separate DCR Numbered Intersections point datalayer, if created (with labels)
    • map grid, if one has been created for this park
    • any additional datalayers (poly/line/point/anno) created specifically for this map

Once you have your datalayers added, it's time to separate them out into layers and symbolize them.

A few specific examples of how to set up the ArcMap layers:

  • DCR Openspace: The definition query I've been using is: ("OWNER_ABRV" IN ('DCRS', 'DCRS/DFG', 'DCRU', 'DCRW', 'DCAM/DCRS')) OR ("MANAGR_ABRV" IN ('DCRS', 'DCRU', 'DCRW')) OR ("OLI_1_ABRV" IN ('DCRS', 'DCRU', 'DCRW')) OR ("OLI_2_ABRV" IN ('DCRS', 'DCRU', 'DCRW')) OR ("OLI_3_ABRV" IN ('DCRS', 'DCRU', 'DCRW')) This will include Conservation Restrictions, etc. so keep that in mind. Make the layer all one solid fill color, no outlines. If for some reason you want to include park outlines, use the Openspace Arcs datalayer—you can show DCR-only outlines using the DROPLINE attribute.
  • Elevation Contours: turn off labels, use one simple line symbol for all lines.
  • DEP 12k Wetlands (or USGS 25k Hydro if you are using that):
    • Make two (or more) copies of the poly layer. A POLY_CODE of 2 or 3 (or 4, or 5) is Wetlands, and a POLY_CODE of 1, 6, 9, or 10 is Open Water. There are other categories too, see the metadata webpage for details, especially if it's a coastal park.
    • Symbolize each layer with a simple fill, no outline.
    • Make three copies of the line layer. An ARC_CODE of 3 is wetland limits (this will probably not end up being used in the final map), an ARC_CODE of 1 is shorelines, and an ARC_CODE of 7 is streams. There are other (not very useful) categories too, see the metadata webpage for details.
    • Symbolize each layer with a simple line symbol.
  • MassDOT-EOT Roads (the "All Roads" EOTROADS_ARC datalayer): make three copies of this layer, with definition queries for each of:
    • CLASS IN (1,2,3) (this will be your Numbered Routes layer)
    • CLASS = 4 (this will be your Major Roads layer)
    • CLASS = 5 (this will be your Minor Roads layer)
    • (don't show CLASS = 6 unless there is something specific in it that you need. Delete the other layers like EOTMAJROADS_ARC, EXITS_PT (unless you want to show them), EOTMAJROADS_RTE_MAJOR, and RTMARKERS_PT_EOTMAJOR)
    There will probably be some overlap with the DCR Road and Trail data, but you can fix that in Illustrator. Turn labelling on for all three layers. Edit the label styles if you prefer the road names to be straight vs. curved.
  • Railroads, MBTA datalayers, Transmission Lines: if there are any in the map extent, treat them similarly to the roads.
  • DCR Roads and Trails (lines): make four copies of this layer. Possible definition queries:
    • Other: ("illegal" <> 'Y') AND ("Type" = 'Other')
    • Trails: ("illegal" <> 'Y') AND ("Type" = 'Trail')
    • Unpaved Roads: ("illegal" <> 'Y') AND ("surface" <> 'Asphalt') AND ("Type" IN ('Administrative Road', 'Forest Road/Trail', 'Public Road'))
    • Paved Roads: ("illegal" <> 'Y') AND ("surface" = 'Asphalt') AND ("Type" IN ('Administrative Road', 'Forest Road/Trail', 'Public Road'))
    Symbolize each layer with a different simple line symbol. You may prefer to choose a different sorting of the trail lines.
  • DCR Road and Trail Points: you may be able to get away with just one layer for this one, unless there are a lot of points and you want to separate them out. Use symbols that you can tell apart, but don't waste time making them perfect, as you will be replacing them in Illustrator. It'll be easier if you use single-level symbols. You may not want to show every point type—if a point type won't appear on the final map you can remove it from the symbology (or remove it using a definition query).
  • Two exceptions to the preceding are Numbered Intersections and Numbered Gates (if they exist for this park). These points should be in separate layers, with labelling turned on to show the intersection/gate numbers (probably the INT_NUMBER field for Intersections and the GATE_NUM field for Gates).

Don't forget to insert all the map elements you want. Insert a north arrow, scalebars (I've been using two, one for miles and one for feet, both set to use nice round numbers for the interval), legend (include all the layers you think you'll want in the final legend), and a locus map. We will replace or resymbolize all these graphics in Illustrator but they are necessary to use as a starting point, especially the scalebars.

For the locus map, I've been using the following setup (only relevant for Massachusetts maps): Data Frame size 1.9″ × 1.2″; add an Extent Indicator to show the location of the main map; add the MassGIS Massachusetts (100K coast) datalayer and color it a solid color with no outline; zoom to that layer and then set the scale to be 1:7,500,000. In Illustrator you will replace everything but the Extent Indicator with a premade graphic that is at the same scale.

If you want to add an inset (detail) map, create it the same way you created the main map. Start by choosing Data Frame from the Insert menu. You should add an Extent Indicator to the main map to show the area that the inset map portrays. If you're not ready to create this yet you can add it later.

Look at the existing trail map, if there is one, and make sure you're not forgetting any additional geographic datalayers that you may need. You should work with stakeholders (e.g. park staff, possibly the park's Friends Group) to find out if there is anything they want to add or change.

Exporting from ArcMap

Once you have all your layers set up, it's time to export to Adobe Illustrator format.

Am Choose Export Map... from the File menu.

In the Export Map dialog, browse to where you want to save your .ai file and name the file—I like to add "RawExport" to the end of the file name because we will be resaving the file when we start editing. Choose AI (*.ai) as the file type.

Exporting to .ai (General tab)
ArcMap's export dialog—Illustrator .ai file format—General tab.

At the bottom of the dialog under Options, I had been choosing 600 dpi (not sure how this affects vector data) and Best image quality on the General Tab. Consensus on the CartoTalk forums seems to be that you should set it to 720 dpi.

Exporting to .ai (Format tab)
ArcMap's export dialog—Illustrator .ai file format—Format tab.

On the Format tab, choose CMYK as the Destination Colorspace (we are creating this map for print). Choose Vectorize layers with bitmap markers/fills for Picture Symbol (hopefully we don't have any of these in our map). Check the Use Display Expression for Item Name checkbox (not sure what this does). For the Convert Marker Symbols to Polygons checkbox, I've been checking it, which will get you vector icons that are misshapen (we will use a script to replace them with better Symbols). An alternative workflow that I have not explored is to leave the checkbox unchecked, which will export any (Character Symbol only?) icons as editable text glyphs (assuming you have access to the same fonts when you open it in Illustrator). Do not check the Clip Output to Graphics Extent checkbox.

Click Save.

Illustrator 1: Opening the exported document

Now it's time for the main event! Most of our work will be done in Illustrator.

Ai Open the new .ai file by double-clicking it (you must have Adobe Illustrator installed—this guide was written using Illustrator CC 2014 and CC 2015). You may get a message saying "This file contains text that was created in a previous version of Illustrator. This legacy text must be updated before you can edit it." Click Update to update the text.

Update Legacy Text
Update Legacy Text dialog—you should click Update.

You may also get a message saying you have a mix of CMYK and RGB color modes in your document. Select CMYK and click OK to convert any RGB objects to CMYK.

Convert color mode (CMYK)
Convert Color Mode dialog—you should choose CMYK.

Your (very ugly) map should open. Here's what mine looked like:

An ugly map
An ugly map, as exported from ArcMap

Press Ctrl-0 (that's a zero, not the letter o) to zoom to the whole map so you can see it all. The first thing you should do is check your Document Setup. Choose Document Setup... from the File menu. Make sure your page Width and Height are correct (they should be the size you want the map portion of your eventual document to be) and that you have the Bleed settings you want—typically you'll want 1/8 inch (0.125 in) on each side. You don't need a Slug.

The second thing you should do is to save it as a new name. Choose Save As... from the File menu. Illustrator may have automatically put "[Converted]" at the end of your file name. You could keep the original name and append "_edited", i.e. Template11-25x9_MapOnly_AmesNowell_edited.ai or something like that. Or just name it something simpler like MylesStandish2016TrailMap.ai. Click Save.

Illustrator 2: The Layers panel

The Layers panel is the key to organizing your document.

Ai One of the most important panels (little windows with tools etc) in Illustrator is the Layers panel, which is analogous to the TOC in ArcMap. It contains all your artwork divided into Layers, Sublayers, and Groups. See this website for an introduction.

Layers Panel Overview
Buttons:
1 Layers panel menu
2 Locate Object button
3 Make/Release Clipping Mask button
4 Create New Sublayer button
5 Create New Layer button
6 Delete Selection (trash can) button—actually deletes the highlighted rows in this panel, not selected objects.
Contents (rows):
7 Layer—this document has three top-level Layers. Row is a darker gray than Groups and objects.
8 Sublayer—the New Data Frame Layer has two Sublayers. Row is a darker gray than Groups and objects.
9 Group—this is one of several Groups containing some of the map element objects.
10 Another Group—note the small-size colored square in the Selection column—this indicates that some but not all of the contents of this Group are selected.
11 Clipping Path—this is an invisible shape (in this case a rectangle the size of the map, with no fill and no stroke) that clips all the other objects in this Group to its extent. The underline indicates that it is a clipping mask.
12 A Text Object—this is the number zero in the scalebar. This row is highlighted, which is indicated by the slightly blue-gray tint.
13 A Path—this is a normal piece of graphic artwork, in this case a rectangle that makes up part of the scalebar.
14 A Compound Path—a more complex graphic, in this case the North Arrow. Note the large-size colored square in the Selection column—this indicates that this row is selected. If this row contained other objects (i.e. if it was a Layer/Sublayer/Group) the large selection square would indicate that all its contents were selected.
15 Note the dimmed lock icon—this indicates that this row is locked due to its containing Layer/Sublayer/Group being locked.
16 This row is turned off/invisible/hidden—note missing eye icon.
Columns:
A Visibility column—shows an eye icon if the item is visible, blank if hidden. There are a couple of other icons that can go here but we won't use them.
B Edit column (lock/unlock)—blank if this item is selectable/editable, lock icon if locked.
C Color column—you can set the color of different rows (Layers/Sublayers/Groups/items) if you like.
D Expand/Contract (Show/Hide) arrows—click these to show or hide the contents of a Layer/Sublayer/Group. If there is no arrow, the item doesn't contain any other items.
E Thumbnail images—these are tiny pictures of the contents of the Layer/Sublayer/Group/item.
F Item name—a descriptive name. You can change these to help you keep track of everything.
G Target column—used mainly for applying appearances/styles. More on this later.
H Selection column—Indicates which items are selected. You can select items by clicking them on the artboard with one of the Selection tools, or by clicking the blank space in this column.

In my opinion it is essential to keep your Layers panel well organized, with clearly named and organized Sublayers. If you've ever had to edit someone else's sloppy Adobe Illustrator/InDesign/Photoshop document you'll know what I mean. Here are some websites that talk about this, which, while specific to Photoshop, largely apply to Illustrator as well: this one and this one. Just for kicks, you can click here to see a screenshot of the partially expanded Layers panel for a complex map I made. I'm not claiming this is the Platonic ideal of Layers panel arrangement, but every graphic is in a clearly named Layer, Sublayer, or Group, often nested several levels deep. One of the most important benefits to proper Layers panel use is that you can keep all graphics locked except the specific ones you're working on, which will spare you from unintentially selecting and moving graphics around.

Open the panel by choosing Layers from the Window menu (there are other ways to open it as well). I sometimes move the Layers panel to the left side of the screen (or onto a second monitor) so it is always visible, since it is used so much. There should be a few Layers shown—in my Ames Nowell example there are 3: "Other 2" (map elements (a.k.a. map decorations) like legend, scalebar, etc.), "New Data Frame" (locus map), and "Layers" (main map). Unfortunately, within these top-level Layers ArcMap has exported everything in weird groupings.

Each line in the Layers panel has several columns (listed from left to right): a Visibility (eye) icon, an Edit (lock) icon (blank by default), a colored line, a triangle for expanding/contracting the Layer (similar to the +/- icons in the ArcMap TOC), a thumbnail image, the Layer/Group/object name, a Target circle, and a Selection indicator (blank by default). See the image above.

Expand a Layer by clicking the little triangle. You will see the first-level items inside the Layer—ones that also have a triangle can be expanded further in a tree-like way. Explore the Layers—try turning Layers, Sublayers, Groups, and objects on and off by clicking the visibility (eye) icon and see what appears and disappears from the map. You may find that the groupings are bizarre, especially within the map elements (legend, scalebar, etc). Thanks ESRI!

Illustrator 3: Sorting Layers

Let's clean up the mess created by ArcMap's sloppy export.

Ai Before tackling the map itself, we will clean up the map elements (legend, scalebar(s), north arrow). In my Ames Nowell example map, these are all in the top Layer, named "Other 2". Expand this Layer (by clicking on the little arrow to the left of the thumbnail) and lock and/or turn off (click the eye icon) the other (locus map and main map) Layers. Now might be a good time to rename this Layer by double-clicking on it—"Map Elements" (or "Map Decorations") would be a good name. You might eventually want to separate each map element into it's own top-level Layer (Scalebars, North Arrow, Legend, etc.).

ArcMap doesn't do a good job of keeping things grouped properly. In the Ames Nowell map, there are 4 Clip Groups in the "Other 2" Layer. The first one contains almost all of the legend items, the next contains just one legend symbol, the next contains the legend background and legend title and most of the scalebar text, and the final one contains the north arrow and the scalebar's "0" and bars. So, we will have to free all the items from their Clip Groups and regroup them.

We will now use the techniques above to re-sort the objects that make up the map elements. Expand the top-level Layer that contains the elements. Start with one of the Clip Groups with fewer objects. Expand it until you see the Clipping Path, then turn it off and on while looking at the map to make sure it isn't needed.

Highlighting and deleting a Clipping Path
This screenshot shows one of the Clip Groups that contains pieces of the map elements as exported from ArcMap. A Clipping Path's row in the Layers panel is highlighted. Click the trash can icon (circled in red) to delete the Clipping Path.

Now click the Clipping Path's row in the Layers panel to highlight it, and click the Delete Selection (trash can) button to delete it. Now the former Clip Group should be called Group and it should contain individual items.

Ungrouping a Group of graphics.
This screenshot shows the Group that results from deleting the Clipping Path. Click the selection area (circled in red) to select the Group, then press Shift-Ctrl-G to ungroup it.

Select the Group by clicking on its Select area (far right blank area of its row) and press Shift-Ctrl-G to ungroup it (if it contains additional sub-Groups you can select and ungroup them as well). Repeat the process with the other Clip Groups. Now you will have a bunch of individual objects in the top-level Layer. You will now sort them into Groups or Sublayers—there are advantages and disadvantages to both, although in most cases I prefer Sublayers.

If you want to put a set of objects into a new Sublayer, highlight them all by clicking, Shift-clicking, and Ctrl-clicking on their names or thumbnails in the Layers panel until all the rows you want are highlighted. Then choose Collect in New Layer from the Layers panel's dropdown menu (upper right corner of panel). A new Sublayer will be created containing the highlighted rows. Give the new Sublayer a descriptive name by double-clicking on it.

If you want to put a set of objects into a new Group, select them all by clicking and Shift-clicking on their Selection indicator area (far right empty space in each row) until all the objects you want to group are selected (they will have colored squares in their Selection indicator areas). Alternately you can select them on the artboard with the Selection Tool. Then press Ctrl-G and a new Group will be created containing the selected objects. Give the new Group a descriptive name by double-clicking on it.

If you want to get really organized you can put items into additional Sublayers or sub-Groups within the Sublayers or Groups you already have. For instance, you might want to put each legend symbol into a Group with the text description that goes with it, or put all the scalebar numbers into a Sublayer.

You should end up with a Layers panel organized something like this:

Layers panel 2
Layers panel after unmasking, ungrouping, and organizing the Map Elements.

I like to add a few additional top-level Layers at the top of the Layers panel. On one I draw four thin rectangles indicating the "safe area", which is 1/8″ or ¼″ zone (ask your printer for what they recommend) along the edge of the page where you shouldn't put any critical text, to allow for imprecise paper trimming. I make these rectangles partly transparent and brightly colored, and I set the Layer to non-printing by double-clicking it and unchecking Print in the Layer Options dialog. Another Layer is reserved for experimenting with additional symbols and graphics; this layer can also be set to non-printing, and I usually do this experimenting off to the side, outside of the artboard. Finally, at the very top, I add a top-level Layer called "empty layer" or something similar, which is reserved for catching the output of a Symbol creation script (more on this later).

Don't worry about the appearance or position of the locus map and other map elements on the artboard for now; once the map is nearly complete we will edit them and move them to their final location. For now, turn both the locus map and the other map elements off (invisible and locked).

Now save your document before proceeding. This would be a good time to copy a backup of the .ai file into your \backups\ folder.

Illustrator 4: Organizing main map Layers

And now for the main event: the map itself.

Ai If you followed the instructions above before exporting from ArcMap, your main map Layer should contain one sub-Group for each map datalayer.

You will have to go through each Sublayer and remove the clipping masks from each (unless there is a reason not to for some of them) as detailed above. Then you can ungroup, reorder, rename, sort, group, etc. to your heart's content. Your goal is to get a set of easy-to-understand and easy-to-manipulate Layers/Sublayers/Groups. Don't worry about symbolization for now—just get the graphics in the right places in the Layers panel hierarchy.

If you have Sublayers that you want to split up further by color/symbol, you can select the features by color/appearance and separate them into new Sublayers. This may occur if your ArcMap map contained layers that had more than one symbol, for instance a roads layer with different road types symbolized by varying thickness, or a point layer with different point types symbolized with different colors. Make sure all the other Layers and Sublayers on the map are locked, then select one graphic (e.g. a minor road). Choose SameAppearance from the Select menu, which will select all the roads with the same Appearance (color, thickness, etc.). Press Ctrl-G to group them. Click on the new Group's row in the Layers panel to highlight it, and choose Collect in New Layer from the Layers panel menu. Name the new Sublayer by double-clicking on its row in the Layers panel and typing a name (e.g. "Minor Roads"). Select all the features in the new Sublayer by clicking on the selection area on the far right of its row in the layer panel. Press Shift-Ctrl-G to ungroup the features in the Sublayer. Repeat this process for each subtype of road (etc.) in the parent Sublayer until you have regrouped all the graphics.

If there are individual graphics you don't want, you can temporarily turn them off/invisible (by clicking the eye icon in their row in the Layers panel) until you are sure you won't need them, at which point you can delete them. If you delete something and later want it back, you can always open an older backup, copy the object, and paste it in place in your map (choose Paste in Place from the Edit menu (Shift-Ctrl-V)).

This part of the process is difficult to describe as it will differ significantly for each map. The sections below will describe the editing process for a sample Sublayer of each type.

Illustrator 5: Polygon and line Layers

The main map contains several polygon and line datalayers, such as towns, contours, ponds, wetlands, streams, roads, trails, and so on. Each of these will be examined, edited (if necessary), and re-symbolized with a standard symbology that is as consistent as possible across all DCR maps.

Ai In the Layers panel, expand the Layer that contains the main map (in my map it is called "Layers", which is the default ArcMap name for the first Data Frame). Rename it "Main Map" or something similar. Now lock all the Sublayers except the one you want to work on. You may want to turn some Sublayers off/invisible temporarily as well. In this example we will use the Minor Roads Sublayer. This contains all the MassDOT-EOT Roads in your map extent with a Class value of 5. Some datalayers will require less editing than this and some may require more.

Expand the "Minor Roads" Sublayer. In the example map it contains a single Clip Group, which contains a large number of Groups, the first of which is underlined because it contains the Clipping Path. The remaining Groups contain one or more Paths (road segments). [In some cases a Sublayer may contain more than one clipping mask/Group/path. Make sure you get them all.]

Expand that first Group (the one whose name is underlined). You will see it contains a Path and a Clipping Path; the Clipping Path is an invisible (no fill, no stroke) rectangle the size of the artboard that clips all the paths in the Minor Roads Sublayer. Turn the Clipping Path off and on a few times by clicking the Visibility (eye) icon at the left side of its row in the Layers panel. Look at the map as you do this. You will probably see some of the roads extend beyond the artboard slightly when the Clipping Path is off. This is ok. If you see something significantly different, such as features on the map appearing or disappearing or changing their appearance, you may need to keep the clipping mask. If you don't think the clipping mask is needed, highlight its row in the Layers panel by clicking its name or thumbnail and click the Delete Selection (trash can) button at the lower right corner of the panel. The Group it was in will no longer have its name underlined.

Highlighting and deleting a Clipping Path in a Clip Group
This screenshot shows the Clip Group in the Minor Roads sub-Group. The Clip Group's Clipping Path's row in the Layers panel is highlighted. Click the trash can icon (circled in red) to delete the Clipping Path, which will convert the Clip Group into a regular Group.

The Paths are all inside of useless Groups. We can get rid of the Groups to make things simpler. Select all the Groups and objects in the Minor Roads Sublayer by clicking on the Selection area of the Minor Roads row (the blank space at the far right of the row). The selection area of this row and all the rows it contains will now have a colored square in them, indicating that they are selected. They will also appear selected on the artboard. Press Shift-Ctrl-G to ungroup them. You may have to do this more than once (usually twice).

Ungrouping the grouped road graphics.
This screenshot shows the Group that results from deleting the Clipping Path. Click the selection area (circled in red) to select everything in the Minor Roads Sublayer, then press Shift-Ctrl-G (twice) to ungroup them.

Your final result should be the Minor Roads Sublayer containing nothing but individual Path objects (in some cases there may be Compound Path objects too).

Individual road graphics after ungrouping.
This screenshot shows the Minor Roads Sublayer after ungrouping.

Now we will symbolize the Sublayer. Wherever possible, we will use Graphic Styles to symbolize our graphics.

I've created Graphic Styles for a number of line and polygon feature types, including the map background, the legend box, DCR parkland, elevation contours, wetlands, open water, shorelines, streams, town boundaries, various trail types, a boardwalk/bridge overlay, unpaved roads, and multiple classes of paved roads. You can repeat this process on all the other line Sublayers in the map. Just target a Sublayer, apply the appropriate Graphic Style, then select everything in the sublayer and remove their individual Appearance.

Next we will examine the minor roads to see if any specific edits are needed. There may be unimportant roads that don't directly abut the park that you don't want to show, or roads that are also in the DCR Trails datalayer—you don't need two overlapping road lines. Select any road lines that you don't want to show by clicking on them on the artboard. You can turn them off/invisible using the Layers panel, move them into a separate Sublayer or Group of lines to be turned off, or delete them permanently by pressing the Del(ete) or Backspace key. If you later realize you need the lines you turned off or deleted, you can turn them back on, or if needed you can copy them in from an older copy of your document, or even re-export them from ArcMap and copy them in from there.

There may even be roads that look wrong or have awkward shapes. You can edit their shape by zooming in, switching to the Direct Selection (white arrow) Tool (keyboard shortcut: press A), and clicking the road. It will appear as a colored line with anchor points (vertices) shown, very similar to the way you edit vertices in ArcMap.

A path being edited with the Direct Selection Tool.
A path being edited with the Direct Selection Tool.

Click on an anchor point to select it (it will change color), then click and drag the anchor point to move it. To add an anchor point (vertex) to the line, press the = key (which also has the + sign on it, which is probably why it is used as the shortcut) to get the Add Anchor Point Tool, then click on the line where you want to add a vertex. To delete an anchor point, press the - key to get the Delete Anchor Point Tool, then click on an anchor point. To switch back to the Direct Selection Tool, press A. For more on path editing, see this and this and this. There is also a fun game that teaches you how to use the Pen tool for drawing new lines and polygons.

You'll need to edit each of the polygon and line Sublayers in a similar way. There's no hard-and-fast rule for how each needs to be done; use your judgement. For instance, if an Unpaved Road line's rounded end cap sticks out on the other side of a Paved Road that it intersects, you may need to move the end anchor (vertex) of the Unpaved Road line slightly so it looks like it intersects the Paved Road correctly. Unlike GIS data, you are trying to make a visually harmonious design, not a topologically correct datalayer.

Unpaved road overextending.
An unpaved road peeking out beyond the paved road it intersects.
Unpaved road selected with Direct Selection tool.
Selected with the Direct Selection tool.
Unpaved road endpoint moved slightly.
Use the Direct Selection tool to drag the endpoint back a bit.
Unpaved road fixed.
The end result. The lines no longer meet at their endpoints but they look correct visually.

You should wait to visually review the map for these types of errors until after you have symbolized all the graphics on the map. An edit that may be necessary with lines of one thickness may become unnecessary when you settle on a different line thickness.

Save your document before proceeding. This would be a good time to copy a backup of the .ai file into your \backups\ folder.

Illustrator 6: Point Layers

The main map contains a few point datalayers, such as points from the DCR Road and Trail Points datalayer (e.g. parking lots, gates, buildings, picnic areas, etc.), numbered intersections (in parks that have them), and possibly others.

Ai The points come into Illustrator from ArcMap as misshapen vector shapes, which we will replace with standard Symbols mostly taken from National Park Service pictogram sets. We will also move points slightly for cartographic purposes when necessary. We may delete unneeded points and add missing points. Finally, we may add labels and pointer arrows or leader lines to some points—this is covered in the label section below. Remember, we are producing a cartographic drawing, so point features will be treated differently than they would be if they were features in a GIS point datalayer.

Raw export of Ames Nowell points.
The raw ArcMap export, including some defective multilayer icons. It's better to export simpler point symbols.
Ames Nowell points after editing.
After editing, the same area only shows the most important points, with corrected icons that are Illustrator Symbols.

In this workflow, we exported the point features from ArcMap using the Convert Marker Symbols to Polygons option, so they will arrive in Illustrator as simplified vector shapes that resemble the original icons but are deformed. We need to replace them with Illustrator Symbols, which have some desirable properties that we can exploit. See the Adobe help page for Symbols.

Raw export of Charge Pond (Myles Standish) points.
The raw ArcMap export, with every GPS point in its actual geographic location.
Charge Pond (Myles Standish) points after editing.
The same area after editing. Extraneous points have been removed or conflated to the essential ones. Point locations have been moved for clarity and legibility.

Open the Symbols panel by choosing Symbols from the Window menu. Click the Symbols Library Menu button in the lower left corner of the panel and choose Other Library.

Symbols panel, mostly empty.
The (mostly empty) Symbols panel before importing Symbols.

Open a library by browsing to an existing Illustrator (.ai) file that contains the desired symbols, like the Ames Nowell file K:\trails\New 2015 Print Trail Maps\_Greenmap_AmesNowell\backups\Template11-25x9_MapOnly_AmesNowell_v3_Edited_CS4.ai (download a CS4 version of it here). The Symbols from the .ai document you choose will appear in a floating panel:

Symbol Library panel.
The Symbol Library panel, showing Symbols imported from a separate .ai document.

Click on each Symbol in this Symbol Library panel to add it to the Symbols panel. Once you have added them all, close the Symbol Library panel.

Symbols panel with imported Symbols.
The Symbols panel after importing Symbols. The actual symbol set may differ from this screenshot as we add and modify Symbols. Click here to see the Symbols panel from a more complex 4-color map.

If you just want to manually add a Symbol instance to the map you can simply click-and-drag the desired Symbol from the Symbols panel onto the map. Alternately, in situations where we have exported point locations from ArcMap, we will convert the point graphics to Symbols using a custom script.

In order to streamline the process of replacing the wonky graphics with Illustrator Symbols, I modified a JavaScript script I found on the internet. The original script was called JET_ReplaceWithSymbol.js by James Talmage (the original link is dead). My modified version is called JET_ReplaceWithSymbolCenteredDK.js; a text version of the script is here. Save the text as a text file with a .js file extension, and put the file on your computer as detailed above so you can run it as a script in Illustrator.

The main changes I made are that the script now replaces each graphic with a Symbol that is centered where the graphic was but not resized or rotated to the graphic's size and rotation - it keeps the Symbol's "native" size and orientation as shown in the Symbols panel. Future upgrades to the script could include the option to maintain the rotation of the graphic (in case your ArcMap graphics are rotated) and possibly its name and the Layer/Sublayer it is in (currently the script places the new Symbols in a separate Layer, and each Symbol will be named with the Symbol name).

Before converting the graphics in your point datalayers to Symbols, you'll need to organize them in the same way you did for the line datalayers. This includes removing the clipping masks, ungrouping the graphics as necessary, and probably reorganizing them into logical groupings (e.g. putting all Parking Areas together in a Sublayer). Make sure that each point graphic is a single object (a Path or Compound Path). If the points you want to convert are grouped together in a Group you may only end up with one Symbol at the averaged location of the Group's center, so make sure you ungroup them first. If you have point graphics that are made up of multiple graphics, such as an icon with a separate white background or border, you may need to delete the extra graphics until each point feature is a single graphics object. This will be much easier if you set up your symbology in ArcMap so that the point datalayers are symbolized with very basic single-level symbology.

Before running JET_ReplaceWithSymbolCenteredDK.js, save and back up your Illustrator document. The script requires a few things to work. Here is how to run it:

  1. Create a new empty top-level Layer at the top of the Layers panel. This must be the first Layer in the list and must be visible and not locked. The new Symbols will be placed here.
  2. Select the page items (graphics, icons, whatever you want to call them) that you want to replace. Typically you'll select all the point graphics that you want to convert to a particular Symbol, e.g. select all the Restroom points.
  3. Run the script as described above.
  4. When prompted, enter the number of the Symbol (its order in the Symbol panel, starting with 1) that you want to replace the page items with. For example, if you want to choose the picnic table symbol (as shown in the screenshot of the Symbols panel, above) you would enter 3 since the picnic table symbol is the third Symbol shown in the panel.
  5. If the script gives you an error, make sure you followed these instructions carefully. For instance, a "Target layer cannot be modified" error indicates that you did not create a new empty top-level Layer.

If the script runs correctly, your old point graphics will disappear and each one will be replaced by a new Symbol. These new Symbols will be in the top-level Layer you created. You should drag them (using the Layers panel) into the Sublayer where the old graphics were located. Each new Symbol will be named with the Symbol's name, i.e. "Parking Lot." You can rename them individually if you like.

Convert all the points that you exported from ArcMap into Symbols, manually add any additional point Symbols your map needs, and move them to cartographically legible positions. Make sure your points are organized into appropriate Sublayers in the Layers panel.

Save your document before proceeding. This would be a good time to copy a backup of the .ai file into your \backups\ folder.

Illustrator 7: Labels

The main map contains a number of text (a.k.a. type) labels, which are grouped by type (e.g. road names, trail names, intersection numbers, gate numbers, town names, hydro annotation, etc., based on the GIS datalayer they were associated with in ArcMap).

Ai In the example map, all the autolabelled labels are at the top of the main map's Layer in the Layers panel, in a Sublayer named "Labels". Annotation datalayers may appear in their own Sublayer. We will edit them all, moving them, removing unwanted labels and adding missing ones, replacing problematic ones, and adding leader lines or pointer arrows where needed. We will also change fonts and sizes and formatting using standardized styles. This may be the most time-consuming part of the map production process. Before proceeding, make sure you remove all clipping masks, ungroup, and arrange your labels into Sublayers/Groups that make sense to you.

Detail of Myles Standish Headquarters area in inset map.
An example of finished labeling, including leader lines, pointer arrows (for numbered gates), grouped icons and text, and knockouts.

Many of the labels on your map will be simple straight-line text (what Illustrator calls "point type"), either horizontal or rotated to match a map feature. Read this webpage to learn how to work with text. These labels can either come from an ArcMap export or be added to the Illustrator document manually. You should set up Character Styles and assign all labels to a style. To create a new label, just select the Type Tool, highlight the Sublayer you want to put it in (in the Layers panel), click on the map, and type the label. Hit Esc or select another tool when you are done typing. To modify an existing label, use the Selection Tool to select it, move it (by clicking-and-dragging), or rotate it (by hovering near the corner of the label's selection box until you see a rotation arrow, then clicking-and-dragging). Double-click a piece of text to change the text content by typing.

You can use leader (pointer) lines to connect a piece of text (or a Symbol) with the place it refers to. Use the Line Segment Tool \ to click-and-drag a straight line segment, or the Pen Tool P to draw a line with more than two vertices/anchor points. Use a Graphic Style to symbolize the line. Ditto for directional arrows like the ones used to point to destinations outside the park on the Myles Standish map. That map has some examples of grouped Symbols and text with leader lines—see the "Camping Check-In, Interpretive Center" label and the "College Pond Day-Use Area" label, which has a tidy grid of four Symbols.

In some cases (e.g. curved roads/trails/rivers) you may wish to have curved labels that follow along the feature. Illustrator calls this "Type on a Path". Some text may have exported from ArcMap as curved text (e.g. some hydro anno) but it may be too messy to work with. Or a road label may have exported as "point type" but you want to curve it. I haven't found an easy way to convert point type to type on a path, so instead we'll copy or draw the curved path and then copy the text and paste it (or just type it) onto the path.

In this example (from the Myles Standish State Forest map) there is a label for Curlew Pond Road that was exported from ArcMap. I've already assigned it a Character Style and rotated it a bit to try to match the road, but it doesn't look good enough yet:

Uncurved road label.
An uncurved road label.

I want it to follow the road, which is quite curvy. First I'll try using a copy of the road path. Unlock your roads Sublayer and select the road segment or segments that you want to flow the text along. Type Ctrl-C to copy them. Lock the roads Sublayer. Then unlock and highlight your road-label Sublayer in the Layers panel and type Shift-Ctrl-V (Paste In Place) to make a copy of the road paths. If there is more than one path, type Ctrl-J to join them into a single path. If the path has a stroke or fill (is not completely invisible) you can remove its symbolization by clicking Clear Appearance in the Appearance panel. You do not want to be able to see this path, just the type you put along it. If you want to save typing, copy the text from the existing label. Now select the Type On A Path Tool (by clicking-and-holding on the Type Tool):

Type on a Path Tool flyout menu.
Selecting the Type on a Path Tool by clicking-and-holding on the Type Tool.

Use the Type On A Path Tool to click on the selected path. Paste or type the desired label text:

Path with pasted text.
Path with freshly pasted text.

Now you can adjust the type to your liking by moving the end lines to position the text where you want it along the path, flipping the text across the path if needed, and so on. See this webpage and the links above for more information about Type on a Path.

Path with adjusted text.
Path with text adjusted to the desired position.

Choose Type on a PathType on a Path Options... from the Type menu to see more options. Always use Effect: Rainbow.

Type On A Path Options dialog.
The Type On A Path Options dialog.

You can try Align to Path: Descender to move the text away from the road a bit:

Text aligned to Descender.
Text moved away from road by aligning it to Descender.

Or you can physically move the whole path to make sure the text isn't too close to the map feature:

Text path moved away from road.
Text (aligned to Baseline) moved away from road by moving the path.

Once you are happy with your curved label you can delete the original point text label. If you don't like the results from copying the feature path (which may have excessively sharp curves or too many anchor points), you can edit the shape of the copied path with the Direct Selection Tool and other tools (e.g. Simplify), or you can instead manually draw a new path from scratch with the Pen Tool. If you draw a new path with the Pen Tool, make sure you clear its appearance as detailed above–you don't want the path to be visible, just the type.

Text along redrawn path.
Text along a new, simpler path drawn from scratch with the Pen Tool.

Save your document before proceeding. This would be a good time to copy a backup of the .ai file into your \backups\ folder.

Illustrator 8: Inset map(s)

Inset maps, on DCR's trail maps anyway, typically serve to show a more detailed view of an important or congested area. There are many other situations where you might want to include inset maps. The steps for creating them are almost identical to creating the main map.

Am An inset map is just another Data Frame in ArcMap that you export along with your main map. You could also export it separately and just paste it into Illustrator later. This works best if you use the same ArcMap project because then you can include an Extent Indicator frame on the main map showing what area the inset map shows. See the Exporting from ArcMap and Re-exporting Additional Data from ArcMap sections for more information on exporting. To export just the inset map layers (this is assuming you've already exported your main map into Illustrator), turn off all the layers except maybe a simple one like town lines on your main map in ArcMap, and make sure you have an Extent Indicator on your main map. Zoom the main map to your bookmarked extent, and also zoom your inset map to its own bookmarked extent. Turn on all the layers you want on your inset map Data Frame. Now export as usual.

Ai Open the raw export in Illustrator. Follow the instructions in Re-exporting Additional Data from ArcMap to copy the inset map into your main Illustrator document.

Typically the inset map lives inside a box (usually a rectangle but could be any shape you like) with a border and possibly a shadow, floating on top of the main map. This means you'll need a solid background so the main map doesn't show through, a clipping mask so the inset map is neatly constrained to its box, and a border/neatline on top of that. Other than that, the steps for creating it are identical to creating the main map.

Inset map layers shown in the Layers panel.
This is how the inset map for the Myles Standish map looks in the Layers panel. The graphics are in three top-level Layers, but could be arranged differently, e.g. in one top-level Layer. The datalayers are in one Layer with a clipping mask that crops them. The inset map border is above that, and is not clipped by the clipping mask. The solid background and a handmade "shadow" are below the datalayer Layer (the background could be inside the clipping mask but the shadow extends beyond it so has to be separate and below).

When symbolizing the datalayers on the inset map, you can use the same Graphic Styles as on the main map, or you can create a modified set of Graphic Styles. The inset map is often at the different scale from the main map (for instance, a zoomed-in view of a key recreation area) so you may want line symbols to be thicker, etc. [I'm not sure what the cartographic rules are for this—research needed] On the Myles Standish map the inset map was at twice the scale of the main map (1:12,000 vs. 1:24,000 for the main map) but I made the strokes 1.5 times as thick instead of twice as thick. This seemed to work visually but may have broken some cartographic laws. Depending on the purpose of your inset map, you may want to include a different set of datalayers or symbolize them in different ways.

Myles Standish inset map
The inset map on the Myles Standish State Forest trail map, with extent indicator on the main map.

Usually you don't need to add a separate scalebar, north arrow, or legend for your inset map as long as its relationship to the main map is clear and it doesn't include any radically different symbology. If for some reason the inset map is not oriented the same direction as the main map you will definitely need to include a separate north arrow! I don't recommend this since it is confusing for the map reader.

Save your document before proceeding. This would be a good time to copy a backup of the .ai file into your \backups\ folder.

Illustrator 9: Locus map

The locus map indicates the position of the area the main map shows within a larger context, in our case Massachusetts.

Ai The locus map we will create is a small silhouette of Massachusetts with a white dot/rectangle showing the park's location. Unfortunately it seems that ArcMap does a terrible job of downsampling the state outline when exporting, so if you zoom way in on the locus map you will see that it is a mess. So, instead we will replace it with a premade state outline that is highly simplified but looks good enough at the desired size (the size we've been using is approximately 1.57" x 0.95").

Turn off and lock all the other Layers and turn on, unlock, and expand the locus map Layer (in my map it is called "New Data Frame" and has two Sublayers named "Other" (the extent indicator) and "New England..Shaded" (the state outline)). Rename the top-level Layer to "Locus Map" or similar.

Now use the techniques described previously to remove the clipping mask and ungroup the extent indicator until it is a single object, probably labelled Path in the Layers panel. You may want to drag it out of its sub-Group so it is directly under the top-level Layer (then delete the empty sub-Group). Rename this Path to something like "Extent Indicator".

We are going to replace the state outline, so let's make it a garish color so it's easier to position the smoothed state outline over it. Expand it in the Layers panel until you see its Path. Select this Path row in the Layers panel by clicking the Selection area in its row. Now open the Color panel (Window--Color), click the Fill icon (near the upper left), and click a bright color in the color picker area below. You can lock the state outline Sublayer now.

Now open the Illustrator document K:\trails\New 2015 Print Trail Maps\Locus Map - MA Outline\MA silhouette for Locus Maps.ai (download a CS4 version of it here).

In this document, click on the MA outline graphic with the Selection Tool (the black arrow tool—NOT the white arrow Direct Selection Tool) and copy it (Ctrl-C).

Switch back to the map document (keyboard shortcut: Ctrl-Tab) and highlight the Locus Map top-level Layer in the Layers panel. Press Ctrl-V to paste the graphic in. Now grab it with the Selection Tool and move it to cover the old state outline. Zoom way in and position it as precisely over the old outline as possible.

Positioning the smoothed state outline (black) over the jagged one (magenta).
Positioning the smoothed state outline (black) over the jagged one (magenta).

Once you are happy with its position, delete the old outline and make sure the new outline is below the extent indicator rectangle and both are in the Locus Map top-level Layer.

Locus map from the Myles Standish map.
The locus map as placed in the upper right corner of the Myles Standish State Forest trail map. The small white rectangle indicates the main map extent. [The latitude and longitude coordinates shown are relative to the main map, not the locus map. The semitransparent pink bars show the "safety area" (usually 1/8″ or 1/4″) inside the edge of the map where you should not place any important features (as they may get cropped off when the map is trimmed)]

If the white extent indicator rectangle is too small to be clearly visible (which can happen when you make a map showing a small area, like the Walden Pond map), you can enlarge it by giving the rectangle a white stroke or replacing it with a white dot or star.

Save your document before proceeding. This would be a good time to copy a backup of the .ai file into your \backups\ folder.

Illustrator 10: North arrow

The north arrow can sometimes be omitted if the map has north oriented upwards. We always include it on DCR trail maps, which show the arrow pointing to grid north—which is almost identical to true north in the projection system we use. It may be useful to include a declination indicator to show the direction of magnetic north, for people using a magnetic compass.

Ai You should replace the north arrow that was exported from ArcMap (which is likely to be distorted during the export process) with a character from the ESRI North font (or other source), or a Symbol created therefrom. Make sure your replacement north arrow is pointing in the correct direction!

Simple north arrow.
The north arrow from the Ames Nowell State Park trail map. The arrow, which points to grid north, was taken from the ESRI North font and converted to outlines (choose Create Outlines from the Type menu). I then created a Symbol from that graphic.

DCR maps are made using the Massachusetts State Plane coordinate system, which uses a projection in which grid north is very close to true north, although it varies slightly across the state. So I haven't bothered to correct for the difference between grid north and true north. If you are using a different map projection, do some research to determine whether north is truly "up" in your projection.

For fancier maps like the Myles Standish map I created a complicated north arrow that shows declination (the difference between true north and magnetic north). This is useful for visitors who are using a magnetic compass to navigate around the park. You can determine the declination for a given year and place by visiting NOAA's Magnetic Field Calculators website.

Fancy north arrow.
The north arrow from the Myles Standish State Forest trail map. The main arrow, which points to grid north, was taken from the ESRI North font and converted to outlines (choose Create Outlines from the Type menu).

Save your document before proceeding. This would be a good time to copy a backup of the .ai file into your \backups\ folder.

Illustrator 11: Scalebar(s)

A scalebar is essential so that the map reader can estimate distances on the map.

Ai We will sometimes include one scalebar showing miles and one showing feet. Depending on your audience and the scale of your map, you might use different units (meters, kilometers, etc.). Scale statements (like "1:24,000" or "1 inch = 2,000 feet" are optional and should only be included if you have control over the paper size the map will be printed on. If the map will mainly be distributed as a PDF or image, you don't have control over the user's screen resolution or what size paper they print it on, so the scale statement will be incorrect and misleading. That said, I haven't bothered to remove the scale statement from our print maps that we also post on the web as PDFs.

The scalebar will come in from the ArcMap export in seomwhat useable form. The most important thing is to be careful to maintain the widths of the bars so the distances they represent don't change. You may wish to change the height of the scalebar bars though, and set their outlines to "Align Stroke to Inside" so the stroke doesn't artificially increase the length of the bar. Use Character Styles to make the scalebar text consistent and possibly use Graphic Styles for the scalebar's black and white bars. For scalebars that show a fractional unit (like ½ mile) I prefer to use the fraction rather than a decimal like "0.5". Your font may include a pre-assembled fraction character—use the Glyphs panel to find it, or you may be able to create a fraction using OpenType.

A basic example of map element placement.
A basic layout of map elements, from the Ames Nowell map. The items are floating in a mostly empty area on the map. These elements have been lightly edited in Illustrator.
A more advanced example of map element placement.
A relatively "fancy" layout of map elements, with the elements placed in a box, from the Myles Standish map. These elements have been extensively edited in Illustrator.

As with every aspect of cartography, study existing professionally-made maps for ideas on how to best present your map elements.

Save your document before proceeding. This would be a good time to copy a backup of the .ai file into your \backups\ folder.

Illustrator 12: Legend

The legend helps the reader understand the symbols on the map. Some obvious symbols can be omitted if space is at a premium.

Ai We've left the legend for last, since it's easier to edit it once we've settled on the symbology of our map datalayers.

Early in the process you should have placed all the legend graphics that were exported from ArcMap in a Layer. Make sure you have removed any clipping masks and ungrouped the graphics. We will be organizing and aligning the various legend symbols and labels into columns.

Choose a spacing for your legend. You can start by leaving the legend symbols at their current size and shape, and choosing a font, font size, and spacing for the legend labels. Create a Character Style for your legend labels (in the Myles Standish map, for example, I used Minion Pro Regular, 9 point (with 10 point leading), with most legend items spaced every 15 points vertically. Most legend items have a label that fits on one line, and the next legend item will be 15 points below. If a legend item needs a two-line label, the second line of text is 10 points below the first, and the next legend item is another 15 points below that. You can try to do this using the Align panel's Distribute Spacing tools or you can do it by typing Y coordinates for each label into the Control panel. All legend labels are left-aligned and legend symbols are centered. In some cases I put two similar point symbols on one line to save space. You may want a separate Character Style for the legend title and any subsection titles. In the example below there's an indented subsection for Forest Roads and Trails—this is just one possible approach.

You may not need to include every single map datalayer in the legend—use your judgement. In the Myles Standish map I omitted the various public road symbols to save space, as they should be obvious to the reader.

Myles Standish State Forest legend.
Legend for Myles Standish State Forest map, showing evenly spaced symbols and labels.

You should come up with standardized shapes for your legend symbols. Point symbols should be created from the Symbols panel so they match the Symbols on the map (and will be automatically updated to match if you edit the Symbol). Line and polygon symbols can be simple straight lines or rectangles, more complex shapes as exported from your ArcMap legend (and cleaned up in Illustrator), or hand-drawn lines or polygons. Once you have shapes you like in one map legend, you can copy them for future maps. On the Myles Standish legend you can see several shapes that were modified from standard ArcMap legend shapes: straight lines, S-curves for roads, a simpler curve for Streams, zig-zag curves, a smooth puddle shape for hydro polygons, and a shape made up of right angles for land types. Your shapes should be symbolized the same way you symbolize the features on the map: using Graphic Styles. One benefit of this is that if you edit your Graphic Styles most legend symbols should update automatically. In some cases you may need to apply two Graphic Styles; the Pond symbol is one example, as it combines the symbology for the Open Water and Shoreline datalayers into a single legend icon. You could either have two identical shapes with the shoreline on top, or one shape with both Graphic Styles applied to it (apply the Shoreline Graphic Style first and then Alt-Click on the Open Water Graphic Style to add it).

Once you have all your legend labels and symbols created, align them. I usually align my labels first (as detailed above) and then align each symbol to its label vertically. I also left-align all the text labels and center-align all the symbols. Make sure your legend has an even, harmonious look to it.

Finally, the legend should usually reside in a rectangular box. On the DCR maps this box is colored the same as the map/brochure background, with a white 1 point stroke. Adding the word "Legend" to the top of the legend is optional. If the park name/map title does not appear on the same side of the paper page as the legend (i.e. for a two-sided brochure where the title panel is on the opposite side of the paper from the map), I like to add the park name (or map title) to the top of the legend. You can also place other map elements in the same box if you like, or they can float elsewhere on the map or have their own separate box(es).

Save your document before proceeding. This would be a good time to copy a backup of the .ai file into your \backups\ folder.

Illustrator 13: Additional map elements

Additional map elements can include geographic coordinate grids, map-level (non-coordinate) grids, logos, data sources/metadata/credits, map projection/datum/ellipsoid information, author(s), dates, contact information, URLs and QR codes (or whatever other codes people come up with), copyright, warnings and caveats, park rules and other text...the sky's the limit. If you are creating your map entirely in Illustrator (without using InDesign), you'll also want to add the map's title and whatever other standard brochure content you need. More information is below in the InDesign section.

Ai Choosing which additional elements are necessary can be made easier by looking at other similar maps. More formal maps might require more elements. Most text and image elements can be added in InDesign if you are using it, or in Illustrator if not. Grids should be added in Illustrator so they are locked to the map. As with everything else, text should be formatted with Paragraph and/or Character Styles.

Geographic coordinate grids, graticules, or tick marks help the reader by showing coordinate locations on the map. These should be created in ArcMap and exported into Illustrator so they don't get shifted to the wrong location. You are most likely to use a longitude-latitude grid and/or a UTM grid, but other grid systems exist. Proofread your grid lines and labels carefully so your map reader doesn't get led astray!

Map-level grids are useful for dividing a map into boxes. Typically one axis is labeled A, B, C, D... and the other axis 1, 2, 3, 4... This way any square can be named, e.g. D3. See the Middlesex Fells map for an example (however, as of 2015 this map is not a good example of DCR trail map cartography in general). On this map, the grid can be used for emergency response, where a lost hiker could report via phone which grid square they area in; the intersections in this park are numbered using a prefix based on the grid square, e.g. intersection B3-9 is in grid square B3. The upcoming Blue Hills map will also include a grid, although the intersection numbering system will be different. I have been creating these grids in ArcMap as a datalayer so that it is permanently locked to the ground. Sometimes maps will have the grid attached to the page; if you later changed the page shape or size or rezoomed the map, the grid might shift relative to the geographic features on the map. If your grid is a datalayer you can optionally make it divide the map into known distances, e.g. a half-mile grid. The park staff will probably have an opinion on whether a grid is needed and what its parameters should be.

Images such as agency logos and QR codes should be added to your document using Place (choose Place from the File menu). Images that require transparency (like any logo that is not a solid rectangle) should be in a vector format (.ai, .eps, .emf) or a raster format that supports transparency (.png or possibly .gif or .tif). For raster images you should always use high-resolution images so that you don't get unwanted pixellation; the images should be at 300 PPI or better. You can check this using the Links panel in Illustrator or InDesign. Logos should be legible but not excessively large. DCR has an old but still helpful guide to using the logo titled GraphicsManual_publications.pdf—find it either in R:\External Affairs\Graphic Standards\ or in Y:\Logos\DCR-logo-2014\Graphic Standards\. The versions of the DCR logo that I use are in Y:\Logos\DCR-logo-2014\. I created these in Illustrator based on files left over from our old Graphics office, based on information in their Graphics Manual.

Arrange your map elements so that they are not scattered around the page in a cluttered manner. Often, combining several into a box or two will help. Use existing high-quality maps as a guide.

Save your document before proceeding. This would be a good time to copy a backup of the .ai file into your \backups\ folder.

Re-exporting Additional Data from ArcMap

Did you forget something? Since you have a known map size and extent, you can easily export more geographic and other data from ArcMap for insertion into your Illustrator document.

Am The export process is identical to the original export from ArcMap. Open the ArcMap project you originally used to export from (you may want to make a backup copy of the .mxd). Turn off all the datalayers and move the map elements (legend, scalebar(s), north arrow) off the map canvas. Now turn on only the datalayers you want to add to your illustrator file. For instance, you may have new datalayers or a datalayer that has been edited. You may want to also turn on a simple datalayer like town boundary lines so you can be sure you're lining up the data correctly when you paste it into your master Illustrator document. If it would be useful, you can move the legend back onto the map canvas area so you also export the legend symbols for the new or modified datalayers.

Once you have your datalayers prepared, zoom to your saved extent bookmark to ensure that the map datalayers will line up perfectly with the previous map datalayers in Illustrator. And of course, make sure the page size hasn't changed. Follow the instructions in the exporting from ArcMap section, giving the new .ai file a different name (for instance, add "additional_layers" to the filename).

Ai Open both your main map document and the new export in Illustrator. You are now going to copy the new graphics onto the existing map. There are many ways to do this, but we want to do it carefully so that the objects all end up in the correct (Sub)Layers and positioned correctly. Here is one method.

Click the Layers panel menu button at the top right of the Layers panel and choose Paste Remembers Layers (you want it to have a checkmark next to it). In Illustrator CC this seems to be a global setting but you want to make sure it's applied in both Illustrator documents. Now select all the objects in the newly exported document. Copy them (Ctrl-C). Now switch to the master map and Paste in Place (Shift-Ctrl-V). Before doing anything else, check carefully to make sure it pasted correctly (if you did a regular Paste instead of Paste in Place the new artwork will be shifted to the wrong location). Look at the Layers panel: there should be a new top-level Layer (in my case it was named Layers). If you expand it you'll see your new data. If you included a legend or any other map elements or data frames they should appear as additional top-level Layers. Zoom around the map to ascertain whether the new map datalayers are positioned correctly. If you included a datalayer like town boundary lines you should be able to tell if the new data lines up correctly with the old data. If anything looks wrong, undo and try again. Don't forget to turn off Paste Remembers Layers once you are done so future pasting works as expected.

Now you need to incorporate the new data into the existing map. You'll need to remove the clipping masks and ungroup as described above. Then you'll want to move the new graphics into the existing Layer organization. Don't forget to symbolize the new data, by clearing its Appearance and either moving it into an existing Sublayer or Group that has a Graphic Style applied to it (if you're just adding some new features to an existing Sublayer), or doing that process to a new Sublayer or Group containing your new graphics (if you're adding a new map datalayer, for instance; in this case you will just drag the new Sublayer into the Main Map Layer). If you have a duplicate datalayer (town boundary lines in my example), make sure you delete it so you don't get doubled graphics. Once you've moved all the new graphics/Sublayers into the Main Map Layer, you can delete the top-level Layer (called "Layers" in this example) that you copied in from the newly exported Illustrator document.

Shaded relief, sometimes called hillshading, is a way to give your map a "three-dimensional" look and can be easier for novice map readers to interpret than topographic contours alone. It is not always appropriate; this can depend on your map's scale, rotation, data availability (especially the scale of the available data), printing technology and colors, intended audience, the topography of your map area, the amount of detail desired for your map, how much time and expertise you have at your disposal, file size limitations, and many other factors. For a hiking map in a mountainous area, it may be a good idea; while for a driving or public transportation map, a map showing a fairly flat area, or a zoomed-in detail map showing a very small area, it may be distracting or inappropriate. One factor to consider is that if you are using pre-rendered shaded relief, the light source is typically calculated as coming from the northwest. In the northern hemisphere the sun never actually is in that direction but this is considered the most natural appearance of shadows for the reader on a map where north is up on the page. If you are making your map with north not pointing up on the page, consider whether the pre-rendered shadows of the shaded relief will appear unnatural to the reader. If north is pointing downwards on the page, you may need to render your own shaded relief layer with the light source in a different position, or consider not using shaded relief at all.

I'm experimenting with including shaded relief on some trail maps. My initial experiments were with MassGIS' pre-rendered 2005 Shaded Relief datalayer (not the confusingly similar-named 1:5,000 Shaded Relief from 1990s data). I added it into ArcMap as detailed in the Technique section above and set its Symbology to a grayscale Stretched symbology, with the stretch type set to None so that the calculated image values from 1-255 show up as intended. You can also experiment with the stretch types to tweak the way it looks. Unfortunately this imagery lends a dark cast to your map since the neutral areas are medium gray.

As of mid-2016 my favorite shaded relief layer is ESRI's World Hillshade layer, which is available on ArcGIS Online. Here is the way I add it to my map:

  1. Am Open the ArcMap project you are using to export imagery (see above). Make sure you're in Layout View, zoomed to the correct map extent/bookmark.
  2. Turn off all the datalayers and remove all map elements so you have a blank map.
  3. Choose Sign In... from the File menu and log in to ArcGIS Online (you have to have an account).
  4. Choose Add DataAdd Data From ArcGIS Online... from the File menu.
  5. Search for World Hillshade using the search box; make sure "Only search in [your organization]" is unchecked. (see screenshot below)
  6. Once you find ESRI's World Hillshade map service, click Add.
  7. Export to an 8-bit grayscale 300 dpi .png file as detailed above.
  8. I typically close ArcMap without saving the .mxd at this point.
  9. Ps Edit the .png file in Photoshop to remove the credits text from the lower right corner:
    1. Open the .png file in Photoshop.
    2. Use the selection tools (e.g. the Marquee Tool) to select the text and the area immediately around it.
    3. Choose Fill... from the Edit menu; Set the Contents: to Content-Aware. Click OK.
    4. Photoshop should do a pretty good job of replacing the text with imagery.
    5. Choose from the menu and save the file (as a .png) with a new name—I like to append _TextRemoved to the previous file name. Once the export is complete, close Photoshop.
  10. Ai Place the image into your Illustrator document as detailed above. I have had good results with the Multiply blending mode and a transparency of 30–70%, but experiment until it looks the way you want it.
Adding World Hillshade from ArcGIS Online
The Add Data From ArcGIS Online dialog.

I'm continuing to experiment with shaded relief. Here are some great resources with a wealth of information on this topic:

  • shadedrelief.com–ideas and techniques from an expert at the National Park Service
  • reliefshading.com–more ideas and techniques from a group of cartographers and professors
  • shadedreliefarchive.com–a collection of scanned hand-drawn shaded relief maps maintained by the same people as the above two websites
  • terraincartography.com–a collection of relief mapping software tools from Oregon State University (I haven't used these)
  • SwitzerlandMobility–a web map showing the beautiful Swiss topographic maps
  • ArcGIS Online basemaps–a large variety of basemaps for web (and desktop) mapping, including many shaded relief maps

Exporting from Illustrator

In some cases you may export directly from Illustrator to a printable PDF; in other cases you may place the Illustrator document into an InDesign document and export to a printable PDF from InDesign.

Maps where I exported directly from Illustrator to a printable PDF include the map side of the Myles Standish State Forest brochure; this made sense because that side of the brochure was solely the map. I created the other side of the brochure, which included the front panel and all of the text and photographs, in a separate InDesign document, and we sent two separate PDF packages to the printer, one for each side.

Maps where I placed the Illustrator document into an InDesign document and exported to PDF from InDesign include Ames Nowell State Park and Walden Pond State Reservation (underway); this made sense because the brochures show the map and the page content (front panel, text) together on the same side of the printed sheet (which in these cases is one-sided). So the map was created in Illustrator and non-map content was placed on top of it in InDesign. Then a single PDF package would be exported from InDesign.

Ai As you work, you will want to export drafts to PDF for emailing and printing (it seems to work better to print from a PDF than directly from Illustrator or InDesign). Once you have your draft at a suitable state where you want to print or send it, you will save your Illustrator document and then save it again as a PDF. Since Illustrator file format and PDF file format are closely related, you don't "export" to PDF; instead you will save a copy in PDF format.

Adobe Indesign

This workflow involves separating the map information and the page information into Illustrator and InDesign respectively.

Ai As mentioned in the previous section, for some maps and brochures it may make sense to use both Illustrator and InDesign. Once you're happy with your Illustrator map document, it's time to incorporate it into the full brochure. Make sure you turn off the gray background graphic if you have one (this may be the town polygon layer or other background layer that covers the whole map extent), so the map is transparent in non-parkland areas. The gray (or other color) background will reside in the InDesign document, covering the whole brochure and its bleed. Save it and close Illustrator.

Id Open the InDesign template (currently we're not using actual InDesign template files, just a copy of a regular file; in the future we may use template files) that corresponds to your chosen map size and layout. For instance, there may be a template called Template5-1-1-A.indd, meaning 5 panels wide, 1 panel tall, single-sided, layout style "A". Open it.

  • for a 5-1-1-A brochure, make a copy of the InDesign document K:\trails\New 2015 Print Trail Maps\_Greenmap_AmesNowell\AmesNowell_5-1-1-A.indd or download a CS4 version of a 5-1-1-A InDesign file here
  • for a 4-1-1-A brochure, make a copy of the InDesign document K:\trails\New 2015 Print Trail Maps\_Greenmap_AmesNowell\AmesNowell_4-1-1-A_4Panel.indd or download a CS4 version of a 4-1-1-A InDesign file here

If you don't already have a "template" document of the size you want, you can open an existing document of a different size and change the page size using the Page Tool. Then you can move and resize the page elements to fit the new layout.

You will now Place the Illustrator map into the InDesign document. I will add more information about InDesign when I have time.

Exporting from InDesign

In some cases you may place the Illustrator document into an InDesign document and export to a printable PDF from InDesign. The process is similar to exporting a PDF from Illustrator.

Id As you work, you will want to export drafts to PDF for emailing and printing (it seems to work better to print from a PDF than directly from Illustrator or InDesign). Once you have your draft at a suitable state where you want to print or send it, you will export your InDesign document to PDF.

Additional Info:

Moderately useful information that didn't fit anywhere else.

Helpful links: