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3D pipeline display

May 03 2011 | 0 comments
Categories: Cartographic Effects, Cartographic Representations

I am trying to make a map of water pipelines that have some texture and depth to them (in essence, a 3D effect). Attached is a pdf of a map that we have in a book. Is this possible to do this in ArcMap? Also the labels in the attached map have a faded halo around them. Does anyone know how to do this as well? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Mapping Center Answer:

There are several ways to get close to this 3D pipeline effect with a drop shadow though none will provide a perfect solution currently.

One method for the 3D pipe is to use the Euclidean Distance tool on the line feature class and specify the distance to be equivalent to half the width of your intended line size.  You can then use a color ramp to symbolize the rasterized pipeline.  If you make a copy of this raster layer and place it underneath the other with a spatial adjustment you can then re-symbolize to a greyscale, add some transparency and create a drop-shadow.  You have to use transparency to create a vignette effect since you cannot currently create color ramps that fade into no color in the software.

Alternatively, if you wish to keep linework as vectors, you can use the Multiple Ring Buffer tool with enough buffers, specified in map units, away from the line feature class to make the final intended line width.  So, for instance, you create 20 buffers with an increment of 1 to make a line symbol equivalent to 40ft wide (at your reference scale - 2 x 20ft).  then symbolize the buffers with a color ramp fill and no outline.  To create the drop shadow you make a copy of the multiple ring buffer layer and using Cartographic Representations you add a Move Geometric Effect to the symbols to offset them a specified distance in the x and y direction.  Symbolize with a dark to light grey color ramp and apply some transparency to create a vignette effect.

The image below was created using the Cartographic Representations approach.  It isn't perfect (for instance the illumination on the blue pipleine should be off-center to indicate illumination from a light source in the top left) but it does give a 3D look to the pipelines and a drop shadow.

coral symbol

My suggestion is you clip out a small part of your data and experiment with this workflow to see what settings in the various tools work for your particular dataset.  Hope it works out!

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