Ask A Cartographer

Making a graphic into a layer

April 10 2008 | 2 comments

Currently I am making maps (in Freehand) with a custom grid which needs to be underneath all my point and line layers, and above my polygon layers. I'd like to transition to working with ArcMap instead of Freehand. Is there a way to bring a graphic created in Adobe Illustrator or Macromedia Freehand,, into an ArcMap document as a layer? The grid does not have to be georeferenced. it just has to be in the correct position in relation to my data layers.

Mapping Center Answer:

A couple of issues here: data format and draw order.

While you can import a number of simple image file types into a ArcMap (e.g. JPEG, BMP, EMF), more complex objects like PDF, GeoPDF, and Illustrator files are not supported. This is a known issue - you can check the ESRI Support Site for a number of forum postings on this topic (I used "import PDF to ArcMap" as a search string, and got a few returns).

A possible work around you might try is to export to a CAD format (DWG, DXF). This has its own set of work flow issues (i.e. layer control), but provides you with a data format that ArcMap can easily manage and graphically manipulate without any additional data conversion - you could even georeference your custom grid if you wanted to. The main benefit of this option is that you will have layer-level control over draw order within your data frame.

One of the limitations of importing an image into an ArcMap layout is that you can't interleaf the graphic layer with your map layers - seeing as that you want your grid to appear above your polygons but below your points and lines, a simple graphic import won't do the trick for you.

Importing GeoPDF into ArcGIS posted by Paul Christian on Mar 22 2011 7:24AM
Will ArcGIS 10 or ArcSDE allow importation of GeoPDFs or to georeference standard PDFs?
Not at this time posted by Aileen Buckley on Mar 31 2011 3:46PM
Sorry -- you can't import GeoPDF or any other PDF format into ArcMap at this time.

If you would like to post a comment, please login.

Contact Us | Legal | Privacy |