Ask A Cartographer

Create a fading drop shadow on map elements

September 22 2008 | 1 comment
Categories: Cartographic Effects

I would like to have a black drop shadow on a map element that fades out to transparency, or white if not possible. I've came close to a desired effect using gradient fill symbols in the Drop Shadow dialogue, but haven't gotten what I want.

Is there an easier way to do this? Or a hard way if not?

Mapping Center Answer:

First, there's no easy way to do this, and if you're in layout view, fading to transparency is not supported (so black to white will work). 

If you can manage to do this within a data frame, you can, instead of creating graphic elements, create the drop-shadow by creating a polygon feature class that you use as a layer in your map (this way you can use the layer transparency to create a shadow that fades out).

There are a few resources that document these or similar procedures:




Creating Drop Shadow posted by David Johns on Sep 23 2008 6:03AM
I have created drop shadows by converting polys to raster, then using the Shift tool found in ArcToolbox > Projections and Transformations > Raster, applied a geographic shift to the raster. Place the new raster under your layers and apply the color of your liking. If you want to create a transition shadow, you could apply the Shift a couple of times and stack the raster layers with varying color/transparency. I have modeled this, but on another network, so I am unable to post.

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