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ArcGIS Maps for Adobe CC 1.5.2 update is now available here.


This update addresses the following issues:


- Extension errors with “Requires ArcGIS Online or Plus” when already signed in as an ArcGIS Online user (BUG-000128927).

- Error “Operation not available” keeps reoccurring when complimentary users try to change the dpi.

- Some complimentary users get an invalid authorization code error when emailed code is used for activation.


For more information about the product, please visit help


Thank you. 

Maps for Adobe CC team

The ArcGIS community has long requested the ability to bring maps from ArcGIS Pro into Adobe Illustrator. The ArcGIS Maps for Adobe team has been collaborating with the ArcGIS Pro team to design a supporting workflow.


At ArcGIS Pro 2.5, you can now export a map or layout from ArcGIS Pro to an Adobe Illustrator Exchange (AIX) file format. Then you can use this AIX file with ArcGIS Maps for Adobe 2.0 (beta) version available here to convert a map into layered artwork for use in Illustrator. Once you convert the map, you can style and manipulate the resulting artwork with the graphic editing tools in Illustrator. 


ArcGIS Maps for Adobe 2.0 (Beta) is now available so you can evaluate this new integration and provide us feedback. Please see the requirements below to sign up for the beta program. 



- An existing account or ability to create an account with Esri's Early Adopter Community

- Adobe Illustrator CC v23.1 (or later)

- ArcGIS Pro 2.5 (or later)


Stay tuned!

We recently released a patch for ArcGIS Maps for Adobe CC v 1.5 that fixes an issue with ArcGIS Online enterprise logins. If you've experienced issues signing in with an enterprise login provided to you by your company or university, then we recommend upgrading to v1.5.1 to install this patch. The update is available now on the Esri website and on Adobe Exchange.


Note: You can find the Maps for Adobe version number at the bottom of the sign-in and help windows. (To open the help window, click the menu button  and choose Help.)


This patch addresses the following issues:


- Extension doesn't load after signing in with an ArcGIS Online enterprise login

- Mapboards window appears blank after signing in

- Supported versions of Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop aren't detected during installation



Thank you. 

Maps for Adobe CC team. 

The map data hosted in Esri’s geospatial cloud is one of the most valuable parts of the ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud extension. It is the data that fuels your designs. In this blog we’ll highlight a number of unique maps and layers that have been configured specifically for use within Adobe. We’ll also mention other generic datasets you might find useful for your mapping projects.


Maps for Adobe has two unique vector basemaps; Vector Street Map and Natural Earth. Both have been designed and configured specifically for use within the extension.


Vector Street Map – This is the most popular map used within the extension. It is great to use if you want editable vector artwork in Illustrator over any part of the world! There is great detail all the way down to the city block level, and even higher levels of detail in most large urban centers around the world. While the focus of this map is on urban locations and features (eg. POIs and roads), it can also be used as a great reference map at smaller scales when you need a map of states, provinces, countries or even the globe. The data used in this map has also been recently updated to the most current versions available: 



Natural Earth – This is the 2nd most popular map used in the extension, and is another map specifically designed for use within Maps for Adobe. It is based on the free public domain Natural Earth data built through a collaboration of volunteers and supported by the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS). It is a great general purpose vector map, but we’d suggest you use the Vector Street Map if you need city or street level detail. The data is best suited for larger county, regional, or ideally country level maps. Natural Earth has also been updated to the latest version, 4.0 which was released in 2017.


Sometimes having the whole basemap is too much. Adding too many layers to Illustrator can affect file size, performance and introduce unnecessary layer management overhead. To help, we’ve introduced a number of Natural Earth layers grouped by theme. These are Populated Places, Transportation, Boundaries, Hydrography, Bathymetry and Grids and Graticules. You can find these layers in the ‘Add Layers’ dialog under ‘Browse from ArcGIS Location > Maps for Creative Cloud > Natural Earth’.



 USGSWe have added a number of valuable layers from The National Map (TNM) provided by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The data is current up to 2016 at the national level, and includes such layers as trails, physical, structural and cultural points in addition to Federal and Native American lands, plus a woodland layer representing tree coverage for the country.

 We have also made all the USGS contours (elevation lines) for the entire country available. Cartographers and designers alike love contours for the aesthetic they can bring to a map! The USGS uses digital methods and sources to construct this data, however much of the national coverage is derived from paper topographic maps that may be decades old. This is usually not an issue though, as contours typically do not change much over time. It is also important to note that the contour density and interval may change at historic map sheet extents.  The contour layer is best used at larger scales (1:24,000 to 1:100,000, like the old paper topographic maps) as they can be pretty detailed. Due to the density of this data, larger maps with small scales can add thousands of lines to your map, possibly resulting in degraded performance when drawing and downloading. So remember, with great (data) power comes great (map) responsibility


You can find the USGS layers in the ‘Add Layers’ dialog under ‘Browse from ArcGIS Location > Maps for Creative Cloud > USGS’.

 OSMOpenStreetMap is a collaborative project intended to create a free editable map of the world. It is wildly popular because of its high level of detail, global coverage and the fact that it can be edited by anybody in near real time. Esri has released 3 of the most used OSM layers as dynamic vector layers into ArcGIS Online. You can find building footprints, roads and points of interest layers from the ‘Add Layers’ dialog under ‘Browse from ArcGIS Location > Maps for Creative Cloud > OpenStreetMap’.


These layers are highly detailed and best suited for larger scale maps, from city level down to individual buildings (approximately from 1:72,000 to 1:1,000). In many areas it is the most detailed urban data available, but since it is crowd-sourced content there are inconsistence in coverage and attributes. Despite this, OSM is typically the best source of data for many developing parts of the world. Due to the complexity of the OSM data, doing things like changing the layer style or setting up labels can take some time. You will also get cleaner, more accurate vectors in Illustrator if you increase the DPI above the 96 DPI default. This may result in longer sync times so you will need to have a little patience, but it will be well worth it. Expect to see more OSM layers and options coming in the future. 


You can find the OSM layers in the ‘Add Layers’ dialog under ‘Browse from ArcGIS Location > Maps for Creative Cloud > OpenStreetMap’.


Business Locations – This layer of business locations is extracted from a comprehensive list of businesses licensed from InfoGroup. The layer contains data for more than 13 million U.S. businesses, and it can be styled based on business name (CONAME) or by North American Industry Classification (NAICS) code.



Tapestry – This is Esri's geodemographic market segmentation system which classifies U.S. neighborhoods into 67 segments based on their socioeconomic and demographic composition. For a broader view of markets, segments are grouped into 14 LifeMode Summary Groups that reflect lifestyles/life stages and 6 Urbanization Summary Groups that show levels of affluence and population density. The 2017 version of this layer was the 3rd most popular layer used in Maps for Adobe. There is a new layer out for 2018, and you can access it by entering it’s URL into the ‘Add Layers’ dialog:



Political Map – This is a simple world political map showing global country and US state boundaries, and it is also one of the most popular maps used within the Maps for Adobe extension. Because the data is less detailed than other layers, it is great for making overview maps. The default style shows each country with a unique color, however that can be easily changed to a single symbol if you are looking for something a little more muted.



There is a great collection of content available within ArcGIS Online and it is constantly growing with contributions from Esri, our business partners, and our users. If you are looking for something but cannot find it, please let us know.

We recently hosted our "Ask Anything Q&A" Webcast in which we answered some much desired questions from our users. The video is now up on YouTube but can be found on all social accounts just by searching @mapsforadobe! 



How do I access third-party data to incorporate into my maps ?


How do I load in-house project data generated by our GIS team ?




 if only a small number of maps/layers you can add/reference them by ArcGIS Online item URL in the Add             Map/Layer dialog:



I'd like to see more vector based maps

There are 2 vector base maps today (Vector Street Map and Natural Earth), we plan to support more in upcoming releases.


How to create maps with higher detail level similar to using open street map (OSM) ?

            We plan on supporting (more) OSM content in the future. Right now, there are 3 OSM layers (in beta mode for             testing) you can try:



Install, Performance & UX:

It's powerful and has been very useful, but can be complicated and intimidating for new users

            We are making updates to UI/UX for the next release which we hope will make the extension easier to use


Provide more stability, seems to runs slow on PC

            There is should not be any difference between running on different OSs (demo was on a PC), however if you are             seeing issues, please reach out to us we’d like to help troubleshoot the issue.


I have problems installing and registering extension

            There sometimes can be install issues if you are using an Adobe Team or Enterprise account login. We are             working with Adobe to resolve this issue. In the meantime, if you do run into any issues please reach out to us to             help to troubleshoot and get it working for you.


Esri’s ArcGIS Platform:

My corporation is moving our GIS/Esri services to on premise (vs. cloud-based/ArcGIS Online), when will this be supported ?

With the current release we only support ArcGIS Online, we do plan to support on-premise deployments in a future release.


Are there plans to build Adobe tools into Esri's platform? Like an Adobe plugin for ArcMap/ArcGIS Pro ?

No, however we plan on supporting reading map exports from ArcGIS Pro in a future release.


Layers, styling & 3D:

Is there any way we can apply styles in one single click ?



Contiguous lines for roads and rivers as opposed to short segments. eg…different levels of roads and rivers

            This varies on the source data layer/contributor. However most can be improved in Illustrator using the Path >             Join based on layer/sub-layer (symbols)

Can we control the fonts (and other styling) on the maps before sync ?

You have limited control over some the styling options in the extension, as most design/aesthetic workflows are best done in Illustrator after the map has been downloaded (sync’ed). You should use the extension to set layers, sub-layers and unique symbols based on data information and attributes - “data visualization” workflows should be the focus inside the extension before sync.


How to you create 3D visualizations with this tool or other Adobe or Esri products ?

            Not specifically with the extension. There are other, more focused 3D applications and tools within Adobe and             Esri for 3D design.




Are there detailed instructions on how to use the extension ?

YouTube Playlist:

Online Doc


What can you do with the extension in Photoshop ?



Is there a student option ?

            No, but there is the “free”/complimentary access that can be used by students


How do I credit Esri/ArcGIS Maps ?

When you sync a map, the data credits (as text) are provided on an artwork layer with the suffix “copyright”


What features are planned for next release ? When will it be available ?

Improved UI/ UX

Tabbed mapboards

Improved icons and layout

Updates to vector street map & Natural Earth maps

New Natural Earth and USGS layers

Open Street Map (beta) layers

Add demographic attributes to exiting data *

Legend (map key) builder

Control layers that sync

Add more than 50 Places

Travel times

Geographic offsets (buffers)


            Next release is planned for the summer of 2019.


Is there a way to merge multiple maps into one ?

You can sync data into Illustrator more than once. If you have complimentary access, you can only do this for the current session of Illustrator. With an ArcGIS Online account, you can “Save the map as part of an Illustrator or Photoshop document for future session modifications.” and sync those changes

A new version of ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud (v1.3.2) is now live on adobeexchange. This version contains fixes for 2 issues 

- Introduced with Illustrator v23.0.1 on Mac OS, the extensions drop downs and control labels do not display correctly.

- Projection of shapefiles did not function as expected.

These are resolved in the latest update. Please upgarde your extension and continue to email any questions or feedback to 

Quick update. We have had some reports of an issue randomly occurring on a few user machines after upgrading to v1.3.0 of the extension. When this occurs the Mapboard and Compilation panels remain blank and don’t display any controls or the map. It could occur with either Illustrator or Photoshop on both Mac and PC’s. We have narrowed down the source of this issue to the given apps ‘Preferences’. We already have a fix for this which will be posted in the next update. In the meanwhile, to continue working with the extension if you encounter this, we suggest to manually restore the preferences on the app that the issue appears on.


Following links describe steps to restore preferences in related apps.

Illustrator CC:

Photoshop CC:


We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and thank you for your patience while we roll out the update. If you continue to see an issue with the display of panels after restoring preferences please contact and we will be happy to work with you to investigate further.


Thank you.

Maps for Adobe Team.

The new 1.3.1 release of ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud is now up on the Adobe Exchange. If you have a previous version of the extension installed, it should automatically update to 1.3.1 the next time you login to any of the Adobe Creative Cloud apps or your account. If you've not installed the extension before, go to the ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud listing, and click the blue "Free" button in the upper right.


A list of the new features can be found in our doc here: What's New—ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud Help


YouTube video demoing some of the new features: What's New in ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud 1.3 - YouTube 


NOTE: 1.3.1


Fixes the blank panels issues: Panels blank after upgrade to v1.3.0 


Maps for Adobe Team

New update for Maps for Adobe, version 1.2.1 is up on the  Adobe Exchange. Make sure you have the Creative Cloud Desktop App installed and file syncing is turned on, to ensure you stay up with the latest version of the add-on. This minor release has an updated login screen and some additional maintenance improvements.

My colleagues Nick Brueggemann and Gregory Brunner made a map of the NCAA Tournament rosters showing where the bracket athletes' hometowns are. The data comes from this sports website's NCAA Roster information, where they list the athletes' positions, class, hometown, and other statistics. I asked Nick and Greg if they'd share the geodatabase they created. From that database, I made some handy shapefiles, and was able to add those shapefiles from my local drive to the ArcGIS Maps for Adobe® Creative Cloud® app (M4CC) inside of adobe illustrator


To make these maps, I drew my mapboard at the full global extent, and then added the Women's roster shapefile and Men's roster shapefile using the Compilation window. For information on how to add data to the m4cc Compilation window, check out this useful page


The M4CC app allows you to access ArcGIS Online' s smartmapping tools directly while inside of Adobe Illustrator. I was able to use the graduated symbology to size the athletes' hometown points by the amount of players that come from there. Here's a previous post I wrote showing how to access the Smart Mapping tools using M4CC.


To calculate the distance between each player's hometown and their team's city, I used a handy map math formula in Microsoft Excel. From there, I was able to create bar charts inside of Adobe Illustrator. 


It's interesting to see how far some athletes have relocated!


For more posts and updates on Maps for Creative Cloud, you can follow them here.


NCAA Recruit Map by Sarah Bell

Having install issues, the Adobe Exchange site has instructions if the auto-install from the website doesn't work. They list three tools you could use. Our experience, and feedback from a number of users is  Anastasiy's Extension Manager works most successfully.


  • When downloaded, the file name is ArcGIS®_Maps_for_Adobe®_Creative_Cloud®_1.2.0.zxp. It maybe require to renamed/removed the "®" characters to ensure a successful install.
  • Note that you may need IT support as Anastasiy's Extension Manager requires an administrator password to be installed. 


Cartography and data visualization are fed by the confluence of art and science. For this reason, it should be no surprise that many of us cartographers also spend a lot of time drawing, painting, and illustrating. Personally, I find partaking in fine arts to be an important exercise in becoming a better map maker. Oftentimes, when I blog or tweet about a map that I'm working on that takes on a more whimsical or artistic expression, people will ask me "Have you ever made a gaming or fantasy map?" In fact, I've been asked whether or not I've made a fantasy map so many times, that I decided to make one. 


A preview of the Kystfjell fantasy map

Kystfjell Map preview


The land in my fantasy map is called "Kystfjell" (pronounced kist-fyell, but feel free to say kist-fell), which translates from Norwegian to "coastal mountains." Kystfjell exists in a story that I began writing about two years ago. In this post, you'll learn about the tools I used to make the Kystfjell map. I'll share some initial considerations that I took, and how you can use the ArcGIS Maps for Adobe® Creative Cloud® (Maps for CC, or m4cc for short) to make your own map, fantasy or real, in Adobe Illustrator.  I also wrote this Part II post about my design of the Kystfjell map, along with some free Adobe Illustrator assets based upon this map that you can use to design your own map!


Becoming a location scout and set decorator for your fantasy map

Location scouting is an important part of film making. A film's location needs to stay true to the story's ambience, weather, topography, and other environmental characteristics. Once a location scouting team finds the right spot for filming, set decorators can use props, costumes, lighting and other design elements to transform the location into the story's appropriate time period, or even into a fantasy world. While creating the Kystfjell map, I felt like a location scout for the fantasy world that I began writing two years ago. To find the right place on realistic Earth, I imagined the local features and activities like mountain climbing, universities, houses, rivers, and battles that made sense in the fantasy world of Kystfjell.  I then took on the role of set decorator when designing the map to transform this real geographic data into the land of Kystfjell. For more about Kystfjell's design process, stay tuned for part two of this blog series.


Kystfjell's setting is inspired by the combination of the Pacific Northwest - which is where I call home - and Norway. The ecology and landscape considerations are heavily influenced by Washington state's coastline, western rainforests, glaciated peaks, and dry eastern plateaus and valleys. However, Kystfjell needed to be constructed out of islands. Since many people compare the glacially carved, deep-lake gorges of British Columbia and Washington - like that of Lake Chelan - to the fjords of Norway, I made Kystfjell from coastal Norwegian islands. I then took the liberty of rearranging and manipulating the shapes of some of these islands, and even removing others. In the next section, I'll show you how I was able to take map data from those coastal Norwegian islands using the Maps for CC extension, and download them into Adobe Illustrator so that I could turn them into the fantasy setting for Kystfjell. 


Now you might be wondering to yourself, "Why not just draw the islands from scratch in Illustrator?" That's a great question! That is a totally valid approach to making a fantasy map, and one that I will explore someday. Here are a few reasons you might want to leverage the power of real and free geographic data in a fantasy map:

  1. Real geography provides the shapes of land that were formed by real geologic processes. Using it as a starting point  for my very first fantasy map felt like a good way to prevent my map from looking contrived. I wanted it to be fake, but look real.
  2. Getting loads of free map data into Illustrator potentially meant that I didn't need to spend time drawing a bunch of roads and other features. I could get all of these things in one single download.
  3. This is my favorite reason! You may actually want to transform an actual place into a fantasy world. For example, let's say you wanted to illustrate your city as a dystopian futuristic world. It would be much easier to do this using real data that makes up the streets, buildings, and neighborhoods of your city that you are hoping to dystopify. In fact, as I type out this reason, it sounds so appealing to me that perhaps this is my next mapping pursuit! 


Using Maps for Creative Cloud to build your map

To build your map using the M4CC app, you'll first have to download it from the new-and-improved Adobe Add-on page. You can also find a lot of detailed documentation on Esri's M4CC help page for getting started.


The M4CC app makes mapping really easy, even for graphic designers who have never before made a map. Like a lot of mapping software, how you use it depends on the map you are trying to make. With the M4CC app, the first step in actually building the map is to draw a mapboard. A mapboard is the area that you are mapping, which will download into your Artboard in Illustrator. So, if you're building your mapboard as an 11x17-inch tabloid over Peru, your downloaded map will have an 11x17-inch Artboard in Illustrator. But, you could also use what Esri calls a webmap to build your map, in which case you can allow that webmap to inform your mapboard's size. For more info about using a webmap in M4CC, watch this video on the new features in the 1.2 version.


Mapboard Window

For my mapboard, I used the Mapboards tab to zoom into the coastal area of Kristiansund, Norway. One of the new features in the 1.2 version of M4CC is the ability to choose preset mapboard sizes. This is really useful when you're making a map to fit a specific area. I did not use the presets for my Kystfjell map, but instead used a custom 16x24-inch size and also selected to increase the level of map detail.

Note: Increasing map scale will also increase your map download time.

Kystfjell Mapboard in ArcGIS Maps for Adobe CC

Defining the map area for Kystfjell


Compilation Window

After defining my map area, I needed to add data to my map in the Compilation window. By "data" I mean vector and raster map layers that will be converted into editable artwork in Illustrator. My approach for finding the right map data for Kystfjell was pretty exploratory, but I also wanted to use the VectorStreetMap available for free to M4CC users. This is a rich collection of roads, cities, parks, waterbodies, and many other things that can be used to make a map. You can find it in the Compilation Window's Search and Add Layers when browsing from Maps for Creative Cloud.

Maps for Creative Cloud Vector Street Map dataset

Loads of Vector DataKystfjell map with Vector Street Map data added in Compilation window

VectorStreetMap data added to the Kystfjell mapboard in the Compilation window


Now that I added the VectorStreetMap data, I used the Search and Add Layers to explore more layers that were available in this region of the world. When adding data to the Compilation window as you're building your maps, in addition to the Maps for Creative Cloud layers, you can also browse available map data on ArcGIS Online and Esri's Living Atlas of the World. The coolest part about searching for map layers with the M4CC app is that you can find these map layers while never leaving Illustrator. If you are part of an ArcGIS Online organization, you can also host and add data from there as well. Check out this page to learn more about adding data to the Compilation window.


After I added what I felt was sufficient data for designing a my map, I downloaded it into Illustrator, by clicking the Sync  button at the top of the Compilation window.

Sync map into artwork layers arcgis maps for adobe

Processes Window

For my Kystfjell map, I did not take advantage of the useful processes in the Processes window, which is the third and final tab of the M4CC app. Briefly, the Processes window is a place to set up the M4CC app to automatically apply your own custom swatch, brush, and symbol libraries to your map as it downloads! You can also use the Processes window to customize your symbology automatically, after you've downloaded the map as well.Processes window, Maps for Creative Cloud


The downloaded map prior to designing it

Downloaded Map in Illustrator

The image above shows basically what the Kystfjell map looked like in Illustrator before I started styling it. Notice that it has a convenient organized layer structure. All the city points are in one layer, and all the city labels are in their own layer as well. In fact, every data type has its own layer. This makes it really easy to get started on styling any map that you're making. Maps downloaded with the Maps for Creative Cloud extension also come with a layer of data source credits, so you don't have to spend time tracking down that information. Check out Part II, where I show which land I kept, which I moved, and which I removed to make this fantasy map.



In the next post, I also share the details about how I designed the Kystfjell map, including font choices, language and place name choices, texture, and character illustrations! For now, here is a preview of the land of Kystfjell. Enjoy!



Kystfjell Map preview

Helga the Pink, a wise gossipy snail that lives in a well traveled road intersection near Rolig Bay.


Kystfjell Map preview

Kveld Pass, the waterway between Støvler and Østravn.

In this blog post, you'll read about how to create a choropleth map of Minnesota population density using the ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud extension that we are building at Esri.


Last month I had a wonderful time presenting cartography to graphic designers as a guest for three sessions of Adobe Live at Adobe's headquarters in San Francisco. During these live-streams, artists design bits of - or complete - projects, and discuss their process while they design. An audience of creatives viewing the livestream can live chat with the artists as they design. Although I already knew that a lot of today's designers are making maps for their clients, it is always a totally elucidative experience talking about mapping with designers, most of whom have not been formally trained in cartography or GIS. In fact, it's quite humbling. Designers come to mapping with totally fresh eyes that are not weighted down by staying within a box of cartographic rules. The results are stunning. I am always so grateful for these reminders to bend the rules and continue to discover.


Here's the process to make one of the maps I built during an Adobe Live session. It's a choropleth map made with ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud via Illustrator. This is a great exercise for graphic designers who are looking to explore cartography and dataviz a bit more.


TIP - If you don't have it already, you'll need to install ArcGIS Maps for Adobe CC (M4CC) from Adobe Exchange.


Draw Mapboard and Name it

Once you have opened Illustrator and logged into the M4CC extension, zoom to your desired extent, and draw your Mapboard. To do this, click on the Mapboard tool in the upper-left of the Mapboards tab, and draw a box around the area you want to map.

Click on the Mapboard tool in the upper-left of the Mapboards tab

Draw Mapboard Tool M4CC

For this map, I'm making a choropleth map of population density in Minnesota. Really quick, a choropleth map uses color saturation and/or hue to indicate a statistic's value or intensity within usually-adjacent polygons - or as some non-mappers might call them - color-coded maps.


Once you've drawn your mapboard over the extent that you want to map, you'll be prompted to give your mapboard a name in the Mapboard Options dialog. You'll also be able to specify your map's size here. I've named mine "MinnesotaPopulationDensity" and I left the scale and size as they were.  


TIP - Whatever you name your mapboard will also be the name of your downloaded Illustrator file. If your mapboard name is identical to an AI file in the same file location where you will download your map, then you will be prompted to give your mapboard a new name.


Name your mapboard.

Naming and Sizing of ArcGIS Maps for CC mapboard


Full mapboard extent over Minnesota

Mapboard extent, ArcGIS Maps for Adobe CC


Add Map Data in the Compilation Window

Go to the M4CC Compilation window. This might be hiding underneath your Mapboards window. In the image above, I've docked the Compilation and Processes windows together with my Mapboards window. 

When you get to the Compliation Window, you'll see a preview of your map. The current version of the M4CC extension uses a raster basemap for reference. You can zoom to make this preview larger, but note that the raster basemap, and any raster data that you add to this map will be a bit blurry in the preview if you do. To zoom back out, just press the Alt key while zooming.


There are a few different ways of adding data, and a few different data types you can add. For this demo, I'm going to add the "USA Counties" map layer that is available on ArcGIS Online. This is all made possible because this extension leverages the "Cloud" part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, and therefore allows you to access ArcGIS Online within Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Click the Search and Add Content button, and select Add Layers from the menu. This will bring up the Add Layers dialog.


Click the Search and Add Content button, and select Add Layers from the menu

Add map data to Compilation window in ArcGIS Maps for Adobe CC


Adding Counties to the Map

In the Add Layers dialog choose "ArcGIS Online" from the Browse Location dropdown, and type "USA Counties" in the search box next to it. You can also filter to "Show Vector Layers" from the data type dropdown beneath the search box. Then click on the plus ("+") icon in the "USA Counties (Generalized)" layer from the list of data layers that appear. This will add the layer to your map. Note - You may need to scroll a little to get to this layer.


Add the "USA Counties (Generalized)" layer to your map


Compilation window preview after adding the "USA Counties (Generalized)" layer


Adding States to the Map

You could sync/download this map now, and make a map with just the counties. However, let's add some reference spatial data to this map. We'll start with state boundaries. Performing the same steps as above, click the Search and Add Content button, and select "Add Layers" from the menu. This time type "USA States" in the search box, and scroll until you see "USA States (Generalized)." Click the plus ("+") icon, adding this layer to your map.

Adding the Great Lakes to the Map

The Great Lakes are a huge part of the spatial identity for much of the Upper Midwest. There is a good reason for this: the Great Lakes region is magnificently beautiful. Even though this map is not about lakes, we can add Lake Superior to this map in a sleek way so that it doesn't distract from the map's population density theme. In fact, adding Lake Superior and the states as map data with a low visual hierarchy will give a nice spatial reference for people who may not be familiar with the exact geography of Minnesota. In other words, let's not have a map where Minnesota is a floating island if we don't have to.


Performing the same steps that you did to add the counties and states, search for "Lakes_World" and add the "Lakes_World_Robinson" layer. This is a layer hosted by Esri's GeoInquiriesfor schools, which is a great GIS education resource. 

Styling the Choropleth

Since the map you are building in the Compilation Window is essentially being built in the ArcGIS Online environment, you have access to a lot of ArcGIS Online styling tools. Instead of raving about how amazing it is that you can access ArcGIS Online map data and leverage the fantastic ArcGIS Online geo-dataviz styling tools inside of Illustrator I'll move on. (Seriously, though. ArcGIS Online map styling is really great). 



Click on the Change Style painter's palette icon in the "USA Counties (Generalized)" layer. This will bring up ArcGIS styling tools.

Click on the Change Style painter's palette icon

Change Style in ArcGIS Maps for Adobe CCFrom the Choose an attribute to show dropdown menu, choose the top "Pop. per Sq. Mi." from the list as this is the most current population data for this layer. These values from which you're choosing are U.S. Census data attributes for each of the USA counties. 

From the Choose an attribute to show dropdown menu, choose the bottom "Pop. per Sq. Mi."

Choose an attribute to show, ArcGIS Maps for Adobe CC


Now, you get to choose a drawing style. Among the four choices you're provided, Counts and Amounts (Color) and Counts and Amounts (Size) make the most sense for a population density map. Since we're making a choropleth, choose Counts and Amounts (Color) by clicking the Options button. This will bring up some dataviz decision tools. If you're comfortable with dataviz, then feel free to style the data as you wish. For the purpose of this demo, here are some useful instructions on updating the dataviz for this choropleth.


Update Class Breaks

Change the Class Breaks number to "6" by either typing the number in the box, or clicking the up arrow once. 


*IMPORTANT* The choropleth in the Compilation window is created from all USA counties, the most densely populated being nearly 70 thousand people per square mile. Minnesota's most dense county is Ramsey County, at just above 3 thousand people per square mile. For this reason, this demo will have all values above 3,000 in the highest category in the Compilation window. This will be addressed in the downloaded AI file.


Because a lot of Minnesota's counties are really sparsely populated, the first category will be 1-10 people per square mile. To do this, very carefully click on the bottom value in the Change Symbol Style dials and in the entry box type "10" just like the image below.

ArcGIS Online Class breaks in Maps for Adobe CCNow your first category will be 0-10. You can click on the Legend tab (seen in the image above next to the Classes tab) to view this new category you just updated. Now, back in the Classes tab, use the same process to create the following categories:

  • >3,000 to 70,267 (this monstrosity of a category will be addressed in the downloaded map)
  • >1,000 to 3,000
  • >500 to 1,000
  • >100 to 500
  • >10 to 100
  • 0 - 10 


Click OK. Your map should look something like this:

TIP - If you would like to update the colors of the choropleth, you can choose among several gorgeous ArcGIS Online color palettes by clicking Change Symbol Style. For this map, make sure you are choosing a sequential (a sequence of light-to-dark) color scheme and that the lighter color represents the category with the smallest values. 

Optional choropleth color schemes in ArcGIS Online

Label the Counties

Another really convenient mapping option you have with this extension - all made possible by accessing ArcGIS Online through the Cloud - is that you can add labels. Let's add county labels. The database that makes up the counties has a column of the county names. We can use this column to add the labels. To do this, click on the Manage Labels tool in the USA Counties layer that you just styled:

Manage Labels ArcGIS Maps for Adobe CCThe "Name" category should automatically be chosen for you. If not, just select "Name" from the Text dropdown menu. The default size of the labels is too big to allow all the Minnesota county names to fit. For this reason, you'll want to change the font size to "5" and un-bold the labels. Then click OK. Don't worry about the font because you can update that in Illustrator,

Download/Sync Your Map into Illustrator

Now you should have tiny labels in each of the Minnesota counties, a choropleth that indicates counties' population density, part of Lake Superior, and a USA States layer. This means that you're ready to download the map into Illustrator and start designing!

Sync map into artwork layers arcgis maps for adobe


Style Your ArcGIS-created Map in Illustrator!

Your downloaded map is ready to be styled. Here are a few tips to follow to make a Minnesota Population Density Map from the map you just downloaded (for all these tips to make sense, see the completed map that follows):

  1. Delete all the counties outside of Minnesota since this is a Minnesota-specific map.
  2. Remove the Fill color from your USA States (Generalized) layer. Also, make sure this layer is above your counties layer.
  3. Remove the basemap, and allow the area in Canada to be a space for your map's title.
  4. It's pretty cool that you get a scalebar, but it isn't necessary or advised for this type of map. Delete both of them.
  5. Build a legend based upon the categories that you built in the Compilation window. These categories are conveniently preserved in the layer structure:

IMPORTANT - When building your legend, make sure the highest category is no higher than 4,000. Remember that the densest county in Minnesota only has 3,100 people per square mile.

Layer Structure categories preserved


Completed Project 

Of course, depending on your style your map will look slightly or even drastically different. Still, here's my finished map of Minnesota Population density. Happy mapping!


Minnesota Population Density

We are excited to let you know about the soon-to-be, 1.2 release. This update of the add-on will include the following new features, as per your suggestions and requests:


  • Ability to add KML files
  • Better support for non-English running Adobe applications
  • New Imperial units-based Scale Bar
  • Ability to change the default download/sync location
  • An updated mapboard editing experience; including:
    • quicker access to width, height and scale settings
    • a pick list of Adobe’s preset document sizes
    • the ability to unlock and lock mapboards
    • access to ArcGIS Online and Living Atlas web maps
    • a setting to better honor sizing mapboads based on scale or page size


We are expecting 1.2 to be available on March 5th...via the NEW Adobe Exchange. We are excited about the new Adobe marketplace, as it should resolve previous install issues that some users experienced with the existing Adobe Add-On site. There are many other enhancement features coming as can see some of the details from Adobe on the new Exchange here.


Tune in from Tuesday through Thursday (Jan. 9th-11th) each day at 3 p.m PST to see Sarah Bell present ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud on AdobeLive! 
AdobeLive Link:
The 3 recordings will be posted by Adobe to their YouTube channel, the links to these plus the Q&A from the events can be found below.


Live Vector Art with Sarah Bell from Esri 1 of 3 - YouTube 

Live Vector Art with Sarah Bell from Esri 2 of 3 - YouTube  This one has a good overview of Maps for Adobe at the beginning

Live Vector Art with Sarah Bell from Esri 3 of 3 - YouTube 


Questions and Answers:

What does Esri do?

Esri builds mapping and analytic software to answer location based questions (e.g. Site or store locations, managing utility (power, water) networks, land and resource management, and much more…) and communicates those answers visually through maps (static, web/interactive, 3D, etc.…).


More about Esri and what we do:


What is ArcGIS?

ArcGIS is Esri’s mapping and location analytics platform. ArcGIS is to Esri as Creative Cloud is to Adobe. It’s a collection of software and services.


Learn more:


Check out the Maps We Love!

All of the Maps We Love are all built with Esri technology by our users and/or Esri staff. The site highlights how the maps were made (technology products and steps) and why they are good example of effective cartography.


Explore the collection:


Where do I get ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud Extension?

Here are the steps:

Install from Adobe Add-On/Exchange website

From the Ai or Ps menu, select Windows > Extensions ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud.

Download now:


I’m having issues installing can you help?

Sure! We have a great GeoNet community thread that outlines standard troubleshooting. If you’re still having issues, please feel free to post there and a member of the team ill be there to help.


YouTube: ArcGIS Maps for Adobe® Creative Cloud® - Install and Getting Started (Illustrator) - YouTube 


Install Help:


Trouble installing ArcGIS Adobe CC extension after CC 2018


How do I sign-in to the ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Extension?

You have two options for signing in:

  • For free by providing your email address and Esri will send you an activation code which allows you to access public/free data/artwork hosted on Esri’s cloud (ArcGIS Online). This public data is provided by users, partners, and Esri; of course, you can use your own local data as well.
  • Using an ArcGIS Online account (a for-fee Esri account similar to an Adobe Creative Cloud account) which gives you access to more advanced features in the extension with richer data/artwork.

Learn more about ArcGIS Online:


What is the typical (“simplest”) process to make a map?

Navigate (pan and zoom) to the location you want to make a map of, in the mapboard tab/window. Or you can type in a place name or address and have the extension pan and zoom you there. Then draw a box (we call it a mapboard) that defines the size of the map. The geographic extent as well as the output artboard size you want in Ai or Ps.


Next, add map data (artwork layers) to your map inside the compilation tab/window. The extension comes with default base map layers (we call basemaps). You can pick from image maps or vector layer - we recommend our Vector Streets Map (this basemap is great for “zoomed in”/large scale mapping). Or you can add other content from Esri’s cloud (ArcGIS Online) or your own local data (csv, txt or shp files).


Lastly, download (sync) your map into Ai/Ps and design just as you would normally work.


Can you make maps of made up places (“fantasy maps”)?

Not directly, but many fantasy maps are based on real world places (eg. Lord of the Rings is based on the U.K.). So, you could download some of the standard data (artwork) and then

make your modifications and apply your design in Ai/Ps as a starting point, then even change the shape of places and add your own names. There is a map of Mars on the Maps We Love site ( that outlines the steps on how that map was made.


Explore the “Life on Mars” Map:


What are the map credits?

They list the organizations/companies or people that provided the data used to make the map. It is good to give credit back to those organizations as the information provider. It’s encouraged, like in any report (e.g. school paper, presentations, web sites, etc.), to list your references when you are restating/siting/re-purposing someone else’s work.


How would an average creative (non-cartographer) use ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud?

After working and talking with many creatives, here are some of the typical reasons to make a map:

Infographics and Data Visualization 

Storytelling (maps provide the setting for any story)

Sales/Marketing (where something is doing well vs. not)


Design / Engineering / Architecture (CAD)

Product Advertising


Check out our presentation at Adobe MAX about this:


Where can I get more info on ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud and mapping?


Product Page:



Esri Blog:

Adobe Blog:




How to create a bar graph with text?

ArcGIS Pro is another software product Esri make that has the capability to do other types of data visualization graphs (e.g. bar graphs). You can export an SVG file out of ArcGIS Pro and place that into Ai, the bars and text are individual strokes, fills and text you can manipulate inside of Illustrator.


Can you bring in Google Maps data and add that to the other data from the ArcGIS Maps for Adobe extension?

Today you can convert a KML (keyhole markup language) to a shapefile, and add that data (artwork layers) to your map inside the compilation tab/window. We are planning to support a direct add of KML files in our next release.


How long has cartography been around?

Cartography has been around for a very long time. Wikipedia has an excellent background and history page to explore.


Cartography on Wikipedia:


Has satellite imagery killed manual (vector) mapping?

Satellite imagery is great and is a quick way to map a location. However, they don’t allow for stylizing, branding, or feature emphasis. Satellite imagery is image/raster based so there is a need or value for images in some workflows and vectors in others, just like Ai and Ps.


Are there any “best practices” or typical Map (design) “rules”?

Yes, there are design “rules” for making a map, and even college classes. Not unlike any specialized design field (e.g. color, type, website, UI, UX), there are conventions and best practices that the leaders in these fields highlight. The“Cartography.” book, highlights these with  great visual examples and so does the Maps We Love web site.


However, a map, like any design project, is a creative process, and rules are made to be broken sometimes for better more effective communication or to make something stand out from the norm.


“Cartography.” Description:

Explore the Maps We Love:


What’s Geocaching?

There’s an excellent website that outlines exactly what geocaching is. Check it out!

Learn more about geocaching:


Can you control the map projection in ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud?

Yes, if you are logged in using your ArcGIS Online account you can set the projection using the settings button before you download/sync.


Can you make interactive “zoomable” maps?

ArcGIS Maps for Adobe extension is focused on making static image maps inside of Ai or Ps. There are other ArcGIS products that allow for the design and creation of interactive maps.


Explore our Platform: