ArcGIS Vs. Illustrator

3949
7
02-07-2013 01:53 PM
ArditSulce
New Contributor II
I know what both do but I see people (with no GIS knowledge) asking for maps to be made in Illustrator which I don't know how to use. But I do know that it is possible to convert ArcGIS maps into Illustrator file. Did anyone do that before? Would that converted file be editable in Illustrator just as it wold be if it was created in Illustrator from scratch?

Ardit.
Tags (2)
0 Kudos
7 Replies
TarunJaiswal
Esri Contributor
0 Kudos
JoshuaDamron
Occasional Contributor III
Tarun's links should get you going.  I don't have Illustrator but when I was taking classes the college lab had illustrator and I played around with it.  A fellow GIS friend was very adept with Illustrator and blew my mind with how finely you can detail your map�?� you can get it perfect.

Illustrator is very cool for making sexy maps, you have total and complete control over everything.  To perfect a map in Illustrator you basically set up your map in ArcGIS to look as close to how you want it as you can, you get your legend as perfect as you can, then you perform a map export to a .svg file (Scalable Vector Graphic), its been a while but I think that was what I used...  Now you tweak away until you reach that perfection.

The bummer is that in illustrator you lose all ties to ArcGIS, meaning the data is no longer living data but stagnant.  It can't go back into GIS and if the GIS data changes significantly then you are likely creating a new map from scratch in illustrator.  The benefit to Illustrator is that you can go into the finest details perfecting your map.  A lot of the gorgeous maps you see on display (even many of those that win awards at ESRI conferences) are actually made with Illustrator.

I think the question of Illustrator vs. GIS is really dependent on what your job requires and how much time you can commit to your end product.  I work for a municipality and I make many maps that are updated annually or several times a year as the data changes.  Exporting to Illustrator doesn't make sense in this situation.  Additionally I get flak for spending more than three hours on a map.  Everyone assumes "you just print it out from the GIS right?�?�  You have to ask yourslef what level of quality does your work environment demand/require?

I'm sure that once you are good with Illustrator and you have your workflows down then the time investment greatly diminishes, however for my work environment I could never justify the cost of the software let alone the time required to master the end product...  Boy would I love to though...

Hope this little bit of insight helps�?�
ArditSulce
New Contributor II
Thank you, all! That's what I was looking for.
Very good insights, Joshua.
0 Kudos
GregoryElwood
New Contributor II
Joshua, your response is a really good one. Although I have found that just because Illustrator files are not spatially referenced they are not "stagnant" by any means. Illustrator can open up an entire universe of color and other high-quality printing functions that simply do not exist in the limited sphere of ArcGIS.

Also, I have created original artwork in both Illustrator and Photoshop, exported it as a .tif file and then massaged it to a geotiff for use in ArcMap. I say massaged because it seems there are multiple ways to do this and I'm still figuring out what I like and which seems to work the best.

With regards to the flak about spending three hours on a map, please refer these philistines to http://imusgeographics.com/ and the many articles about how much time and effort went in to his work.

I find that taking the hard cardboard core from an empty roll on the plotter and standing quietly by those who doubt you while they read about David Imus, holding one end of the core in one hand and gently tapping the other end in your opposite palm, works quite well when trying to get the point across that quality maps take time to create.

G
JimW1
by
Occasional Contributor II
I'd also like to add that if you have enough patience you can make sexy looking maps in ArcMap too. I often have 6 versions of the same layer just to make a cool effect. I build cartographic-use only layers all the time that make the overall feel of the map much more modern looking. It's quicker to do many of these in Illustrator but then you have to train GIS peeps to learn AI.

Cartography by cartographers isn't dead... it's just taking a nap while web-based GIS is all the rage.

PS: You can also go from AI to CAD to GIS if you are ever desperate.
0 Kudos
JoshuaDamron
Occasional Contributor III
Joshua, your response is a really good one. Although I have found that just because Illustrator files are not spatially referenced they are not "stagnant" by any means. Illustrator can open up an entire universe of color and other high-quality printing functions that simply do not exist in the limited sphere of ArcGIS.
G


You are absolutly right... I used the word "stagnant" to ensure that someone with Illustrator expierince would chime in their two cents...  I guess it worked :)

As I mentioned before I had a friend show me how to clean up GIS maps in Illustrator and I was surprised how easy it was to do some basic tweaks that gave the end product a very clean "finished" look.  If I had the flexibility I'd be all over it. 

And yes... Imus is THE MAN!!
0 Kudos
StephenPage
New Contributor
Hi,

Its a while back, so the details are sketchy off the top of my head...

I exported layers from Arcmap 9.3 to Illustrator, to fine tune the cartography, and was really able to polish the output beautifully. So pleased with the result for a map designed for full colour commercial printing.

Problem with file size
I used eps file type. This retained the layers as independent layers in Illustrator.
I actually had to export several layers at a time - there is (apparently) a limitation on file size exporting that Arc could handle. With the layers already symbolised in Arc, they would only export correctly if i did a few layers at a time.

Ability to update the map when data changes
Since the layers come into Illustrator, I could just reimport any Updated layers into the existing Illustrator map.
0 Kudos