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Solution for Contour Line Labeling with masks matching DIFFERENT background colors.

Question asked by chloeas on Aug 14, 2014
Latest reply on Sep 2, 2014 by strothesriuk-esridist

Hello all!


So I am writing this post because, after searching and reading and searching some more, I failed to find the easiest way to be able to label contour lines with a mask (or halo, or whatever you want to call it) that matches different background colors, kind of what is featured in this link, but with a single background color --> (ArcGIS Help 10.1).


I encountered a major setback.

This masking technique does not work if the background is not of the same color. And yes, I know, there are some solutions on how to deal with that (e.g.Esri Mapping Centre - Ask a Cartographer), but most of them are not so straightforward, and this is why I decided to provide my own input, in attempt to group together all the bits and pieces of help I have found on different forums tackling this issue.


SO, first, find attached the output of what I did.


Here is the step by step:

- Add the contour line shapefile to the table of contents (the shapefile has to be saved in a database)

- Add the contour labels so that they are centered on the contour lines ( Using the Labeling Toolbar)

- Make sure you are satisfied with the position of the labels. This is crucial for the following steps.

- Convert the Labels into Annotations (this is done by right-clicking on the contour lines shapefile and selecting the 'Convert Labels into Annotations', this will add a new layer to the table of contents)

- Use the Feature Outline Masks tool (ArcGIS Desktop) from the Cartography toolbox on the Annotations created. (Cartography-Masking tools-Feature Outline Masks)

                PS: If for some reason this tool does not work, I found that using the Buffer tool on the annotations yields almost the same results.

- The Feature Outline Masks tool will add a new layer to the table of contents

- Use the Intersect tool in order to intersect the layer from the feature outline mask tool with the layer containing the background colors (most probably a polygon shapefile)

- Change the symbology of the output of the Intersect tool to fit the symbology of the layer containing the different backgroud colors.




This process can easily be automated by building a model, but I just wanted to go through each step because I found it frustrating that such an easy task would take so much effort.