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CREATING AND USING CUSTOM ARCGIS PRO SYMBOLOGY – PART 2: Image Preparation and Processing

CREATING AND USING CUSTOM ARCGIS PRO SYMBOLOGY – PART 2: Image Preparation and Processing

This is the second part in a series of posts on my journey to create custom symbology in ArcGIS Pro. Inspired by John Nelson this post is primarily a reminder to myself about how I did it.  Actually this whole blog is my personal notes made public (so yes you can do this differently and achieve the same results), I’ve done on more than one occasion a Google Search for a solution only to find a post I did about it ages back…. doh.

So you have the kit because you read my previous post, so now what?  Well we need to do some drawing and painting!   Then we will process those drawings by scanning them modifying them in a image editor (like GIMP or Adobe Photoshop Elements) and saving them in a nice and organised way.

The next part of this blog series will deal specifically with each symbol type (lines and points) and I will also cover watercolour swatches I’ve created.  This post will get your drawings and sketches to an image editor ready for use in ArcGIS Pro.

Inspiration doesn’t have to come from specific texts or Cartography books (but it helps)

There’s two steps to my process (you can of course do it differently!), first read some books and get some inspiration.  The I have a scrap page which I start doing test runs on symbology and lines a bit like the image below…

doodles can turn into something more digital later…

Once I’m happy with something I will add it to my grid paper I’ve created which you can download here (below).

Don’t be afraid to experiment, don’t think it’s not good enough!  Lots of people say they can’t draw, what I think they mean is they’re not confident enough to draw for other people.  Besides which some mistakes or badly drawn things might look just right in the correct context.

Some look okay, some I’m embarrassed about to be honest, I’m trying to learn not to care too deeply about what others think!

So we have a paper grid of hand drawn symbols (no you don’t need to till them up).  Notice I’ve used white paper for this the whiter and cleaner the paper the better I can edit them later.

Now I would scan them or take a photo, just be warned that take a photo you need really good light, no shadows and try and make sure them are photo’d flat so you don’t have distortions to fix later.   I recommend scanning them if you can as this will keep things nice and consistent.  As a rule I scan at 200dpi or more as a minimum, I do scan as colour even if black and white scans just so I can choose later what’s done with the image also not all pens are black!

I scan the whole A4 page (sorry people from USA we’re metric around here!), and it will look like this in Adobe Photoshop Elements.

Ready to process!

Step 1: Duplicate the layer 

Step 2: Delete the background layer

Step 3: Use the crop tool and choose your symbology

Step 4: Use the Magic Wand selection Tool (uncheck contiguous and adjust the tolerance to adjust) to select all the white space on the image.

Step 5: Go to Edit menu and select ‘Cut’ or use the keyboard shortcut ‘Ctrl-X’, now you have a small image with a transparent background! Use the crop tool again to adjust the image size to your requirements (I tend to crop just to the image, but some like to make it precisely square)

filename “draft_v1_v2_final_final_v0.png”

Step 6: Save in a folder with a nice file name but save as a PNG file which supports transparent backgrounds.

So that’s it! The next blog post in this series (coming soon) will take you through symbology a types (lines or points) and show you how we get it working in ArcGIS Pro.  I will also do a separate blog in the series for coloured scans of my watercolours swatches…

Creating and using Custom ArcGIS Pro Symbology – Part 1: Stuff I use to help me.

Creating and using Custom ArcGIS Pro Symbology – Part 1: Stuff I use to help me.

You’ll have seen on social media I’ve been ‘playing’ with techniques to create custom mapping styles.   This is a direct result of me attending EsriUK’s Perth conference and getting all inspired by John Nelson.

Firstly if you haven’t read or seen John Nelson’s blog, go look at it now (I’ll wait): adventuresinmapping.com There’s more obviously around but I’ve been using ArcGISPro for all our 3D GIS and Esri CityEngine content.  However I’ve wanted to do something more artistic, more in-depth and one that pushes my comfort zone a little.   John Nelson’s cartography using ArcGIS Pro are a master class in the art of what’s possible.

So this is the first blog post in a few and maybe even a video (yes I do that occasionally) on the lessons I’ve learnt from using ArcGIS Pro to make some unique maps that look hand drawn (and sort of are).   Can you do this in a product like QGIS?  Yes I think you probably can, can you apply some of what I write here to QGIS, I hope so!

Equipment and preparation

I’m aiming to make this repeatable and consistent, therefore I’ve done some preparation which I will share with you here.  You don’t have to purchase anything of course! I just wanted to record what I had done here.

The glorious Staedtler triplus® fineliner 334

Pens. While we will be using ArcGIS Pro we will also need to do our own drawing, and no I don’t believe you have to be very good at drawing just consistent and willing to try new things.  I’ve settled on the Staedtler triplus fineLiner 334-9 a nice pen with a good line quality. Unsure?  Go to a good pen shop and try some out, for me we’re doing symbology of lines and symbols so it needs to be crisp and good for scanning.

Winsor & Newton Cotman Sketcher’s Pocket Box set of 12… is nice to have and small!

Paints.  Well I like watercolours and I also wanted to replicate some what John Nelson has done, so I’ve chosen a simple set we got my eldest child from Winsor & Newton.

Paper. Honestly 80gsm everyday paper for simple pen work it has a nice crisp white perfect for scanning.  If I was to improve it so you didn’t see anything on the back or to stop it curling, 90gsm is better.  For watercolour work obviously you need watercolour paper (190gsm to 300gsm) just ensure any scanner can handle it, if you intend to use a scanner!

The grid. I wanted to inject some consistency in to the process and left to my own devices just sketching on a piece of paper will get messy pretty quickly so I created a series of A4 grids for the different symbols.  I’ve made this a PDF which you can download below (see resources heading below).

Scanner or Camera. I’m using an iPhone 7 camera and the dropbox app to quickly upload to my PC (you could equally use a cable or other app).  For the most part I would recommend to use a scanner this allows for clear distortion free scans/images of your drawing.   If you use a camera I find without amazing light quality when taking it you will end up doing additional processes to clean and brighten your image.  The scanner i’m using at home is an Epson Stylus Office BX610FW, I can scan directly to a memory card or via wifi straight to my PC using their Windows program.

Sedbergh-on-sea created with hand drawn elements placed using ArcGIS Pro

Software. Well I’ve been using Adobe Photoshop Elements, but you can also use GIMP (which is fantastic!).  Oh yes and ArcGIS Pro….  

I like it.

Books and inspiration. Well John Nelson and his blog I’ve already talked about but I’ve been looking at a wide variety of books and maps to see what works.  I don’t 100% want to copy (especially if newer material!) but also you don’t have to re-invent the wheel..  From my perspective I really like “Great City Maps”, but then I’m a sucker for urban mapping, I recommend finding a style your’re passionate about and trying to replicate elements of it.

Other publications are available (this is not an endorsement)

Conclusion. So that’s what I’ve been using, I haven’t finished everything yet but Part 2 of this series will look at a workflow for the various elements of a map in ArcGIS Pro you may want to replicate.  I haven’t decided whether to do one giant post about all types of symbology creation or do individual posts for points, lines, polygons etc…

RESOURCES:

Procedural Landscapes: Tuscany

Procedural Landscapes: Tuscany

Believe it or not, but this whole scenery was created procedurally. In e-on software’s VUE.

Villa_In_Tuscany

This image is the result of an 8 week online (yes, late evenings and weekends!) 3D Workshop I just recently completed (my second already) on CGSociety.

Everything is procedural: The terrain model, the vegetation (each plant plus the distribution), the volumetric clouds and haze. Even the main attraction: The almost too well hidden villa.
The villa is a procedurally generated model coming from CityEngine, which was manually placed.

Rendering this single image took about 26 hours on my quite fast hex-core machine. Minimal post work was done in PhotoShop.

I’m ready for some holiday in that villa now!

 

PhotoShop: Unknown or invalid JPEG marker type…

PhotoShop: Unknown or invalid JPEG marker type…

Okay I’ve just come across this curious message when trying to open what should be a perfect JPEG image in Photoshop :

“Could not complete your request because an unknown or invalid JPEG marher type is found.”

I checked the file again by using Windows Paint to open the same image and got no error message it just works…

So how did I get there and how is it resolved?  Well it starts in Adobe Acrobat with me saving one of the pages as a JPEG…. but I noticed when looking at this problem that instead of the progress bar saying “Saving as JPG” it says “Saving as PNG”! 

 Ah ha, but the file extension is still saying it is a jpg…..

To open your images you need to rename the files extension* as a PNG file, then PhotoShop can open it without complaint.   I guess ‘Paint’ is not as picky about its file extensions as a big professional photo editor such as adobe… Still this is a potentially very annoying bug…


If anyone else has any insight into this issue or more suggestions please leave a comment on this article!

*you may need to change some settings in the Folder Options dialog found in the Control Panel, Click the view tab and then uncheck the tick box “Hide extensions for known file types” now you can rename your files extension type easily.

Installing Adobe CS2 on Windows 7 64bit

Installing Adobe CS2 on Windows 7 64bit

Well we’ve had a bit of trouble at the office when one of PCs decided to pack up a leave this earthly plain.   Naturally we had to buy a new PC which came with Windows 7 64bit.    Now I like Windows 7 it’s a lot less chatty than Vista and seems to ‘just work’, basically it seems people don’t notice that they’re using a new operating system which is very good for me as I also provide IT support for our small office!

Anyway the task to reinstall everything we had on the old machine falls to me, which has gone quite smoothly really, except for the installation of Adobe CS2 which is not supported for Windows 7.  Apparently we should keep on the upgrade treadmill, but it’s difficult and expensive so we hold out for ‘must have’ features in new releases rather than upgrading for the sake of it… How many in our line of work for instance are still runnnig AutoCAD R14?!

Anyway back to Adobe CS2, when you install it with the default settings inWindows 7 64bit the software won’t accept for some reason your Serial number.   I did some searching and found this thread that gave us the solution we were looking for: http://bit.ly/dklqfc

Please read the forum as well for additional information (not everyone’s problems are the same), and I shall also quote directly from the forum user Cinti, the only thing I would say about this solution is that for us the “/” should have been “\”: (this post was dated 13th February 2010)

Are you using Windows 7 64 (probably will have the same problem in any Windows 64 OS)?

If so, you must uninstall CS2 completely (not just PhotoShop) and specify that the preferences are to be removed as well. When you re-install, the installer will give the default install location as something like “C:/Program File (x86)/Adobe” but, when you click “OK” install will respond that the location is not valid.  DO NOT RESPECIFY AS  “C:/Program File/Adobe”, that’s the location for 64-bit apps and CS2 is 32-bit and needs to be in the (x86) folder to work properly.  Replace “C:/Program File (x86)/Adobe” with “C:/Program~2/Adobe”.  The installer may not “light” the OK button.  If so, click the browse button then the cancel button and “OK” should activate.  That’s it, CS2 will install.  If, after the install completes, you get the message that the app may not have installed properly, you probably did something wrong (i.e., when it’s in the 32-bit program folder you won’t get this message).

Remember, this fix ONLY APPLIES TO Windows 64-BIT OSs. There are other causes for the message “Your adobe photoshop user name, organization, or serial number is missing or invalid.  The application cannot continue and must now exit.”. 

I spent an hour and fifteen minutes waiting on hold for a Adobe technician for help only to be advised that CS2 is no longer supported by Adobe.  Don’t waste your time trying to get help from Adobe or getting upset with them for not being helpful (what’s the point, they’re holding all the cards and want you to drop another bundle for their latest release).

So what’s the lesson from this?  Always check the internet for solutions to your software problems!

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