Using GIS to Generate 3D Illustration Maps

3D View of Los Angeles River
Using a combination of ArcGIS Pro and Illustrator, 3D views can show features clearly.
Client:   California Water Foundation

California's challenges with water make it imperative to focus attention on alternatives to past patterns of use. The California Water Foundation asked GreenInfo to help inform presentation audiences about the nature of the water systems in and around Los Angeles, by developing a simple map illustration of the area's water infrastructure.

The California Water Foundation's (CWF) mission is to help Californians make the best use of scarce water resources. GreenInfo has provided general mapping support to the foundation, developing display maps, interactive map viewers and other products.  To help it make a presentation on the Southern California water situation, CWF wanted to evoke hand-drawn illustrations of 3D map views (see USGS illustration at left).  The map image was to be used in a Power Point presentation, with the capacity for turning on and off layers of information through animation.

GreenInfo started by assembling and processing data, using Esri ArcGIS software.  This work involved developing a cartographic style for final map image - a careful hillshade was developed, showing topography but not too strongly; features were given a soft color palette and symbols were tested for groundwater basins and other features (see 2D map image at left).

To create the 3D view, GreenInfo turned to Esri's new ArcGIS Pro software, which has expanded capacity for 3D visualization and improved image output quality.  ArcGIS Pro allows more control over the blending of the topographical and DEM layers, and this capability extends to the 3D editor.

After creating the 3D map image in ArcGIS Pro, GreenInfo exported the layers to Adobe Illustrator to fine-tune the final image and add labels.

The final image was provided to CWF, with options for layering individual elements in the final Power Point presentation.

Focus:   Environment, Philanthropy  

Services:  GIS Services, Communications, Presentations, Maps, Cartography 

Tags:   3D, Adobe Illustrator, ArcGIS Pro, California, Esri ArcGIS, Los Angeles  

Project Years: 2015

GreenInfo Network creates, analyzes, visualizes and communicates information in the public interest. We specialize in mapping and related technology for nonprofits and public agencies, focusing on using it for conservation, social equity, public health, environment and foundation grant making.
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