I have created a set of annotations for different web zoom levels in ArcMap, and would like to use these labels in Tilemill rather than using the tilemill labeling engine.

I am aware that I can't import annotations to tilemill as if they are features, so what I would like to do is export each zoom level's labels as a raster at scale (as high resolution geotiff with a transparent background), and overlay these on each zoom in my tilemill project.

I can bring the label rasters into tilemill no problem and they show up in the right place, however I can't figure out how to make a transparent background work.

I have explored some of the raster-colorizer methods with no luck, anyone have any other solution to this?

1 Answer 1


I had the same problem and was able to solve it using the nodata parameter in TileMill. When adding the geotiff as a layer, in the Advanced box I entered nodata="255" to make a white background transparent. The only CartoCSS I used was this:

#geotifflayer {
  raster-scaling: bilinear;

The mapnik documentation on the nodata parameter is a bit vague, but I think it needs to be an RGB value, e.g nodata="255" to make a white background transparent in an 8-bit colour image, or nodata="255 255 255" to do the same to a 24-bit colour image.

I have TileMill v0.10.1 on both Linux and Windows, and for some reason this only seems to work in the Linux version.

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