Is it possible to fade the ends of a line? I have a map the shows the city of limits and because of its shape, there are some areas outside of the city limits where we don't have major road data in but we have centerline data. So I was wondering if there was a way to get the lines to fade out instead of abruptly ending?

4 Answers 4


Sometimes when I want to gray-out or obscure features on the map which exceed the edge of the study area, I add a vector layer and use it as mask by setting the color to 'Arctic White' and setting the transparency to around 40%. The mask layer is a simple polygon (a rectangle exceeding the city limits extent) with a hole cut in the center (extent of the city limits) to allow the features we're interested in to show through.

If you're looking for a gradient effect on these edges, I'm thinking we could leverage a multi-ring buffer to create a nested series of masks with decreasing transparency. This is going to be an artistic exercise but I think you'll be able to achieve the effect you're looking for.

I should add that this approach of course doesn't provide for a fading-line symbology at all, it just stacks concentric mask layers on top of your lines to provide a gradient-like effect.


I think I can answer your question. I also don't like roads just stopping. This was my solution. I hope this helps. This is my first answer, so please bear with me if I am out of line.

1.I used the drawing tool and created a rectangle over the city roads layer, but just a little bit bigger so the rectangle also contained the roads around the city.

2.I then converted the rectangle to graphics and named it BG (background).

  1. I then used the newly converted rectangle as a size template to make a clip from the original road map.

  2. After that, I just went into the newly created road map layer properties, opened the display tab and adjusted the transparent feature.

  3. Once I did this, I reordered my layers with the new road map clip as the BG and laid the smaller road map containing the roads inside the city on top.

I hope this helps you. Robin


Another method would be to clip the lines at the city limits. Add a text field to the attribute table, say InCity. Calculate a Y or N into the field depending on whether the line segment is in or out of the city. Then symbolize by that field as desired.

For that matter, you may not need a new field if, as you state, some segments lack major road data. You might be able to symbolize on an existing major road data field: one symbol when the data is present, one when not.


You might be able to accomplish this using a gradient symbology. Maybe a color ramp that goes from a color to no color. This would make the object appear to fade away.

  • 2
    Just a note I believe you would have to buffer your lines to create polygons in order to use gradient fills I could be wrong though. Feb 12, 2015 at 18:35
  • @ChrisR is correct. Also "no color" is not the same as "transparent" in ArcGIS. That end of the ramp will still show up as a white/gray, so if the extreme end of the ramp isn't the same as your background color (or anything underneath that layer), you'll still see the object.
    – Chris W
    Feb 12, 2015 at 22:45

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