I have a problem I've never seen before in ArcGIS (Desktop 10.4). When I use the Image Analysis Window (or symbology settings), the raster DEM in the background changes accordingly... HOWEVER when I adjust the contrast to a negative value, the layer responds in layout view, BUT the legend patches turn black (see image below).

enter image description here

The problem replicates when I close/re-open Arc, when I delete/re-add the layer, when I change the colour ramp... It's frustrating because the software adjusts the contrast accordingly in the actual map (you can see this layer working correctly in the background of that image), but the legend simply will not display properly.

Has anyone encountered this issue before?

Currently, my workaround will be to find some colour ramp that is naturally paler, but I'd like to be able to actually use the full functionality of the software.

Update, following day: Checked with ESRI, this bug had already been reported under code NIM092972 (http://support.esri.com/bugs/nimbus/TklNMDkyOTcy), but as an issue with multi-band rasters only. Since my issue was with a single-band raster, the bug report is being expanded accordingly. Note that while the underlying issue remains unresolved, Dan's workaround (below) has effectively solved my display problem.

  • I've seen this before, but I'm not sure how it happens. Good question. Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 5:18

1 Answer 1


I've encountered something kinda maybe related and asked about it here: Is there a way to remove this thick gray border from my raster symbology in the legend?.

The workaround I eventually settled on was the same one I use for many legend-related problems: add a dummy layer to the project and use that in the legend instead of the layer that's causing the problem. In your case, create a new vector polygon layer, create a few features without geometry in it to mimic the different classes in the raster, symbolize the polygons the same way the raster is symbolized, and then use the polygon layer in the legend instead of the raster layer.

Another couple of workarounds:

  • Convert your legend to graphics before the problem occurs (before you set the contrast to a negative number), and use that instead of a live legend. The colors will be a bit off, though.

  • Before you set the contrast to a negative number, take a screenshot of that part of the legend related to the raster, save it to an image file, then use a paint program to adjust the contrast so it matches what your map actually shows. Then insert that image into your layout and use it in your legend.

  • Thanks Dan - this workaround was also suggested by a colleague of mine who has a larger experience base than me. It's a fantastic short-term solution, until the bug is fixed by ESRI (can't imagine it's high priority, so I imagine this fix will stay in my toolbox for a while...). Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 14:30

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