What open source tools allow for the creation of EMFs that conserve transparency in ArcMap? I tried VeryPDF and Any DWG to Image Converter, neither on actually gave me a vector file that provided transparency. Adobe Illustrator is a bit pricey when all I want to do is convert CAD blocks to vector symbols to use as ArcMap markers. Anyone know of a good software for this purpose?

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    Inkscape is the open source equivalent to adobe illustrator - inkscape.org/screenshots/index.php?lang=en 'draw freely' exports emf files to. – Mapperz Jun 29 '12 at 21:17
  • How can be saved .emf file transparent in Inkspace? I just can save with the black background. Thanks. – jazzygis Sep 20 '17 at 10:13

You can use Inkscape. It's a very powerful vector design Opensource software that will allow you create and export transparent vector symbols in to emf files.


You will then be able to import (or copy/paste) it in arcMap maintaining its transparency.

You can also fill the background with a color of your desire by Right-click Image > Properties > Frame > Background > Color.

EMF from Inkscape in ArcMAp


Based on my experience ArcMap will not honor any EMF transparencies irregardless of which program you use. (Backround wil always render white) If it is only background you want to remove and preserve the EMF as vector, you can use ArcMap itself to create the EMF.

An EMF created in ArcMap however will render background fully transparent. If you try to make any layer transparent the EMF will render the backround white.

You can import the CAD drawing you want into an arcmap document, export as EMF and you should be good to go so long no layer has a partial transparency. Background in ArmMap has to be set to none and I also remove any frames.

Although you cannot set partial transparencies, the result is a fully scalable vector graphic.

Here are a few examples of my company logo drawn in ArcMap and exported as EMF then placed as image in ArmMap - notice the background is transparent. The north rose is a fairly complex EMF, there are several layers in that particular map document including layer rotations and annotations and the resulting EMF draws and scales flawlessly. (Notice the circled rose - I just copied pasted and enlarged)

hope this helps

enter image description here

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    Arcmap 10.2.1 respects EMF transparencies. I don't know at what release this first occurred; at least it works now! – matt wilkie Jan 31 '14 at 16:14
  • Well that would be perfect. I am running 10.2 but will try as soon as i can. – Jakub Sisak GeoGraphics Jan 31 '14 at 17:16

One solution could be to insert a point with the drawing tool bar. Properties-Change Symbol - Edit symbol - Type of symbol set to Picture Marker Symbol. Select your image. If it already has a transparent background -e.g. PNG no more action is needed, but otherwise you need to define the transparent color in the Symbol Property Editor (transparency color needs to be the same as the background color of the image to insert).

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