I would like to create a set of custom marker symbols for environmental sampling locations. I need there to be "vector" marker symbols not picture symbols. I've tried picture marker symbols and there are numerous drawing and exporting issues associated with this approach especially when using transparent colour. I believe I used a font creator in the past and drew a custom true type font but there seem to have been some issues with accessing the custom font from ArcMap as well as some font size problems. Ideally, I would like to draw a vector graphic in Illustrator/ CorelDraw then somehow use this graphic as a marker symbol in ArcMap.

Can this be done?

Can someone describe the process of creating a custom "vector" marker symbol as well as accessing the symbol in ArcMap. Vector graphic approach is preferred but a true type font approach is also fine.

1 Answer 1


Both approaches are valid, tho the resulting flexibility of usage is different.

Vector Graphic approach

You can use any vector design software to create a Enhanced Metafile (EMF). I would use Inkscape, but Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw are able to create this files too. Remember to transform any Fonts in Outlines.

To use the emf file as a Marker Symbol, you need to choose Picture Marker Symbol Type in the Symbol Properties, and to browse the emf file.

Pros: Very simple processing; Cons: You can not change the symbol colors in ArcMap, for that you need to create a new emf symbol.

Vector Graphic approach

Using Inkscape and the Online Font Converter you can follow this tutorial made by cleversomeday blog to produce a set of Fonts to use in ArcMap to create simple or composed marker symbols.

After installed In your computer you can use it as character marker symbol type.

If you need to create composed symbols, take special care with the size and alignment of the several fonts, so once in Arcmap they correctly overlap in ArcMap.

Pros: You can reuse the same symbol (font) with different color without changing the original file, making it more suitable to use in composed symbols;

Cons: It's a more complicated and time consuming process. It's difficult to create symbols with many different colors (ou need to create one font character per color)

How to decide what approach to use?
It depends of your needs and available time. If you are in a hurry to create a fast symbol or you know that you wont need any color variations from it, go for the EMF creation (Try to keep all your emf files in one folder, or you can very easily forget where is the original EMF file that you use in a certain project).

If in the other hand, If you have time and want to create a set of custom symbols to use in composed symbols, in many different projects and with infinite color and order combinations, you should go for the font creation.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.