I am trying to recreate this symbology as shown in the image below. I came across this image on ESRI's service area analysis help page.

enter image description here

From my previous experience and intuition, I can say that roads are symbolized as white and road are on top of the service area polygons. But I am unable to understand

  1. how to give that white glow effect in ArcMmap. Especially the polygon in red, it has this very nice white border with another polygon in beige and we move out towards the boundary of this red polygon its color transition from white to darkish red. I tried to achieve that with the gradient color symbology in ArcMap but failed miserably.
  2. how to give this shadowy effect that has been given to the second polygon shown in beige/yellowish sandy color

I am using ArcMap but from my photoshop experience, I can say that it has something to do with strokes. I am wondering how would that be achieved in ArcMap

1 Answer 1


You can't do that in ArcMap ( you may try to get close by buffering the service area several time and playing with symbology and transparency but the result won't be as good and the amount of work is not worth it).

This symbology is probably from ArcGIS Pro that seem to have really nice option in that domain, if you cant upgrade to ArcGIS Pro the only way you have is to export your map in a vector format and adjust the symbology with another software (like inkscape or illustrator, if you go this way be aware that gradient or transparency wont export as vector but as raster so use a basic symbology before export)

  • Really, is this how limited ArcMap is when it comes to doing some artistic cartographic? Apr 9, 2020 at 18:27
  • @DigitalPatwari Yes, the typical workflow to create publishable map is still to first work on the data (create/manage/do analysis/...) with GIS software then do the graphic design with other software at a second step (look at some of these exemple somethingaboutmaps.wordpress.com/tutorials). ArcMap is really good for the first part but is quite bad for the second part (you could get good enough if you spend the time or do quite simple map but you won't get professional mapmaker quality). ArcGis Pro and QGIS have more artistic capability but still need the second step before publishing
    – J.R
    Apr 10, 2020 at 0:45
  • Thanks. Can you refer me to any online complete course on this topic. I would highly thankful to you. Apr 11, 2020 at 18:11
  • 1
    I understand that you're working in the Arc Desktop world, but cartographic styles such as your example are quite easy to achieve with QGIS, using Layer Rendering > Draw Effects. Plus, QGIS is free!
    – Stu Smith
    May 9, 2020 at 19:30

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