How can I export 2d vector graphic from ArcScene so I can edit it with Adobe Illustrator?

I've tried changing the options when I export 2D scene as AI file or PDF file, but they always remain as a unique image that does not allow me to edit the lines and polygons.

  • I can't comment above without 50 reputation. I have the same problem, too; it's rasterized as a single image without editable layers. Even at a high resolution, I can't get to where I want to be fidelity-wise re-vectorizing it with AI (not to mention it's a redundant workflow given ArcScene's ostensible functionality exporting 2d vectors.) I checked to make sure it wasn't an issue with transparency or layer interaction. Exports also lose ArcScene View Scene settings, such as sun shade volume and contrast. Someone has to have an answer to this... Dec 29, 2013 at 10:00

2 Answers 2


File>Export to ai. (Illustrator)

AI files are an excellent format for postprocessing in Adobe Illustrator as well as an interchange format for publishing. The ArcMap AI format preserves most layers from the ArcMap table of contents. However, the Adobe Illustrator file format that ArcMap writes does not support font embedding, so users that do not have the Esri fonts installed may not be able to view AI files with the proper symbology. AI exports from ArcMap can define colors in CMYK or RGB values.



I found no definitive proof in any help menus or forums that ArcScene can export vectors. I could be wrong but nothing I tried worked. I have a workaround if indeed it is not possible to export a vector file from ArcScene to Illustrator (.ai).

Instead of using ArcScene, I used ArcMap 10.8x. The workflow is as follows:

  1. In ArcScene or ArcGlobe, get your vector data displayed as you want it to appear
  2. Zoom out so the whole globe is visible > select the info tool > click centre of globe and record the lat/long values returned in the info window.
  3. Open a coordinate system window (e.g. open Layer Properties and click on the Coordinate System tab)
  4. Navigate to Projected Coordinate Systems > World (Sphere Based) > right-click on Vertical Perspective (Sphere) > select Copy and Modify...
  5. Edit the Latitude_Of_Centre and Longitude_Of_Centre to match the values from Step 2 and click OK. In the example below, the default centres have been changed from 0 to -132 and -20


  1. Project your vector data to the new projection file that you created
  2. Create a hillshade raster layer to mimic 3D effect and add a transparent layer over the hillshade (e.g. satellite imagery). I used the Hillshade Toolbox downloaded from here. I did not bother projecting my WGS84 raster data
  3. Set dataframe to your custom projection file that you created in Step 5 > add your data > play around with your layers until you get them looking how you want them and export to an ai file. I recommend exporting raster separately as a jpeg.

The screen capture below shows the result in Illustrator with a vector feature selected. The satellite imagery is set to 30% transparency, which 'muffles' the 3D effect, so I recommend ~60% transparency for a more 'realistic' 3D view. The tradeoff for a higher transparency is that the raster imagery ends up looking 'washed out' but I am satisfied with the result for my intended purpose:


As stated, I do not know whether ArcScene can actually export vectors, if anyone does know how please comment.

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