I would like to display ESRI's Oceans basemap web map service (WMS) in one of my maps, but not the whole layer, just the landmass depicting Canada as I find it a nice fit for the look I'm trying to achieve. Is there any way to mask the features around Canada's landmass in that layer? I tried using the Advanced Drawing feature, but the Oceans basemap layer is not listed, probably because it's a WMS. I am working with ArcGIS 10.2. Are there any suggestions as to how I could do this?

Otherwise, if anyone can suggest a symbolized layer of Canada's landmass (and only containing Canada's landmass) ressembling that depicted on the ESRI Oceans Basemap that I could download or connect to somewhere, I would be grateful.

I could make my own. I tried with a few DEM's and hillshades but didn't get good results.


I finally found the answer: Yes, you can mask a WMS.

I used the 'Clip to Shape' > 'Outline of Features' and 'Exclude layers' options in the Data Frame Properties. I also used the 'Advanced Drawing' masking feature. Those two options are tricky to use. I learned that: 1) A WMS can be masked by using 'Clip to Shape' but not 'Advanced Drawing'; 2) With respect to 'Advanced Drawing', in order for a layer to mask another, the masking layer must be visible (checked) in the table of content; 3) If you're going to work with these two functions, I recommend to do this one step at a time. Start with 'Advanced Drawing' and once you are satisfied with the results, then set 'Clip to Shape'.


If you're looking for an alternative to the Oceans Basemap, you should try the Natural Earth Raster:


(there are several scales, but 1:10m should do the trick for the entire Country)

With the data (raster) downloaded, you could even clip it to a SHP of Canada if you had it

Additionally you wouldn't have to worry about network issues every time you panned/zoomed the map, etc. as you have the data on your local drive.

  • 1
    Thanks, that's an excellent suggestion. The Oceans Basemap actually takes forever to display/ refresh in ArcMap so I may just switch to the Natural Earth raster as you suggested. – Lea May 2 '14 at 17:10

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