Esri‘s ArcGIS Maps integration for Adobe Creative Cloud

Beautiful, data-driven maps in hours, not days.

Created by Randy Diaz

by Minson Chen

posted on 12-18-2017

In a recent study conducted by Esri at the Adobe MAX conference in October, 81 percent of over 400 attendees surveyed said they encountered a design project that required the use of a map. Creatives encounter projects that differ dramatically from day to day, but maps have been, and will, continue to be a type of content that creatives encounter regularly.

Maps are universally understood and can provide keen insights and an elegant and concise way to communicate vast amounts of information. For this reason, they have become essential for storytelling, infographics, data visualization, analytics, sales and marketing, a pitch for new locations, or highlighting where your current locations are.

While becoming an essential task that needs to be part of a creative’s repertoire, creating maps can be painstakingly slow and tedious and can often consume entire days. For creatives seeking an easier way to create beautiful, data-driven maps, your search is over. Esri’s new ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud integration enables design and communications professionals to access thousands of data-driven maps right inside Adobe’s Creative Cloud apps like Illustrator CC and Photoshop CC. No more tedious tracing of maps with vector lines in Illustrator. Your map projects can be quick and easy — and even fun.

Meet cartographer and illustrator Sarah Bell

We recently caught up with Sarah Bell, a creative that has a passion for designing maps which has led to a career as a cartographer creating maps for such places as the U.S. Forest Service, Green Trails, the National Park Service, and most recently, Esri. Here’s our discussion.

Sarah, what are some considerations you have when designing a map?

The best way to get an audience to engage with your map is to design it well. When I’m working on a mapping project, I consider the design — the theme, the location, the audience, and the medium — prior to the beginning of the project. Since maps are a special kind of design that is intended to communicate spatial data, considerations like legibility and intended audience are tremendously important.

Why ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud?

There are a lot of mapmakers out there who are starting with some really powerful data. The complexity of this data can lead to a bit of clutter if you don’t have the right tools to finesse the map’s aesthetics. A mapmaker can achieve an extremely broad range of cartographic aesthetics with Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop.

ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud is a tool we recommend — not just to cartographers — but to all designers who need to make a map. With it, designers have access to millions of map vector data that are spatially accurate and organized really nicely once ArcGIS Maps is downloaded. You can build a really simple map — or build a complex one and download it into Illustrator — and then you’ll be able to apply just about any cartographic aesthetic you want to your map.

Typically, how do you begin your design process when you’re starting a new map project?

My process is to be pretty open-minded in the beginning of a project and willing to pivot throughout the project. I prefer to not be shown a lot of here-is-what-we-are-looking-for samples until I’m into the process. It is a pretty common request to see aspirational samples, but for me it seems to close some creative doors before we even get started. When it comes to mapping, you’re always dealing with data communication, and the data you’re working with isn’t always conducive to making the map you thought you wanted.

For example, I’m involved in a mapping project currently where my mapping partner and I were really inspired by the format of a particular interactive map that was done really well. The most pivotal day we had working on our map was when we decided to throw out the format we thought we wanted and start fresh. The first format — while it worked great for the first map — just wasn’t the right one for our map’s theme. We’ve been super productive on this project ever since we decided to pivot in this new direction.

Walk us through your process

It’s hard to boil mapping down into a concise process here, but I did recently write a blog post on making a map with ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud that was based on a demo I did for Adobe MAX in October. It showed how I created a data visualization map of Labor Day’s Top Busiest Locations. It’s a good tutorial for people who want to get started using this extension.

Image credited to Sarah Bell for Adobe Max demo.

Read the blog here.

The process to make a map in ArcGIS MAps for Adobe Creative Cloud can be summarized in these five steps:

Step 1. Create or load a map extent

Image credited to Esri.

Step 2. Compile your map by adding ArcGIS hosted content of your own local data

Image credited to Esri.

Step 3. Easily visualize your data to create stunning maps that allow you to discover new patterns and tell stories

Image credited to Esri.

Step 4. Edit the map design using familiar Adobe tools

Image credited to Esri.

Step 5. Produce maps with your design and branding

Image credited to Esri.

Do you have a portfolio or any social media accounts that you’d like to share?

Sure, you can find my portfolio on Behance, but know that I just started it so it’s still growing. On social media, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram.

Sarah will be featured as a guest creative during the upcoming live Adobe event on Vector Art and Illustration in San Francisco on January 9,10, and 11, 2018. Watch the Adobe Live show on Behance to discover her work.

ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud provides a gateway where creatives can access a seemingly limitless set of maps and geographic data — including street, political, and physical features; man-made and natural event layers; satellite images and much more — directly in Illustrator or Photoshop as editable vector layer or high-resolution images.

If you’re a current Creative Cloud subscriber, Esri has provided a complimentary version with access to seemingly endless sets of public maps and global vector coverages. If you’re a current ArcGIS Online subscriber and Adobe Creative Cloud subscriber, the full version of ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud is available to you at no additional cost. To see it in action, be sure to check out our case study with Cushman & Wakefield who uses ArcGIS Maps in Creative Cloud for real estate analytics.

ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud is now available for download via the Adobe Exchange Marketplace for both Mac and PC users for Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

Create beautiful maps that tell your story, stand-out with your branding, visualize your data, update your audience with the latest information, and enhance creative projects using the tools you’re familiar with. Maps reveal connections that bring meaning and understanding. Esri — a leader in mapping technology — applies The Science of Where to connect everyone everywhere through a common visual language.

Topics: Creativity, Illustration

Products: Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, Creative Cloud