ArcGIS Living Atlas

Four Seasons Styles

Soon after we started working with Vector Tile Packages, I created a series of very quick ‘seasonal’ basemaps. The aim was to demonstrate how easy it was to create a custom basemap (although looking back, and comparing it with where we are now, ‘easy’ is relative!).

With the retirement of our ‘V1’ vector tile maps these early efforts are no longer available, so I thought it was a good time to revisit them. This time around I have the Vector Tile Style Editor (VTSE) to work with, so there is an incentive for me to do more.


As with the original set (and many other maps that I build) the starting point is the Light Gray Canvas Map (the single-layer version). The neutral palette is a great platform for developing a basemap in different directions, and the reduced content makes it easy to get results quickly.

Unlike my original efforts, I’ve added some extra features such as Military, Indigenous, Medical and Education polygons. To do this I opened the Topographic Basemap into a separate instance of the VTSE, found the relevant code in the JSON editor, and pasted it into the code in my map.

More information on this process can be found in the ‘Adding Data’ section of this Story Map.

Style adjustment

Adjusting the style is relatively simple using the VTSE. In this exercise I established the overall appearance of each new map by changing colors for land and water (using the ‘edit by color’ option). These are the starting palettes for my 4 ‘Seasonal’ maps:

Basic color palettes for each of the four seasons.

Once I had something I liked, I started work on the rest of the detail (remembering to do that at all scales). This is where the bulk of the work was done.


The basemaps are creative prototypes, but they are available for you to use with your maps. I’m not planning to take them offline any time soon, but if that concerns you, make a copy to your own account via the VTSE (The content will continue to update on a regular basis, but any future style changes I make will not carry over). Of course, you are free to make adjustments to your own copy, or use it as a starting point for anything else you may want to do.

Here are links to the four tile layers. I’ve switched off any data layers I don’t need, but they are still available to you through the VTSE.

Spring   |    Summer   |    Autumn    |   Winter

This web map combines the four basemaps so that you can compare them.

About the author

Andy is a Cartographic Designer who has been building maps for 50 years. He has been working with Esri in Redlands for 14 years, most recently on the creation of some of Esri's vector basemaps, and the development of color ramps for ArcGIS Online. Prior to Esri, he was Manager of Cartographic Design at Rand McNally, and before that a Senior Cartographer at GeoSystems/MapQuest. He is originally from England, and worked for a number of years at what is now the University of Derby before moving to the USA. Andy can be contacted at:

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