ArcGIS Living Atlas

Texture Tiles

Remember unfolding that crisp new map at the onset of roadtrip planning…and then trying to re-fold it back into submission? Over time the maps we love get a lived-in feel of texture and utility. They aren’t unsightly wrinkles or creases, they are earned marks of a partnership between the map reader and the map.

One of the joys of print cartography is the knowledge that the result will be handled, traced, folded, pocketed, rolled-up, tattered, spilled on, and in general loved by its reader. Oh, and digital cartography too!

Here are five vector tile layers that you can drape atop your map to breathe a little bit of tactile life into it…

Folded Paper Texture

Just admit it. You’ll never get this folded back the original way.

Map with a folded paper texture.

Watercolor Paper Texture

I just want to pencil in some notes right on top of this map.

Map with a watercolor paper texture.

Parchment Texture

Hey this map looks like it was ripped right out of a library book!

Map with a parchment texture.

Crinkled Paper Texture

If this map could talk! I want to grab it with my fist and stuff it into my duster pocket for a fast getaway.

Poster Paper Texture

Ok ok, I see, just a little bit of fade and grain; looks like it could be plastered on the wall outside of a theater.

Map with a poster paper texture.

See? Imbue a sense of story and tactile charm right into your map.



Here is an ArcGIS Online group where you can peruse them all at once. Looking forward to seeing your rough-up, folded-up, dusted-up lived in maps!

Happy texture mapping! John

About the author

I have far too much fun looking for ways to understand and present data visually, hopefully driving product strategy and engaging users. I work in the Content team at Esri, pushing and pulling data in all sorts of absurd ways -and then talking about it. I also get to spend time with the Story Maps team, working on fun and useful user experiences. When I'm not doing those things, I'm chasing around toddlers and wrangling chickens, and generally getting into other ad-hoc adventures. Life is good. Loads more how-to posts: My YouTube channel: Loads of Styles for Pro: Instagram:


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