ArcGIS Pro

Give point symbols a delicious dimension

Here’s how you can brew some depth into a point symbol so your map has a clear sense of “fore” and “ground” which is map-nerd speak for making the stuff on your map look more important than the background stuff there to provide context.

Naturally, this leads us to a perennial Halloween candy favorite…smarties (not to be confused with the M&M-like candies also known as “smarties” in nearly all non-US countries).

A little candy, known as a "smarty"

Smarties have a charming concave disk shape with subtle edge beveling: both a tactile, and delicious, object of joy. Turns out this sort of shape is an excellent basis for designing point features. It has a light-catching edge, a darker internally shaded component, and a general shadow. It is clearly visible over light or dark backgrounds and affords excellent visual hierarchy. What’s not to love?

Here’s how to design point symbols with a bit of shady dimensionality…

0:00 A bold statement about Halloween candy.

0:36 A dog-gone good illustration of visual hierarchy.

0:45 These things are called “rockets” outside of the US. Mind blowing!

0:56 You can have many visual layers in a single symbol. Sweet, right?

1:03 The little lock graphic lets you protect it from dynamic thematic color overrides later on.

1:22 Gradient transparency to the rescue!

1:58 Digging into the shade fill to give it a negative offset (pulls it in).

4:57 Ok, time to harness that top shade symbol layer and re-purpose it for a little makeshift shadow.

There. Little disks that just pop off the map a bit. Use these powers for good!

Love, 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 ArcGIS Living Atlas team at Esri, pushing and pulling data in all sorts of absurd ways and then sharing the process. I also design user experiences for maps and apps. 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. You might also like these Styles for ArcGIS Pro:

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