ArcGIS Pro

How to make a coastal halo in ArcGIS Pro...and what color?

Adding a faint coastal halo to your map’s water bodies can help the eye visually distinguish between land and water. It’s a pleasing effect, but also practical.

water bodies with and without a coastal halo.

Use the gradient fill type for the water’s polygon symbology. Choose the absolute extent so the coastal halos are the same size for all water polygons. I like to set the interval (the number of steps transitioning between the two colors) to be the same number as the distance (the total distance of the gradient transition), so the gradient is smooth rather than stepped in appearance. Optionally, open up the gradient editor to make the transition less linear so the coast is darker and fades slowly into the overall water color.

What color should you make the coastal halo? As a general guideline, I like to use a tone that contrasts with my basemap. So if the basemap is light, I use a darker version of the water color for the halo. If the basemap is dark, I use a lighter version of the water color for the halo. Here’s an example with a relatively dark imagery basemap and thus a lighter blue halo along the coasts…

dark basemap with contrasting light water halo.

But this is just a suggestion; you know what’s best for your own map. Here’s a quick one-minute how-to if you feel like following along…

Happy coastal halo-ing! 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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