ArcGIS Pro

How to Make a Super Sketchy-Looking Map

As a lefty, it has been my life-long mission to rise above, and ultimately defeat, the inevitable graphite smudge on my hand. Now, at long last, after years of research and development, I can finally rest. No longer am I constrained to the rigid unforgiving world of analog sketching. Now, with the power of pixels, and ArcGIS Pro, I can sketch to my heart’s content (which is substantial) and have no residue besmirching my cramping and exhausted left hand.

Download the Sketch style for ArcGIS Pro. Join me in this brave new world of digitally mega-sketched maps. Are you allowed, if you are right-handed, to use this style? Absolutely. There is no us-vs-them in a world bedazzled with lovely hand-wrought-looking maps. We’re in this together, my friend.

Here is a quick how-to for finding and installing styles for ArcGIS Pro. And here are some examples of maps made entirely with this style…

Ah, a simple pencil-to-paper world map. Nice and clean. Maybe this effect would be helpful for showing the phases of a development plan? Penciled-in so to speak.
Yowza, look at that charming map of the Great Lakes! Need to make a map that attracts the attention of a general audience? Who doesn't like a handsome hand-drawn map?
Ohhh, look at that canyon. Maybe you're making a map for a visitor center or educational presentation?
Hello! Look at that rather subdued reference map with a bit of hillshade. Maybe you need a background texture for your map and a sketchy sort of vibe is just the ticket?
Do you have to map a park or some trails or a river system or who-know-what for outdoor adventurers? They'll dig a sketched map.

This style has an assortment of point, line, and polygon symbols. Each is slightly different in texture and treatment…

…but you aren’t stuck with these pre-packaged colors and sizes. Each element is able to be dynamically colored by a color scheme (expand the symbol panel’s “more” button and choose “format all symbols” then pick from the gallery), or overridden specifically (in the symbol properties tab you can change the colors).

So have fun! Try it out. Make maps that people want to reach out and touch. Make maps for all sorts of practical, and less practical, reasons! Because the best maps are the ones that get made, and of those, the ones that get noticed. If you make a map using this super sketchy style, I’d love to see them, so ping me on Twitter or Instagram.

Happy Sketching! 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: esri.com/arcgis-blog/author/j_nelson/ My YouTube channel: youtube.com/c/JohnNelsonMaps Loads of Styles for Pro: esriurl.com/nelsonstyles Instagram: instagram.com/johnmnelson/

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