ArcGIS Pro

We Wants It

Some of the earliest full-on engagements I had with maps were those that were printed in the inside covers of books. But my sister’s Lord of the Rings volumes had huge folded inserts! Fantastic books need fantastic maps, and these unfolded a new world.

This past weekend I spent some time revisiting this wonderful yellowed map of Middle Earth created by J.R.R. Tolkien and Pauline Baynes. I sketched tiny little map elements, inspired by their print, that I fed into an ArcGIS Pro style. My hope was to create a reusable resource for fans, like myself, to turn their maps into something with echoes of youth and imagination.

It worked!

These are maps that use a simple combination of layers (Natural Earth rivers, Project Linework coasts, and Living Atlas world landforms) and this style.

All we have to decide is what to do with the map style that is given to us.


You can download the style file and save it to your machine. Then in ArcGIS Pro’s catalog, choose the “styles” category then right-click and choose “add”, then point to the style file. You’ll be inking your own adventures in no time.

Creating the discrete forest was the biggest challenge. But symbol layers allowed for all sorts of adventure. I drew a repeating fill pattern, and a picture line symbol to disguise the clipped edges of the fill pattern. Then, beneath these I added a marker line of little tree trunks and moved it down so it only appeared at what looks like the base of the forest edge. Fun, right?

The second distinguishing feature of these maps is the strongly linear mountain chains. To get this, I drew a few clustered mountain graphics and added them in as marker fills, randomly distributed but with a tighter vertical spacing and broader horizontal spacing.


Maps can be amazing and inspiring things. I’ve found that the maps I absorbed as a kid have a lot to do with the sorts of cartographic styles that grab me as an (technically) adult. A style like this can turn a regular place into a fantastic one. This isn’t a trick. The world is actually a pretty fantastic place filled with knowns and unknowns mysteries and adventure. A map like this isn’t whipping up excitement where there is none. It’s echoing how great and interesting the world actually is.

Happy 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 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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