Problem: Maps print or export blocky, chunky, low quality, or raster banded from ArcMap


Maps printed or exported from ArcMap are bitmapped, scattered, banded, or display with low quality.


This happens for several reasons, independently or combined:

  • The maps are printed or exported with either a low output resolution or a low Output Image Quality (OIQ) setting
  • The map uses a picture/bitmap fill, picture marker, and/or transparent symbology

When exported or printed, ArcMap flattens and rasterizes the layer that is symbolized with either a picture fill, picture marker or transparency, and any layers beneath it in the Table Of Contents (TOC).

Other data frames in the map that do not contain picture fills, picture markers, or transparency are not affected.

Solution or Workaround

It is highly recommended to use ArcGIS Pro for printing and exporting, especially when experiencing issues caused by the limitations of the ArcMap display engine. More specifically, ArcGIS Pro is not restricted by the graphical device interface (GDI) limitations that some users experience in ArcMap. For example, transparency is natively supported in ArcGIS Pro, preventing the rasterization of layers. Additionally, ArcGIS Pro supports transparency in layout elements.

ArcGIS Pro does not support exporting Adobe Illustrator files; it is recommended to export using PDF or SVG instead.

If using ArcGIS Pro is not an option, use any of the following options below.

  • Increase the output resolution. Refer to How To: Modify output resolution (dpi) for ArcMap printing or exporting for more information.
  • Increase the Output Image Quality (OIQ) setting. Refer to How To: Use the Output Image Quality option for more information.
  • Reorder the map elements and layers to have layers containing picture fill, picture marker, or transparent symbols at the lowest possible order in the Table Of Contents.
  • Replace the Picture Fill symbols with simpler, vector fills.
  • Replace the Picture Marker symbols with font-based vector marker symbols.
  • Remove transparency. For exported maps, transparency can be re-applied to the desired elements in an external editing application, such as Adobe Illustrator.

Related Information

Last Published: 9/1/2021

Article ID: 000002772

Software: ArcGIS-ArcEditor 9.3.1, 9.3, 9.2, 9.1, 9.0, 8.3, 8.2, 8.1.2, 8.1, 10 ArcGIS-ArcInfo 9.3.1, 9.3, 9.2, 9.1, 9.0, 8.3, 8.2, 8.1.2, 8.1, 8.0.2, 8.0.1, 10 ArcGIS-ArcView 9.3.1, 9.3, 9.2, 9.1, 9.0, 8.3, 8.2, 8.1.2, 8.1, 10