In the Create Features pane, feature templates can create 2D or 3D features depending on the layers they reference. Feature templates appear as clickable items with a name and the symbol defined by the target layer. When you click a feature template, you can create new features using the default tool that runs automatically, or click another tool that appears on the tool palette.
Feature templates store the name of the layer on which they create features as a property of the template. Each layer in a map is connected to a data source, typically a geodatabase feature class such as a point, polyline, polygon, multipatch, or annotation feature class. Generally, feature classes and their layers in a map are named to match the physical objects or data points they represent.
To learn more about the different types of feature templates, see Introduction to feature templates.
2D versus 3D
The steps to create 2D or 3D features are basically the same except you specify z-values for 3D features. In some cases, 2D features can be sufficient even when you need to visualize them in 3D space. For example, street vehicles and trees can naturally derive their z-values from a ground surface. Whereas you may choose to create features such as airplanes as 3D features with embedded z-values.
Two-dimensional features do not store z-values, but they can derive them from an attribute field in a table or from an elevation surface in a 3D scene. As you create 2D features over a 3D surface, you can set the layer properties to interpolate z-values from a 3D surface. You can also extrude 2D features so they appear three dimensional.
To learn more about extruding 2D features, see Extrude features to 3D symbology.
- Three-dimensional features store z-values with their geometry. Examples include multipatch features and z-enabled point, polyline, and polygon features. Linear 3D features store a z-value with each vertex. 3D point features store one z-value per feature. A key benefit to z-aware features is they enable you to analyze geometric properties, lines of site, and other 3D relationships using the ArcGIS 3D Analyst in ArcGIS Pro.
- In some cases, it can be simpler to add elevation values to existing 2D features using an attribute field. In other scenarios, for example, finding the altitude at which all oak trees grow, it can be more efficient to pull the z-values directly from the underlying surface data and generate new 3D features using a geoprocessing tool such as Interpolate Shape.
You can create 3D features in 2D maps and 3D scenes. You may find it easier to create and manipulate 3D features in a scene. Scenes allow you to tilt your 2D map and edit data in three dimensions using a vertical axis. Each layer in a scene can be configured to reference an elevation surface to display your features on a vertical coordinate system in 3D space.
For steps to convert a 2D map to a scene for creating features in 3D space, see Configure a scene for 3D editing.
Feature types you can create
Feature templates and their construction tools create a particular feature type that is defined by the layer's data source, typically a geodatabase feature class. Choosing which feature type to use depends on the objects or data points you intend to create, the information you need to capture, and the type of analysis for which they will be used.
In some scenarios, you may need to create more than one feature type for the same data. For example, using a polygon feature to represent a city park for display scales up to 1:100,000 and point features for greater display scales. Another example is for different types of analysis such as using a polyline feature to represent a river for modeling flow and using a polygon feature to calculate area coverage.
Point, polyline and polygon feature classes contain the vector geometry of a feature and its descriptive attributes. Annotation feature classes contain the text string, descriptive attributes, and text display properties. When choosing a 2D or 3D feature type, consider its usage described in the following sections.
- Annotation features are textual elements placed on a map to name or describe geographic features. Generally, they are placed alongside labels in a planned visual hierarchy to communicate the importance of a particular feature. You can style them for a particular cartographic aesthetic. Examples include text that emphasizes the name of a country versus the name of a city or the name of a river.
- You can link an annotation feature class to a geographic feature class and automate specific update behaviors. For example, text strings for feature-linked annotation are linked to the value of a field or fields from the geographic feature to which it is linked. You can also configure linked annotation to automatically add, delete, or move with the linked feature.
To learn more, see Create annotation features.
- Multipatch features are enclosed volumes defined with three-dimensional rings and triangular patches. They are used to model the outer surface or shell of natural and as-built 3D features. Examples include trees, buildings, bridges, and interior spaces. You can create multipatch features from scratch, or import 3D models to a multipatch feature class.
- Feature templates that create multipatch features include several tools to create multipatch features in different ways. You can import 3D models directly into your map or scene, create multipatch features from scratch by creating and extruding polygons using an additive workflow, or start with a basic 3D shape and modify it until you create the feature you need.
To learn more, see Create multipatch features.
Point and multipoint features
- Point features identify specific x,y,z coordinate locations on a map. You can create objects or data points that don't require lines or areas to store information or convey meaning. Examples include site addresses, water hydrants, and trees.
- Multipoint features store collections of point features as a single point feature with one set of attributes. For example, lidar point clusters are often stored as multipoint features to simplify their manageability and improve read-write performance. Multipoint features can only be stored in a multipoint feature class.
To learn more, see Create point and multipoint features.
- Polyline features consist of straight line segments, circular arcs, elliptical arcs, and Bézier curves created between vertices. You can create linear and curvilinear objects that have length but no area. Examples include water supply lines, roads, and streams.
- Multipart polyline features are used to store noncontiguous polylines as a single polyline feature with one set of attributes. For example, you can create a series of separate polylines as road segments and store them as a single roadway feature. You can create single-part and multipart polyline features on the same layer.
To learn more, see Create polyline features.
- Polygon features are fully enclosed areas bound by straight line segments, circular arcs, elliptical arcs, and Bézier curves created between vertices. You can create objects that have closed planar regions. Examples include lakes, vegetation boundaries, and building footprints.
- Multipart polygon features are used to store one or more polygons as a single polygon feature with one set of attributes. For example, you can create a series of noncontiguous island polygons and store them as one island feature. You can create single-part and multipart features on the same layer.
To learn more, see Create polygon features.
To create a feature, open the Create Features pane and click a feature template. Type your attribute values in the active template pane before you create the feature. To save your attribute values with the template and reuse them the next time you use the template, change the template property settings.
- In the Catalog pane, do one of the following to add the layer to your map:
- Expand Databases , expand the database containing your data, and drag the feature class onto the map.
- To create a new data source, right-click the default database, click New, click Feature Class , type the feature class name, choose the geometry type, select the coordinate system, and click Run .
The layer is added to the current map, and a feature template with default settings is automatically created.
- On the Edit tab, in the Features group, click Create .
The Create Features pane appears.
- In the pane, click a feature template.
- Next to the tool palette, click the forward arrow .
The tool palette and the feature attribute table for the active template appear in the pane.
- Type the attribute values you want to apply to the new feature in the feature attribute table.
- Click the map and create the feature.
- You can use the default tool that automatically runs, or click another tool on the tool palette.
- If you are creating a 3D feature, you can enter z-values using the tools on the Edit tab, in the Elevation group.
- To finish the feature, right-click and click Finish or press the F2 key.
- On the Edit tab, in the Manage Edits group, click Save .
The Save Edits dialog box appears.
- Click Yes to save your edits to the geodatabase.