Rubbersheet features

The Transform tool Transform includes linear and natural neighbor interpolation methods for rubber sheeting features. You can hold geometry in place using anchor points and draw polygons around only the areas you want to transform. This tool is available in the Modify Features pane.

There is no limit to the number of displacement links you can sketch. Displacement links are automatically deleted, and the target points are converted to anchor points after the features are transformed.


Rubber sheeting is generally used after transforming features in order to further refine the alignment accuracy of the transformed features.

  1. On the Edit tab, turn off topology, choose your snapping preferences, and show the Modify Features pane.
    1. In the Manage Edits group, click the topology arrow and choose No Topology No Topology.
    2. In the Snapping group, click the Snapping drop-down menu List By Snapping and enable your snapping preferences.

      To temporarily turn snapping off while you edit a feature, press and hold the Spacebar.

    3. In the Features group, click Modify Modify Features.
  2. Expand Alignment and click Transform Transform.
  3. Select the features using one of the following methods:
    • To transform selected features, click the Selected Features tab, click Select Active Select and select the features.
      • To refine the selection, right-click a feature in the tree view, and click Unselect Clear Selected or Only Select This List By Selection.
        Context Menu
    • To transform all features on one or more layers, click the Layers tab and choose the layers.
  4. Click the Transformation Method drop-down arrow and choose an interpolation method.
    • Rubbersheet (Linear)—Is slightly faster and produces good results when you have many links spread uniformly across the transformation area. This method does not take into account the natural neighborhood.
    • Rubbersheet (Natural Neighbor)—Is slower but more accurate when your displacement links are scattered across the transformation area. This method is similar to the inverse distance weighting interpolation method.
  5. Draw a suitable number of two-point displacement links that define the origin and destination location for the features you are transforming. There is no limit to the number of links you can draw.
    1. Click Add new links Add New Link.

      The segment construction toolbar appears at the bottom of the map.

      Segment construction toolbar
    2. Snap and click the origin point to an edge or a vertex on the feature you are transforming.
    3. Snap and click the endpoint to the new target location.

    You can save time from drawing links by clicking Load links from file Browse and loading predefined links contained in a link file created with ArcMap. Link files are TAB delimited ASCII text files containing two pairs of x,y coordinate values per row for each link.

    You can load four-column or five-column link files. A four-column link file contains a pair of source and destination coordinate values. A five-column link file contains an ID column (string or numeric) that precedes the columns containing the coordinate values.

    Example contents for a five-column link file.

    3	1032507.603691	1865947.186470	1032507.207115	1865926.170407
    2	1032508.350801	1865986.785187	1032509.079486	1866025.405116
    1	1032388.666424	1865961.179459	1032361.009572	1865981.280533

  6. To prevent specific feature geometry from moving, add anchor points to locations you want to hold in place.
    1. Click Add anchor points Anchor Point

      The point construction toolbar appears at the bottom of the map.

      Point construction toolbar
    2. Click and snap the anchor pont to an edge or a vertex on the feature you want to constrain.
  7. To further limit the areas to be adjusted draw a polygon shape around only the features you want to adjust. There is no limit to the number of area polygons you can draw.
    1. Click Add rubbersheet area Rubbersheet Area.

      The segment construction toolbar appears at the bottom of the map.

      Segment construction toolbar
    2. Click and draw a polygon around the vertices you want to transform. All other vertices will not be transformed.
    3. Double-click or click Finish Finish to complete the polygon.
  8. To delete an anchor point, displacement link, or area polygon, do the following:
    • Click Select Select, select the anchor, link, or area polygon, and press the Delete key or right-click and click Delete on the context menu.
    • To delete all anchor points, displacement links, and area polygons, in the pane, click Delete all links Delete.
  9. Click Transform.

    The features transform, the displacement links are deleted, and the target points convert to anchor points.

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