Draw preset layers

Preset layers are one way to add data to a map or scene in ArcGIS Pro. A preset layer can be displayed in ArcGIS Pro 3.1. Its symbology and layer properties are retained. If you need to change how a preset layer draws its symbology, including that of a 3D layer, you must convert the layer to a standard feature layer.


The creation and modification of preset layer symbology is only available in ArcGIS Pro 2.9 and earlier versions.

Preset layer symbology

Preset layers are composed of a variety of symbols, implicitly designed for different geographic tasks. Some preset layers can be displayed only in maps or only in scenes. All types of preset layers and their unique qualities are described with the following list:

  • Realistic Trees—Displays a point feature class as realistic-looking 3D trees in a scene. The layer uses genus and species information from the layer's attribute table, and optionally, tree height and width information.
  • Thematic Trees—Displays a point feature class as simple 3D geometric tree shapes in a scene, displayed thematically as colored cones and spheres. The layer uses genus and species fields from the layer's attribute table, and optionally, height and width information.
  • Icon Points—Displays a point feature class as locational icon symbols in a scene as flat, billboarded shapes in screen space.
  • Thematic Shapes—Displays a point feature class as volumetric shapes in a scene. They appear smaller relative to the screen as you zoom out but stay relatively sized to other physical features around them.
  • Realistic Buildings—Displays a multipatch feature class as 3D buildings in a scene. Building features are placed on the ground within the scene and apply distance-based visibility constraints.
  • Ground—Allows surface data to be used as a contributor to the ground surface of the map or scene. The selected surface data is included in the collection of data sources for the ground surface.
  • Subtype Group—This composite layer type references a feature class that has subtypes defined. Each subtype in the feature class becomes a subtype layer in the subtype group layer.

Realistic and thematic tree preset layers support a variety of tree types with special symbols. For more information, see Supported tree genus types.

Ground preset layers are equivalent with elevation surface layers.

Subtype group layers can be created and added to ArcGIS Pro directly from the Add Data drop-down menu.

Convert preset layer symbology

To make modifications to the symbology of some preset layer types, you must convert the layer to a standard feature layer. Depending on the type of preset layer, it is converted to single symbol or unique values symbology. To convert the preset layer's symbology, follow these steps:

  1. Select a preset layer in the Contents pane.
  2. On the Feature Layer tab, in the Drawing group, click the Symbology button Symbology.

    The Symbology pane appears. A message indicates the preset layer must be converted to make modifications to the symbology.

  3. Click the Convert button to convert the preset layer symbology to the given type.

    This converts all preset symbols associated with the layer to the aforementioned symbology type.

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