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Create a scene

In the previous lesson, you explored a scene that had already been created. In the next lesson, you'll create your own scene of Palm Beach County. First, you'll begin a new scene and change the basemap. Then, you'll search for and add layers to your scene from ArcGIS Online. Last, you'll group your layers together to better organize them in the layers list and legend.

Create a new scene

In order to save your scene on ArcGIS Online, you'll first need to sign in to an ArcGIS Online organizational account. Once signed in, you start creating your scene by changing the basemap. The basemap is a background map that provides contextual geographic information for your data. You'll use a basemap that contains satellite imagery for your scene.

  1. Sign in to your ArcGIS organizational account.

    If you don't have an organizational account, you can sign up for an ArcGIS free trial.

  2. On the ribbon, click Scene.


    Scene Viewer opens. A window prompts you to choose whether to begin a new scene or open an existing scene.

  3. Click New Scene.

    New scene

    The scene's extent shows the entire globe. To the left of the scene is the Editor, which allows you to add and modify the scene's content. Before you make any changes, you'll navigate to your area of interest: Palm Beach County, Florida.

  4. To the upper right of the scene, click the Search button. In the Search box, type Palm Beach County and press Enter.

    Search box

    The scene zooms to Palm Beach County.

    Palm Beach County default extent

    The county boundary is marked by the dashed line on the basemap. Much of Palm Beach County is sparsely populated land that stretches to Lake Okeechobee. You'll change the extent of your map to better correspond to your study area.

  5. Close the Search box and Search result pop-up.
  6. Pan the scene until it is centered on the coast of Palm Beach County.

    Next, you'll change the basemap. The current basemap contains a lot of information, such as highway names, cities, and inland wildlife refuges. This information doesn't have anything to do with your data or what you want to present, and it might be distracting for viewers. You'll switch to a basemap that displays only satellite imagery of the area to give geographic context without loading the map with excess labels and features.

  7. To the upper right of the scene, click Basemap.

    Basemap button

    The Basemap window opens. It contains a list of basemaps. The default basemap is Topographic.

  8. In the Basemap window, click Imagery.

    Imagery basemap

  9. Close the Basemap window.

    Palm Beach County with Imagery basemap

    The basemap contains fewer labels or eye-grabbing features, allowing you to emphasize the data that you add to the scene.

Search for layers

Next, you'll search ArcGIS Online for data layers to display in your scene. These data layers will be similar to the ones that you explored in the previous lesson. They'll depict the location of natural and artificial reefs, as well as sediment deposits and dredging activities. You'll also add a layer that contains imagery of the seafloor and a ground layer with seafloor elevation data.

  1. In the Designer, click Add Layers.

    Add Layers button

    The Add Layers pane opens in the Editor. You can add layers from ArcGIS Online that have been shared publicly or with your organization.

  2. In the search box, type Palm Beach County Data. To narrow the search results to layers owned by the Learn ArcGIS administrator account, add owner:Learn_ArcGIS to the end. Press Enter.

    Add layers search results

    The search results contain five layers. Three of them are feature layers, which contain data in the form of either points, lines, or polygons. One is a tile layer, which contains imagery data. The final layer is an elevation layer, which contains information about ground height.


    Another way to add layers to a scene is to enter the layer service's URL. For instance, if you've located a layer's item details page but have difficulty finding it using the search box, you can click Enter Layer URL, copy and paste the layer service's URL, and add it that way.

  3. For Palm Beach County Data, click Add.

    Add button

    The layer is added to the map. It actually contains four different layers that have been packaged together: the artificial reefs, the natural reefs, the consolidated sediment, and the dredging and sand borrow areas.

  4. Add the Palm Beach County Inlets layer.

    This layer contains labels for each inlet in Palm Beach County.

  5. Add the Palm Beach County Bathymetry Image layer.

    This layer contains an image with detailed shoreline topography and a realistic water effect. Unlike the Imagery basemap, which only shows the ocean surface, this layer allows you to visualize the shallow seafloor near the coast.

  6. Add the Palm Beach County LADS Surface layer.

    If your scene is looking directly down at the data, you may not see a visible change in the map.

  7. Zoom closer to one of the inlets and tilt the map to confirm the new ground elevation.

    Jupiter Inlet elevation

    If the layer was added correctly, you'll see ridges and bumps along the ocean floor.

  8. Zoom back out. In the Add Layers pane, click Done.

    The added layers appear in the Editor. Your scene should look similar to the following image:

    Palm Beach County data

Create layer groups

Next, you'll organize the way your layers appear in the Contents pane and the list of layers. You'll accomplish this task by creating layer groups, which allow you to give similar types of layers similar visibility properties. Currently, the four layers that were added with the Palm Beach County layer group (the first layer you added to the scene) are grouped together. However, this data includes both information about reefs and information about sediment. You'll create a separate group for the reefs layers.

  1. In the Designer, expand Palm Beach County Data.

    Palm Beach County Data group

    The Palm Beach County Data group contains four layers, but can be split into two groups. First you will ungroup the Palm Beach County data, and then create two new groups.

  2. Click the More options menu located to the right of the Palm Beach County Data group, then choose Ungroup.


  3. Click the More options menu located to the right of the Dredging and Sand Borrow Areas layer and choose Add to new group.

    Add layer to new group

  4. Name the group Palm Beach County Data.
  5. Drag the Unconsolidated Sediment layer into the new group.

    New Palm Beach County Data group

  6. Repeat the previous steps to create a new group named Reefs that contains the Coral Reef and Colonized Hardbottom and Artifical Reefs - Palm Beach County layers.
  7. To the upper right of the scene, click Layers/Legend.

    Layers list

    The layer groups are reflected in the list of layers. You can choose to turn off either individual layers or all the layers in a group. However, the user probably doesn't need control over all the layers in the list. For instance, the artificial reefs and natural reefs should either both be visible or both be turned off. Additionally, the bathymetric imagery layer and the labels for the major inlets should remain permanently visible. You'll manage these layer visibility settings using layer groups.

  8. In More options, Change Group Type, choose Merge.

    Merge button

    In the list of layers, the user now only has the option to turn off all layers in the Reefs group at once. The Palm Beach County Data group, however, still uses the Checkbox option, which allows users to turn on or off any individual layers they want. The Radio option, by contrast, only allows one layer in a group to be turned on at a time. Lastly, the Hide option removes layers from the layer list altogether, making them permanently visible in the scene. Next, you'll create a layer group for hidden layers.

  9. Click the More options for Palm Beach County Inlets layer and choose Add to new group. Name the new group Hidden Layers.
  10. Drag the Palm Beach County Inlets and Palm Beach County Bathymetry Image layers into the Hidden Layers group.

    Hidden Layers group

  11. For Hidden Layers, More options, Change Group Type , choose Hide.

    Hide button

    Neither the group nor its layers appear in the list of the layers.


    You can also hide individual layers without creating a group. To do so, click More options on the right side of the layer name and choose Hide in Layers. You could use this technique to hide the Palm Beach County LADS Surface layer, which has been automatically placed in a special group for ground layers. However, it may be helpful for users to have the ability to turn the ground layer on and off so they can compare the seafloor elevation with the sea surface elevation. You'll leave the layer visible in the layers list.

Save the scene

Next, you'll save the scene. If you exit the scene without saving, you may lose all the progress you've made. It's important to save frequently to avoid losing data.

  1. At the bottom of the Editor, click Save Scene.

    Save Scene button

    The Save Scene window opens. You'll give your scene a title and metadata before saving it.

  2. For Title, type Palm Beach County Shoreline Protection.
  3. For Summary, type Sediment, reefs, and dredging on the coast of Palm Beach County.
  4. For Tags, type Beaches, Coastline, Ocean, Palm Beach County, and Florida. Press Enter after typing each tag.

    Save scene window

    You also have the ability to change the scene's thumbnail, but the default thumbnail is fine for now.

  5. Click Save.

    The scene is saved. You can access it through your Content page, which you can access by clicking the Home menu in the upper left corner of the scene.

You've begun your scene, added layers to it, and organized the layers into groups, but you still have a few more tasks to complete before your scene is finished. In the next lesson, you'll capture slides to emphasize important aspects of the scene.