Join William Everhart for an in-depth discussion in this video What to ask for from your CAD supplier, part of Illustrator: Working with AutoCAD Files.
- While Adobe Illustrator can open CAD files, not just any file will do. There are a few necessary steps to create a CAD file that Adobe Illustrator can interpret. So, if you're an Illustrator user and need to open a CAD file, here are a few items to discuss with your CAD supplier. One of the first things maybe to discuss is the file format. What kind of CAD file are they gonna send you? Now, Adobe Illustrator is a little bit picky about this. It wants either a DWG or a DXF file.
And both of these are very common outputs from products like AutoCAD. So, let me go up here to the File menu and I can choose Save As. And I want to save this as a DWG file. Now, if I wanted a DXF in this particular workflow with Illustrator it would be the same, so I could choose another format down here and choose the DXF file format. But honestly the drawing file works perfectly well. So, I'm gonna choose that. The next thing you might want to be concerned with is the level of the DWG or DXF file.
And what do I mean by that? Well, I am working in AutoCAD 2015, but I can change this, I can basically backdate it to an older version of the software here. And at the release of this video the Adobe Illustrator CC 2014 version can open an AutoCAD file up to a 2010. So, you can certainly do this route if you wanted to, you backdate it even a little further if you wanted to, maybe a 2007 or 2004.
Certainly if you are using earlier versions of Adobe Illustrator, you're gonna want to ask for something a little earlier. I'm gonna select the 2010 version here. I'm gonna rename my file and save it. And once you have a format and a version that Illustrator can interpret, scale might be your next hurdle. CAD applications, well, they draw life-size, that's one to one scale. But Adobe Illustrator couldn't handle something like that, especially with a drawing like I have here, this architectural elevation.
These things are way too large to fit in Adobe Illustrator. So, I have a whole chapter devoted to scaling issues but just one of the things that you may want to ask for from your CAD supplier is that they go ahead and scale the file to an output size that you would like to have. And let's say, in this case, I have it scaled to a letter size format. If they can provide you that or at least scale it to some degree, you may want to know what that scaling factor is as well.
That's always good information to have and I can find that out down here if I select this model here and I can select this little viewport. I can actually see right here what the scale is and I can even change it. So, if I wanted it to be a particular scale, I can certainly do that as well. The default here is a scale to fit, so there's no... it's kind of a random number here depending on what the size of the viewport is. But if I wanted to set this to a particular value I could.
And so if this is done, let's say we do this at a 116 here. Then as an Illustrator user, I need to know what that scale is so that when I open this it will open it to that exact same scale. This is perhaps a little more critical for those who are in the packaging industry as the architectural renderings here can be scaled up or down because we know we'll never get the full size rendering inside of Adobe Illustrator. Now, I'm going to just reset this to scale to fit. If you're a member an of engineering or architectural firm, then you will most likely be dealing with CAD drawings that have several layers and color-coded line work.
So, this is another thing as a Adobe Illustrator user, you may want to have that information. Maybe there's certain layers that you don't need. But honestly, as long as they incorporate the layers into the file, as an Illustrator user you can toggle those layers on and off just as you would in a normal Illustrator file. There is an issue here though. If you are using Adobe Illustrator CC, and I'm not talking about the 2014 version. But anything from the first version of CC up to the 2014 release, there is a problem, and it does not interpret this layer information.
So, I am using the 2014 version, this should not be a problem when I open this up inside of Illustrator. So, let's have a look. So, if I come back over to Adobe Illustrator now and I open that file I just exported, there's my 2010 export and I open it up. I'm gonna get some options here, in this case, I'm gonna let it to scale to it's original size. The scaling here, I'm just gonna change this for just a moment, 'cause I know what it was. I'm gonna set this one to one with inches and I'm gonna use Layout2, 'cause that one was the one that was scaled down to fit the letter-sized piece of paper.
And I'll tell this OK. I'll get a little small font problem error here. I'll just dismiss that, that's pretty commonplace. There're just a few more things that you need to ask for from your CAD supplier. And one of those is layers, just like in Adobe Illustrator, those CAD applications will have layers and so you can separate content onto those layers. And so, within the CAD application, you may need either all of those layers or just some of them. So, you're CAD supplier should go in and investigate those layers and determine which one of these layers that you need.
A lot of times there will be dimensions. There will be wiring diagrams. Various elements that you may not need in the final output to Adobe Illustrator. So, those layers can be turned off. Now, one layer that I generally find is very helpful for me as an Illustrator user is the layer that has all of the measurements on there. So, there may be a particular layer that just holds the labels for the measurements, and I find this very helpful so that I can make sure that my drawings are scaled the way I want them to over in Adobe Illustrator.
Also, when you turn these layers on here inside of the CAD application and then you export them, they will be supported in Adobe Illustrator. So, I'll have the same layers in Adobe Illustrator and I can toggle those on and off as I need them. So, generally speaking, I'd rather have all of the layers available to me in the export from CAD that way I can control it in Adobe Illustrator. I get the layers that I want and hide the ones that I don't want. Another possible output method here would be to plot these files.
And so, in the output ribbon here in AutoCAD there is a plot command. And so, you could use this command to export your content for Adobe Illustrator. When you're choosing a plotter in here, you may want to choose the DWG to PDF plot. This will create a PDF file and then it will also scale your drawing. You could have it set to a particular file size. I'm using my layout view, which has already been scaled to fit on a letter size page.
So, I can leave the scaling set to one to one. Now, I can tell that's okay, and I can save this file. Adobe Acrobat opens up and we can see here is our scale drawing and if we look over here to the left, not only is the drawing scaled to fit a letter size page but here are all my layers that I can control right here inside of my PDF. I also have the same level of control once I bring this over into Adobe Illustrator.
So, what if you were an engineer and you were going to export your file here for an Adobe Illustrator user, and you want to use the model view? Now, the model view is generally built at life-size. So, one to one scale. So, we want to deal with that a little bit before we export this or save this out. So, you would definitely want to adjust your scaling here and you can see down here in my little ribbon, I can see I'm using one to one scale. So, you'd want to choose a scale here that would work for your Illustrator user.
Think about where the file's going to be used. More importantly, what is the page size? So, it's typically going to be somewhere around letter size or probably even tabloid size. So, somewhere, maybe, around 1/16 to one foot will work on this particular drawing. But every drawing's a little bit different. So, you may have to adjust the scaling before you export. Simply exporting from the model view is no different than the previous step. You simply go up to the file menu here and you can choose to either save as a drawing file or you can export as PDF.
While both Adobe Illustrator files and CAD files are vector formats, they're not readily exchangeable. If you're an Illustrator user looking to open a CAD file, then there are a few things to ask of your CAD provider that can make your life much easier. Of course, every scenario has its own unique requirements, so be prepared to do a little bit of trial and error before you have a completely smooth CAD to Illustrator workflow.
- Working with scale drawings
- Opening DWG and DXF files with Illustrator
- Importing files from SketchUp
- Preparing Illustrator artwork for export
- Using plugins in Illustrator