RTV Tools

Monday, May 12, 2014

Raster to Vector to DXF for use in AutoCAD, Revit or Navisworks

We often have to deal with data that hasn't always "lived" in our CAD, BIM or Revit world. Take a hand sketch, for example - how can you get that into a format that can easily be used in AutoCAD or Revit? Some PDFs have vector information, which I have described how to access before. But the below workflow takes it one step further - how to get any raster image into a vector format, using a few free tools.

Here's how to do it, without Adobe Illustrator:
  1. Make your source file (PDF / Scan etc) into bitonal TIFF image (I use Bluebeam and Irfanview in the video, but you could easily save the PDF to image using GSView)
  2. Open in Inkscape
  3. Vectorize using Path - Trace Bitmap... Brightness steps, set to 2.
    Untick: Smooth, Stack scans, Smooth corners and Optimize paths.
    (this step makes the black and white image into lines and outlines)
  4. Save as EPS
  5. Open in GSView (requires Ghostscript and pstoedit)
  6. Save as DXF (using Convert to Vector format). From here, you can get to AutoCAD or Navisworks easily...
  7. Open in AutoCAD
  8. NWCOUT and/or
  9. Append the DXF directly to Navisworks
  10. Scale and position appropriately
Here's a quick video of the process:

The file sizes at each step look like this:

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