How to Convert a PDF to DWG Illustrator

Written by ryan crooks
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How to Convert a PDF to DWG Illustrator
Illustrator can translate files to many formats, including DWG. (computer monitor line drawing coloured image by patrimonio designs from

Adobe Illustrator is a powerful vector-based application that can develop artwork and convert file types. Adobe’s portable document format (PDF) has become the preferred file type for transferring documents across the web. Along with encapsulated postscript (EPS) and Adobe Illustrator format, PDF is a native format for Adobe Illustrator.

Autodesk’s AutoCAD drawing format (DWG) is also a vector-based file useful for architects and engineers. Adobe Illustrator can open or export to this format. Architects or engineers who need to incorporate information from Adobe Illustrator can convert many files from PDF to DWG.

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Things you need

  • Illustrator
  • AutoCAD

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  1. 1

    Select “Open” from the File menu in Adobe Illustrator’s menu bar. Browse for the PDF you would like to open. Select the file, and click “Open.” The file will open in the Illustrator window. Adjust elements in the PDF file any way you want. Convert any typographical elements to outlines by clicking “Create Outlines” under the Type menu on the menu bar. Erase any stray elements on Illustrator’s drawing board.

  2. 2

    Trace any raster graphics with the pen tool. Unlike other formats, such as EPS, the PDF format is capable of saving both raster and vector information. Vector information will convert easily to the DWG format, but all raster information will be lost. Trace the images, and then erase them. Edit the stroke or fill of the graphics to match the colour of the raster image's styling.

    Raster files are images composed of pixels, whereas vector files use line art to create images. Raster graphics cannot be scaled up in size without losing image quality, but vector graphics can be scaled to any size without losing image quality.

  3. 3

    Select “Export” from the File menu in Illustrator. A window will open that allows you to choose export settings. Change the name of the file and the save location, and select the Format menu. Select “AutoCAD Drawing (DWG),” and click “Export.” The file will then be saved to DWG format.

    Open the file in AutoCAD, and double-check the quality of the line art. Some translation errors may occur when exporting from PDF to DWG. If there are problems with the file, reopen the DWG in Adobe Illustrator, and correct any issues. Often, fills are mistranslated from Adobe PDF to AutoCAD DWG. If this is the case, remove all fills from the line art, and keep the strokes.

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