Ultimate Guide: TIFF to DWG Conversion | Free Download

Updated May 8, 2020
Convert TIFF to DWG

TIFF is the gold standard raster file format in the  design, engineering and publishing industries. TIFF stands for Tagged Image File Format, and is the go-to format for high-quality graphics. Despite its popularity however, the TIFF format has many limitations: it can be difficult to edit, and it suffers from resolution dependency. To avoid these issues, users can convert their TIFFs to a vector format like DWG.

This guide covers everything you need to know about the TIFF to DWG conversion process. Plus, we’ll show you how you can get the Scan2CAD software to convert your files completely free for 14 days!

Table of Contents

What is a TIFF file? 

image of a tiff/tif icon TIFF (or TIF) was originally created in 1986 as an attempt to create a universal image file format for use with desktop scanners. It was a binary format, so images were only available in black and white. Once computer disk space increased, the TIFF format was expanded to accommodate color images. The format now has a 32-bit color depth, which means that it supports over 16 million colors!

TIFF is a raster graphics format, made up of individual pixels. The format makes use of lossless compression, so it can be edited or compressed without any loss in quality. This stands in stark contrast to the JPEG format, which is also popular for use in photography, but which suffers from low quality images.

These benefits of the TIFF format make it the perfect choice for high-quality graphics. In fact, it’s also Scan2CAD’s recommended file format for saving your raster images in order to get the best possible vectorization results. TIFF’s lossless compression ensures that the detail of an image is maintained, making it a good candidate for vectorization. Meanwhile, you’re likely to run into difficulties when converting from JPEG to DWG due to that format’s lossy compression.

That’s not to say it doesn’t have any disadvantages. The high quality of TIFF images comes at the heavy price of a large file size, which can mean that some web browsers don’t support them. 

What is a DWG file?

DWG icon DWG stands for DraWinG, and is the native file format for AutoCAD, which is the most popular CAD software on the market. Practically everyone who works with CAD will know the format well, and here on the Scan2CAD blog, we’ve already written extensively about the format. First created in 1982, DWG is a proprietary file format from the Autodesk stable of products, which means that developers must have a license to use the format in their software. 

This format stores 2D and 3D data, and supports all standard vector entities including AutoCAD’s more ‘specialist’ entities like dynamic blocks. It’s also a binary file format, so a DWG file will typically be smaller in file size than a comparable DXF file, which is made up of ASCII text.

Though the format is best known as the native file format for AutoCAD, you can also use a wide range of other programs to view DWG files, including Scan2CAD. Check out our guide to viewing DWG files without AutoCAD.

CAD software to view and edit DWG files

Some examples of CAD software that you can use to view and edit DWG files


Want to find out more? Check out our DWG overview, and our guide to the pros and cons of the DWG file format.

Why convert TIFF to DWG?

While the TIFF format has many advantages over other raster file formats, it still has the same disadvantages that other rasters suffer from: 

raster image example of letter 's'

  • Resolution dependency: if you change the scaling of a TIFF, then the quality deteriorates. You can see this when you zoom into a raster and its pixels become evident. 
  • Not easy to edit: rasters are made up of pixels, so you can’t edit individual lines, and any edits made will affect the entire image. 
  • Large file size: due to the detailed nature and high resolution of the file format, TIFF files are typically much larger in file size than other image file formats.

By converting your TIFF to a DWG you can gain access to a multitude of benefits associated with all vector files:

  • raster example image of letter 's' Infinite scalability: vectors aren’t resolution dependent, so you can rescale or zoom in as much as you want, without any loss in quality. 
  • Easily edited: entities within a DWG can be edited individually. 
  • Reusable: you can take elements from a CAD drawing, and re-use them in an entirely new one. This is useful for when you have hard copy drawings to digitize, or when you wish to take elements from an older drawing and reuse it in a newer design. 

Check out raster versus vector for more information. 

How does the conversion process work?

The process of converting a raster to a vector—known as vectorization—involves tracing over the raster image with vector lines. There are two ways to trace an image: manually or automatically.

Manual tracing

This process involves tracing over the image by hand. You can either use a mouse to trace over every line, or make use of a tablet and graphics pen to draw over the raster.  image of a computer mouse that can be used to manually trace

Manual tracing can be advantageous, as automatic tracing lacks human understanding. For example, if you have an old hard copy drawing which has faded, a computer wouldn’t be able to trace over the image, as it wouldn’t be able to detect the lines and edges. Since you created the design, you’ll know and understand exactly where the lines should be.

Manual tracing can, however, be a very time-consuming process, and it can be difficult to get to grips with. This is why it often makes sense to use automatic tracing instead. 

Automatic tracing

Automatic tracing makes use of raster-to-vector conversion software, such as Scan2CAD, to instantly convert your raster image. In order to perform this conversion, the software detects the lines and edges of your raster image and redraws them as vector lines, curves, polygons and other vector entities. You merely have to load your image into the program, and you can produce a vector image in just a few clicks.

Still need to be convinced? Check out the image below!

It isn’t as simple as choosing the first—or cheapest—conversion software available. Choose the wrong program, and you could run into trouble. It pays to choose a high-quality conversion program, and get the best possible vectorization results. This will ensure that you have a detailed, usable DWG file, that you can later open and edit using CAD software.

Want more information? Check out our comparison of manual and automatic tracing, for everything you need to know. 

How to convert TIFF to DWG with Scan2CAD

Image Conversion - Pixelated raster to vector With Scan2CAD, it couldn’t be simpler to convert your TIFF image.

    • Load your TIFF in Scan2CAD. This works the same as opening a file in any program. Just click File > Raster > Load, and select your TIFF.
    • Choose your settings. Scan2CAD has a range of vectorization settings, which are specialized to deal with specific image types. Use the Type menu to select the appropriate settings for your image. 
    • Convert your image. To vectorize your image you can either click: 
      vectorization button screenshot  : which converts lines, curves and shapes to vectors.
      OCR button screenshot  : to convert raster text to vector text.
      All button screenshot  : which converts the entire image (both lines and text) to vectors.  

Why choose Scan2CAD over an online converter?

If you wanted to convert from TIFF to DWG, you may be tempted to simply head to Google to find a free online tool. These tools promise a number of advantages—free conversion, no downloads, great results—yet sadly, they simply can’t deliver.

For an intelligent conversion and great vectorization results, you need a lot of computing power. It’s for this reason that most conversion programs run as local applications on your computer, rather than in the cloud.

Online converters, meanwhile, simply can’t offer the same quality of service. When you convert a file using an online tool, you may therefore find that it has been converted in a very simplistic manner. Not only will your vector image appear worse in quality, but it will also be much more difficult to edit in CAD software. Worse still, you may be putting your intellectual property at risk by uploading to servers that may not be secure.

There are many disadvantages to using online converters—but more importantly, plenty of reasons to choose Scan2CAD instead. Scan2CAD offers accurate, efficient conversion that’s 100% secure. With Scan2CAD, you can convert any file, regardless of size, and be sure of great results.

Free Download

scan2cad product box Scan2CAD is the market leader in conversion, with the ability to convert raster images and PDFs to DWG, DXF, and many other vector formats—but it has even more to offer than that.

Not content to stick to conversion, Scan2CAD offers users the complete package. Its raster and vector editing suite gives you the ability to optimize your image before and after conversion, ensuring that you get the perfect vector output. You can also benefit from Scan2CAD’s incredibly useful batch processing feature, which can automatically convert hundreds of files in just a few clicks! Plus, with Smart OCR, you can train the software to recognize unusual fonts—and even handwritten text.

With Scan2CAD, you can rest assured knowing that you’re using a secure program that will keep all of your CAD files completely safe. Put simply, Scan2CAD gives you more for less. Best of all? You can get Scan2CAD completely free for 14 days. There are no limitations to this trial—convert as many files as you want; no restrictions, no watermarks. Simply click the button below to start your download now.

Download Scan2CAD Free Trial

scan2cad advert for free trial