Working with CAD software will regularly require you to use reference images as bases for drawings and plans. The standard raster image formats such as JPEG, PNG, and BMP are usually what you’ll be getting, but sometimes you’ll encounter less well-known formats such as TIFF, GIF, and even CIT.
Regardless of the format, raster-to-vector conversion can be a little daunting if you haven’t gone through the process before. But there are clear, straight-forward solutions to convert your CIT images into DXF or DWG files suitable for use on your standard CAD software. We’ll discuss the different methods for conversion as well as the arguably the most efficient way – using Scan2CAD.
Table of Contents
What are CIT images?
Scan2CAD supports all standard raster and vector formats such as JPG, TIF, BMP, DXF, and DWG. But only recently has support for CIT images been added into the mix. So what exactly are CIT images and how are they unique from other raster file formats?
Files with the CIT format are categorized under Intergraph Scanned Image files. These are monochrome bitmap or raster files. Raster files are made of colored pixels and cannot directly be readable and editable on standard CAD programs. Vector files on the other hand are made of 2D and 3D geometry that can be read and manipulated by CAD programs.
As such raster images, in contrast to vector images, are a bit more complicated to be made usable on CAD software. DXF and DWG files are the most common vector formats that we’ll be dealing with when using CAD so, by default, the most efficient process is to convert raster images into DXF or DWG.
What are your options when converting CIT images to DXF/DWG?
When you need to convert a CIT raster image into a DXF or DWG file, you have three main options:
- Manually trace the image using your CAD program’s drafting tools
- Use your CAD program’s automatic raster-to-vector conversion tool
- Use dedicated conversion software
Option 1: Manual tracing
The most straight-forward method of converting a CIT image into a usable DXF/DWG file is to import the image onto your designated CAD software and then trace over the raster elements with the program’s drafting tools. This is essentially the digital equivalent of placing tracing paper over the original draft drawings and recreating the elements by tracing over them.
Given the skill and eye of the drafter, this is arguably the most accurate process. But it is also undoubtedly the most involved and most time-consuming of the three methods mentioned.
We say accurate since experienced and skilled drafters will always be able to discern the individual elements of a drafted drawing even though the quality of the file leaves much to be desired. With particularly low-quality files, automated conversion processes can only do so much.
But state-of-the-art conversion programs such as Scan2CAD has dedicated years to developing the technology to convert all kinds of raster images. Even in cases where the drafts are much too low-quality for Scan2CAD to get the conversion 100% accurate, it can still get it to the point where the remaining time spent editing the converted result is still a fraction of the time it would have taken to manually trace the whole drawing.
Option 2: Built-in conversion tools
Some CAD programs will have built-in conversion tools that will take raster images and convert them into readily usable vector files. A well-known example of this is AutoCAD’s Raster Design.
With this and most other add-ons to popular CAD programs, a lot of manual tweaking is involved in setting the conversion just right. Since they are essentially just a plug-in to the main product which is the CAD program, ease of use and versatility aren’t prioritized. Most built-in conversion tools lack the capabilities to identify and convert arcs, circles, and text, for example.
Still, the advantage of using these types of built-in conversion tools is that they are integrated into already fully-functioning CAD software. Less fuss is involved when just dealing with the conversion process all from within your preferred CAD software.
In the end, it’s about weighing the pros and cons of convenience versus functionality. But do note that not all CAD software offer this type of tool, so be sure to do your research before assuming that your program can execute this type of process.
Option 3: Dedicated conversion software
Scan2CAD is a conversion solution that specializes in producing converted files to use in CAD software as well as CNC. As such, it’s perfect for converting CIT and other raster image file formats into vector formats such as DXF and DWG. The company has spent the last two decades researching and developing software that boasts the industry’s best conversion performance as well as the most easy-to-use interface and tools.
Like the previous option, dedicated conversion software like Scan2CAD is also an automated conversion solution. Unlike the previous option, Scan2CAD can be run independently and does not need to function as a plug-in or add-on. Since the software is specialized, it can offer advanced conversion tools such as sophisticated object recognition and OCR capabilities.
What sets Scan2CAD apart?
If you have a negative image of automated conversion in your head, know that you aren’t alone. A lot of people have doubts when it comes to automatic vector conversion due to the staggering amount of “free” online conversion websites that produce less than satisfactory results.
A lot of these online converters tend to convert every raster element into a polyline, regardless of its identity as a potential arc or circle. As such, instead of getting a circular vector element in your final product, you’ll instead get thousands of small lines instead of a single smooth entity.
The same goes for any text, arcs, or splines in the image, rendering the potential time saved by converting automatically moot due to the amount of post-editing that needs to be done to correct these mistakes.
What makes Scan2CAD the best automatic conversion solution is its advanced object recognition capabilities. Circles will be recognized as circles, dashed lines will be recognized as dashed lines, and thanks to its OCR capabilities, the text will be converted into editable TrueType text.
What is OCR?
Expounding on OCR, the acronym is short for optical character recognition. This is one of Scan2CAD’s best tools in that it lets the program recognize any potential text objects in raster images and convert them into editable text strings.
Although not necessarily an uncommon feature, the majority of scanners and programs that have OCR capabilities don’t have the sophistication of Scan2CAD and will end up converting text into incoherent gibberish.
Additionally, any conversion software that doesn’t have OCR will end up converting any raster text into polylines. This is inconvenient not just because you’ll have to input the text strings manually but also because you’ll have to take the time to delete any of the text polylines that were converted. This kind of ‘exploded text’ is the bane of the existence of any drafter’s looking to have elegant, efficient solutions for raster-to-vector conversion.
When looking to convert CIT images to DXF or DWG, the best option would be to use software that was specially designed to meet your needs.
With Scan2CAD, not only will you be getting accurate vector conversions, but you’ll also be saving a ton of time and effort.