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How to Convert PDF to DWG in AutoCAD (2019 & Above)

pdf to autocad icon

Video Tutorial: Converting PDF to DWG (AutoCAD 2019)

Let’s jump straight into the video tutorial for converting your (raster or vector) PDF files to DWG using Scan2CAD – the leading CAD conversion software.

View video transcript


Hi, there. So I have a file opened up on scan2cad here, it’s a raster file. As you can see, if you zoom in, things are getting pixelated and blurry. That doesn’t happen with vector files. So, what we want to do is convert this into a vector file using Scan2CAD. First thing’s first, you wanna clean this up a little bit. If the image isn’t already black and white, you’re gonna see this not grayed out. So in this case, it’s already black and white, so it’s already grayed out. But if it isn’t, then I would… The first step would be to click on this, to just turn the image into a monochrome image. Depending on how much you wanna clean in your original source image, you can choose to take on this, which removes speckles and holes. You can mess around with the speckle size and the hole size, but be careful not to… Too big or else it’s gonna start erasing things that we want to keep in. If we make the pixel size, speckle size, a bit too big, it’s gonna start erasing stuff like text. So let’s keep it a bit low for this particular image, same thing with the hole size. Once we’re happy with this, we’d click on “OK”. The next step would be to convert it into vector by clicking on “Convert Image”, here.

In this case it’s a technical image. If you wanna trace an outline or a solid, you can pick on these two other vectorization methods. But for this, it’s a bit technical. OCR means that it’s going to turn the raster text here into two-type text. So in this case, we want to vectorize the floor pen elements, and then turn the text in the document into editable text. So let’s click on vector and… Vectorize and OCR. You can actually edit the OCR settings here. In terms of the maximum character size, let’s just select from the image, and just get the biggest text here, and just click and drag. This should be okay. Once we’re happy with that, we click on “Run”, and a preview image will show here. So this is the preview image. The lines are pretty clean and most of the text is pretty good. Now, there’s still some edits we need to do with our text and lines, in our preferred CAD software, but this is good enough. We click on, “OK”. This is the converted raster image. We can edit it or actually erase a couple of the things if you want. But if you’re happy with this, the last step will be to click on, “File”, “Save As”, “Vector”, and then just choose the vector format that it is you wanna use. So I hope that this helps.

AutoCAD 2019

We’ve talked about AutoCAD plenty of times in the past here at Scan2CAD. It’s an industry standard and is the most recognizable name in CAD to date. We already have a blog post detailing how to convert to a PDF for AutoCAD under our belts, but the recent updates in the AutoCAD software include an interesting new feature that makes PDF imports a whole lot easier – in-software PDF conversion.

We’ll get into the details of that in a minute, but let’s first do a quick run-through of the different new functionalities featured in AutoCAD 2019.

Redesigned Icons in the Status Bar, Ribbon, Quick Access toolbar, and Application menu

The redesign focused on icon simplicity, specifically on their colors and shapes. These icons are also dynamically loaded with the appropriate sizing based on different screen resolutions for a crisp look no matter what monitor users use. Overall, the icons look cleaner and are much more legible.

Shared Views feature

AutoCAD 2019 lets users soft publish select views of their document for feedback from clients and stakeholders without having to publish the full DWG file. The Shared Views function will be accessible from the application menu or collaborate tab. Users will have full control over what is being shared from within the view including the option of showing 2D or 3D views and toggling the visibility of drawing properties.

DWG Compare feature

Under the Collaborate menu, users will be able to select DWG Compare. DWG Compare lets users pick a different version of the current drawing and compares the two. The tool creates a new drawing that highlights the differences between the two selected versions. Similar drawing elements will, by default, be grayed out while contrasting elements between the two drawings will be surrounded by revision clouds. You can edit the line colors of the compared drawings, their visibility, and the visible hatch patterns and text objects.

Web and Mobile Save feature

This feature uploads your drawing to AutoCAD’s cloud service under your AutoCAD account for easy access on the go. This is also a convenient way to share your drawings with collaborators and clients.

PDF Import

Finally, the main topic of this article – AutoCAD 2019’s PDF Import feature. Users can now natively open up PDF files on their AutoCAD drawings. If the PDF file contains vector elements, these will be made into workable and editable lines and elements on AutoCAD. TrueType text objects will also be editable. You can choose to import other PDF properties such as transparency, layers, and line colors. Below, we’ll give you a step-by-step guide on using this new tool.

PDF Importing in AutoCAD 2019

interface of AutoCAD 2019

AutoCAD 2019 interface Source

AutoCAD is a household name in the design, construction, and engineering industries. Workflows will typically include importing PDF copies of plans, blueprints, or technical drawings for editing on AutoCAD. The information included in such documents includes specified dimensions, 3D visualizations, and tabulated simulation and calculation results.

With the new PDF import functionality of AutoCAD 2019, it has become all the more seamless and hassle-free to import PDF’s into the program. In choosing the right PDF to use for drafting, a few considerations have to be met.

First, users must consider the resolution and quality of the PDF. Most modern CAD-generated PDFs will usually come with vector information – these types of documents are ideal for importing into AutoCAD. Vector PDFs will be opened and translated into vector linework and elements when imported into AutoCAD. The alternative, raster PDFs, will still be openable on AutoCAD 2019. However, do note that any raster image will be imported as full raster images and its visible linework and drawing elements will not be editable.

So, with that in mind, let us move on to the actual steps involved in importing PDFs into AutoCAD 2019:

  1. Click Insert > Import > PDF Import.
  2. A dialog box will pop up prompting the user to Select PDF File. The preferred PDF file should be located and then selected, and then click Open.
  3. An Import PDF dialog box will open up giving you some import options:
  4. Click on the thumbnail image of the page that you wish to import. Alternatively, you can also type in the page number. If you’re dealing with a single-page PDF, you don’t need to worry about this option.
  5. Specify the insertion point of the PDF. You could choose to clear this option and the PDF will be inserted, by default, at the UCS origin point (0,0). Unless you’re working with a blank slate, you will most likely want to set the insertion point yourself.
  6. Set the scale size of the PDF as well as its rotation.
  7. You can choose to set the options for imported TrueType text, vector geometry, fills and hatches, and raster images.
  8. Set your preferences for assigning imported objects to AutoCAD layers. If the PDF file already has its vector objects assigned to layers, you can choose to go with that.
  9. Determine how the geometry and objects in the imported PDF file are processed by AutoCAD 2019.
  10. When everything is set and ready, click on OK.
  11. If a prompt pops up asking for the PDF insertion point, specify using coordinates. The default is the UCS origin point (0,0).

If these steps are confusing, here’s a video that might clear things up –

At this point, the next steps will depend on whether or not the information in your PDF file is primarily vector or raster.

Vector PDFs will have editable elements so you can go on to editing the elements after importing the PDF. When it comes to raster images, the typical process of converting those into editable linework would be to import the PDF’s into AutoCAD and then to trace over the raster linework manually. The process is a bit tedious, but if time and elbow grease are in short supply, there are third-party software such as Scan2CAD that can take care of the process automatically.

Whether you do choose to take care of raster conversion manually or automatically, a crisp, clean raster image will always be the biggest factor in determining the success of the conversion. So always make sure to import the best-quality raster PDF available if there simply aren’t any vector versions available.

Raster vs. Vector

raster and vector images

Raster and Vector Images Source

We’ve talked a lot about raster and vector PDFs when importing into AutoCAD 2019. For those of us unfamiliar, let’s take a moment to talk about the main differences between these two image types.

Raster images, also known as bitmap images, are visuals formed by color pixels that are clustered and arranged to create a coherent photo. BMP, PNG, JPEG, and GIF are typical raster file types and will be what you will commonly encounter when dealing with raster PDFs.

Raster images have varying image qualities depending on the number of pixels that they have. More pixels means crisper images, higher resolutions, and better legibility when manually or automatically converting into editable CAD objects.

Working with low-quality, blurry, pixelated raster images will have varying degrees of success, with incredibly pixelated images being outright unusable for conversions. So if you must use raster PDFs, get the best ones you can find.

Vector PDFs, on the other hand, are much easier to work with on AutoCAD. Vector images are made of editable geometric objects that can readily be imported into any software that handles vector editing and drafting. Most of the output files that you get from CAD software are actually vector files, including some of the more recent PDF files that are published from AutoCAD and other CAD software. Other vector file types include DWG, DXF, and G-Code. While raster images are made of pixels, these vector formats are composed of geometric elements and information that define the elements’ properties such as line weights, colors, and lengths.

So in short, all you need to know about raster and vector differences is that raster images are not directly editable why vector images are. So you generally want to be working with vector PDFs or find a way to convert your raster PDFs into vector files.

The only ways to do that are manually tracing over the raster elements or by using software such as Scan2CAD to automatically do that for you.

Using Scan2CAD for raster-to-vector conversion

Scan2CAD interface

Typical Scan2CAD interface

In the video at the start of this post, we demonstrate how to can achieve accurate conversions using Scan2CAD.

Here’s the same process broken down in small steps:

  1. Take the raster PDF or image that you want to convert and import into AutoCAD and open it up first on Scan2CAD.
  2. Some raster PDFs will have vector information on them such as white rectangle backgrounds and text information made by scanners. If these seem unnecessary, you can choose to discard them and keep only the raster images in the PDF file.
  3. Clean up your raster image and turn it monochrome for an easier conversion process.
  4. The actual conversion process is fairly straight-forward. The settings you have to tweak will depend on the type of image you are converting. These include settings for Technical Drawings as well as OCR functionality for converting raster text into TrueType text objects. We have a fair amount of video tutorials that should help you figure out how to use our software.
  5. Once you’re happy with the settings, you can click on ‘Run’ to see a preview of the converted vector file. You can choose to tweak the settings even further after seeing the preview or you call click on ‘OK’ if everything seems to be in order.
  6. After converting, all that’s left will be to save your converted vector file. Choose the file format you want to use and pick a name for your converted file.

Here’s a link to the tutorials we have on how to make the most out of Scan2CAD’s conversion process –


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