A PDF Wish Comes True! (Circles and Lines AutoCAD Tutorial)

23 Jun, 2009 By: Lynn Allen

Going from AutoCAD DWG to PDF has never been easier, thanks to improvements in v2010.

As I travel around presenting the latest release of AutoCAD, I find myself judging the new features by the response they elicit from the crowd. One thing is sure -- the new PDF enhancements in AutoCAD 2010 are a real crowd-pleaser! These new features are easy to understand, easy to conquer, and easy to find at the top of the AUGI wish list for many years.

We have been able to create PDF files from our AutoCAD drawings in the past two releases, but the ability to bring PDF files into AutoCAD has eluded us. AutoCAD 2010 not only allows us to print slimmer and smarter PDF files, but now we also can bring those PDF files into AutoCAD. A great big PDF wish has been granted! This month, I'll focus on the first half of this equation -- the improvements in sending AutoCAD drawing files to PDF format.


It's easy to create a PDF of your drawing using the Output tab.
Sending a drawing file to PDF traditionally has meant a large file with no text recognition. PDFs created in AutoCAD 2010 are much smaller, and they also have higher resolution. In addition to this improvement, text transfers as text -- it no longer is rasterized. This advancement means you now can do a text search of your drawing in Adobe Reader.

Merge control from the Plot command.

If you are using the AutoCAD 2010 ribbon (and I hope you are), you'll find a great big PDF Export button staring you in the face on the Output tab as shown below. I'm not sure how much easier they could make it than that.

The first time you create your PDF, you probably should follow the longer route, through the Plot command, to make sure you have the proper settings. Simply select DWG to PDF from the plotter name drop-down menu and go into the Properties menu. Here you can set your Merge control as shown below or dig deeper by going into the Custom Properties menu.

Custom Properties lets you further refine your PDF output file. In the past, the default vector resolution for saving a PDF file was 400 dpi, and you'll find that this default value has been upped to a 600 dpi as shown below. You can, of course, set this value much higher (4,800 dpi maximum). You even can input a custom resolution as high as 40,000 dpi but keep in mind that the higher the resolution, the larger the file size, the more memory it's going to need, and the slower it will plot. You could probably go to lunch and back if you choose a resolution of 40,000 dpi -- well, maybe a short lunch.

Further refine the DWG to PDF properties in the Custom Properties menu.

In this menu, you also can control the gradient resolution, which incidentally can't be any higher than the vector resolution. The same is true with the raster image resolutions; they can't exceed the vector resolution.

The ability to have fonts translate as fonts in AutoCAD 2010 is huge. Rasterizing the text in previous releases really increased the file sizes. Now you'll find that AutoCAD recognizes all the standard TrueType fonts as well as the standard AutoCAD fonts (SHX files).

You can choose to send the layer information with the PDF. This choice essentially allows users to turn the layers on and off in their PDF viewer as well and when they bring the PDF back into AutoCAD. Some companies send PDF files to safeguard their designs. In that situation, they would probably opt to not include the layer information. And last but not least -- AutoCAD is happy to open your newly created PDF file in your PDF viewer (most likely that would be Adobe Reader) when finished. I love this option because I find myself doing it manually anyway -- why not cut right to the chase?

Set many basic options in the PDF Options dialog box.

After you've set everything up to your liking -- you can use that lovely PDF export button to create a PDF file quickly. On the ribbon, you'll see the option for plotting the current viewport (or all the viewports) as well as a shortcut to many PDF printing options as shown below.

Creating PDF files in AutoCAD 2010 has really stepped up its game! This capability should make it easier when dealing with others who don't have AutoCAD and insist in dealing with PDFs. The next "Circles and Lines" column will cover the other direction -- bringing PDF files into AutoCAD!

Until next time … happy AutoCAD-ing!