Design Visualization

Autodesk Impression (First Look Review)

31 Jul, 2007 By: Ron LaFon

Turn your 2D DWG and DWF files into attractive renderings.

Autodesk Impression offers a wealth of tools for creating visually attractive images from your 2D DWG or DWF files. Those new images will be ready for use in presentations or for importation into popular electronic publication applications.

Autodesk Impression
Autodesk Impression

The software supports layers and uses numerous toolbars and palettes for fills, patterns, and textures. A Quick-Start Tour feature appears at the bottom of the application interface when you start Impression; it helps to teach you the basic concepts and offers step-by-step exercises and informational videos. The available tools offer enough depth to facilitate creating images with a distinctive style but don't overload with so many options that they become daunting.

Your 2D DWG and DWF files from AutoCAD 2008, AutoCAD LT 2008, and prior releases are supported, as are AutoCAD Architecture 2008, Revit Architecture 2008, and the Revit family of products (including all prior releases). Autodesk Inventor 2008 and the Inventor family of products, also including prior releases, are supported, as well as MapGuide 2008 and AutoCAD Mechanical 2008. In fact, most Autodesk products are supported, but check the Impression Web site ( for specific details.

Autodesk Impression saves files in the IRF file format, which includes drawing information from the original CAD drawing as well as the Impression stylizations, layers, objects, and blocks. Your can save your illustration files as DWF files that can be viewed with Autodesk Design Review and the Autodesk DWF Viewer, or you can save into one of the several graphics file formats popular for desktop publishing. Among the supported file formats are the Adobe Photoshop PSD format, EPS (encapsulated PostScript), and image formats such as PNG, JPEG, and BMP. Impression illustrations can be printed on all page sizes supported by standard plotters as big as E-size sheets and with resolutions as high as 300 dpi.

Autodesk Impression offers presentation-ready graphics created directly from your DWG or DWF files.
Autodesk Impression offers presentation-ready graphics created directly from your DWG or DWF files.

I found Autodesk Impression easy to understand and use. Although it can be a bit sluggish at times, overall speed is generally good. The system requirements for Autodesk Impression include a system based on a 3.0-GHz or greater Intel processor or a laptop system with an Intel or AMD 1.7-GHz or greater processor. Operating system requirements are Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic, Home Premium, Ultimate, Business, or Enterprise or Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 installed. You'll need 1 GB or more of RAM and 2 GB or more of available hard drive space, not including installation space.

In addition, you'll need a monitor capable of 32-bit color and 1,280 x 1,024 resolution, as well as a DirectX 9.0c capable graphics card with 128 MB or more of onboard memory that supports pixel shader 2.0 or greater (64-MB minimum). For optimal performance with Impression, download the latest video driver from your graphic card manufacturer's Web site. Recommended graphics cards include NVIDIA Quadro FX; GeForce FX 5, 6, and 7 families; ATI Radeon X series; ATI Radeon 9500 and later; and the ATI FireGL, X, and V families. You'll also need Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 SP1 or higher.

A 40-hour trial version is available for download and evaluation from the Autodesk Impression Web site at Pricing for Autodesk Impression is $495, and the product is available as a downloadable 282.2-MB file or as a physical shipment. Tutorials are available online. Autodesk eStore customers in the Americas are entitled to 30-day support from the date of registration, which covers installation and configuration of your new Autodesk software.

Also worth investigating is the Impression Community Web site at By becoming a member of the Autodesk Impression Community, you can stay current with all of the latest developments and available resources, as well as find new content to use in your images and share your experiences with other users.

Autodesk Impression is both easy to use and understand. It offers the ability to save files in popular graphics formats and print your images easily.

Ron LaFon, a contributing editor for Cadalyst, is a writer, editor, and a computer graphics and electronic publishing specialist from Atlanta, Georgia. He is a principal at 3Bear Productions in Atlanta.

About the Author: Ron LaFon

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