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transparent background in bitmaps

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VW 2013, WindowsXP, Nvidia Quadro FX3000 graphics card

I sometimes use VW as a general purpose graphics application because it can handle both bitmaps and vector images. But I always have one frustrating problem. Imported PNGs & GIFs with transparent backgrounds display with black backgrounds. Ordinarily I would just select the image and change the fill in the attributes palette. But the selected item doesn't show up in the palette. The first image below has a clear background when opened in a bitmap application, but the inner areas are white. The second image is what I get when imported into VW. The fill is always black, but sometimes the inner white areas are transparent. Obviously, VW has no problem with clear backgrounds. So I assume the problem is with PNG & GIF files.

Is there any way to import a PNG with transparency in VW 2013?



Edited by JHEarcht
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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

It should just do that automatically, however I have had some PNGs that Vectorworks has difficulty with. There is a trick to fix it directly in photoshop related to the color system, but i forget those steps, apologies, i'll try to find them and make an article for it.

However, opening it and saving it as a different format that still supports transparency (even in Paint) should work, I believe BMP and TIFF work as well.

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I am not sure if this is the preferred method but its what I do:

In photoshop select the white areas of the image and change. For HSB they would be 0,0,100%. Change this to 0,0,99%. The difference is not discernible. (see attached). Save as a PNG

In VW import the image file as a PNG and then turn off the solid colour fill. (see attached).

The white gets knocked out and the white inside stays as it is not pure white.

Maybe others know a better way to do this.

Edited by barkest
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Thanks for your responses, but the problem is that none of those methods makes any difference. When I import the PNG into another graphics app, it has a clear background. But when I import it into VW, it is treated like a bitmap, with an added black background, but with no editable attributes. When I select the image, the attributes palette indicates no line or fill to manipulate. Apparently, VW is converting the PNG during import, into a bitmap without transparency. This problem goes back to much earlier versions than 2013.

Have any of you tried to save and import the image in my first post? If so, can you change the black background to clear? Thanks.

Edited by JHEarcht
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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Apologies, in Vectorworks 2015 it comes in with the transparent background as it should be. Vectorworks 2013 looks like it was never patched to correct this, as I see the same issue you describe, but no further patches or service packs will be released for that version or older ones.

(As a side note, images will always convert and say "Bitmap" in Vectorworks, thats just what image imports are called regardless of if they include transparencies or not, it doesn't mean they've become .BMP specifically.)

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  • 2 months later...

I copy/paste a Photoshop image (mountain bike brake rotor) into Vectoworks, then use the attributes palette to remove the white background. That part works.

But when I try to flyover or view it on it’s side it won’t. I can draw other objects in the window and fly around those, but the image remains flat on the screen while flying around other images.

I can also Save it as a bitmap image and import into VW. Then I can flyover it, but can’t push/pull the image to give it 3 dimensions.

What the heck am I doing wrong! Must be missing my basic procedures in Vectorworks.

Any help would be appreciated!


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Sounds like you need to import the image as a new resource, then make a texture of the image and apply it (OIP Render tab) to the selected 3d object. OR, import the image as a resource and apply it as an image fill to a 2d object.

PushPull converts to generic solid (always?) except Sub Face mode which creates a separate object. The generic solid or new object must have a color fill in order for the texture to show.

Post back if things are still messing up.


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  • 1 year later...
  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee
1 minute ago, slothrop said:

I had this same problem in VW 2014—importing a png turned the formerly transparent background black. The SOLUTION (for me anyway) was to open the png in a photo editor, save as a bmp, and import the bmp file type instead.




This should no longer be needed after 2017, there is direct support for exporting alpha transparency now. But for 2016 and earlier this ^ is still the way to go.

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