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are there PDF conversion settings?



I didn't get any responses when posted to General Discussion. Re-posting here as I couldn't figure out how to move the original post to here.


It is frequently desirable to import a PDF to use as a background for locating our work in a building.

For reasons of liability and clutter we find it to be a good practice to remove all referencing and architectural items (millwork, furniture, hatching).

Are there any settings which can improve the quality of the image created when ungrouping the pdf. I find that there is significant degradation between before and after ungrouping. Low dpi and spray artifacts possibly from anti-aliasing are introduced. Alternately the line work extracted from the pdf loses its differentiating qualities that could have been utilized efficiently to delete clutter, etc.


Are there settings somewhere which can be utilized to reduce information and quality loss during PDF conversions?

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The short answer is no, there aren’t any settings for ungrouping an imported PDF.

Quote below taken from the help file, with no mention of settings, but states that it will be a “close approximation of the original PDF” : 


Alternatively, you can ungroup the PDF Page to create Vectorworks objects from the snappable geometry, giving you a close approximation of the original PDF that can be manipulated in Vectorworks.


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That is a shame. The pdf image before ungrouping is so much crisper and defined than the bmp created from it.

I imagine there are other tools outside of VW that can create a quality raster image to permit editing out of extraneous data from a background plan.

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Hi @LarryO, may I suggest you see if the following helps: 


IF the PDF was created with Class and/or Layer information intact, you could try opening it in Preview (Mac only), then turning off the Classes/Layers you don't want included in the PDF, then see if either: 

  • File > Print… > PDF > 'Save as PDF' 


  • File > Export as PDF…

produces a PDF with only the items you left as visible included. 


If this hack doesn't work, then you'll more likely be able to get the desired result by opening and manipulating it in a copy of Adobe Acrobat Pro. 

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Thanks @Jeremy Best,

I'd forgotten about that extra functionality of preview.


Unfortunately only a very small proportion of the pdfs we receive have their layer data exported. Whereas with a nice crisp image I can erase to my heart's content any undesirable content in a paint or Photoshop program. Acrobat has been a sort of nemesis of mine for years. I don't imagine I'm alone in saying that I can rarely recall how to locate and change various settings for the tools without google searching. Calling it an intuitive interface would be giving it praise from my experiences using it. hehe.


Alas I handed off my 8 year old mac just last week to the junior draftsman in favor of an HP with a graphics processor that doesn't bog down regenerating views of 3d canopies.


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