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Allison Campbell

Line Weight conversion from hand drafting to Vectorworks

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Typically anything below 7 point ends up being a single pixel on screen, so you will not be able to see a difference between 3 and 7 on screen. Even at 300 dpi printout, the difference between a single pixel and 2 pixels if about 3 mil (i.e. 4 mil single pixel, 7 mil 2 pixels, 10 mil 3 pixels).


I find that anything below about 10-15 mil is too light when printed.


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I don't think you will find a single answer — the choice is subjective, and finding the weights that work for your eye is part of the task of the designer.


You will also find that line weights are not a 1:1 relationship to hand drafting. CAD lets you control line weight with much more precision, and you have have at least five or six distinct line weights in your drawing, along with the ability to give the pen less than 100% gray. Remember, you are not confined to the line weights listed in the dropdown menu. All these options allow you to create a more clear visual hierarchy to your drafting.


You may also find that having a slightly different set of line weights for quarter-inch and half-inch scales is advantageous.


Also, the affect of line wights can vary from printer to printer, with ink-based printers and plotters having slightly more substantial lines than xerographic-based plotters.


I also strongly recommend setting up a class system that sets attributes by class and uses descriptive terms instead of "thick," "thin," etc. You want to make the drawing process as creative as possible, and that means thinking the least about technicalities. For example, "Lighting-Symbol-Outline" and "Lighting-Symbol-Detail" eliminate the need to remember if you intend to set the line weight to medium or thick. Be smart but lazy.


That said, some rough guidelines for mm:

1mm is very thick — reserved for drawing borders, etc.

.7-.45 is thick

.35-.15 is medium

.05 -.02 is the thinnest

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Oh, and don't confuse mil with mm. A mil is a thousandth of an inch. You can switch line weight units by choosing a custom line weight. The menu then will use that setting. Use whatever line weight units makes the most sense to you.

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