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Site modeling from PDF and Location in GIS


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OK, you are in luck. Sort of. It's a vector based pdf. But it's only a pdf.

(might be worth effort to acquire the source CAD and/or source survey points used to create this pdf - beg, bribe . . .)


I can start some of this for you.  Others with more knowledge will help:


First, extracting vectors from the pdf


1. Prep - Import/drag the pdf to a layer of its own.  Scale it to match the scale bar.

2. Acquire the pdf vectors

        a.  Dupe the PDF layer. Label it PDF Ungrouped or similar

        b. Ungroup the pdf in this layer.  Result is 3 objects: Bit map (delete it). Blank white rectangle (delete it). Group (keep it)

        c.  The group contains many sub groups with pdf version of all the vectors.  Not perfect copies of the source CAD, but close in shape and location.

        d.  Ungroup the outer container and enter the nested groups to understand their contents.

3. Make a bunch of new blank design layers for elements relevant to your work - Prop line, Contours, Exist Bldg outline, Sewers, ROW, etc.

4. Select any relevant pdf groups and move or copy them to appropriate layers.


Now you have problems and options.

1. The linework is often dashed (eg the contours and the property line). Worse the dashes are independent segments, rather than dashed lines.

     a. For the prop line, probably best to trace it, then AEC or right click>Objects from Shapes>Prop Line.  It will be close to announced dims but not exact. You could try to generate it from the legal description. But that's fraught, too, because of vwx prop line tool difficulties, pdf discrepancies, historic errors in legal description, and other factors.  Good luck on this one.

    b. The contours are inconsistent.  eg the 22 contour in mid site is a group of dashes, but not all the 22 dashes are in the group.  Other contour groups have dashes from several contours. So, choice - corral all the dashes from each contour into separate groups, or trace the contours (probably easier choice). Either way, copy the groups to a new 3d source layer, convert the contents of each group to 3d polys and elevate to correct z.

    c.  OR . . . use the point elevations. Most of them at center part of the site are in a single group.  Make a new group containing a stake or 3d locus placed at each point and z adjusted as needed.  These go to the 3d source layer


Generate a terrain from the 3d source data. Crop it with or outboard of the 2d prop line source.


I, or others, will comment on the geo ref in another post. Later.  Here's my file so far, geo ref'd and pdf ungrouped.  I started the prop line layer, but no contours yet.





WoodBridge 33 Engelhard v2021.vwx

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Lots of videos for ungrouping pdf to acquire the vectors out there already. Here's one:



Also tutorials for geo referencing.  Search vectorworks georeferencing to find short and long videos.  Part of the set up is to assign a coordinate system.  I think the appropriate one is   EPSG:6526      NAD83(2011) / New Jersey (I had epsg:3424 in test file. Suggest change it to EPSG:6526 in the Document Prefs>Georeferencing. Very slight difference.


Post questions if you can't make something work.



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Dear Benson Shaw,


Thank you for your video

I just follow this to import pdf, scale and ungroup this drawing into VW

And I also use GIS tool to get map.

Now how I can make the site model from this?

Please check in my file






Edited by THETA
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Oops I missed the v2022 part. Thats probably the reason for error message in my v2021. I avoided the  new download so far. Save your file back to v2021 and I can check it out. Or others may jump in here on v2022. 

meanwhile you could try a terrain from the survey points or the contours. You definitely want to use those point elevations along the building walls and or traces of the contours. Trace on a new design layer. Use the 2d polyline tool in cubic spline mode. On yet another layer (name: 3d source) copy each 2d poly, convert to 3d poly and assign the correct z value. When all 3d contours and 3d loci are in this layer duplicate it (name: Terrain). Select all the 3d contours and loci, then AEC>Terrain>Create Site Model. Should give you a terrain model after only a few moments. 




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@THETA Apologies again, I'm not able to help for now.  I really want to look at your files, but the Education version files are, apparently, no longer enabled to open in the Pro versions of the software.  Previously, the Pro versions could open the Ed version files, but with watermarks.  I tried opening your files posted above in both v2021 and v2022.  The deny message is either "illegal file" or notice that pro vwx cannot open the education vwx.  Although I understand the company's rational for this limitation, I wish that on the forum we could find a way to at least view, if not work on the ed version files.


Anyone have a legal workaround?


If you are having trouble with a particular process, try to post a screen shot and description.


In general, a Terrain (or DTM or Site Model - different names for same thing) is formed by selecting the 3d source objects (3d polys, stakes, 3d loci) and running the command AEC>Terrain>Create Site Model.  There are also options for creating the terrain from delimited text formatted to describe the xyz of several or many surface points.  Post back if you are having trouble making this terrain.





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