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Adobe Illustrator To Vectorworks Workflow



I regularly need to bring a shape from Illustrator into Vectorworks, and I hate redrawing things.


I thought it would be helpful to explain the whole thing here so others can comment, or to see if other folks have different methods. 


VWX interprets vertices totally differently then Adobe Illustrator. 75 vertices in the adobe world becomes 305 points in Vectorworks. Massive bloat. 


  1. In illustrator, make sure your path is/are as simple as possible. Similarly to Vectorworks, there's an Object-->Path-->Simplify function. 
  2. If you hope to do anything with those objects in VWX, make sure your paths are closed (I.e., "joined" in Illustrator)
  3. Save the illustrator file as an AI just to be safe (if you haven't already)
  4. File-->Export As-->DXF default settings are fine
  5. Set up a scratch VWX file so you're not importing garbage into your VERY IMPORTANT PROJECT
  6. In VWX, File-->Import-->Import Single DXF default settings are fine
  7. Cool ! Now you have your object and it comes in as a polyline. Make sure it's "closed."
  8. If for some reason you get overlapping paths, you can try to repair it using this method
  9. You can also use the paint bucket tool (2D polygon) to fill in the shape if it came in all junky. Sometimes this results in less vertices. Sometimes it doesn't. 
  10. Scale it to the appropriate size. 
  11. Congratulations!!!!


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2 hours ago, trashcan said:

VWX interprets vertices totally differently then Adobe Illustrator. 75 vertices in the adobe world becomes 305 points in Vectorworks. Massive bloat. 


Not sure if this helps but: Modify > Drafting Aids > Simplify Polys... 


The usual convert commands might help too... maybe convert to NURBS and then convert it back or something similar.

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Does anyone have any suggestions for when the DWG/DXF import results in curves that are no longer accurate? See screen grab below, in which the blue linework is the imported geometry from Illustrator, and the black linework is what it's supposed to be.






If I re-import the exported DWG directly back into illustrator it looks correct, so the issue is not with the exported DWG (and I've tried different combinations of export options in Illustrator). Vectorworks seems to be interpolating the bezier curves incorrectly upon import.


Not sure if there's a more reliable way to do this. For now I'll correct the curves manually, but this leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.


Test files:



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Well, AI exports those paths as Splines when it goes to .dwg format.  The fit degrees = 3 in AutoCAD.


When you import the dwg into Vectorworks the curve is converted into a Bézier curve (a different type of spline, perhaps mathematically different than AutoCAD’s spline).


Exporting from vectorworks to dwg creates a spline in AutoCAD with fit degree = 2, which as you have found results in slightly different representation of the curve.


All of this is fancy math based interpolation, and it appears as if different methods are being used.   Back when I used Rhino, I do not recall witnessing such deviation, but that was a while ago and memory fades.  Perhaps it would be worthwhile to use another program that deals with nurbs and splines to test.


hopefully, someone at Vectorworks can explain what is going on under the hood.  Also, people here who model ships, cars, or shade sails to a high degree of accuracy may have good understanding of the math problem of converting between interpolation methods.  I don’t think it is the “fault” of any particular problem, it’s just that nobody seems to clearly make the method of interpolation used with in program clearly understood without digging deep.  X2 when it comes to export/import between programs.


I can tell this. Many moons ago when I was studying manufacturing engineering, splines and nurbs always had to be done within a single program to insure accuracy.  Then, when we took our models into CAM software, we had to be very careful to get desired results.  The FormZ stuff used to break the CAM packages when it came to making those beautiful curves.  Lines and arcs are easy math, splines… well that can be a very different story.  Once Rhino matured a bit, it became the go to tool for interpolated curves.  I don’t know why any of this is, I just have this anecdotal evidence to help your quest to find out more.

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On 9/13/2023 at 7:42 AM, trashcan said:

Woah weird I just copy and pasted directly from AI to VWX 2024 and it worked great. 

Wow that IS exciting.


I love Illustrator.  (still only on CS6 - another story)


I wish I could draw as fast and intuitively in VW as I can in AI.   The +/- vertices option within the primary tool is so easy and efficient. 




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