Vector Snapshots – Pointing the Way

Recently, I have been asked by several customers to explain how to “export to vector” for technical illustrations in Acrobat Pro Extended Version 9.  There are numerous cases where existing and perspective customers are interested in creating vector renderings using 3D data.  Some simply want to save images as a page within a PDF.  Others want to bring the vector image into Adobe Illustrator or other editing tools to add additional content.  Because we have replaced the 3D Tool Kit that shipped with previous versions of Acrobat 3D with 3D Reviewer, there is a little re-learning for some.


To learn how to create vector snapshots, please read on.

Let’s start with 3D Reviewer.  3D Reviewer is an application that ships with Acrobat Pro Extended, and is the key to creating vector images.  There are two ways to access 3D Reviewer.  The first is create a 3D PDF in Acrobat and then right click on the 3D window to select “Edit in 3D Reviewer”.  Changes made to files in 3D Reviewer can be ported back to PDF later.  A second option, and possibly a faster way to go, is to simply convert your CAD parts or assemblies directly for use in 3D Reviewer.  Simply open the application and drag the CAD files onto the scene graph. In this case, you will probably want to choose “tessellated” as the format when importing.  In the image below, I have selected the top of the assembly tree (this is the disk brake that you have seen dozens of times if you have visited the Adobe web site).  I am about to drag it onto the scene graph.


Next, I want to select the snap shot tools.  Below, you will see our friend the disc brake in 3D Reviewer.  I have just selected Tools -> Snapshot -> Vector -> Window to Vector.

By the way, there is also a Window to Vector icon available on the Snapshot Toolbar. 

Next is to create the AutoCad DXF or Windows Metafile (ewf). Both are readable in Illustrator. In this case, I will choose DXF.  When you create the DXF file, use these settings by selecting “options” when the dialog box appears:




Wait a few seconds, depending upon file size, and you will have your DXF file.  Here is an image of mine open in Illustrator.


Before I end this article, there is one other thing to share.  For those of you who simply want a PDF of the with a vector image like the one above, you can simply select file -> Print -> and the Adobe PDF from the print pull down menu. When you do that, you may want to scale the output to manage file size and rendering quality.  I have also selected “Preferences” so you can see the settings I used. 

Lastly, here is the PDF I just created:

As a final touch, I might go ahead and import a “template” as a layer into the PDF to put a nice border around the vector image, but let’s leave that for a future article.  So there you have it, a quick tour of how to generate vector images.

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