This tutorial will show the workflow I go through in taking a finished AutoCAD drawing and opening it up with Adobe Illustrator for the purpose of further editing it for use in a floor plan, section, or diagram. I am using Adobe Illustrator CS6 and AutoCAD 2015 in this tutorial, but you should be able to follow along with earlier versions of either program.
1. Export AutoCAD file to PDF
A pdf file of the desired view has to be generated from AutoCAD, so it can be opening in Illustrator. The image below shows a finished AutoCAD drawing of mine that is ready to be converted into a pdf. It helps to have your line weights organized by different colors, which makes separating them in Illustrator much easier.
Open up one of the layout tabs (bottom left) and change the viewport of the model to your desired scale. In my example, I selected 1/8” = 1’. You might have to adjust the default paper size to fit the model.
Next, click on plot, which can be found in the application menu (Big A logo in the top left), or hit CTRL + P. Select DWG to PDF in the printer/plotter name. Select the paper size that matches the size of the paper space in the layout view. You may have to adjust the drawing orientation for it to fit correctly on the page. If you don’t see that option, click on the small right arrow next to the help button in the bottom right corner. Also, make sure the plot style is set to either none or acad.
2. Open PDF with Adobe Illustrator
Open up the plotted PDF file with Adobe Illustrator and take a look at the layers panel. Opening up layer 1, we can see that there are two layer masks that contain all of our lines. We don’t want that, because we want all of the lines to be directly in layer 1, without any masks. When any of the lines in the art board are clicked, we can see the blue border of the mask around them (see the image below).
To get rid of them, select everything on the board, right click, and press “release clipping mask”. You may have to do this several times before all of the lines are released from a mask. Your document should now look like the image below, with all of the lines located directly in layer 1.
3. Sort Line Weights into Layers
The next step involves separating the different line weights from AutoCAD into their own layers in Illustrator. Make a new layer in Illustrator for each line thickness. Now select a line on the art board, and go up to the select menu > same > appearance. This will select all of the lines that have the same stroke color and size. With the right lines selected, look for a small square next to the open circle to the right of layer one. This indicates which layer the content is on. Left click and drag that square up to one of the new layers above, to move the content into that layer. Then if you expanded that layer, you should see those lines in the new layer. The image below shows these steps.
Repeat this process so that all the line weights area in their own layer. Inevitably there will be some lines that were never put in the right layers in AutoCAD, so all of those will be leftover at the end.
4. Adjust Line Styles
Now that all of the lines are in separate layers, the lines in each layer can easily be adjusted all at once. Color, thickness and linetype are the main properties that can be changed. To edit the lines, click on the open circle to the right of the layer name. This selects all of the content in that layer. Then open up the stroke, color, and any other panels to adjust their appearance.
Left: Original lines at 2.88 points in thickness and orange. Right: Changed to 3 points thickness and black.
Now that you know how to edit the appearance of the lines, you can edit them however you want. Below is a basic black and white line drawing of a section of my model. Much more can be done to improve and build upon the drawing, but that’s for another tutorial.