Export PDF

I don't know of any direct way to migrate SketchUp models into programs such as Adobe Illustrator, CorelDraw, and Inkscape. However, it is possible to transfer 2D content (while maintaining critical distinctions) using exported sets of PDF files.

Example

Assume that we have a finished SketchUp model in sample_m.skp. We want to transfer this content to Adobe Illustrator, in order to control engraving and cutting operations.

Our model has multiple layers (e.g., Cells, Edges, Holes, Lines, Rects), used for different types of content. Using three PDF files per model, we can transfer this content in a manner that allows us to handle it properly in Illustrator.

File Types

The Edges layer is included in each file type, in case we need it to transform (i.e., restore, tweak) the scale. Of course, it will also be used to cut out the finished tile.

The "Edges and Cells" file (sample_ec.pdf) is used for engraving braille cells, printed text, etc. Because we only want to engrave the "faces" of this content (and not the enclosing lines), we will set the stroke to nil.

The "Edges and Holes" file (sample_eh.pdf) is used to create a vector-mode cutting layer in Illustrator. As the Epilog driver requires, we will set the stroke to 0.001".

The "Edges, Lines, and Rects" file (sample_elr.pdf) is used for engraving graphical features (e.g., walls). To make these discernible, we will set the stroke to 2 points.

SketchUp Pro

In SketchUp Pro, each of these files can be exported by means of "File > Export > 2D Graphics..", selecting PDF as the desired format.

Quirks

All lines (including outlines of areas such as braille dots) will have a stroke width of zero in the resulting PDF files. This will have to be tweaked, as appropriate, in Illustrator.

SketchUp Make

SketchUp Make doesn't provide any vector-mode export options, so we need a workaround. In OSX, SketchUp's print facility can create vector-mode PDF files. The procedure is somewhat convoluted, but it appears to work reliably:

  • make (only) the desired layers visible
  • bring up a print dialog, using use cmd-P or "File > Print..."
  • set the "Vector Printing" checkbox
  • click the PDF button in the dialog's lower left corner
  • select "Save as PDF..."
  • set the desired folder and file name
  • click the Save button

Quirks

All lines (including outlines of areas such as braille dots) will have a stroke width of 2 points in the resulting PDF files. This will have to be tweaked, as appropriate, in Illustrator.

Each PDF file will include a "clipping mask" rectangle. This must be released before the content can be edited. The rectangle is also spurious and should be removed.


This wiki page is maintained by Rich Morin, an independent consultant specializing in software design, development, and documentation. Please feel free to email comments, inquiries, suggestions, etc!

Topic revision: r7 - 10 Dec 2015, RichMorin
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