General discussions on Technical Illustration
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by matt_lorenzi Fri May 13, 2016 4:25 pm

Just started a 12 month contract in the solar business. I'm hired as a technical writer, but I think they will likely lean heavily on my illustration skills. There's still a lot of use of photographs (poor) with numbered callouts. The mechanical engineers work in SOLIDWORKS, so the tech writing team is looking at SOLIDWORKS Composer to help with graphics.

Anyone have any thoughts or has anyone used Composer? I think one of the key features is ability to output vectors via SVG. You can then open the SVG in Illustrator and go from there. Of course Composer videos show the entire assembly instructions being handled within Composer, but like all CAD based programs, the line-art capabilities are lacking. As well, the engineering models do not include any of the wiring, so it would require additional illustration work in Illustrator.

Is this a common workflow: CAD => vectors => Illustrator?

I've only been here a week, but should be a fun ride....
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by matt_lorenzi Wed May 18, 2016 11:46 pm

come on people! ;)
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by MichaelH_in_PA Mon Nov 07, 2016 3:05 pm

How has the job/project gone for you? Output from composer for me has been.....wonky. I gave up on it and just went back to CAD(Catia for me)--->IsoDraw. The composer makes neat little animations, but I have found that to be more of a gimmick more than anything else. Training guys like it, but don't wanna give up budget money for too much of it.

As I alluded to earlier, I was not happy with any of the lineart output from Composer. I was getting some very strange aberrations. Missing lines, extra lines, etc.
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by JamesProvost Fri Nov 18, 2016 2:07 pm

I've had a couple of projects where clients supplied vector output from CAD (probably SolidWorks).

So far I've always redrawn/traced it with the Pen in Illustrator. It just makes for a cleaner basis for whatever I'm doing from there.

A quick and dirty method I've used is selecting everything and making it Live Paint, filling all the solid areas with the Live Paint Bucket and a bright colour, Live Paint > Expand, ungroup (repeat until everything is ungrouped), deselect and select one of the CAD lines, Select > Same > Fill & Stroke, Delete, then select the bright colour, Select > Same > Fill & Stroke and click the Default Fill & Stroke button (bottom left of the main Fill and Stroke boxes). What you end up with is a black and white drawing with closed paths and a solid white fill. This method will even close any small gaps in the CAD output.

Astute Graphics' plugin VectorScribe can help clean up messy CAD vectors, particularly the Smart Removal Brush and the Points to Tangencies button.
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