Creating shapes using existing graphics files

Hello - I would like to import existing graphics files that have contours, they are not rectangles. For ex. script text, that I would like to then extrude into a 3D shape. Is this possible?

Yes, very much so.

If the imported vectors form closed, coplanar boundaries, they will support a face. A face can be extruded.


thank you Gully, however I’m not sure I understand. If I import as image i can’t seem to extrude. I am importing as a pdf. If I take extrude tool to PDF it will not function.

if I explode the PDF I can extrude it but it is basically two planes, a copy of the shape, not an actual extruded 3D shape

If you want to use the “existing graphics files” directly in SU as geometry, they must be vectors.

Both the terms “graphics files” and “PDF” are vague as to the type of content–either vectors or bitmap images–which is why it’s more descriptive to specify bitmap or vectors. A PDF may encapsulate either or both vectors and bitmap images, so what you can ultimately do with it depends on what’s inside. If the PDF contains vectors, you may bring those in as geometry on a Mac or using SU Pro and then extrude them. If it’s a bitmap, not.

A bitmap (or raster) image is just a dumb picture: it’s not made of actual geometry, just a bunch of pixels. So if your existing graphic is such an image, the best you can do is bring it in and trace it. The edges you trace will then support a face and in turn allow you to extrude the shape.


Thanks. It is a PS pdf so I guess that makes it a bit mapped image and not vector.

PS PDF. What’s that? PS as in PostScript?

You can recognize a bitmap by its extension; .jpg, .png, .gif, .tif are the most common bitmap formats.

Within Adobe reader, for instance, vectors and bitmaps behave differently, mainly in that with vectors you can select individual lines, whereas with bitmaps you can only select areas.

You can use Adobe Reader or comparable PDF reader to check the contexts of a pdf file under Document Properties. It should report what the embedded content is, what fonts are embedded, and other stuff like that.


Incidentally, if you have a True Type font for the script font you’re using, you don’t have to import the characters, you can just use the 3D Text tool to create the text right there in SU.

For that matter, if you are creating these characters as bitmaps rather than vectors because you just didn’t know which format to use, you’d have much better luck with the process using a drawing program like Illustrator or CorelDraw and creating the text as vectors in the first place, exporting them as dwg/dxf. I’ve brought in lots of things I’ve made in CorelDraw, which is why I gave you such an emphatic affirmative answer to start with.


PS = Photoshop . Thanks, I do understand the diff between vector and bitmapped, but you are very well spoken, and I do appreciate your time and input.

Do you have Illustrator and SketchUp Pro? If so, you can open the vector PDF in Illustrator and then export the linework as a dxf or dwg. Then that can be imported into SketchUp. There is probably some face healing you will need to do, but it is a fairly painless process. Even if the PDF contains raster entities, you could use Image Trace in Illustrator to create vector shapes. I also posted this in another thread, but I touch on this around the 29:40 mark in this video:

  • matt

thanks very much, I have illustrator and will give this a shot.

Superb Video & instruction. Do you have a site with more SU tutorials/training?