Deleted Post: Converting Raster Images to SketchUp Linework

I created these screen shots to answer someone’s question on the best way to draw/trace a complex shape in SketchUp…but it appears to have been deleted. Since I think it’s a helpful workflow to know, I’ll share the answer anyway.

Here was their original shape. Yes you could trace using bevier curve extensions but that might take bit of time. Instead, when I need to do this with complex shapes:

I import them into Illustrator and use the ‘Live Trace’ function to automatically generate a vector drawing:

Then export to DWG:

Then import into SketchUp, Weld edges, and I’m good to go!

See another example where I used this same technique to model a canal…which should have taken me ages to trace over:


Was it this thread?

Anssi, spam filter took it down for a little bit. It is back up. Thanks

thank you, thank you, thank you. I got it to work. I truly appreciate this.
Be blessed.

Good to hear!

Really interesting. I recently had to do something very similar to your canal, outlining a very long and winding track on a map. It didn’t need to be super accurate so I just traced over it but it still took a long time.

The downside to your method is needing Illustrator as it costs over £200 for a year’s licence. So if you only used it for this task, you would have to be doing a lot of it to justify the cost. But it made me wonder whether there were other cheaper options that achieve the same thing?

Simon, Inkscape can do this Inkscape tutorial: Tracing bitmaps | Inkscape


As I have Inkscape, I thought I’d try it. It certainly produces a very credible image but it only exports to certain file types, the default being PNG. But I can achieve that much more quickly by just taking a screen grab. I think the point about the OP is that he could export to DWG and so produce a vector file.

You can save as DXF in Inkscape


You’re right. I assumed it would be there as an export option, but it’s a save option instead.



You don’t even need to use the Trace Bitmap feature in Inkscape.

It is sufficient to simply click with the “Fill Bounded Area” bucket inside the shape or area you want to vector-trace. The larger the zoom is set when doing so, the more accurate the vectorization will be.