Importing DWG paperspace into Layout

I continue to encounter strange things when I try importing DWG drawings into Layout.

Here is what part of a topo survey looks like in its DWG form:

Here is what the same bit of the drawing looks like when imprted into LO:

It becomes virtually illegible.

Also, if you use the Dimension tool to measure the grid, it says lines are 0.5m apart when they should be 50m apart. Yet the drawing does appear to be physically the right size. If you click into the drawing, there is a little symbol top left that suggests the scale is 2:1, clearly not right.

Another oddity is that if I try to change the paper size to A1 as per the original drawing, that option is greyed out.

Finally, the whole thing would be more legible if the size of the text were closer to the original. But I can’t seem to select text blocks either individually or as a group or layer.

I am probably doing a host of things wrong.

Are you using Centimeters instead of Meters as the import unit?

I used the default Model Units. I don’t actually know what that means as I thought both AC and SU work in real world dimensions and only alter the scale for output.

However, I just imported again using millimetres (since it was 1000 times before). I get the same result. Grid still measures 0.5m.

Oh, and this time I selected A1 paper to begin with and that works fine. It just won’t let you change to A1 after the event.

If I change the noted 2:1 scale to its actual scale (1/500), I see this:

It shouldn’t be this hard, should it?

The only way that I’ve got this to work Simon, is to insert as Model Space with Model Space units.

It then inserts at some odd scale, e.g. just now 1:682.426.

When I change the scale to whatever, it is as it should be.

This is for OS map data from a bone fide provider.

I steer clear of relying on DWGs from others.

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Yes, that works for me too but when you have a lot of important text, like levels markers, you really need to be able to see it.

But it’s interesting to hear that I am not the only one struggling with this.

I confess that at times like this, I do find myself wondering if the software is serious enough for professional use. Which is a shame because so much of it is very good.

Double click into the group until you can select the text entities. Then change the font size to suit.

Yes, I found I had to keep Ungrouping to get down to groups of text. Once there, I could select all the text items in the group and change them at once. But I had to go round doing that for several groups, which was tedious. And then I found that some of the groups included other geometry (like the contour lines). So it was all getting very long-winded.

No need to ungroup. You’re just making more work for yourself. Open the groups for editing until you get to the level of the text, select the text and change the font size. Change the font, too, if you want.

“Model units” is a bit odd way of putting it. It means that the importer uses the currently set units in your SketchUp model or LayOut file. In your case it looks to me that the units in your survey file (like in mapping generally) are Meters.
Autocad files are essentially unitless, with parameters in place to tell AutoCad what unit has been used, but that is prone to errors.

That sounds about right. Mapping may use meters and I, like most Anglophone metric designers, work in mm. Hence the 1000x discrepancy I guess.

I know it’s easy to say, but as an end user, you would hope the translation system would be clever enough to interrogate the source file and then know how to translate it to something that is not only correct geometrically but that also reproduces font sizes and types as close to the original as possible. Otherwise it’s all just a “near enough is good enough” exercise!

Thanks for this Dave.

I had found that, generally, selecting an entire document – including drawing elements and viewports, I could change the font for all selected text boxes.

I’ve had a problem with inserted DWGs where it seemed to be impossible to select some text elements when inserted…

On a hunch, once selected, I was not only able to apply the font change but also do a text>make unbounded making all the text selectable when drilling in to the group…

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Yes. You don’t have to even open the group for editing to be able to modify the text within it but if you already had other text on the page you’d want to at the minimum select the insert CAD group. Opening it for editing and selecting the text that needs updating gives you precise control over which text gets updated.

Does this all work differently on a Mac?

If either you, Dave or you Paul, are willing, see what you make of the attached. I have removed the client sensitive data.

As far as I can see, I do have to do a lot of selecting and ungrouping before I can do anything with the text.

A1 Landscape.layout (1.3 MB)

There is an awful lot of text clutter in that CAD file. Since it’s the only thing on the page I did as above and selected the group before changing the font size. This seems like the sort of project where you’d benefit from having things on different layers in LayOut so you could control them separately.


Seems like the font size is 22pt…

Selecting the entire group I changed the font to 10pt…

Also I had to drill down 2 groups before getting to the scaled group.

EDIT: Didn’t see that Dave already mentioned that

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I can see what you are both doing (I think) but it doesn’t seem to work like that for me, maybe because it’s different on a Mac.

The survey was carried out by a reputable local firm of land surveyors so I guess the DWG is pretty standard. This shows some of the blocks and layers when you look at the DWG file. Not sure how much of that comes into LO. Also not sure how you can tell what level of group nesting there is without repeatedly opening or ungrouping one group after another.

If I select a text block at random, I can tell it is on a specific layer: