Translating pdf into dwg for import

I used to be able to take the pdf files from an architect and translate them into a clean dwg or dxf file, for import into Sketchup. I used an online translation website (Zamzar) for this for years. Lately, though (past couple years), this has become increasingly impossible. The output seems to be a raster or bitmap file - no clean vector lines to be had once in Sketchup.

Does anyone know if AutoCAD, or maybe Revit, is now exporting to PDF differently than previously? I’m coming to the conclusion that I’m going to have to just bring the PDF into SU and then trace over it.

And, I’ve not met many architects willing to release their CAD files, so that’s a very rare option.

Just trying to satisfy my curiosity about this.


Do the PDFs look rasterized if you zoom up close to the lines?
If they do, then it could be the Architect trying to protect their files using rasterized PDFs. (Changing the “Shade plot” does this). So if that’s the case you could ask them to keep the shade plot “as displayed”.

Haven’t used Zamzar, but I used to use this one: not sure if it could be the service converting things differently now? - If you have Autocad 2018 or newer you can convert them there as well (don’t know if it works on previous versions)

Well, as an architect, when starting to use Sketchup, I found out that I created better Sketchup files by importing jpg versions of my DWG files than by basing my models on the imported DWG.

The tiny errors that DWG drawings feature are much harder to fix than tracing over the whole floor plan.

When I ditched CAD and started using SU In my extensions, renovations and refurbishments, I always converted all DWG info into raster from then on.

The only DWG files I use are topographical surveys.

Edit: I know this is not a fix, but I hope it will lead to a solution, if you consider the same workflow.

That is interesting… so far, I’ve always considered the vector lines better than the pdf. A pdf is opaque, so can’t see through from upper floor to lower. I suppose I could translate to png and transparent.

I had meant to include an image file, fredy. I appreciate your comment. let me know what you think

The last PDF plans I got from my structural engineer were vectored. I converted them with PowerCADD. Small amount of error out a few decimals. Funny, but for me, it’s the contours from town GIS systems that I can only get raster images of and have to trace over. I really wish I could get vectored files of that.

In the image it does seem like a rasterized file, but it is highly probable that it looks that way because the uploaded file is a screenshot, and no longer a vector file :thinking:.

If you can share the PDF I could take a look or send it through a direct message if it can’t be public.

sure, I’ll upload the plan file

A0.0 site plan.pdf (1.2 MB)

on occasion I get vector files from engineers

Did a check, it does seem to be a vector file. Not sure what could be the issue.
Maybe it is the service you are using that processes things differently now?

This is a conversion done directly in Autocad (a bit more accurate than the below)
A0.0 site plan.dwg (93.2 KB)

And this one was done on the site.
U995700_F638892.dwg (133.2 KB)

Both are in inches (if you import into Sketchup)

So far, no luck importing. There’s some conflict with one of the extensions I have installed that cause SU to crash every time I try to import a dwg file on my computer. I’ve been working around by importing into SU Web, then downloading, but I can’t seem to sign in to my Trimble account at present.

I’ll report back once I’ve been able to get around these other issues.


That seems to have worked. I need to use this translation instead of the other site I was using.

Thanks so much, fredy! Much appreciated.