Importing AutoCAD drawings into Icovia
AutoCAD drawings cannot be imported directly into Icovia. However, it is possible to import a JPG or Macromedia Shockwave Flash (SWF) files to trace. A SWF file is a proprietary Macromedia Flash format binary file. These can be generated with a program such as Macromedia’s Captivate. JPG is a more common file format, so for the purpose of this white-paper, we will discuss the JPG option.
Imported images are temporary and are NOT SAVED with your plans. If you need to continue tracing later, you will need to import the image file again. Please read this entire document before attempting to import an image file.
JPG format has to be non-progressive. Progressive JPG files are higher resolution format that have multiple layers of the image embedded. When the image loads, it becomes clearer as these layers load. The Flash Player plug-in used by Icovia does not have the codec’s (Encoders/decoders) required to read progressive JPG’s. If you do have a progressive JPG, you can load it into a image editor and save it to the non-progressive format. This can also be done by:
Load the image into Microsoft Paint, save it as a BMP.
Open the BMP and save it as a JPG.
This will strip out the progressive format information and make the file legible to Icovia.
Flash 7 Plug-in is Required
Flash 8 (the current version) has a security feature that precludes importing files altogether. If you already have Flash 8 installed, go to the link below and use the uninstall tool, then install Flash 7.
To determine which version of Flash Player you have installed, put your cursor over the Work Area in Icovia, and right-click your mouse. The Flash Player version will be listed.
Plug-in can be found here: http://www.macromedia.com/cfusion/knowledgebase/index.cfm?id=tn_14266
Note: If you have Flash Player 8 installed, follow the directions in the above (link) site to uninstall Flash Player 8, the install Flash Player 7 from the same site.
Note: A security feature in Firefox browser prohibits images from being uploaded. Please use another supported browser to access this feature
Preparing an AutoCAD DWG for Conversion
It is important to remember that AutoCAD and Icovia are very different products for very different purposes. While AutoCAD is a robust CAD product, used for finely detailed plans with extreme precision, Icovia is entirely different. Icovia users are not developing plans to use for construction purposes, but rather for fleshing out design and layout ideas.
It is highly likely that your AutoCAD drawings will have far more detail than what is needed or usable in Icovia. It is to your benefit that the layers in your DWG are toggled to display only those that can be used. The next section of this document describes what those are, in the context of a free AutoCAD DWG viewer. If you can make those changes in the saved DWG, you’ll be a step ahead in the process.
If you can do so without compromising the integrity of the drawing; change the wall types to be a solid wall, or with a dense poché with a bright color. This step isn’t absolutely necessary, but it certainly will help when you trace it because Icovia walls are a solid black line.
Creating a JPG file from and AutoCAD DWG
As with most things, there are a number of ways to accomplish the task of creating a usable JPG from an AutoCAD drawing. The method described here may or may not be the best one for you, but it works. Experiment with other techniques to discover what works best for you.
AutoCAD drawings may be opened and converted to a JPG without the benefit of having AutoCAD installed. Informative Graphics offers a free product called Brava DWG Viewer. It can be downloaded from this site:
Open an AutoCAD DWG in Brava. The goal of preparing an AutoCAD document is to strip out as much extraneous data as possible. Brava offers a layer control tool that will allow you discrete control over layer visibility. Turn off all layers except those which depict:
Stairs & Steps
You will also want to know a couple of dimensions. Dimensions should include a full-length dimension in the X and Y axis. These dimensions will be used in Icovia when the image is imported, to scale the image to the appropriate size.
Be sure to turn off layers that will not be relevant in Icovia, as they will only serve to confuse when the image is imported in Icovia. When the image layers have all been appropriately modified, change the background to white. Then use the “Save View As” command to create a jpg file. Be sure to not use progressive JPG format.
The free version of Brava DWG Viewer apparently doesn’t provide a way to crop the image before exporting it to JPG. If you happen to be using an editor that does, then crop the image to the outer limits of the structure.
Additional Steps if You Have an Image Editor
If you have an image editor, such as Fireworks, Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator there is more you can do to facilitate the import and tracing process. Images imported into Icovia never import at a true scale. So you will need to scale the image once it’s imported. This process will be quicker and easier if you have a image editor that will allow you to crop the image to the extremities of the structure. In other words, crop the image as closely as you can without cutting out any of the structure. You won’t need any dimension lines if you are doing this, but you will need to know what those dimension are when you import the image into Icovia.
If You Don’t Have An Image Editor
Open any basic image editor that you have. Most operating systems include one. On Windows, PC Paint is usually available.
Open PC Paint and use the selection tool to crop the image. Select the building as closely to the walls as possible. Use the Copy command to copy the selection to system clipboard. Open a new image.
Now go into Image> Attributes. Change the canvas units to be in inches, rather than pixels. Make the size 1/100th of the scale, for example, if your plan is 65’ x 76’ 7”, convert it to inches > 780” x 918”. The canvas size in PC Paint should be 7.8” x 9.18.
Paste the content. Make sure that the “Select” tool is active, or you won’t be able to paste. Now stretch the JPG to be as big as the canvas. Save the JPG. It is ready to import into Icovia.
Note: Don’t try to set the canvas to full scale, as this will probably overwhelm your PC for memory demands.
Importing the Image
To import an image file:
1. Select “Import File” from the File menu at the top of the screen.
2. From the “Select a File” panel, click on the “Browse” button to locate the JPG.
3. Once you've selected the file, click the “Select this File” button.
4. Next, click on the “Import” button from the “Import File” panel. The image should now appear in your work area.
If the image doesn’t appear when you zoom to Fit, then you probably have imported an invalid version. Move your cursor to the center of your screen and an icon properties ghost box may appear. If so, delete it. Also, make sure import visibility is not turned off.
From the View menu, make sure that “Show Imports” has a check mark in front of it.
Select the icon. The Icon properties panel appears on the left side of the screen. Adjust the size of the image. In the example, our plan was 780” x 918”. If you enter 918 in the depth box, the length will automatically be changed to 780, because aspect ratio is synchronous.
Once sized and placed appropriately, click on blue lock symbol in corner of selected JPG to lock in place.
Make note of the size so it can be re-imported again at the same scale.
Tips for Tracing Plans
* If you start drawing 6” walls over 6” walls, your doors, windows and openings will be obscured by the Icovia walls. Set the default wall thickness to 1”. After placing doors, windows and openings, edit the wall to change the width.
* Lock the image once it is sized correctly.
* Toggle the image visibility with the View > Show Imports command, as needed.
* Lock plan components that are to remain as-is.
* Save frequently.
* Use the Clone command when multiple instances of a customized icon is needed.
* Use generic shape icons (Structural Icon Set) to emulate icons that are not available. Change the label of these shapes to reflect what they are intended to represent.
* Use the wall icon (rather than the wall tool) to draw wide walls, to avoid the rounded end walls drawn by the wall tool.