In my last post, I described how to develop a plan from scratch. The focus was on developing source information in the form of a napkin sketch. But there are times when you may want to develop a plan from existing images, such as blue prints, CAD (Computer Aided Drafting) drawings, .jpg images or other graphical representations. Icovia provides you with the ability to import graphical images for the purpose of tracing. This case study will explore the general concepts of developing a plan this way.
Overview of the Import command
There are a couple of basics about importing images that you should know. Imported images are not saved with a plan. But they are handy for tracing geometry, especially when the image lacks dimension annotation. Whether the source images is a CAD drawing, a screen capture or any other format, you need to convert it to a jpg or swf for the purpose of importing into Icovia. I should mention that jpg files must be non-progressive format.
Another must-know item is that the version of Flash Player plug-in must be 7.0.
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 in the line reading "About Macromedia Flash Player." Get Flash Player v7.0.
Converting your data to jpg format
If you have a CAD drawing, and the CAD software to read it, use that product to save the drawing to jpg format. Most CAD products are capable of doing this. There are also CAD drawing readers available. One example is the Brava Viewer. For details about converting CAD drawings to jpg format, see my blog article about it. Any other image that you can view on your computer screen can be turned into a jpg file with minimal effort. A screen capture is basically a snapshot of what is currently displayed on your screen, regardless of format. In Windows, it as easy as pressing the [Ctrl] and [Print Screen] buttons at the same time. (Yes, you do so have a [Print Screen] button on your keyboard. Keep looking!) Then any basic image editor, such as PC Paint can turn your screen capture into a jpg. Open PC Paint, activate the "Select" tool and with your cursor in the work area, right-click your mouse and select "Paste." Now save as JPG and you’re in business.
Tracing your jpg file in Icovia
The import feature is pretty straight-forward in Icovia. Import the image at a default scale. If there are any known sizes in the imported image, place a dimension in your plan and resize the imported image so that the object of known size matches the dimension line. If you’ve resized the image significantly, there may be a significant degradation of resolution. The solution to this problem is to resize the image in your image editor (i.e. PC Paint) and try again. Once you have the imported image at a valid scale, lock it and make note of your image scale. This way you will be able to import it more quickly the in your next edit session.
Now you’re ready to trace. Make sure that you aren’t tracing over wall lines in your image with walls that are so wide that they obscure the image. Otherwise, you’ll have trouble seeing where the windows, doors and other details are. Change your default wall width to a thin line, like an inch or so. Add walls, then doors and windows. Remember to save frequently. If you need to temporarily clear the screen of the imported image to check your work, use the "Show Imports" command to toggle it on/off.
Well, that’s about all there is to it. Like anything else, it gets easier with practice. Keep at it…your planning better every day.