How to Export a DWG or DXF LayOut File

You’d be hard-pressed to find a piece of professional computer-aided drawing (CAD) software that can’t read the DWG and DXF formats, which are the industry standard for exchanging CAD files with people who use apps like AutoCAD and Vectorworks. Here’s how to turn your LayOut document into a CAD file:

  1. Set all your SketchUp viewports to vector rendering mode.

    Here’s the short version: LayOut treats your SketchUp models’ edges as either raster (dots) or vector (math) information. Viewports that are rendered as rasters export to DWG/DXF as raster images. That’s usually not what you want to happen — especially if you’re exporting a CAD file. Follow these steps to make sure your viewports are vector images:

    1. Select a model viewport and then click the View tab of the SketchUp Model panel (choose Window, SketchUp Model to open this panel).

    2. Change the Rendering style drop-down list from Raster to Vector.

      Depending on the complexity of your model, LayOut may take a while to think.

    3. Repeat the preceding two steps for each viewport.

    If a viewport contains a view whose edges you don’t want to manipulate in CAD (such as a glitzy rendering), leave it as a raster.

  2. Choose File, Export, DWG/DXF.

    On a Mac, choose File, Export and make sure DWG/DXF is selected in the Export dialog box.

  3. Name your file, tell LayOut where to save it on your computer, and click the Save button (Options on a Mac).

  4. Set the DWG/DXF Export options.

    Here’s what all the knobs and switches do:

    • Format: Unless you know you need a DXF, export a DWG file. As for which version, stick with the latest one: AutoCAD 2010.

    • Pages: Choose which pages you want to export. Keep in mind that each page in your LayOut document exports as a separate file.

    • Output Space: When you choose Paper Space, the lines in your resulting document file, when measured in the CAD program you use next, are exactly as long as they’d be on a piece of paper printed from LayOut. Choosing Model Space tells CAD to draw the lines at a particular scale.

    • Scale: This setting is relevant only if you choose to export to Model Space. Pick the drawing scale that matches the scale of the viewports on the pages you’re exporting.

      If your pages have viewports at different scales, you have to export them separately to make sure all the scaling is accurate. Have two viewports at different scales on the same page? Only one of them will be correct in your exported file.

    • Layers: Decide which layers will appear in your exported files.

    • Ignore Fills: Fills are shapes that are drawn in LayOut and filled with a color.

  5. Mac only: Click OK to close the DWG/DXF Export dialog box.

  6. Click the Export button (Save button on a Mac) to export your document as one or more DWG/DXF files.

    If your LayOut file included any inserted raster images (such as JPEGs or PNGs,) you also end up with a folder that contains copies of those. They’re necessary for the DWG/DXF files you produce.

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