How to Draft With Illustrator


Computer users create beautiful drawings with Adobe Illustrator. Although computer-aided design (CAD) programs are more precise for drafting, those without access to CAD use any version of Illustrator's basic tools to draft. The application provides multiple line weights and styles, as well as various fills and gradients to render the drawings. In addition, Adobe Illustrator, version 10 through CS5, imports and exports standard CAD formats, DWG and DXF. So, the Illustrator user can edit CAD drawings, as well.

  • Open Adobe Illustrator and select "New" in the "File" menu. To edit a CAD drawing, select "Open" in the "File" menu, select "All Readable Files" in the "Enable" menu, browse to and select the DWG or DXF file, and click the "Open" button.

  • Select "Document Setup" in the "File" menu. Change the "Units" to "Inches" in the "Artboard" tab. Illustrator can draw to real scale, but the drawing size is limited to standard paper sizes. So, you must draft to a scale, such as 1/8 inch equals 1 foot, which means a 1 inch line is 8 feet long in the 1/8th scale drawing.

  • Hold down the "Shift" key to draw horizontal, vertical and 45 degree lines with the line tool. Furthermore, draw regular polygons and circles by holding the "Shift" key as you draw the objects.

  • Offset lines to create walls and material thickness by selecting "Path" in the "Object" menu and clicking "Offset Path." Enter the offset dimension and click the "OK" button.

  • Trim the drawn lines by selecting the lines and clicking on the "Scissors" tool or the "Slice" tool in the toolbar. Click the "Scissors" tool or "Slice" tool on the lines or line intersections. Select the parts of the lines to be removed with the "Direct Selection" tool and press the "Delete" key on your keyboard. The lines will disappear.

  • Adjust the line weight and type in the "Strokes" panel. Use line weights that are perfect squares, such as "1," "4" and "9," to create strong, geometrically-proportioned, line weights. Type the dimensions of "Dash" and "Gap" lengths for dashed and dotted lines, such as center lines, hidden lines and property lines.

  • Select "Export" in the "File" menu and change the "Format" to "AutoCAD File (.dwg)" or AutoCAD Interchange File (.dxf)," name the file and click the "Export" button. Alternatively, save the file in the Illustrator format using "Save As" in the "File" menu, type a file name and click the "Save" button.

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