Drawing Setup: Using an Image
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Drawing Setup: Using an Image

Jan 22, 2021
Video Length:  1:00:19
Presented By:  Jake Lott

A photo or Google Earth image of your site can provide an indispensable point of reference as a basis for your design. Pick up some recommendations and best practices for bringing an image into your base file. We'll guide you through the entire process, from setting up your file to choosing and scaling your image, tracing key elements, setting up your layers, and configuring a sheet and viewport for plotting. With the help of these tips, your plan will be the image of success!

Webinar Contents:

Note: The following catalog of content covered in this webinar is time stamped to allow you to follow along or skip to sections of the video that are relevant to your questions. You can also search for content on this page using the FIND command in your browser (CTRL + F in Windows, Command + F in Mac OS.)


  • Intro/TOC
  • What to Do Before Inserting the Image
    • System Variables
  • Scale vs. Align
  • How to Insert Image Types Properly
    • JPG
    • PDF
    • PNG
    • GEO
    • PSD

0:00 – 5:27: Intro/TOC

Image types accepted by CAD (4:10)

5:28 – 18:28 What to Do Before Inserting the Image


Source matters! (5:36)


Raster vs. vector (7:03)


Resulting input (DWG) & output (PDF) file size (9:06)


Path types to keep in mind (11:44):

  • No path: Files need to stick together in the same folder
  • Relative path: Partially specified folder paths. Keep folder structure and move entire folder setup to another location while keeping all paths intact.
  • Full (absolute) path: Includes entire path, including hard drive/network path.


Have an understanding of what your setup is going to be like, and try not to change from that.


Don't forget to check your units!




System Variables (13:10)

System variables to keep in mind (13:10):




  • 0: The image frame is not displayed or plotted.
  • 1: Displays and plots the image frame.
  • 2: Displays but does not plot the image frame.
  • 3: The settings vary for all objects with frames in the current drawing: Images, underlays, clipped Xrefs, and wipeout objects do not all have the same frame settings.

14:29 – 20:27: Scale vs. Align

Scaling image steps (using the Reference Option) (14:29):

  1. Select image.
  2. Type SCALE in the Command line.
  3. Select insertion point (user discretion).
  4. Type R (for "Reference") and press Enter.
  5. Pick first reference point.
  6. Pick second reference point.
  7. Type new distance into the Command line.
  8. Zoom Extents and verify a known distance.


Scaling image steps (using the ALIGN option) (17:45)

  1. Select image.
  2. Type ALIGN in the Command line.
  3. Select first image point (on incorrectly sized image).
  4. Select first destination point you want to match (on correctly sized content).
  5. Pick second source point.
  6. Pick second destination point.
  7. Press enter and select "Yes" to scale content.
  8. Zoom Extents and verify a known distance.

20:28 – 24:29: Importance of a Clean Template

Saving layer settings into your template using our Load and Save Layers tools (21:18)

24:30 – end: How to Insert Image Types Properly

JPG (24:35)

Using the Xref Manager and attaching an image (24:35)


Verifying the image scale (27:00)




PDF (29:09)

If you bring in a PDF from the Xref Manager, you'll only be able to bring it in as an underlay.


Vector vs. raster (30:26)


Scaling the image (32:00)


Adding a dimension (32:45)


The importance of verifying your units (33:36)


Importing a PDF using the Import command (34:46)


Bringing in the Xref image layers and manipulating linework from the image (37:11)


Scaling the image (39:12)


Tips (39:48):

  • Remember to have Google Earth in Vertical Mode.
  • Check the historical photos – those can sometimes be better.




PNG (41:40)

Bringing in a logo (41:40)


PNG vs. JPEG: PNG allows for a transparent background, while JPEG does not. (44:48)


Question: What is an OLE? (45:52)

Answer: OLE stands for "object linking and embedding." It's an old Windows standard that allows you to embed an external file type object, so rather than having that image be a separate file that is Xrefed in, the entire image file is literally embedded inside the DWG.




GEO (47:38)

Bringing in a map using the Geolocate function (47:38)


Using the ALIGN command (53:13)




PSD (56:14)

Attaching a Photoshop document (PSD) (56:14)

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