Thursday, September 23, 2010

Creating Line Drawings

I regularly use engineering drawings in my procedures.  However, just copying them in makes for really sloppy results.  This is becuase of the background "noise" in the drawings when copied.  That is, the background is not all white.  It contains hundreds of versions of colors that are almost white.  When these are printed in black and white, you get black specks.

If it is not already electronic, I scan an engineering drawing and save it as a PDF file.  Then I adjust the PDF to the size I need.  I take a screen shot of the PDF and copy it into MS Paint (yes, the free drawing program in all Windows systems).

I outline all outline all of the drawing I need in red.  Then I erase everything that is not red.  That is not as easy as it sounds.  I save the best version I can as a BMP (bitmap) file, then open it in GIMP, a free open source graphic program.  I convert red to black and save the file.

I then open it back in Paint and change everything that is not black into red.  I save the file and open it again in GIMP.  I convert all red to white, and what I have left is a perfect black and white line drawing.

I open the drawing again in Paint and add any callouts or details needed.  Then I save the drawing as a JPG and it is ready to drop into a Word document.

This is a lot of work, but the resulting drawing can be manipulated with overlays and other effects and reused throughout the project.

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