General discussions on Technical Illustration
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matt_lorenzi
 
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SOLIDWORKS Composer

by matt_lorenzi Fri May 13, 2016 4:25 pm

Just started a 12 month contract in the solar business. I'm hired as a technical writer, but I think they will likely lean heavily on my illustration skills. There's still a lot of use of photographs (poor) with numbered callouts. The mechanical engineers work in SOLIDWORKS, so the tech writing team is looking at SOLIDWORKS Composer to help with graphics.

Anyone have any thoughts or has anyone used Composer? I think one of the key features is ability to output vectors via SVG. You can then open the SVG in Illustrator and go from there. Of course Composer videos show the entire assembly instructions being handled within Composer, but like all CAD based programs, the line-art capabilities are lacking. As well, the engineering models do not include any of the wiring, so it would require additional illustration work in Illustrator.

Is this a common workflow: CAD => vectors => Illustrator?

I've only been here a week, but should be a fun ride....
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matt_lorenzi
 
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Re: SOLIDWORKS Composer

by matt_lorenzi Wed May 18, 2016 11:46 pm

...bump...
come on people! ;)
MichaelH_in_PA
 
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Re: SOLIDWORKS Composer

by MichaelH_in_PA Mon Nov 07, 2016 3:05 pm

How has the job/project gone for you? Output from composer for me has been.....wonky. I gave up on it and just went back to CAD(Catia for me)--->IsoDraw. The composer makes neat little animations, but I have found that to be more of a gimmick more than anything else. Training guys like it, but don't wanna give up budget money for too much of it.

As I alluded to earlier, I was not happy with any of the lineart output from Composer. I was getting some very strange aberrations. Missing lines, extra lines, etc.
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JamesProvost
 
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Re: SOLIDWORKS Composer

by JamesProvost Fri Nov 18, 2016 2:07 pm

I've had a couple of projects where clients supplied vector output from CAD (probably SolidWorks).

So far I've always redrawn/traced it with the Pen in Illustrator. It just makes for a cleaner basis for whatever I'm doing from there.

A quick and dirty method I've used is selecting everything and making it Live Paint, filling all the solid areas with the Live Paint Bucket and a bright colour, Live Paint > Expand, ungroup (repeat until everything is ungrouped), deselect and select one of the CAD lines, Select > Same > Fill & Stroke, Delete, then select the bright colour, Select > Same > Fill & Stroke and click the Default Fill & Stroke button (bottom left of the main Fill and Stroke boxes). What you end up with is a black and white drawing with closed paths and a solid white fill. This method will even close any small gaps in the CAD output.

Astute Graphics' plugin VectorScribe can help clean up messy CAD vectors, particularly the Smart Removal Brush and the Points to Tangencies button.
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matt_lorenzi
 
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Re: SOLIDWORKS Composer

by matt_lorenzi Wed Apr 05, 2017 9:36 pm

The more I use Composer the less I like it.

Not only is it slow, it's also got cumbersome interface. Doing any sort of transformation makes me stabby. I think it works well if you are working in relatively small assemblies, but once you get into complex models it just churns. I do what I need to do in Composer to get my ortho view then promptly export to SVG and bring into Illustrator.

Some may do an entire technical illustration right within Composer, but I would never get the level of detail, control and final look without bringing it into a 2-D space.

The best feature for me is the Custom Camera Views - allows you do dial in your ortho angles so when you export a Technical Illustration you are guaranteed the same angles every time.

Would love to hear from others as to their experience.
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matt_lorenzi
 
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Re: SOLIDWORKS Composer

by matt_lorenzi Wed Apr 05, 2017 10:05 pm

JamesProvost wrote:I've had a couple of projects where clients supplied vector output from CAD (probably SolidWorks).

So far I've always redrawn/traced it with the Pen in Illustrator. It just makes for a cleaner basis for whatever I'm doing from there.

A quick and dirty method I've used is selecting everything and making it Live Paint, filling all the solid areas with the Live Paint Bucket and a bright colour, Live Paint > Expand, ungroup (repeat until everything is ungrouped), deselect and select one of the CAD lines, Select > Same > Fill & Stroke, Delete, then select the bright colour, Select > Same > Fill & Stroke and click the Default Fill & Stroke button (bottom left of the main Fill and Stroke boxes). What you end up with is a black and white drawing with closed paths and a solid white fill. This method will even close any small gaps in the CAD output.

Astute Graphics' plugin VectorScribe can help clean up messy CAD vectors, particularly the Smart Removal Brush and the Points to Tangencies button.


OMG, I just tried this! I've never to this day used Live Paint because I frankly did not know what it was for. This is a great way to get closed paths at the very least, without having to manually build compound paths. I may still hang onto my CAD lines as they come over from Composer with different thicknesses.
But this is most helpful to at least get a white background on my components. Thanks!
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