Scaling Images in Layout


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  1. Newish to Chief.
  2. AutoCAD self and formally taught.


  • I have many details in a master DWG file and also as write blocks.  I have been trying to import them into Chief with poor results.
  • Then I thought, what if I create exact detail pages in autoCAD, print them to PDF at scale, then I could import them into CA layout and they would sit exactly on top of my layout and I could resize the "box" around the PDF to allow the title block from chief to show.
  • Did that.  Bogged down chief.  Exported to PDF and the exported file took FOREVER...looked great but was 287 MB.
  • Then (all my ideas seem to come as I'm falling asleep) I thought what about:
    • exporting my autoCAD details to PDF
    • displaying them at 100%
    • taking screenshots of the details (jpg/png, whatever)
    • dropping those screenshts into my layout
  • Did that.  Images import to fill the screen it appears.
  • Here is what I did to fix that.


A Chief Architect rookie method for importing my autoCad details as scaled images.  (Framers Lead The Way!)
  1. Print to PDF all of the details that you want to import into Chief Architect (CA).
  2. Once you print to PDF  open it in a PDF viewer at 100% or actual size.  Actual size might be larger than your display.
  3. Drag the screen to each detail and take screen shots of them (label them accordingly) 
  4. Open one of the images in an image processing app like Photoshop, or Gimp and go to image size menu to determine the pixel density of the image. On a MacBook Pro with retina display that should be 144 pixels per inch (PPI).  
  5. With that information, locate your first image you want to import into CA and notice the width of that screenshot (in pixels), say its 1044 pixels.
  6. Navigate to the website called ninjaunits dot com (I searched Google for pixel to inch convertor)
  7. Check the box to the left of Activate Custom DPI.
  8. Photoshop showed that all my screenshots were 144 PPI/DPI as expected.
  9. Type 144 in the Custom DPI box.
  10. In the pixels box type in the image pixel width (the width of the first image)
  11. The website will generate Conversion to Inches in the box immediately to the right of the pixels box.
  12. For 1044 at 144PPI it displays 7.25 inches wide.
  13. Drag the image file into your Chief Architect layout.
  14. Open the file properties for the image and enter the width in the Size field.
  15. The dropped image file will resize to whatever scaled size you just printed to in PDF.
  16. **(I had originally imported the scaled PDF in its entirety and somehow it ballooned the CA-created PDF file to 287MB and bogged CA down pretty seriously so this is why I’ve tried the PNG individual file method - no idea if this actually works until I print to paper and put a scale to it.)
  17. Change image resolution from JPG 75% to 100% or to PNG.
  18. Check the box to Save image in plan.
  19. If someone has a better way please share.
  20. I tried importing the DWG file but it lost all the leaders and the hatching was all solid black


The images show the process and the final screen shot of the detail in layout, printed to PDF from CA.  


I thought I'd post this since I couldn't find anything from Google except for a thread from 2011 on the old CA site.  If this works I hope it helps.  If this is bogus, then it's back to figuring out how to import things better (DWG) or redraw fun there.


Y'all take care.

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  • 1 year later...

I have evolved to a way easier method.


- Draw whatever it is in AutoCAD

- In paper space, Print to PDF at whatever scale you choose and match paper size for CA layout (ARCH D or whatever)

- Import the PDF to CA layout and position on the layout page where you want the PDF (check "Save in plan") in the imported PDF properties.

** Some of the line weights may be a bit light and need adjusting.


Attached is an example that I zoomed to 75% & 100% and then took screen shots.  Way easier than the crazy method I was trying before and everything remains to scale (which was my goal in the first place).

at 75 percent print size.png

at 100 percent print size.png

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OP, just an FYI.  There are print-to-image programs that will generate PNG, jpg or a number of other image files natively without needing to PDF print->screenshot->PNG/jpg->import.  This should significantly cut down on CA file size and probably make operation more smooth depending on how many / how large PDF details you have in the program.  I too find the dwg import feature squirrelly likely due to my various AutoCad settings in those drawings.


I specifically use ImagePrinterPro.

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Most PDF programs have the capability to export to PNG which will work much better in Chief.


OTOH, if you use a set of Detail Plans (generally at 1" scale - and named per the detail type) you can import your DWG's to individual named CAD Detail Windows.  These will be editable as needed and the scale can be set as well.


Since you can send to Layout from any Plan, using such Detail Plans provides an "Index" system for easy reuse from project to project.

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Mike,  what version are you running now ?   There were a few improvements with DWG import in X11 but they still don't have it quite right.


On 2/22/2018 at 6:20 AM, para-CAD said:

I tried importing the DWG file but it lost all the leaders and the hatching was all solid black


Hatching will need to be reassigned.  Try exploding leaders before import to preserve them.


As Joe says, make it your goal to eventually move your cad work to Chief.  Unfortunately imported cad work seems slow in chief but still better than PDF imports.

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I'm running X11. 

Chief is so clunky that I will probably never go 100% with it.

I do some production work that I don't think many apps are built to handle.

I drew this in AutoCAD and then import to CA.  Total final CA exported PDF size is 54MB with all the details and other PDFs.  It's not a problem so far.


My level of experience with manipulating imported DWGs in CA is pretty low.  It seems less capable than working natively in AutoCAD.


What I lose in CA BIM I make up for in complete control over placement, alignments, text, precision, etc.

Some things in CA are just plain frustrating.  Much in autoCAD is intuitive and when I can't do the same in CA quickly or pains me.


Thanks for your thoughts & input.


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