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Most Efficient Settings and Methods for Plotting Large Architectural Drawing Sets for Small File Sizes


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Hey everyone,


I'm a Landscape Architect using CAD and often experience the painful experience of plotting very large sets towards the submittal due date.

My most recent set after everything was submitted was 158 pages and 230MB. Remember this is just the Landscape addition to a much much larger set.

Something to note that brings me here is that from our last submittal to this one was the difference of about 100MB, but with a relatively minimal amount of actual changes occurring in the drawings.


So this brings me to my question. Where did the 100MB come from?


This question has two parts:


FIRST (PLOT MANAGEMENT): I'd love to hear all of your standard order of operations when it comes to plotting for small file sizes. Are there any particular CAD settings to PDF that can reduce the file size? PDF quality control settings? etc?



SECOND (DRAWING MANAGEMENT): Which parts of a CAD drawing end up contributing to the bulk of PDF file size? Do the xrefs attached to drawings have a large effect? Blocks? General overall file size? I feel as if there is a compounding issue that occurs but when there are so many drawings involved in architectural drawing sets it's hard to know where to begin.

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1. The pdf as a raster can change the DPI setting, for say A1 200DPI is fine, yeah your printer may say I can do 600dpi all your going to do is like x^5 in size. I think its in the pc3 file under options plot will have to look for it, others may jump in.


2. Be careful of anonymous blocks $ac23bs5nb these can contain complete dwg's. So check for these, insert again and have a look at it. Maybe you have done an attach or bind on a Xref, obvious is do AUDIT and Purge ran at least twice, if a CIV3D dwg run PURGESTYLESANDSETTINGS 1st before Purge, trying to remember exact CIV3D wording. Some huge size changes can occur with purges. 



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Like Big Al, we tend to use 200dpi for PDFs. If I am feeling generous I might go to 300, however 200dpi. Smaller number, smaller file size. "PDF Options" to adjust these. In PDFs I think also capture the font used makes the files smaller. If possible also plot PDFs as vectors. Might be worth checking for 'invisible' hatches (very light colours, greys and white) that will take up file size but be invisible to the eye once plotted. Also hatches - solid makes a smaller file size then a very small scale patterned hatch or lines? I have these settings saved in the pc3 file so never have to think about it.


When it comes to PDFs the file size shouldn't make too much difference, they are all just lines on the page once PDF. However general file management - purge, overkill, purge again, audit, keeping clutter off the drawing sheet, and if it all goes wrong copy and paste (top left to bottom right select) or wblock to a new drawing usually leaves behind a lot of unused stuff.


If you are getting about 1Mb 'bloat' in a drawing then something isn't quite right. Have things been exploded, such as hatches to lines, blocks to lines, arcs or something which will add a lot of points in the drawing and from there an increased file size. If you can't spot anything and purge doesn't help then I would copy to new drawing and see if that helps - I've had that recently where drawing went from 1.5mB to about 100kB





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  • 1 month later...

Just another suggestion I have plot range so can do say sheets 23-27 at press of a button or do all. Just ask. Handy when you only need to plot updated sheets.

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