Transferring Multilayer Drawings to Photoshop

You have already seen how to transfer drawings from AutoCAD to Photoshop and maintain the graphic scale in the image. Drawings transferred in this way appear on a single layer in Photoshop. However, typical CAD drawings contain many layers, and more creative possibilities open up if you can access these as individual image layers in Photoshop.

It is possible to transfer the layers from an AutoCAD drawing to a Photoshop image by printing each layer one at a time and then integrating the image files in Photoshop. Fortunately for you, I have written a program (included on the companion CD) that automates part of this process, saving you many hours of tedium.

The program runs in AutoCAD and automates plotting by making each layer an image file. It is called 1ay2img (layer to image) and is written in Autodesk's subset of the ancient list processing language (developed in the 1950s) called AutoLISP. Programming in AutoLISP is beyond the scope of this book, although you will learn how to edit a few simple parameters in the program to suit your needs.

After you load and use 1ay2img to print each layer as an image file, I'll show you a technique in ImageReady (Photoshop's sister product) to automate the integration of the image files into layers within a single document. Finally, we'll use the Magic Eraser tool to composite the layers transparently together in a working Photoshop file.

Let's begin by opening a new drawing file of a kitchen project.

1. Launch AutoCAD if it is not already running and open the file Kitchen.dwg from the companion CD. Figure 5.18 shows the cleaned-up drawing (see the "Cleaning Drawings" section earlier in this chapter) that is ready to be transferred to Photoshop.

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