Can you render to Illustrator (vectors)

Hi all,

I’m on a recon mission to find a 3d app that will suite my needs and haven’t found a definitive answer as to whether Blender 3d will render to vectors (an editable illustrator file)?

And what is the max resolution of a single (bitmap) frame, for use in print production?

I am a graphic designer and will be using it in creating logos (simple graphics, various bevels on extrusions) and ‘exploritory’ graphics like flowing ribbon-like shapes floating in 3d space with soft diffused lights (rendered as bitmaps of course), i.e. not full-on modeling of real objects.

Any help will be greatly appreciated :slight_smile:



You can use Blender for what you need, and of course save the rendered image as a BitMap, JPG, etc… Don’t forget, the background can be saved as an alpha channel too.

No, this is currently not possible. Sorry… Although the render engine is being reworked by Ton so maybe this will be a possible new feature.

I’m uncertain how you want the 3D space to be converted to an editable 2D vector file?

As for resolution, an A4 image at 300dpi is 2480x3508 pixels. So, if you render to that size, you can convert the output to 300dpi for a printable A4 image.

One problem - Blender doesn’t render that big so you’re limited to smaller images or lower resolutions. In many cases, 200dpi is enough and for newspapers, as low as 100dpi might be fine.

To calculate pixel dimensions, just make a blank document in photoshop to the size and resolution you want then go to Image Size and check the pixel ratio.

One problem - Blender doesn’t render that big so you’re limited to smaller images or lower resolutions. In many cases, 200dpi is enough and for newspapers, as low as 100dpi might be fine.

I have rendered 3500x2333 pixels image with blender 2.37, 72px/in, wich makes 296.33x197.53 mm at 300 px/in resolution. I have used internal Blender renderer for that, don’t know about the limitations of Yafray.


I have rendered 3500x2333 pixels image with blender 2.37, 72px/in, wich makes 296.33x197.53 mm at 300 px/in resolution.

Thanks petersk and others,

This is the info I needed. It seems Blender has a great renderer (for my ‘new blood’ needs) so I’ll spend the next couple of days sussing it all out. I have found an inexpensive 3d app called Swift 3D which does render to vectors (handy for webdesigners using flash) so I will see if it can import anything from Blender.

Does anyone have any experience with Swift 3D? just after general comments.

Thanks again for the help.


I have rendered 3500x2333 pixels image with blender 2.37

I thought I’d rendered bigger images too but when I tried today, the actual output was smaller than my chosen dimensions. I assume it defaulted to a maximum size. (It could also just be my Mac build, maybe?).

AndyD - you mean the output of the visible render, or the saved render image file? I think the render window is limited in relation to your screen resolution…but on saving the file, you get what you ask for.

Please let us know what you find.

I had a client who wanted “blueprint” style images of a spaceship.
Once one has the ship modeled in Blender, a few setting changes will make the image into a line art blueprint

(The settings? The background was set to white. All the materials were set to “Toon Render” with a pure white material. COL textures were deleted, but NOR or DISP textures were retained. Set each material to “shadeless”. The renderer’s outline function was turned on and set to 25, with all the other options on. Two hemispheric lights were added, one above and one below. The cameras were spaced around the model, and set to Ortho mode with scaling to make the image just fit the scene. )

The trouble is that the client wanted these as vector artwork, specifically an Adobe Acrobat file. He had to settle for jpg, since the only application I could find that would convert to vector art was Right Hemisphere’s Deep Exploration with the illustration module, and it was a bit too rich for my blood at $750

AndyD, is it possible that you have one of the percentage buttons pressed?

Please let us know what you find.

I had a client who wanted “blueprint” style images of a spaceship.[/quote]


Swift 3D imports file formats 3DS or DXF. Blender can export DXF, amoung others. I exported a cube from Blender and imported it into Swift 3D without a hitch. So this indicates that it could work. I am a real newbie to 3D so I suggest you download a demo version of Swift 3D (it’s less that $100 to buy, I think) and give it a test run. The only thing is that you can’t render files with the demo version but you could get onto their support forum, which is pretty active, and see if someone could help you out.

I hope this is what you were meaning.



If you had AutoCAD, or access to it (or IntelliCAD), you could export your model as DXF, import into ACAD, and then export as WMF.
Or from DXF > 3DS Max > AI.

Would VRML be of any use? I know some flash programs (I know 3DFA does for sure) can import vrml files.

Thanks, I’ll look into these.

Though I fear it will be a long time before my budget will allow the purchase of 3DS Max.

If you want to make vector files of your line art, you can do it in Illustrator, Flash, Corel, and also in free open source vector program Inkscape.

These programs have to ability to convert bitmap to vector. The more the artwork looks like line art (as your “blueprints” do) the more accurate it will convert the data to vector. Typically there are threshold settings that will dictate how line contours are followed. You can have pretty accurate track (albeit possibly with lots of points), and you can adjust the traces to finer or thicker lines, or streamlined traces that diviate somewhat from but still generally follow the bitmap contours (with less points).

For instance, in Inkscape, under the PATH dropdown, you’ll see an option called TRACE BITMAP. You’ll need to read through docs of whatever program you’re using to make the best of this tool. You should render (or postprocess in Photoshop/Gimp/etc.) so you wind up with clean lines for tracing.

Hope this helps.

Thank you, Excitron. I had tried converting with Inkscape. It worked but that was not quite what I wanted. It made irregularly shaped regions that followed the outlines of the lines composing the blueprint.

I was hoping for a vector file where the blueprint lines were actually composed of line segments with various stroke widths.

Wings has an eps export in Export/Cartoon Edges. It exports the edges of your model (or outline, hard edges or all, depending on what option you selected) in the same view as you had it facing on the modelling window, as a vector file (line segments). I had good results with it exporting to Corel Draw.
But your model looked like it was detailed using bump maps. They wouldn’t get exported as vectors in Wings…
Inkscape’s vector tracing has an option for outputting lines instead of shapes, I think. Not too sure about this, since I don’t have it installed in this computer. But as with most autotracing programs, I wouldn’t really expect any high degree accuracy. More control would be to redraw it in vector by hand.

There is a patch for turning the opengl displayed information into a vector ps file.

Not sure if it gives you exactly what you want though.


Or just - if you have AutoCAD - just open the AutoCAD-File in Illustrator. Illustrator opens the modelspace with current viewport view! It works from AI9.0 but CS is more stable with that!

Following Sphere was created in blender, exportet to dxf, opened in AutoCAD, rotatet the viewport (for checking saving of viewport) and saved as DWG and finally opened in Illustrator (and for publish here, exportet to JPG). :smiley:

If you want the hidden lines off, there is a other way - in the model-space in AutoCAD switch the view to hidden lines and PRINT to PDF and open that PDF in Illustrator. AI can’t import switched off hidden lines or other shaded views!

Hey there,

Blender can render up to 10000x10000 px in size, so about 84 cm or 33 in at 300 dpi. I’ve seen people render bigger scenes, but they had to composite parts back together.

Matt :slight_smile:

I’m getting some really good suggestions here. I’ll have to evaluate them but I’m sure one of them will solve my problem.

The AutoCAD solution looks nice, alas I do not have a spare $4000 in my budget.

But the OpenGL patch and the Wings export look like just what the doctor ordered. I know this won’t export bump maps, but I shouldn’t be using that for blueprints anyway.

Thanks for all your help. More-so that other forums, the Elysium forum always comes through with the straight dope.