I cannot count how many times that I have used Inkscape to do my job, which 90% of the time is totally unrelated to the graphic arts field. Case in point, yesterday I had to create some documentation to go along with a new product that I just finished designing a few weeks ago. In one of the illustrations I wanted to show a hand on an assembly tool used to aid in the assembly of this new product. Initially I didn’t know how I was going to pull it off. Drawing a hand around a product in my CAD system, although possible, didn’t seem like the tool to use to get the job done. AutoCAD and Inventor are very powerful applications but I needed something even more flexible. That’s when Inkscape came to the rescue.
Since I didn’t feel like I had neither the talent nor the time to draw a hand from scratch, I took a picture of my hand in the shape that I wanted it and traced around it in Inkscape. A cheating mans approach, perhaps, but I’ll learn in time to forgive myself. Adjusting the nodes or “nurbs” is much easier to do in Inkscape in my opinion and that comes from a guy who has been using AutoCAD for more than 20 years and Inventor since the start of the millennium.
When I was finished adjusting the shape of my hand in Inkscape, I saved a copy out as a plain SVG file. Since Inkscape has a sketchy DXF exporter at the moment I couldn’t use that option. I opened the plain SVG file in Adobe Illustrator and exported the image out as a DXF. Adobe also has a DWG exporter but DXF works just fine for me. After that I brought the DXF into my Inventor drawing, adjusted scale, tweaked some nodes, and I was done. The hand is a little rough but I think it will work perfectly fine in my final documentation.
Although Adobe gets a shout for supplying the bridge between Inkscape and Inventor, it was Inkscape that helped me with the brunt of the work. Since I’m the “decider” I’m giving Inkscape most of the credit here.