Coming from an engineering design background here. I’ve got this rather complex CAD model I’m supposed to make a poster for. I figured turning it into linework with transparent background would clear things up and not clutter the poster. I could then overlay that on a light grey background and text over it as needed.

I’m using Fusion 360 and can’t find any option for rendering as wireframe/linework and when I tried just taking an engineering drawing I was locked into orthographic view (and we all know that looks way more weird than perspective).

So I figure I can export it as STEP or SAT and import it into some other program capable of doing so. I’ve got access to a decent range through university but any freeware tips and tricks are very appreciated!

Many thanks :)

  • Can't you export as a 3D OBJ file? If so, you could import it into Blender or other 3D graphics software for rendering, even Photoshop can do it.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 17:33
  • But then ist no longer a blueprint ;)
    – joojaa
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 18:09
  • @BillyKerr thanks, yes I can export as OBJ. But which of those has a lineart style of render? I’ve always just used the in-program rendering engines up till now because I haven’t needed anything special! Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 18:23
  • 1
    Do you mean like a wireframe render. There are tutorials out there for Blender - one here and another here
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 18:39
  • Houdini also renders lines.
    – rebusB
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 20:20

4 Answers 4


This trick has been a gold valued limitation workaround in a freeware CAD:

I have a wireframe scene. I print it as PDF with Adobe PDF printer. The PDF can be opened in Illustrator. It is editable vector drawing, not a bitmap.

In File menu export as 2D vector file is greyed, but printing the scene gives the result I want. Test the same in your CAD.

My freeware CAD is Design Spark Mechanical (Radically downgraded version of SpaceClaim). It reads STEP files, but their editing is disabled. And, of course there's no perspective except in its poor shaded view mode, which gives screen resolution bitmaps.

  • Hmm may work, I suppose. I can export some beautiful photorealistic renders, which is nice. And I can probably capture wireframes from the CAD environment itself but I’d then have to erase the “hidden” areas by hand. I’ll look into this option anyway. Thanks. Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 0:24
  • @AcrimoniousMirth the trick worked also with "hidden lines removed" scenes
    – user82991
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 0:29
  • 1
    Actually fusin 360 does not have this problem. Its not freeware its more like ransomware. Anyway i digress, fusin 360 has no problem in doing a vector export. Its just that ist a engineering software and engineering drawings do not use perspective drawings. So you can not generate perspective drawings out fo the lines. Its not so much that the engine coud not do this they just have not included the perspective feature because the intention of the program is not there so no need to implement homegenious matrix transforms. It would be relatively easy for them to do this but thats not their aim.
    – joojaa
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 8:25
  • @joojaa as lamented by anyone who’s ever had to do a graphical line representation of their design or even considered filing a patent. It would indeed be easy to include it. However we’re not here to discuss the morals of companies but to look at workarounds. Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 16:05
  • 1
    @AcrimoniousMirth and yes some mCADs, like SolidWorks do offer this option, but then fusion 360 is the only one that has a bait and switch marketing scheme.
    – joojaa
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 17:57

OK, about half of mechanical 3d CAD applications do not allow you to do perspective drawings, Drawings are after all dimensioning tools and perspective is not allowed in drafting standards. However some vendors recognize that not everything is needed because of just the standards compliance. So for example Creo, NX and SolidWorks do allow this, probably also Catia (didnt test). Compared to these Fusion is really immature so maybe it will also have this feature.

So if you really want to use a STEP file just open it in Creo, NX or Solid works and make a drawing with perspective.

enter image description here

Image 1: Isometric and perspective drawing from Creo, opened in illustrator after secondary curve fitting on the vector data.

Now 3d applications meant for document content creation (DCC), like Maya 3DS MAX, Houdini, Mode, Blender etc. Do not usually tessellate the STEP models all that well. If you want to use one of these pre tesselate n your cad and export as OBJ, STL, or XYZ and open the model. Most of these have a vector rendering mode. As a bonus you also get MUCH more tools for coloring things.


Not an CAD guy myself but it does look like Fusion 360 will export the canvas as an image. Gives you control over resolution, transparent background, image file type. The samples I saw all show solid shaded representations of the design but I would think that line work would export the same way.

Via File menu: File>Capture Image...

capture image (source Autodesk)

  • Yes, that could be a viable option. Hadn’t spotted that (always went straight to render). It may be that I can capture the full wireframe then erase the hidden lines. I’ll give that a shot tomorrow and see how it goes. Thanks. Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 0:26

You can set hidden lines to off prior to your capture - should help a lot.

AutoDesk Fusion Help-360-Hidden Lines

ripped from Adesk Help

For myself, I pull models into modo, and do my visualization work there, as there's a huge degree of artistic freedom: I'd imagine the same is true of Blender.

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