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I am trying to import a PDF into illustrator, the problem is that the PDF is a highly complex 3D diagram.

I don't know from which software the PDF was genarated. I know that the original file format was vc3(I think its for CAD stuff).

I am doing this on a Laptop(Processor: Intel Core Duo CPU T6570 @ 2.10Ghz with 4GB DDRAM memmory, so its not a studio laptop but its quite decent for usual and above stuff a GD would do.

The problem is that the diagram inside the PDF is higly complex, even when I just open it with Acrobat Viewer, it takes about 2-3 minutes just to display it. It seems different from other stuff I've seen in PDF fromat so far, I think the diagram is all vectors, but its a little weird as I open it it seems that the 3D Model in the diagram is being build(it shows stuff from behind first then builds up towards the front part of the 3D model, for example if it was a cube, you would first see the faces from behind then as it adds the faces from the front part of the cube you don't even see the faces from behind that you just saw previously, but I think those faces are still there). Have a look at the screenshoots.

I didn't even know that it was posible to have a 3D model in PDF format, that is cool, Im just google it now to see what I can find out. What I am looking for is maybe someone that did this sort of stuff before, are there ways to tell Acrobat to not generate/be aware of the back side of the model, I just need a large image of the model, I don't need it 3D, I need to extract it as an image in order to use it in a Print Brochure I am designing inside Illustrator.

If I try to import/open with Illustrator the whole thing crashes and i can't really do anything about it. It crashes from the Place screen(when you place a PDF in Illustrator a window appears trying to generate a Preview of the first page of the PDF, then you can select with page of the PDF you want to place) well, it crashes at the part where Illustrator tries to generate a preview of the first page in the PDF...

[I can upload the PDF somewhere if you wanna have a look at it, maybe on a super computer or something...

Im not sure about the title of the question, and if in 3D generated graphics the "stuff" its still called vector, If there is someone around here that knows about this stuff please edit the question as best as posible, excuse my poor english, not native speaker :D ]

  • omg, this is soo nice, have a look at this 3d model in pdf format, inside the browser(I am using Chrome) cic.nist.gov/vrml/cis/DesignData3.pdf Its interactive, you can change the BG, you can rotateit, there are links to snap to certain views(front, side,stairs etc...) Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 12:39
  • I'm not clear if the original question is about a 3d model embedded so as to allow interactivity and multiple views, as per the link in your comment, or just a very complex 3d render from a particular angle?
    – e100
    Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 16:51
  • What happens if you simply try opening the PDF with Illustrator rather than placing it?
    – Scott
    Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 19:59
  • @Scott, the same, it crashes.. Commented Feb 11, 2012 at 4:41
  • @e100 it is just to view it from a particular angle and then make an image that can be used in a print brocure... kind of.. not the way to do it, normally the person who did the 3D should supply high quality rendering of the model..but that did't happen so.. Commented Feb 11, 2012 at 4:41

1 Answer 1


Acrobat 3D has been around for about 6 years, as of this writing. Its purpose was to allow people to distribute interactive 3D models in a portable format that didn't require the receiver to have anything other than Adobe Reader in order to view, interact with and annotate 3D models. What you are seeing when you open the PDF is the 3D model being drawn, just as you would see any highly complex vector art being drawn.

You can't do anything with the 3D component in Illustrator, because it's not 3D aware. Internally, if the model is in U3D format, you should be able to open the PDF in a U3D application. SketchUp may do it (not tested by me). If you open the file in AI, all you'll get is the 2D components. The model will be missing.

For your purposes, you could try this: rotate and scale the model to the view you want, then make it the default view (in the 3D toolbar) and Save As. Then open the PDF in Photoshop at whatever resolution you need. Crop the PSD as needed, and save. You can then place that file in AI. It will be raster, not vector art.

  • I sort of did the same thing, but this is better, I actually needed the model for a very small picture in the borchure, about 3 cm wide, so all I did was a screenshot(in Acrobat, Edit > Copy File to Clipboard. And then resized(reduced in in pixels size and increased DPI). Not good to do if you need the picture for a larger print, but worked for me in this case ... Commented Feb 11, 2012 at 4:45

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