PowerCADD 8: ACAD Translator: Black on Black hidden objects

Issue: Black Hole: When writing a DWG? from PCD8, objects with a black pen color in PCD8 seem to disappear against the black background of ACAD's model space.


  • PowerCADD 8.0.0, ACAD Translator External
  • Priority: High
  • This issue has been reported to Engineered Software


Saving a PowerCADD 8 drawing a dwg will result in objects with a black pen color in PCD8 to render as black when opened in ACAD model space. If the ACAD user has a model space background of black, the objects will seem to 'disappear into a black hole'. When the ACAD users switches to Paper Space, all the objects will be there because paper space layouts use a white background. By default, all PCD8 dwg files open into a paper space layout in ACAD so the content will appear correct; the ACAD user will have to switch to model space to see the problem.

Here is a screen shot of a simple example created in PowerCADD 8 and saved as dwg. When opened in ACAD, paper space, all the objects (two, one black one yellow) are visible.

Here is how the same content looks when the ACAD user switches to model space. We have selected both objects for illustration, note the select handle bars immediately above the yellow line appear to be selecting 'nothing'. That 'nothing' is the black line shown in paper space above.

Work Around

If your drawing does not contain Advanced Text blocks (new and specific to PCD8), the fastest work around is to open the file in PowerCADD 7 and write/save the dwg file from there. If your PCD8 drawing contains advanced text blocks (for example from a previous inbound translation), then opening and saving in PowerCADD 7 will not work as Advanced Text from PCD8 is rendered as PDF? in PCD7, and PDF content is not written when saving as dwg.

If you drawing contains Advanced Text then consider some of these possible work around solutions. Prior to attempting any work around operations make sure to perform a Save As... and work on a copy of your original drawing file.

Getting around the problem involves changing objects in PCD8 with a black pen color attribute to something other than black. The fastest way to do that is using Edit menu → Select Special... feature or the new PCD8 Magic Wand tool (reference your PCD8 printed or PDF manual for details). That allows you to globally select all objects with a pen color of black and change them to something else. Please make sure you have turned Edit All Layers : ON from the Layers Window to speed up that process.

The down side to using Select Special is it will not look in side of Groups or Symbols. In those cases you can assign a Layer Color Attribute to those layers containing Groups or Symbols to change their pen color attributes. (see comment below for clarification of this deletion)

Please remember, when writing a DWG file, all layers (whether turned on or off) are included in the translated file. If you do not want to include hidden layers, and they contain black objects which might be confusing to the ACAD user, delete those layers in your copy of the original drawing prior to saving as dwg.

Other solutions in ACAD may exist but are beyond the scope of this article. For example, an ACAD user could select the black objects while they are visible in paper space and change them to another contrasting color like yellow.

We hope that helps

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Fixed in PowerCADD 8.0.1

This issue is fixed with the free update to PowerCADD 8.0.1 build HD23 or newer

One work around is WRONG

In reviewing this issue further, we found that our suggested work around of using Layer COlors to fix the black on black problem does not work.

In PCD8, there was a change to how Object Color attributes are handled and layer colors. Specifically -- in PCD8 an color assigned at the object level (an object attribute color) is always remembered even when a layer color is applied. Turn off the layer color attribute and object will revert to it's original color.

That's a great model for internal use. However, in the current ACAD Translator with PCD8.0.0, that rule is also being applied when writing a DWG? file. We believe that layer color attributes should always override object level color attributes when writing dwg and we've created a separate known issue post on that subject for clarity.

As of right now, the only method to convert your Symbols that contain black pen colors would be to (again, work on a copy of your file!):

  1. Set the Selection Filter to Symbols.
  2. Perform a Select All to select only Symbols.
  3. Choose Ungroup one time; that converts the objects to Groups.
  4. The objects will still be selected. Pick a pen color other than black form the Attr menu → Pen Color submenu.

If you are starting with Groups that contain black line weights, you can set the Select Filter to select Groups, perform a Select All and change the pen color of the selected groups all at the same time

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