Tricks for Using Existing Figures

Why reinvent the wheel? You’ve got your own inventions to work on. These tricks will help you get more mileage from existing figures.

Laura Berwick avatar
Written by Laura Berwick
Updated over a week ago

Our drawing tool comes prepared with all the features you need for block diagrams, flowcharts, sequence drawings, and more. Even then, your time is valuable. If you want to use existing graphical content to illustrate your patent application, Rowan drafting has the flexibility you need to do that. One of our power users shared how they leverage existing figures to hit the ground running in the Rowan Preparation module Drawing Tool.

How can I incorporate my existing figures into my .tp file?

Some graphics, such as detailed mechanical drawings are too complicated for easy creation in general-use drawing tools. These are usually created in specialized CAD programs. Other figures may be easy enough to create with Rowan drafting, but you may not have time to redo work that's already been completed.

Not to worry. Image files in .jpeg, .png, and .svg format can be imported using the Import Image toolbar button, added to the canvas using the Image Import special element, or dragged and dropped from your computer folders onto the canvas in the Rowan drafting Drawing Tool. Most CAD or graphic design programs, Microsoft Office applications (e.g. PowerPoint), and Adobe products, provide ways to save or export drawings to image file formats. For best results, confirm that your originals are black and white line drawings, lines are at least 1pt wide, and the image contents are roughly sized to fit the dimensions you want them to take up on your Rowan drawing canvas.

Ideally, your imported image should have no text or numbering. It should show only the object or concept you intend your figure to illustrate. That isn’t always possible, though, so here’s what you can do.

Use what you can.

If you’re confident that call out text and lead lines in your image will meet MPEP requirements, save time by leveraging what already exists. There’s no need to erase pointer lines that you would then replace in Rowan drafting.

Cover what you can’t.


Use our numbers under Special elements to cover numeric text displayed in your image. These elements can be resized if they need to be larger to conceal existing numbers.

Invisible rectangles

Use the square stencil to hide larger drawing elements.

  1. Drag the stencil onto your canvas.

  2. Resize it to cover what you want to hide.

  3. Click the part number in the Element inspector to turn off part numbering.

  4. Set the border style to invisible and make sure the Fill option selected.

The stencil will disappear in your exported drawing, along with the features beneath it.

Note: Toggle the grid off to preview the final effect, or on to find your invisible squares when needed, as they will show up against the grid, provided they aren’t contained completely in your image footprint.

What if I don't want to cover up my part numbers, but still want to use them as smart terms?

Do you like your naming and numbering as they are, visually, but want smart terms with numbers and part names that will tag in your spec? While this isn't the best option, because changes to parts in your drawing won't automatically update across your application without extra work, there is a way to accomplish this.

  1. Click the Rapid Number option in the toolbar to quickly insert as many number elements as you need (remember to click the button again to turn rapid number off as soon as you're done).

  2. Give your numbers part names in the numbering panel to the right.

  3. Select all your numbers, drag them onto your inserted image.

  4. While they're still selected, click the "Back" option in the Element inspector to hide them behind your image.

Note: If you do need to add new numbers, they can be created and hidden as above. If you need to change the order the parts are numbered in, you can drag and drop them into your desired order in the Numbering tab.

Guidance for Creating New Rowan Drafting Content

Even when you do want to completely recreate an existing figure in Rowan patents native format, it can be frustrating to have to go back and forth between windows with limited screen real estate, or maybe you find yourself double and triple checking that your Rowan drafting figure has all the elements you need from your original.

The ability to import images into the drawing tool can be used to help you short-cut this process.

After you import the diagram you want to recreate, you can add each part over its location in your guide drawing, giving you an easy method to quickly confirm that you are recreating your drawing as exactly as possible.

Once you've added all of the elements of your diagram, you can select and delete your original image, leaving a native Rowan drafting image, with confidence that your figure matches your original.

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