AutoCAD: A great start to every drawing is

Written By: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

Inconsistent drawing file – Taking too much time plotting – Re-creating Layers, Borders, Layouts, Text and Dimension styles just to name a few potential issues of inconsistency within your electronic files.

Solution:

Template file has the extension (.DWT). A Drawing Template allows the user to customize a drawing to their standards. Within a Drawing Template the following setting can be configured, Drawing Units, Layers and all properties associated to the layers, Linetype Scale, Dimension Styles, Text Styles, Layouts their Viewports and Scale factors to those Viewports, Title Blocks and Plotting configurations. Lastly Blocks can be added to Templates but Blocks take up space and can slow a drawing file down so a good practice for Blocks is to have a Library directory out on the server for all CAD users to access. For consistency purposes you want all users to use the same information so they are not taking time to recreate what is already available and when the file project is printed the representation of the symbols are the same throughout all sheets.

Yes AutoCAD offers a few .DWT files and all new drawings start with a Template file either AutoCAD’s (ACAD.DWT) or your own. The benefit of a customized template file is endless but to cover a few: A template file will save the company and you time and money – it will keep your electronic data stay consistent – the printed files will conform to each other – it will help when bringing in new employees as there is a solid base for them to follow.

This being said yes it is a CAD Managers nightmare to set up these standards but once it is complete the drawing process will flow smoothly. The last hurdle for the CAD Manager is to inform all CAD users of these standards and make sure they are working for the end users and that the end users are following the standards.

Let’s get started: This I will cover that need to be completed for the templates to work for everyone.

A Template file can be created from most of AutoCAD’s electronic files. From any Drawing or Template file. It is easiest to start with a drawing file. Create a Template directory on the companies’ server to store and access these files. *Path all computers to the Template directory so that everyone has access to the same information.

Creating a Template from and AutoCAD Template file:

Step 1: Open AutoCAD

When you start AutoCAD it opens up a blank file for you. This is the acad.dwt file, located in the Autodesk Template directory (unless it has been pathed out to a custom directory already).

Step 2: Using this file you would go in and configure those items we mentioned above and Save the drawing as a DWG file. (keep this DWG file on hand in case the Template files ever gets corrupted.

Step 3: Lastly the DWG file needs to be saved as a DWT file. This is done using the Save As

Select the Application Menu – hover over the Save As option, this will then give the fly out window to select the Drawing Template option. This opens up the Save Drawing As window. (1) Notice at the bottom where it has Files of type: it is already set to save this file as a Template. At the top where it has (2) Save in: select that drop down to Path yourself out to your companies Template directory. Make sure the (3) File name is what you want then select the button (4) Save. This saved the file with the extension .DWT

Template 1B*You will notice in the Title area the description is what you named the drawing/template with the extension .DWT.

Step 4: Close the DWT template file. You only want to open a template file if changes need to be made to the standards in that file.

Creating a Template from an existing drawing file.

Step 1: Open the AutoCAD Drawing file you want to base your Template file off of.

Step 2: When using an existing file there may be a need to erase and purge information out of the drawing so it isn’t cluttered with unnecessary information. This should be done prior to adding your standards into the file. Configure those standard items we mentioned above and Save the drawing as a DWG file. (keep this DWG file on hand in case the Template files get corrupted.

 Step 3: Follow Step 3 from the above example or you can also access the Save As command typing that into the Command Line or from a Save As icon.

How to start a New Drawing with your Template files:

Here is how:

Now that you have the Template file(s) created you want to use these files for all new drawings. Access the New Command (found in the Application Menu, Quick Access tool bar, or by typing it in at the Command Line). This opens up the Select Template dialog box. (if you have not pathed the program out to the template directory you will need to find that directory by selecting the drop down next to Look in: locate the template directory and select it. The Templates should now be listed below. Select the required Template. Then select the Open button.

Time Saver:

Path all AutoCAD programs out to the Template directory. (The Template directory must be located where everyone can have access to it.)

Here is how:

  1. Open the Option dialog box. (type Option in at the Command Line, Right Click in the drawing area and access it from the pop up window, or select the Application Menu and the Option button is located at the bottom of that window.
  2. Select the (1) Files Tab
  3. Expand the option Template Setting,
    1. Expand the (2) Drawing Template File Location
    2. There can only be one file location (one directory listed here) select the (3) Browse button to path out to the company Template directory. Select (4) OKthen Select the (5) Apply button in the Options Dialog box then select (6) OK.
    3. Now when you access the New command that directory will automatically be listed.

Template 2B

AutoCAD: Increase your drawing area…

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

View Cube and Navigation Bar (are located on the right hand side of the drawing area) by default are active on your screen when you start with AutoCAD’s default drawing. When on they can impede access to geometry that lays behind them. If needing to access geometry that resides below the View Cube or Navigation Bar you have to reposition (Pan or Zoom) the drawing before you can work on that area.

Navigation 1

View Cube and Navigation Bar features are very useful when drawing 3D or Isometric drawings, the Zoom and Pan options are easily found using the mouse or keyboard.

Solution:

Turn off the View Cube and Navigation Bar in the active drawing or set up a Drawing Template so that it will always be turned off. (Drawing Template – I’ll discuss another time)

View Cube and Navigation Bar visual display: ON/OFF

Command Line:

1. View Cube: Command Line type in: DISPLAYVIEWCUBEIN2D

(Autofill will help find this when typing) There are two options ON or OFF.

Navigation 2

2a. Navigation Bar: Command Line type in: NAVBAR

(Autofill will help find this when typing) There are two options ON or OFF

This option allows you to either type in your choice or select the option of ON or OFF.

Navigation 3

2b. Navigation Bar: Command Line NAVBARDISPLAY

(Autofill will help find this when typing) There are two options 1 = ON or 0 = OFF

This option allows you to either type in your choice or select the option of ON or OFF.

 

Navigation 4

Ribbon:

Located in the View Tab, User Interface Panel, to the User Interface Button drop down you will find the option to toggle on or off visual display for the View Cube and Navigation Bar. A check mark next to the feature means it is active (visible on the screen) no check means it is turned off.

Navigation 5

Drawing Area:

Or a much easier approach than recalling what to type in is to access the Model Space Viewport Controls located in the top-left corner of the drawing window. This allows quick access to turn off the visual display.

Navigation 6

Viewport Controls [-]:

Select the Viewport Controls symbol [-] (with the Left Mouse button) this opens up a pop up window.  The View Cube and Navigation Bar can be toggled on and off here.  The Blue box with the check mark represents that the features are displayed on the screen. To turn the display off or on move the mouse over the feature it will highlight blue – select it and the feature will either display or not.

Navigation 7Navigation 8

 

AutoCAD: CAD files slow to opening or slow to regenerating?

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

When working with large files, and electronic files that have been active through many releases of CAD or just a very involved file there may be excess information that is not relevant to the project anymore that could be slowing you down.

Solution: Purge command offers a quick way to clean out your drawing files of unused, unwanted information.

*Caution: The command Purge should only be used when and if you know the data you are purging will no longer be needed in this drawing or any other drawing file. *Once an item is purged it is removed from that CAD file and is not recoverable. Yes you can recreate the information that was purged but that is now a time consuming factor, especially when blocks are part of the mix.

Purge command is found:

  1. Through the Command Line type in Purge then Enter.
  2. Through the Application Menu select Drawing Utilities then select Purge
  3. Both options bring up the same dialog box.

Command line: (1)

Purge 1

Application Menu: (2)

Purge 2

Purge dialog box breakdown:

Purge 3

Example – A: Purge – Confirmation dialog box.

Purge 4

AutoCAD: Have a need to start a Line Tangent to an Arc?

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

Now you can easily in AutoCAD 2014

Solution:

Place an Arc in your drawing, immediately following the Arc command start the Line command. At the command prompt “Line specify first point” ENTER, (*do not select the end of the Arc). The Enter selects the last placed Arc endpoint and places a line Tangent to the Arc. Continue with the Line command as you normally would.

*The Tangent Line attaches to the endpoint of the last (3rd) placed arc point.

End results:

Line Tangent

Line TangentLine TangentLine TangentThe success to this command is that the Line command immediately follows the placement of the Arc.

AutoCAD: Have you lost time and wasted paper

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

Have you lost time and wasted paper with incorrect plot configurations?

Solution: Page Setup Manager

The Page Setup Manager allows you to predefine each Layout with specified parameters to a specific printer/plotter. A Page Setup is associated to a Layout(s), this allows you to easily configure Layout settings within each Layout and simply print the Layout without having to define the plot configuration every time you print.

*Page Layouts can be defined and then saved in a Template file which in turn makes them readily available in every drawing created from that Template file (.DWT).

Page Setup Manager can be accessed through the following approaches:

Option 1: Command Line:

Typing in the command Page setup then entering ←

PS1

*Remember when typing commands in the command line no spaces are allowed and the commands are not case sensitive.

 Option 2: Right Click:

Hover over a Layout tab you want to configure a Page Setup to then Right Click. A pop up window appears – select Page Setup Manager…

PS2

Option 3: Application Menu – found in the upper left corner of the screen.

Select the Application Menu – Print – Page setup

3

New to 2014

Option 4: Output tab – found in the Ribbon

Select Output tab, within the Plot panel select Page Setup Manager

PS4

Each option above opens the Page Setup Manager dialog box shown below.

Select New… this opens the New Page Setup dialog box

PS5

New Page Setup dialog box:

PS6

Once you define the Setup name select OK.

*My preference is to name the setup name with the paper size of the end printed results and the name of the printer/plotter it will print out on.

Example: 8.5×11 Office Jet Pro – 8.5×11 (represent the paper size (A) that the drawing will print on), Office Jet Pro (represents the printer it will print to)

Next step is the Page Setup dialog box:

Here you configure the end printed results you are looking for.

PS7

Select OK once done configuring all areas of the Page Setup dialog box. This brings you to the last step to associate the Page Setup Name to the specific Layout(s).

 

*Depending on the information you want plotted the configuration of the Plot area, Plot Scale, Pen style table and the Shaded viewport options may need to be modified. The Plot offset, Plot options and Drawing orientation refer to the printer/plotter and each make has unique plotting qualities so it may take a few prints to make sure your Layout prints the way you want it.

Within the Page Setup Manager dialog box, make sure the Page Setup Name (you just created) is highlighted – select Set Current – select Close to complete the configuration.

This associates the Page Setup Name to the current Layout.

8

PS8PS8

Now that the Page Setup is configured to each Layout correctly these configurations don’t need to be edited or modified before plotting. Ready to plot a Layout (make sure the Layout is active) then select the Plot/Print command, (it’s the same command just has a different name depending on where you access the command from) this brings up the Plot dialog box you will see your pre-defined configurations in that dialog box, then select OK. Your print has been sent to the plotter.

*Save these configurations within your company templates on the company network for everyone to have access to. This offers consistency within the electronic files and saves printing/plotting time which equals money saved.

AutoCad: Places without images

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

Tired of taking too much time looking for your working/project directories?

Solution:

Places located in your Select Files dialog box (AKA the Open dialog box). The Places area in the Select Files dialog box allows you to place folders from your network or computer for quick and easy access.

Places area is located on the right side of the Select Files dialog box:

Places 1Drag and Drop option:

Places 2Right Click options:

Places 3Select Add Current Folder and the folder that is pathed out in the Look in area will be added, also giving you quick access to its sub folders.

Select Add… the Add Places Item dialog box will open

Two areas the need to be filled in.

Item name, (this is what will appear as the description under the folder, it can be

named anything you want but keeping it as the project name keeps clarification).

Item path, needs to be typed in, (this is the fully pathed out directory structure to where the folder

resides).

Places 4End results:

Places 5

AutoCAD: The magic of ‘Z

Written by: Cindra Drown-Walsh

Have you had to stop mid command to use any of the Zoom commands to adjust visually what is on the screen to only then start the same command sequence all over again?

Solution:

Transparent Zoom (‘Z) allows you to put yourself into the Zoom command for a one time Zoom within another commands.

Example of the command line sequence using the ‘Z feature while in the Move command.

Command: MOVE

Select objects: 1 found

Select objects:

Specify base point or [Displacement] <Displacement>:

Specify second point or <use first point as displacement>: ‘z

‘ZOOM

>>Specify corner of window, enter a scale factor (nX or nXP), or

[All/Center/Dynamic/Extents/Previous/Scale/Window/Object] <real time>: e

Resuming MOVE command.

Specify second point or <use first point as displacement>:

When viewing this video – watch the command prompts over on the right hand side and also the dynamic input area located near the cross hairs. The transparent Zoom (‘Z) option is used twice while in the Move command.

*AutoCAD is not case sensitive.

AutoCAD: Pre Dynamic Input users

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

Have you embraced this feature?

Dynamic Input:

Allows Command input at the cursor (cross hairs) in the drawing area.

The Dynamic input option when toggled on offers a way to input commands as you would in the Command Line. This feature does not take the place of the Command Line. The Command Line is needed for some operations. Using this feature should help speed up your drawing time.

Solution:

Toggle the Dynamic Input On/OFF options:

(F12) Key – Located at the top of the keyboard

Status Bar: – Dynamic Input button 8-1 Located in the Status Bar

Blue represents ON / Grey represents OFF

Example of Dynamic Input using Line command:

 

Prompt 1: start the line command by typing Line (L) and Enter.8-2

Prompt 2: You are prompted as you would at the Command Line for: “Specify first point:” In the first box input the X coordinate, (for your first input) select the Tab key to put you into the next box to then input your Y coordinate (second input) then Enter. This is an example of Absolute Coordinate input X,Y.

*If the first input placement is not exact you can always select a point on the screen to continue from.

8-3

Prompt 3: “Specify next point:” here you are prompted to input the desired length, select the Tab key to then input the desired Angle then Enter.

8-4

 

Since the Line command is a running command you can continue the same process to add additional lines.

*To end the Line command, choose either of the following options, select the Enter key from the keyboard, RT-click and select Enter, or select the ESC (escape) key.

If using the Command Line only an example of how your input would be:

Command: L ↵

         LINE

Specify first point: 10,20 ↵

Specify next point or [Undo]: @30<22 ↵

Specify next point or [Undo]: ↵

                                                   ↵

*Bonus: When using the Dynamic input feature and the second input is an Absolute Coordinate type the # before typing the Absolute Coordinate.

Example:       Using the Move Command for the second input:

8-5

AutoCAD: Model Space View Controls

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

Available right in the drawing area no need to access the View Tab for the View or Visual Styles panels.

For quick manipulations of different views of your Isometric or 3D drawings, quick access is available to your visual controls right on the screen in Model Space within the Model Space Viewport Controls area:

Viewport Controls [-], View Controls [Top] and Visual Styles control [2D Wireframe] are located in the top-left corner of each Model Space Viewport. (drawing area)

The bracketed area displays the current viewport settings. [-] [Top] [2D Wireframe] Select (with the left mouse button)within a bracketed areas to change views, visual styles, and other settings.7-1

Solution:

Viewport Controls [-]

Select [-] for options to maximize the viewport, changing the viewport configuration, or controlling the display of navigation tools.

7-2

View Controls [Top]

Select [Top] to choose between standard and custom views. Quick access to manipulate your view of an Isometric or 3D drawing.

7-3

Visual Style Controls [2D Wire Frame]

Select [2D Wireframe] to choose one of several visual styles. Most of the other visual styles are used for 3D visualization. Quick access from a 2D view to see your 3D drawings in different visual styles.

7-4

* Note when you see the Blue Box with a Check mark in it this represents the active or current features. When another option is needed, select that feature with the mouse and this will make that the current style option.

* Note also that the options in the brackets [ ] change to the new option that is selected.

AutoCAD: Select items on the screen, let us count the ways

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

Are you slowing your production down with the way you select items on your screen?

AutoCAD offers many ways to select geometry even if it’s not listed as an option with the modify commands.

Geometry can be selected prior to activating a Modify command or preferably start the Modify command and at the prompt “Select Objects” these options are available (with the exception of the Stretch command, see below *), by default or by typing in the Alias Key function of the Selection Set you want to work with. These options are not listed within most of the Modify commands but are still available, here is how. These options are called Selection Sets.

Solution:

Selection Sets: Pick, Implied Window, Crossing Window, Fence, Window Polygon, Crossing Polygon, type in All, Previous or Last.

Pick: By default this is available within the Modify commands with no additional input from us. The Crosshairs turn into a small box you bring this box over the item you want to select and with the left mouse button select the item. This selects one item at a time.6-1

Implied Window: This option is available by default within the Modify commands with no additional input from the user. The Crosshairs turn into a small box, bring this into an open area (not on any geometry) near the items you want to select, pick on the screen with the left mouse button (let go of the button) move the mouse to the Right of your first pick creating a box or window around the items to be selected, then with the left mouse button select again in an open area on the screen to finalize your selection. This creates a box with a solid line on the outside and inside the box is blue. This options selects everything completely encompassed within the windowed area that was selected.6-2

Crossing Window: This option is available by default within the Modify commands with no additional input from the user. The Crosshairs turn into a small box, bring this into an open area (not on any geometry) near the items you want to select, pick on the screen with the left mouse button (let go of the button) move the mouse to the Left of your first pick, creating a box or window around the items to be selected, then with the left mouse button select again in an open area on the screen to finalize your selection. This creates a box with a dashed line on the outside and inside the box is green. This options selects everything it touches and completely encompassed within the windowed area that was selected.6-3

Fence: When in a Modify command at the Select Objects prompt type in F and enter. This switches the pick box to crosshairs, select in open area (not on any geometry) then move your mouse placing Fence lines through the geometry to be selected. Picking as if placing a line. The creates a dashed line that will go through the geometry and select everything it touches.6-4

Window Polygon: When in a Modify command at the Select Objects prompt type in WP and enter. This switches the pick box to crosshairs, select in open area (not on any geometry) then continue selecting areas around or through the items you want to select. This option selects everything that is completely encompassed with the selection of the Window Polygon. This creates a solid outside line with the inside of the polygon shaded blue. It may be placed in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction, it just cannot overlap itself.6-5

Crossing Polygon: When in a Modify command at the Select Objects prompt type in CP and enter. This switches the pick box to crosshairs, select in open area (not on any geometry) then continue selecting areas around or through the items you want to select. This option selects everything that is completely encompassed along with what the Crossing Polygon is touching. This creates a dashed line with the inside of the polygon shaded green inside. It may be placed in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction, it just cannot overlap itself.6-6

All: When in a Modify command at the Select Objects prompt type in All and enter. This selects all of the geometry on the screen that is not Locked within the Layer Controls and also will select All geometry that resides on Layers that are turned Off. Geometry on a Frozen Layer will not be selected.

 Previous: When in a Modify command at the Select Objects prompt type in P and enter. This option will select the previous items that were last modified.

 Last: When in a Modify command at the Select Objects prompt type in L and enter. This option selects the last item that was drawn not modified on the screen.

 * The Stretch command is the modify command with the exception to the above options. The Stretch command prompts you with two Selection Sets that works with this command. They are the Crossing Window and the Crossing Polygon.