Learning Autodesk AutoCAD - Crash Course
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Learning AutoCAD is a course I wrote for people looking to get a handle on this powerful software in a short amount of time. By the end of the course, you'll be comfortable with how to work with drawing files, controlling the views, creating basic geometry, editing, and creating text to accompany your work.
*Over 3 hours of video lectures.
A great benefit of this course is the pause button; you're able to stop the video and try out the commands, continuing when you're ready. Let your curiosity lead you through the course, and try to apply it to the type of work you're expecting to use the software for.
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|Section 1: Introduction|
An introduction to AutoCAD's interface, for the complete beginner.
|Section 2: View Navigation|
Learn the ins & outs of navigating in modelspace.
|Lecture 3||141.5 kB|
AutoCAD 2010 Format DWG file for following along with Lecture 2.
Lecture 2 - Assignment
|Section 3: Drawing Techniques|
Get your hands dirty fast and dive into object creation, drawing different types of geometry.
|Lecture 6||64.9 kB|
AutoCAD 2010 Format DWG file for following along with Lecture 3.
Lecture 3 - Assignment
|Section 4: Layers and Properties|
You'll learn how to manage and control object properties and layers, colours, linetypes and lineweights.
|Lecture 9||103.7 kB|
AutoCAD 2010 Format DWG file for following along with Lecture 4.
Lecture 4 - Assignment
|Section 5: Blocks and Text Objects|
We will cover creation of blocks, attributes, single and multiline text, formatting, styles, manipulation of text objects, plotting and sharing considerations.
|Lecture 12||64.3 kB|
AutoCAD 2010 Format DWG file for following along with Lecture 5.
Lecture 5 - Assignment
|Section 6: Editing Objects|
Here we'll learn the most used editing tools, and obtain a foundation for future lessons.
|Lecture 15||68.2 kB|
AutoCAD 2010 Format DWG file for following along with Lecture 6.
Lecture 6 - Assignment
Andrew is an award winning Designer and Instructor with over 17 years experience using AutoCAD. Andrew's stong technical background in drafting and CAD has lead him to work in the fields of civil design, environmental, geospatial and architecture. He currently teaches design and AutoCAD at the University of the Fraser Valley. Andrew has interests in woodworking, geospatial 3D, cartography and process optimization.
Learning AutoCAD can be a daunting affair - there are over 300 commands in the basic version, all addressing various drafting and design tasks. In this tutorial we'll be covering a great deal of the core commands and tasks that are essential to getting started with AutoCAD 2016. The videos presented here are best viewed full-screen in order to understand the command(s) being discussed in the context of the program as a whole. Commands that can be entered at the Command Line (the text entry part at the bottom of the screen) will be capitalized like this: UNITS.
If you need a demo version of the software to get started, Autodesk generously allows 30-day trials of virtually all of their software. Visit: http://www.autodesk.com/products/autocad/overview for a free trial.
AutoCAD changes a lot - the software has been around since the 1980s, and while a lot of the core functionality is still there, the ways to access the commands frequently change. There are three ways to access any command:
The earliest method of input was the command line. Here we would type "CIRCLE" and the command would start. Next came the Menu Bar, which categorized and listed all the commands that were available. In recent years the Ribbon has appeared; it's interesting but can be frustrating because certain commands will only be visible when doing something relevant to them - it's called a "contextual" feature, which means it's trying to do some of the thinking for you by presupposing what you're after. The other reason it can be frustrating is that the icons are likely to change slightly between releases, and with a yearly release schedule, you don't want to be re-learning where all these 300+ commands are located. For this reason I'll be focusing on the Menu Bar and Command Line in this tutorial. If your Menu Bar is not visible (by default it is not), then watch the video below to enable it:
At the beginning of all projects, you'll want to first set your UNITS. These settings will tell AutoCAD how to interpret your inputs (distances, angles, insertion scales, and lighting units). For readers using the Metric/Imperial Systems, this is your chance to tell AutoCAD. If you neglect to specify it here, a line 1 unit long (assumed to mean meters) may, in fact, end up being only 1 inch long, so be sure to set the correct values there. As the majority of users are working in a metric environment, the remainder of this tutorial will be metric-centric. To our American friends: Please don't worry - you can substitute Imperial for Metric here and follow along just fine.
Have a look at the video below:
The best way to think about this is to ask yourself, "What would the program do if I told AutoCAD to make a line that is 1 unit long?" Telling the program what the base unit is, tells it how long "1" is: 1 meter, 1 foot, 1 light year, etc.
Next, we'll create some geometry to get a handle on the view controls.
Let's start by creating a circle, using the CIRCLE command. This command, entered at the Command Line, or from the Menu Bar using "Draw->Circle->Centre, Radius", will prompt you for a center point. Please type "0,0,0" and press enter. Then, enter "5" as your radius. To better understand the "0,0,0" entry we just made, these values represent the X,Y, and Z axes, respectively. The order in which these values are entered is always the same, and the values are measured relative to the origin of the drawing. This is known as the Cartesian Coordinate System. The circle has been created now, but it is likely outside of the view we currently see in Modelspace (See diagram above for what Modelspace is).
In this section we'll learn how to control the Modelspace (these commands work the same way in layouts, aka "Paperspace"). The act of zooming takes the user (you!) closer or further away from the objects in your drawing, whereas panning shifts your viewing position up or down, left or right. Try to imagine, if it helps, looking through a camera, straight down at a large piece of paper.
After creating the circle at 0,0,0, and with a radius of 5 units, we now need to move our view over to center on it. We can do this by Zooming - fun word, and even better command. Type "Zoom" at the command line (or just type "z") and press enter. Now we've started the ZOOM command, and there are a whole lot of options available to us. The most useful is "Extents" or, simply "e". This will change the view of Modelspace to focus on all geometry in the drawing. Essentially, it combines the zoom and pan operations into a single command.
You should now see this:
To zoom in and out with your mouse, simply roll the scroll wheel forward and backwards. To pan with the mouse, press the middle mouse button (scroll wheel) and when the cursor changes to an icon of a hand, drag the mouse left/right/up/down.
To zoom in on a particular part of the drawing, use the Zoom -> Window
command. Type "z" -> "w". Then, click at one corner of a rectangle that you'd like
to zoom in on. The cursor will now highlight a rectangle until you click again,
defining the opposite side of your region of interest.
Great! Now lets get back to the last view we had. We could use Zoom Extents
again, or we could use Zoom Previous. We can access it by starting the zoom
command with "z", then entering "p" for previous. But this time, let's look at the
DRAWORDER controls the order in which the system draws your geometry.
Think of a rectangle and a circle - is the circle above the rectangle? Or under it?
We can control the order of objects by typing "DRAWORDER". You'll be
prompted to select the objects you'd like to modify, so take this time to make
sure you pick the right ones. Then, press enter and choose either "Front" or
"Back" to push the geometry you've selected to the front, or back.
Here's where things start to become fun. The majority of your time will be spent drawing, or creating objects for your maps, plans, or sheets. You may end up using AutoCAD for interior design, product design, mapping, mechanical design, or any of the other hundreds of applications - but no matter what you use it for, there are certain commands and core functionality that will always be useful.
This fancy term is the umbrella term for Lines, Polylines, Splines and others. A
line is defined by two pairs of coordinates in 3D space; each end has an XYZ, and
these are called vertices. A Polyline, or PLINE, is special, however, because it can
have as many vertices as you like (think zigzag lines). Interestingly, a Polyline can
also be "closed," where the start and end vertices share the same coordinate
values. This allows us to calculate a very useful value: area. Lastly, we have the
curious SPLINE, which is a smooth curve which passes through control points
We can tell AutoCAD where to draw the geometry a couple of different ways: either we can click on the screen, or manually type in precise coordinates via the Command Line at the bottom of the screen.
Circles can be created in several different ways; the most important one to learn
and become comfortable with is the center point and radius method. First, we
start the CIRCLE command by typing it in at the command line or via the
"Draw->Circle->Centre, Radius" at the menu bar. Either way, we are now
prompted for a center point, then a radius for our new circle.
Arcs are sections of a circle, but rather than being defined by a center point and
a radius, they're created by choosing three points for the arc segment to pass
Polygons can be used to draw hexagons, equilateral triangles, squares, and any
regular n-sided shape. The most frequently used methods of creation are
inscribed (where the polygon will fit inside a circle), and circumscribed (where it
fits around the circle). Watch below to see how it works:
Hatch is great to command for adding shading to a closed area. There are many different ways to control the appearance of the hatch, -such as different hatch patterns and properties you can apply. Let's look at two different types. First we'll do a solid hatch. We start the command using "HATCH" and then either the closed area we'd like to hatch, or by typing "K" at the command line to pick a point within the area we'd like to hatch. After we choose the area to hatch, let's take a look at the dialog that appears:
As you can see, there are a lot of controls that can be adjusted to modify the
appearance of the resulting hatch. The first time you hatch something, set the
pattern to "SOLID", then under the "Boundaries" section, select "Add: Select
Objects". The dialog will disappear temporarily, and your cursor will be replaced
with a pick box. Select the geometry to hatch, then press ENTER to create the
hatch object. Now, try again, choosing "Add: Pick Points" and try to hatch an area
by clicking within the area to hatch. This time you'll notice that the program will
try to find the limits of the area around the cursor. Watch below:
OSNAP stands for Object SNAP, and gives you, the user, a way to specify precise locations for the creation of objects, and to take detailed measurements. You can use OSNAPs in most commands, and there are quite a few of them: To
To toggle your OSNAPs on and off, press F3 on your keyboard. You'll see feedback at your command line as the OSNAP is switched on and off. To use a specific OSNAP during a command such as drawing a line from the center of one circle to the end of another line, just hold SHIFT + Right Click, or enter the OSNAP at the command line. To control which OSNAPs are active at any given time, simply press SHIFT + Right Click, then select "Osnap Settings".
Not all OSNAPs are used as frequently as others. The most crucial to master are:
ENDPOINT (END), INTERSECTION (INT), MIDPOINT (MID), and CENTER (CEN).
These are all fairly self-descriptive in function: ENDPOINT snaps to the end
point, or vertex of any piece of geometry. INTERSECTION snaps to the point
where two objects cross each other. MIDPOINT snaps to the middle point
between two vertices. CENTER can be used to snap to the center of any circle or
arc segment. Check out the clip below to see them in action.
Among the remaining OSNAPs, there are several others which are valuable to
become familiarized with: APPARENT INTERSECTION (APPINT), NEAREST (NEAR),
PERPENDICULAR (PERP), QUADRANT (QUAD), and TANGENT (TAN).
Drawings can become complex quite quickly, so for this and several other reasons which will become apparent, a system of layers has been created to help organize things. These layers are not like layers of paper stacked together; they're better thought of as groups of objects that have certain things in common. In architecture, for example, you may want to have a "Doors" layer, which has all of your doors on them. In interior design, you may want to have a layer just for your text, in which you can group and style objects and control their visibility.
This is the layer manager, called up by typing "LAYER" at the command line:
When we create a new layer, it becomes listed in the "All" branch of the layer filter tree we see at the left side of the layer manager. Let's create a new layer by clicking the new layer icon, and then give your new layer a name. Now you'll notice there are several columns to the right of your new layer which you can use to adjust its properties. The "On" column is represented by a light bulb, which you can switch on and off. This will hide or show the geometry in the viewport. The next column, "Freeze", will load/unload the geometry, rather than simply hiding/showing it. Next, we have "Colour" which, when selected, will present you with a colour dialog box so that you can choose a custom colour for your layer. After this we have "Linetype", which lets you set a pattern for the lines, polylines, circles, etc., on your layer. A linetype is a repeating pattern such as DASH-DOT-DASH.
Let's create a few layers and give them all unique colours. Then, in order to
make use of them, we have to tell each piece of geometry which layer it belongs
to. We'll do this by using the "MO" command, and modifying their properties.
Watch Part 1 below:
You'll notice that with the MO command, since I selected both pieces of geometry that I wanted to modify, their properties could all be controlled at the same time. If, however, you did not want to do this each time you drew something, you could simply set the layer you want to draw on as current and then any new objects that are created will automatically be assigned to the correct (current) layer. In the layer manager, the layer which has a check mark next to it is the active, or current layer.
To toggle layer visibility, you can click the lightbulb/sun/snowflake icons in the
Object properties can be thought of as any aspect of an object that you can control: how it displays (colour, linetype, thickness, etc.), the size/scale, the object's coordinates (remember the XYZ values from earlier?). We control these properties either by setting them using the Properties Manager (type MO) at the command line, by modifying the object's layers, or by setting the properties at the time of creation.
Now let's have a look at controlling the properties of four objects. In the video below, there are a circle, two hatch objects and one line. There are also three layers: Layer1, Layer2, and Layer3. If we select the purple hatch object in the viewport, we can adjust it using the modify properties panel at the left-hand side of the screen. Let's change it to Layer1; this will change the color of the hatch to orange. The reason the color becomes orange becomes clear if you look at the modified properties panel: the color property is set to BYLAYER, which means that the object will derive its color from the layer it's on. Again, using the modify properties panel, we can select that orange BYLAYER color property, and change it to any other color. This creates what is known as an override. You'll notice that with the hatch object selected, there are controls for the rest of the object's properties as well.
Each object has different properties that can be controlled using the modify
properties panel. With each new object that you create, it's good practice to
select it and take a look at the modify properties panel to see which aspects of it
can be controlled. That said, wherever possible, try to minimize the number of
overrides that you apply to objects. This makes it easier to control objects
ByLayer, and makes the appearance of the drawing more predictable and easier
Sometimes we will want one object to share properties with another object. A
good example of this is making two lines share the same layer, linetype, and
overall appearance. Thankfully there's any easy way to do this! The
MATCHPROP command allows you to select a source object and then a
destination object (or objects) to apply the source object's properties to. Check
out the video below for an example:
Linetypes are the pattern that is applied to objects. A linetype is a pattern of dots, dashes or even complex shapes that are displayed along any linear geometry. All new objects that you create inherit the current linetype. If the current linetype is set to ByLayer then the object's linetype will be controlled by the layer settings (which are available in the Layer Manager). Before a linetype can be used in the drawing, it must first be loaded using the LINETYPE command.
The LINETYPE manager shown above displays all linetypes currently loaded in the drawing. To import more to your drawing, select load at the top right. By default the Linetype Manager will display linetypes in the ACADISO.LIN file, and show you a list below of available linetypes. Here you can select one or by holding shift, all the Linetypes in the file and then select OK at the bottom. Now you'll have loaded some new Linetypes which can be used in your drawing.
By default we have a one text style, called Standard, and on most systems this font will be Arial. Sometimes, though, we will want to create a new text style, which we may use as part of the title block or road label, or as part a dimension (we'll have a look at this later). To create a new text style, just type STYLE at the command line and the Text Style dialog box will appear. Selecting New at the right-hand side of the dialog will create a new text style, which we'll give a descriptive name "TimesNewRoman". We can now select the font name, font style, and other options which will be used each time a text object with this style is created.
Often after creating geometry, we will want to modify it somehow. This next section on modifying objects will cover stretching, trimming, scaling and many others. As with the other commands, we'll begin most commands by typing at the command line. Be sure to read the command line to learn more about the various options each command offers.
Grips are the small blue boxes that appear when you select an object. These
typically appear at vertex locations on lines and polylines, at control points on
splines, or at the center of circles and at the four quadrants around the
perimeter. Selecting a grip changes its colour to red, and now you can click and
drag these grips to modify the object's shape. It's possible to select more than
one grip as well, and reshape a number of them all at the same time. Watch the
clip below for more:
The stretch command allows you to invisibly select a number of vertices, rather
than the entire object, to stretch. The command is started by entering STRETCH
at the command line, and pressing enter. Then, you'll be prompted to select the
objects to stretch. If you select the object using the pick-box (the little square
that your cursor changes into), then you'll effectively be selecting ALL the
vertices in the object. In most cases you don't want this (otherwise you'd use the
MOVE command!), so rather than selecting the object itself, we will select a
window that includes the vertices we want to stretch. See below:
The trim command provides a handy way to modify or clean up objects that
cross. We start the command by simply entering TRIM at the command line, and
then selecting the objects that will be our cutting edges. After selecting the
cutting edges, we press enter, then select the geometry we'd like to trim. Once
we've selected the objects to trim, just press enter to end the command.
The EXTEND command works almost in reverse of the TRIM command. It finds
an apparent intersection between two pieces of geometry which don't, as of yet,
actually intersect. To start the command, enter EXTEND at the command line,
then select the edge or object that you would like to project to, press enter, then
select the objects you want to extend. Press enter to exit the command when
Scaling is a useful command for making objects proportionally larger or smaller
- for example, changing a floorplan from imperial units to metric, or vice versa. To start this command, we just type SCALE at the command line. We're prompted to select some geometry to scale, then after pressing enter, choose a base point to scale relative to.
The MOVE command is, hands down, one of the most commonly used editing
commands, and well worth getting the hang of. We start it by entering MOVE at
the command line. We're prompted for the geometry we'd like to move, and
then after pressing enter, to choose a base point then to select the second point.
Think of this as a sentence: "I'd like to move ____ from ____ to ____."
Rotate is the third most used command, and the third part of the
MOVE-SCALE-ROTATE trio which make up most object transformations. To start
it, we enter ROTATE at the command line, and as with other commands are
prompted for the geometry we'd like to rotate. Then, we press enter and choose
a base point for the rotation. This can be a point on the geometry itself, or
somewhere else in the drawing.
The copy command is part of a group of editing commands that creates new
geometry. We use it to duplicate a selection set, by entering COPY at the
command line. Then, we select any geometry or drawing object that we'd like to
copy, and press enter. We're next prompted for a base point, and a destination
point (there can be as many as you wish). Check out the clip below for an
OFFSET is a handy command for creating a new object at a specified distance
from your original. We start the command using OFFSET at the command line,
and entering an offset distance. We then select the geometry we want the
command to act on, and are prompted for a side to offset the geometry on. This
works on circles, polylines, arcs, lines, and many other objects, but not all object
The mirror command, like the preceding two, creates new geometry, but this
time it's the mirror image of the selection. We're prompted for the selection set
after starting the command MIRROR at the command line. We then are asked
for the mirror line, which is defined by two points in the viewport, and draw an
imaginary line between these two points to visualize how the geometry will be
created. Lastly, we're asked whether or not to delete the source geometry.
We've come a long way in this tutorial; if you're still with me, here's a little trick to
help take the edge off: the FILLET command. This handy tool rounds any two
line segments with a radius, and can also act on all the segments in a polyline.
To start it, just enter FILLET and choose R for radius. Then, enter the radius you'd
like to use (in the example below, I've used 10 units). You're then prompted for
the first and second objects; the fillet command will extend these two segments
to their apparent intersection, and radius the corner with an arc as you've
specified. Try entering a radius of 0, and you'll get nice, sharp corners.
Alternatively, after specifying a radius, press P to select an entire polyline to fillet,
and every set of line segments within the polyline will be filleted.
The erase command is a pretty self-explanatory one: it erases geometry from
your drawing. We start it by entering ERASE at the command line, and selecting
a set of geometry to erase. Pressing enter completes the command as it
removes the geometry from your drawing. Since this is an awfully permanent
solution of managing drawn objects, I'll suggest here that sometimes, it's better
to just select some geometry and move it to a new empty layer, then freeze the
layer. You might need the geometry again, and this way you'll be saved the time
required to redraw it.
Blocks provide for a great way to reuse geometry that you'll need again and again. A block is much like a container: it holds whatever we choose to put into it. For example, imagine we create a block and put three circles into it. We then copy the block 100 times. What we've done is create 100 copies of the block definition, rather than 300 circles. This means that if we open the block back up and add another circle, each of those 100 block copies will be updated with that additional circle. Each block simply references the block's definition.
Before we can insert a block definition into our drawing, we need to define one.
We do this using the BMAKE command at the command line. A dialog box will
appear where we will enter the block name, an insertion point (where is 0,0 on
your block?) and a selection set defining the geometry to include. Once these
three things (at a minimum) are set, we can press OK and the block will be
Inserting (or placing) a block into your drawing is the next step to re-using
geometry. We do this using the INSERT command. We're prompted for a block
name, and given the opportunity to specify an insertion point (where this block
will go), the scale (how big should it be), and the rotation.
Any block can be converted back to geometry by using the EXPLODE command,
which does about what you'd expect. We start it using either X, or EXPLODE at
the command line. Then, select a block (or a bunch of them) to explode.
Pressing enter confirms the selection set and executes the command.
Sometimes we need to add things, remove things, or edit the geometry in
blocks. We can do this one of two ways. We can either re-define the block by
creating a new block with the same name, but with different geometry, or we
can edit the block using the block editor. The second method is shown below.
First, select a block, and then right-click to see what's called the Context Menu
(it's called this because is different in different contexts). Click on "Block Editor"
to enter the editor. Here you can edit the geometry inside the block just as you
would outside of the editor. Once you're satisfied with the edits, just click on
"Close Block Editor" in the Ribbon above.
Attributes are parts of blocks which act as a placeholder for some value. If we
were creating a block for signposts, the attribute for the type of the sign might
be SignType, or some other name that we feel captures the value we hope to
store. We can create an attribute either before we define a block, or inside the
Block Editor. Use the ATTDEF command. While there are a lot of different types,
if we leave the defaults and enter a Tag, Prompt and Default Value, and uncheck
the options under the Mode panel, we'll wind up with the most flexible type of
attribute. After exiting the Block Editor, we'll need to synchronize the block
definition, using the BATTMAN command. Once it's open, just select SYNC at the
top right. Watch below for how this works:
Creating geometry is great, but sometimes we need to create text. Text helps explain what's going on in a drawing: where the rooms are in a building, the type of sofa in an interior design plan, the notes on your cover page. We've already covered how to create text styles, so let's get right into how to create text objects.
Text objects contain text and apply a text style to it. The object can be scaled,
rotated, moved just like any other. The first type of text we'll try is known as
single-line text. Just type TEXT at the command line. We'll choose a start point,
then enter a height for the text (we could just press enter to accept the default).
We can then enter in the text we want in the object, and then press enter to
move to the next line. Pressing enter twice will exit the command. Even though
you've just created multiple lines of text, each line is a separate object.
Mtext is similar but more powerful than regular single-line text. With mtext, we
can have multiple lines, and it even comes with it's own editor! The editor lets us
add effects such as bulleted lists, bold text, columns and many more. Let's
create our first mtext object using the MTEXT command. We'll be asked for the
top left corner of the mtext container, and second point for the lower right
corner. Once we finish entering our text, just press the "Close Editor" button on
the Ribbon above.
Mleaders are like regular leaders, except that they allow multiple lines of text.
To make one, just enter MLEADER at the command line, and pick the point you'd
like the leader to point to. Then, choose another point to indicate where you'd
like the leader text to be located. Upon pressing enter, you'll be given an
interface similar to the mtext interface, so that you can enter in a few lines of
text. Give it a try, and add some leaders to your drawings. You'll be able to
control or adjust the style of the mleader by using the MLEADERSTYLE
Fields are incredibly useful text objects - they're placeholders for some sort of value, which you define when you create the field. For instance, a field can display the current date, the file name of the drawing, or virtually any other information. What this means is that it's dynamic. A field could display a block's scale, or its current XY location. Let's create one to display the current date.
We'll start with the FIELD command. Next, we'll choose a category - in this
instance Date & Time. Then, Date in the field names panel, and then the format
in the right-hand panel. Pressing OK will insert the field at the point we choose
in the screen.
Dimensions are an important part of the drawing process, and help us document certain qualities of the drawing that are relevant to building the project. They tell us how far the window is away from corner of the building or how long the road is. They can have different levels of precision; for instance, a dimension could round to the nearest meter, or to the nearest millimeter. There are many different settings to control the appearance of dimensions and many different ways to create dimensions. We will look at ways to dimension circles and arcs as well as simple geometry such as boxes.
When we need to dimension a circle or arc, we're dimensioning the object's
radius. When we're dimensioning a line or the side of a building, we're
dimensioning length. To dimension a radius, we use DIMRAD. We're prompted
for the object to dimension, then the location of the dimension object. Using
DIMLINEAR we can dimension the X or Y distance between two points. If you
want to dimension something at a random angle, try DIMALIGNED.
This is a big topic, which allows for many avenues of customization. We're able to control the length of line extensions, offsets, the precision of units, the text orientation, and much more. These settings can be saved and modified using DIMSTYLES, and this is also where we set the current style.
Layouts (also sometimes referred to as paperspace) are like the piece of paper that we'll ultimately be printing these drawings on. They're controlled using page setups, and the size of them is controlled by the available paper sizes. There are many different paper sizes; some are more frequently used in architecture and design than others, such as the ARCH D size (24"x36"), or the Tabloid (11"x17"). The layouts in the drawing are visible at the bottom of the interface, here:
By clicking on the Layout1 tab, we switch our view from modelspace to the layout. The default layout will be 8.5" x 11", with a single Viewport object, which displays the contents of the modelspace. This acts like a window though the paper into your model view. You can have multiple viewports, each displaying different parts of the modelspace drawing. These viewports can be stretched and grip-edited to reshape them, and all the regular drawing commands are also available in paperspace. A lot of work can go into creating a standard titleblock (the info that's on your page, which is not in the modelspace).
To create a new viewport in a layout, we just need to issue the MVIEW command,
and select 2 points (top left and bottom right) to define the view. Double-clicking
inside the viewport, we're able to zoom in or out on the modelspace. To exit the
viewport, just double-click outside the viewport.
Typically, it's good form to keep your drawing objects in modelspace, and your sheet-related info in the layout. This means that if you have text to add that will be used on multiple layouts, then it's best to add it in modelspace.
Page setups are handy ways to pre-define the way that a page looks and prints. For example, we could have two styles: one for our printer, and one for creating PDFs. To edit or create page setups, just right-click on the layout tab, and select "Page Setup Manager". Once the manager opens up, click on "New" to create the new style and give it a name. Then we set our plotter (fancy name for printer), and the paper size. Press OK to save your page setup.
Now comes the magical time of making paper - or a PDF, if you'd rather. To plot a layout, you only need to right-click on the layout tab, and select "Plot". In the plot dialog that appears (you'll notice it looks very similar to the page setup dialog box), you only need to specify the page setup to use at the top of the window, and the settings you saved will be applied. Clicking on OK will plot your drawing.
Qselect is a great way to select many drawing objects that share at least one
common property. It stands for QuickSelect, a it certainly is quick. Just type
QSELECT at the command line, and the Qselect dialog will appear. Let's use it to
select all RED circles in the video below:
Often the last selection set we made is the next one we'd like to use. For example, I'd like to rotate a selection that I just scaled, or moved. For this, when prompted for a section set, just press "P" for previous, and the last selection set will be used again.
The Find & Replace function works in AutoCAD just as you'd expect in any other software such as Word or Excel. You can call it up using the FIND command, and simply enter the search string, and the string to replace it with. Furthermore, you can make your search more specific by selecting the options below, such as "Match case" or "Match half or full width terms". The Find & Replace can also operate on a selection rather than an entire drawing by creating a selection set.
With the frequency of AutoCAD releases, there have been numerous versions of the .DWG format. The current version (2016) has used the same DWG format for the past 3 years, since the 2013 release. Future versions will change, and if you want to be able to share your drawings with other users, you'll need to use the SAVEAS command to save the file as another, earlier format. Each time you save the file, you'll notice another file saved alongside it, a .BAK file. This file is, as the name suggests, a backup. If something happens to your DWG, you can rename the file extension of the .BAK file to .DWG and open it as you would a regular DWG file.
Sometimes files bloat: they have too many unused layers, text styles, dimension styles, etc. These unused items can slow down and needlessly enlarge a file. Using the PURGE command, AutoCAD will examine and list the unused items in the file, and give you the opportunity to erase them. If you want to go through them one by one, you can, but it's generally okay to deselect "Confirm each item to be purged" and check "Purge nested items". Also, check "Automatically purge orphaned data" and "Purge zero-length geometry and empty text objects." Doing this will reduce your file size, and should increase your performance slightly.
This brings us to the last great tool in combating large file sizes and frequent drawing issues, such as crashes or strange performance. The AUDIT command presents no dialog, but rather takes place down at the command line. There's not much for you to do once you run the command; the system will check the drawing database for errors, and will repair any issues it finds, if you answer yes to the prompt "Fix any errors detected?"
As with any program, AutoCAD has its issues. The frequent release cycle leaves little time for developers to fix bugs in the software. To address this, Autodesk releases hotfixes and its service packs during the course of the year as issues are discovered. It is recommended that whenever one of these service packs or hotfixes is released, you apply it as soon as possible. Many engineering and architecture offices will wait until service pack one, or SP1, is released before upgrading to the most current version of the software. This is because the initial release frequently has showstopper-level problems, which would make this offer unusable in a production environment.
The transmit is a utility available through the file menu drop-down, which packages up your drawing file and any other associated files such as fonts, external references or attached images or PDFs, and creates a .zip file which can easily be sent to another user. Once the other user receives your zip file, they simply need to extract its contents and open the file.
Andrew is an award-winning designer and instructor with over 17 years' experience using AutoCAD. Andrew's strong technical background in drafting and CAD has led him to work in the fields of civil design, environmental, geospatial and architecture. He is a top-rated instructor with Udemy with over 1,000 students benefiting from his "Learning Autodesk AutoCAD - Crash Course." Andrew has interests in woodworking, geospatial 3-D, parametric modeling, cartography and process optimization.
By Andrew Schroeder for Udemy