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Urban Skills Portal

Overview of AutoCAD

This overview will introduce several of the basic


AutoCAD features and tools.

It will introduce: opening AutoCAD; the main


AutoCAD tool bars; common ways of drawing;
units and scale; zooming; layers; and AutoCAD
file formats.

Dont forget to save


your files regularly.
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AutoCAD

This course is designed so commands and


instructions should work on most versions of
AutoCAD from 2012. It has, however, been
designed specifically for AutoCAD 2014.

At first you will learn the basics of AutoCAD.

Make sure you have a very good understanding


of these before continuing. This exercise will
cover important topics that are essential when
undertaking the next exercises.

Open the application AutoCAD.

When AutoCAD opens, the Open Drawing Not


an Educational Product Drawing may appear.
If this appears, click Continue to launch the
application.

The Welcome dialogue box will open. Click


Close to continue.

It is worth noting that when AutoCAD is opened,


it automatically creates a new drawing file
and assigns a generic name. In this example,
AutoCAD opened the graphics window using the
default system units and assigned the drawing
name Drawing1.dwg. This generic file name may
not be the same on all computers.

At this point we have a blank drawing.

Dont forget to save


your files regularly.
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AutoCAD Interface and Main Tools When it comes to Model Space there are two
main points. Model Space is infinite in size and
The largest part of AutoCADs interface (the area is not flat (like a sheet of paper) but instead
taken up on the screen) is the drawing area in represents a three-dimensional environment.
the middle of the screen. This is known as Model Key AutoCAD tools are shown below.
Space.

1. Application Button - This button displays 3. Filename - The name of the current file you
commands for printing, saving, drawing are working on.
utilities and other non-drawing tools.
4. Search Bar - Search for text in your
2. Quick Access Toolbar - This is for quick drawing or search the help files.
access to common commands like New,
Open, Save, Plot. 5. Ribbon/Tabs/Panels/Tools - The Ribbon
has most of the commands and tools that
you will use while you are working. A series
of Tabs make up the Ribbon (Home, Insert,
Manage, etc.) and different Panels organize
the Tools into common groups. Tools
are the icon that by clicking will start the
commands you use to draw, modify, etc.

Dont forget to save


your files regularly.
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6. Command line - When you type a Drawing in AutoCAD


command, you will see it here. AutoCAD
uses this space to prompt you for There are two ways that you can draw in
information. Even when you are using AutoCAD, which is often referred to as input
the icons to draw, it will give you a lot of commands.
information and tell you where you are
in the command. Keep an eye on the The first is by using the toolbars and icons.
command line. AutoCAD will always tell The second is by typing commands.
you what it needs.
Using toolbars and icons is the more intuitive
7. View Cube - this tool will adjust the view and faster way to learn. However, keyboard entry
in three-dimensional space. The square at will work in most versions of AutoCAD and will
the middle of the tool represents a three eventually be quicker.
dimensional block and you can change
from one view to another by clicking the For this exercise we will always introduce new
different hot spots. commands by showing you the icon thumbnail
and the associated keyboard entry.
8. Navigation Bar this tool allows you to
quickly access 2D navigation tools such as To enter a command by using the keyboard,
Pan and Zoom type the command name on the command line
and press Enter or Spacebar.
9. Status Bar - It displays and allows you to
change several important drawing modes, Most commands also have abbreviated names.
aids, and settings that affect how you draw For example, instead of entering line to start the
and edit in the current drawing. You can set LINE command, you can enter l.
status bar buttons to display icons or the
traditional text labels that will be familiar Icon: Keyboard entry: l
to you if youve used earlier releases. To
switch from one style to the other, right-
click any of the drawing mode buttons at
the left side of the status bar and select or
deselect Use Icons. A list of the most common keyboard commands
for these workshops can be downloaded from
Tool Tip - If you hoover your mouse over a UCLeXtend.
tool, a tool tip will appear to give your more
information. Hold it longer for more information.

Dont forget to save


your files regularly.
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Units and scale Zoom

In general everything you draw in AutoCAD is Zooming in and out of a drawing is a frequent
drawn full size. When you start a drawing in activity in AutoCAD.
AutoCAD you do NOT need to decide a drawing
scale (as you do when using a drawing board) as The main zoom functions can be found by
scaling of a drawing takes place at the printing clicking on the View drop down menu. Zoom
stage. functions are displayed in the left-hand Navigate
2D section.
This has the advantage that you are able to
measure lengths, areas and volumes within Click the down arrow beside the magnifying-
AutoCAD without compensating for a scale glass button.
factor.
A menu of options will open.
The most common units used in AutoCAD are
decimal units in either millimetres or metres.
Which of these two units you use, largely
depends on the type of drawing you are
preparing. A large scale masterplan drawing
will probably be in metres whilst more detailed
public realm designs will be in millimetres.

For example, a drawing where you need to draw


a footpath in plan. The footpath is two metres
wide. If you are working in millimetres, the
footpath would be drawn in 2000 units but if you
are working in metres, the footpath would be
drawn in just 2 drawing units.

Dont forget to save


your files regularly.
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The most important zoom options are: Layers


Mouse Wheel: To zoom in on the plan roll Layers are used to organize drawing information.
the mouse wheel forward and to zoom out Although you can have many layers in a drawing,
roll the wheel the backward. If I want to you can only draw on one layer at a time. It
zoom in on a specific area place the cursor is important to remember that information is
over an area, and then roll the mouse wheel always drawn in the Current Layer i.e. the
forward or backward. Zooming is then selected layer.
focused on the location of the cursor. If
you hold the mouse wheel down, you can When you start a new drawing, AutoCAD has
now pan the drawing. Using pan and zoom only one layer. This layer is special and is called
together, you can quickly navigate to any layer 0 (zero). Layer 0 is special because you
location in a file. cannot change its name or delete it and it has
certain properties which we do not need to
Extents: the Zoom Extents button zooms consider just now.
out far enough to show all objects in the
drawing. By default layer 0 is assigned the colour white
(colour number 7) and the Continuous linetype.
Window: This option, which is useful for Layer 0 is always the current layer when you
zooming in quickly and precisely, zooms to start a new drawing, however, it is poor drawing
a section of the drawing that you specify by practice to use layer 0 for normal drawing. The
clicking two points. The two points define first thing you should do, therefore, when you
the diagonal of a window around the area start a new AutoCAD drawing is to create new
you want to see. layers.

Layers are listed alphabetically in layer list. It is


worth bearing this in mind when naming your
layers. Keep similar object layers together by
devising a hierarchical naming structure.

Organizing layers makes it easier to manage


the information in your drawings. You can
manipulate layers in the Layer Properties
Manager palette, which displays a list of the
layers in the drawing and their properties.

To open it, type la or click on the


icon on the Ribbon.

Dont forget to save


your files regularly.
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Layer Properties Manager Palette

In the Layer Properties Manager palette, the first Off/On and Freeze/Thaw do almost the same
three icons to the right of the layer name control thing both settings let you make objects
AutoCADs layer visibility modes: visible or invisible by layer. The difference is that
frozen layers effectively dont exist temporarily,
Off/On: Click the lightbulb icon to toggle so AutoCAD ignores them when regenerating the
visibility of all objects on the selected layer. drawing.

Freeze/Thaw: Click the sun icon to toggle Color: Click on the icon to bring up the
off visibility of all objects on the selected Select Color dialogue box. You can select
layer. Click the snowflake icon to toggle any of the 255 standard AutoCAD colours
visibility on. by picking on the colour palette. When you
have selected the colour you want, click on
Lock/Unlock: Click the padlock icon to the OK button to set the colour.
lock and unlock layers. When a layer is
locked, you can see (but not edit) objects Linetype: in the same way that you can
on that layer. assign a colour to a layer you can also
assign a linetype (continuos, dashed, etc.)
to a layer.

Lineweight: another property of lines


is their lineweight, or how wide they
display on the screen and when printed.
The method for changing the lineweight
for objects is the same to the ones for
linetypes and color.
Dont forget to save
your files regularly.
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AutoCAD file formats WMF The Windows Meta File can be


used if you need to use this drawing in a
AutoCAD can use several types of drawing file. non-CAD program. For example, you could
Here are some of the common file types. use this format to import a drawing to a
Microsoft Word document.
DWG This is the standard AutoCAD
drawing file format. Older versions of BMP - This is similar to a JPG, but
AutoCAD cannot always read files created exports a raster BMP file instead of a JPG.
on newer versions. The newest version Generally JPGs are smaller and better for
can read any of the older files. If you are e-mail and websites.
exchanging files, do not assume that
everyone is using the same version as you. PDF - You can save your drawing as a
PDF so that others can read it with Adobe
BAK This is AutoCADs backup file Acrobat Reader.
format. Whenever you save a drawing,
AutoCAD automatically creates a backup There are others files that AutoCAD supports,
file. This file has all the same information these however are the ones you are most likely
as the original, but a different extension. to use. The main thing to remember is that you
If your original file becomes corrupt, or have the option of sharing your drawing with
unusable for any reason, you can rename people who don't have AutoCAD installed on
the BAK file to a DWG file and open it as their machines.
you would any other drawing file. You can
set the interval for backing up your file in Some Tips
Options followed by Open and Save tab.
Make sure you always start a new drawing
DXF DXF stands for Drawing eXchange by creating additional new layers. This is
Format. This is a very standard format much easier than drawing entities on layer
that is used by many CAD and graphics 0 and then having to change them later.
programs. This allows users to exchange
drawings even if they dont have the Avoid drawing on layer 0, its bad practice!
same application. When you use the DXF
format, some objects may change their When you are trying to select objects in a
appearance when re-opened. As with DWG complicated drawing it may be easier to
formats, DXF formats vary from different turn some layers off first so that you dont
releases. inadvertently select entities you dont want.

JPG - You can export a drawing as a JPG. If you are working on any AutoCAD drawing
project which involves others, make sure
you devise a layer naming strategy before
drawing begins. Use common names such
as TREE or PATH rather than simply
using numbers or codes.

Right-click can help you reach a number of


Dont forget to save useful commands such as repeat or undo
the last action and zoom and pan.
your files regularly.
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