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Drawing In 3D CAD
(Geometric Modeling)
Set up viewports and/or use 3D views for viewing different angles of one or more objects.

Create complex shapes utilizing primitive shapes.

Use union, subtract, and intersect operations when creating complex shapes.

Use revolve and extrude operations to create 3D objects from 2D frames.

Apply shading to 3D objects.

Rotate one or more objects using 3D orbit.

Complete a 3D drawing with appropriate dimensions and tolerancing.

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The computer and graphic design software have extended product design to
the three-dimensional level. This capability is called 3D-CAD in this book;
however, the terms geometric modeling, 3D modeling, and rendering, to name a
few, are also used.
All real world or humanmade objects have complex three-dimensional
geometry. Graphic design software allows an object to be viewed at any selected
angle. It provides the designer with the ability to inspect a design visually and
identify potential problems prior to analysis and production.
The earliest method of 3D modeling was wireframe construction. It is
accomplished by joining the endpoints of normal, inclined, and oblique
surfaces and by linear segments of curved surfaces. Figure 13-1(a) shows a
wireframe drawing in 2D; Figure 13-1(b) shows a wireframe drawing in 3D.
There is not too much difference in the appearance; however, the difference
would be more noticeable in more complicated drawings. The object has the
appearance of being made out of glass because the hidden edges are shown.
In Figure 13-1(c), the hidden lines have been removed, which provides a more
pleasing 3D appearance of the object. To further help the designer, software
packages have been developed to shade or render an object, as shown in
Figure 13-1(d). Color can also be used to improve the visual presentation.
Advances in hardware and software have provided the ability to perform solids
modeling, which is the subject of this chapter.
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2D, 3D, hidden, and shading.
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As discussed at the beginning of Chapter 12, the first step in learning to commu-
nicate with AutoCAD is to know where to find the tools you need. There are
multiple ways in which geometry can be constructed in any CAD application.
The coordinate system is the same, no matter what application is used. Drawing
features in 2D utilize the X and Y axes, while in 3D, the Z axis is added to provide
the illusion of depth to the object. The default AutoCAD screen uses the lower
left-hand corner of the screen as 0, 0, 0 (X, Y, and Z, respectively), with positive
values extending toward the right for the X axis and upward for the Y. The Z axis
is perpendicular to the screen, with the positive value extending away from the
screen toward the user. Figure 13-2 shows the world coordinate system (WCS)
icon as it appears in the lower left-hand corner of the AutoCAD screen.
AutoCAD utilizes the right-hand rule for defining the orientation of the X,
Y, and Z axes. The right-hand rule aids the user in visualizing the rotation of
an object around the three axes. The right hand is placed with the palm facing
the user at eye level. The thumb, which is the X axis, points to the right at a
90 angle from the wrist. The index finger, which is the Y axis, points upward
at a 90 angle from the thumb. The middle finger, which is the Z axis, points
toward the user perpendicular to the thumb and the index finger. Figure 13-3
illustrates the right-hand rule concept.

WCS icon.
All AutoCAD computer screen shots for this chapter are reproduced with permission from Autodesk, Inc.

Index finger

Middle Thumb

Right-hand rule.
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Chapter 13


Constructive solid geometry (CSG) is the combination of primitive 3D shapes

in constructing a complex object. The CSG concept is also referred to as the
machinists approach, which is similar to basic machine shop practices. The
basic primitive shapes typically include prism/box (cube), cylinder, sphere,
cone, wedge, and torus (donut). Figure 13-4 shows the six types of primitive


(cube) Wedge



Primitive shapes.

Two primitive shapes can be combined into one object in numerous ways.
The methods for manipulating the primitive shapes are known as Boolean
operations. Boolean operations consist of three basic concepts: union (join),
subtract (cut), and intersect. Any operation may be performed on an object a
number of times to create an intricate shape. The union (join) operation com-
bines two or more primitive shapes to form a single solid. The subtract (cut)
operation subtracts one object from another at the point where the object
overlaps the other, while the intersect operation affects only those parts of
both objects that overlap (common volume) each other.
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The user coordinate system (UCS) consists of the X, Y, and Z coordinates that
the user defines in creating the 3D model. The difference between the WCS and
the UCS is that the WCS is the default coordinate system established by Auto-
CAD. UCS is established by the user and can be oriented at any angle from the
WCS. Both the WCS and the UCS are set up in the lower left-hand corner of the
AutoCAD screen or in the first quadrant, where both the X and the Y axes move
away from 0, 0 in a positive direction and the Z axis moves in a positive direction
toward the user. Establishing a UCS is beneficial because the user can define,
name, save, and restore a UCS at any time during the drawing process.
The WCS and UCS icons appear in the default position at the bottom left-
hand corner of the AutoCAD screen. The user does not have to work only in the
first quadrant. By holding down the scroll button on the mouse, utilizing the pan
realtime option, and moving the mouse, the user can access any of the other
quadrants. The WCS or UCS icon displays the options ON, OFF, All, Noorgin,
ORigin, and Properties at the command prompt at the bottom of the screen.
Identifying the different appearances of the UCS icon will help the user
navigate between the axes to construct or manipulate one or more objects.
Figure 13-5 shows some of the 2D and 3D UCS icons.

Coordinate User
System Coordinate
Y System

(a) 2D icon


(b) 3D icon



c) View is from the Z direction

Coordinate systems.
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The UCS icon properties can be displayed by the drop-down VIEW menu
(display, UCS icon, properties) method, as shown in Figure 13-6, or by typing
UCSICON at the command prompt and pressing P, for properties. Either
method opens the dialog box, thus enabling the user to change the style, size,
or color of the WCS or the UCS icon, as shown in Figure 13-7.

UCS icon properties: drop-down menu.

UCS icon properties: command prompt entry.


Setting up the viewports can aid the user in observing multiple sides of an ob-
ject as it is being created or manipulated. Previously saved viewports can be
retrieved by clicking on the NAMED VIEWPORTS . . . option from the
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Viewports drop-down menu. Viewports dialog box.

drop-down menu, as shown in Figure 13-8. The user may click on any of the
options in the drop-down menu to set up one to four viewports. By selecting
NEW VIEWPORTS . . . , a dialog box appears, displaying multiple combina-
tions for setting up various viewports, as shown in Figure 13-9.
Establishing three to four viewports aids in the visualization of an object.
The more viewports used, the better the representation of the layout of the ob-
jects. Each viewport is independent of the others; however, when you are
working in one viewport, the others are updated to display changes to all the
objects. Typically, four viewports are used, with three of the viewports repre-
senting the standard orthographic multiview layout and the fourth represent-
ing an isometric view. The isometric projection can be changed if desired.
Figure 13-10 represents four equal viewports for the 3D setup, with the top
view being active.

FIGURE 13-10
Multiple viewports.
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FIGURE 13-11
3D drop-down view menu.

A 3D object can be created using a single viewport and utilizing the 3D

VIEWS option to rotate the object for viewing it from different vantage points.
Figure 13-11 displays the options available for 3D views. VIEWPORT PRE-
SETS . . . opens a dialog box that allows the user to view the object from vari-
ous angles. VIEWPOINT establishes a viewing angle based on a point picked on
the screen. The PLAN VIEW option displays the choices of views for the object
in Current UCS, world UCS, or named UCS. The middle section of 3D views
offers choices for viewing the object in any orthographic projection view. The
last section allows the user to display the object(s) in any of the four isometric
options: SW, SE, NE, NW.


Extrude and revolve commands in AutoCAD are sweeping operations, mean-

ing that they utilize existing 2D objects to create a solid. The extrude
command adds depth (Z axis) to an existing closed 2D shape. It is important
to note that only closed shapes, such as a circle, can be extruded. There are
several different methods for closing a shape. One option is to select the join
option of the PEDIT (polyline edit) command. Two options are available for
extruding a 2D shape: perpendicular to the shape (positive Z axis toward the
user), and along a path. The default option is perpendicular to the plane of
the object, regardless of the current UCS orientation. The other option allows
the closed 2D feature to be extruded along an existing path determined by a
line, arc, spline, etc. Figure 13-12 shows a three-quarter-inch circle extruded
along a path.
The revolve command revolves a 2D shape about a specified axis. The 2D
object can be an ellipse, circle, spline, polyline, polygon, rectangle, or a region
object. Splines and polylines must be closed for the revolve command to work.
Only one object may be revolved at a time.
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(a) Closed 2D feature

(b) 3D Views
FIGURE 13-12
Extrude along a path.


Applying shading to an object created in AutoCAD enhances the 3D appear-

ance of the object and thus can greatly enhance the visualization of a com-
plex object. Two options for accessing the shading command in AutoCAD
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(a) Shade drop-down view option

(b) Shademode command prompt.

FIGURE 13-13
Accessing the shade command.

are the drop-down VIEW menu, as shown in Figure 13-13(a), or typing

SHADEMODE at the command prompt, as shown in Figure 13-13(b). Re-
gardless of the method you use to activate the shading command, the results
are the same.
The SHADEMODE command provides seven options and shades the ob-
ject in the active viewport. 2D and 3D wireframe options display wireframe
models of the object in either 2D or 3D space. The hidden option removes
hidden faces and is similar to the 3D wireframe option. These three options,
while classified under this command, are really not shading. Figure 13-14(a)
shows the differences among the 2D wireframe, 3D wireframe, and hidden op-
tions, while Figure 13-14(b) shows the differences among the remaining four
options discussed in this section. Flat displays defined color and shades the
object as though the light source were placed at the camera or observer posi-
tion. Curved geometry appears to have many small flat surfaces. Shading with
the Gouraud option is the same for flat shading except that curved surfaces
have a smooth, realistic appearance. Flat  edges displays a combination of
3D wireframe and flat shading options. The object is shaded with the desired
color, and the edges are outlined with the color of the background. Gouraud 
edges combines 3D wireframe and the gouraud shading options. This option
gives a smoother surface appearance, with outlined edges the same color as
the background.
Another AutoCAD command utilized to color 3D objects is render. The
render command is used when creating 3D objects to hide hidden features.
Render is different than shade because with render, you are shading just the
surface of the object. With shade, the object is solid.
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(a) 2D wireframe, 3D wireframe, and hidden options

Flat Flat + Edges

Gouraud Gouraud + Edges

(b) Flat, gouraud, flat + edges, and gouraud + edges

FIGURE 13-14
Shade command options.
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3D orbit provides an interactive 3D viewing of the objects created in Auto-

CAD. The objects can be viewed from any point. The 3D ORBIT command
can be activated either by clicking on the drop-down VIEW menu, then select-
ing the 3D ORBIT option, or by typing 3DORBIT at the command prompt.
Once the command has been activated, a thin, green, lined circle, or arc ball, is
displayed in the graphics window. The position of the cursor affects how the
objects will appear when rotated. Holding down the left mouse button while
simultaneously dragging the mouse rotates the objects. If the cursor is inside
the arc ball, it rotates the objects around the center of the arc ball in any direc-
tion. On the other hand, if the cursor is located outside the arc ball, the objects
are rotated about the arc circle. Figure 13-15 shows an object being rotated us-
ing 3D orbit inside the arc ball.

FIGURE 13-15
3D orbit.


The remainder of this chapter will focus on the steps necessary to create a 3D
drawing utilizing the various methods already discussed. Figure 13-16 shows a
multiview of the Chapter 12 example problem. It is repeated here so that you
do not have to flip back and forth to access Figure 12-20 in Chapter 12. You
should execute the steps at the same time as reading the explanation.
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FIGURE 13-16
Drawing of object from Chapter 12.

Open AutoCAD, save the drawing, and set up the desired layers. From
the drop-down VIEW menu, move your cursor to VIEWPORTS and click
on NEW VIEWPORTS to open the viewports dialog box. The cursor will be
blinking in the NEW NAME box at the top of the dialog box. You can create
a new viewport if you want; however, at this time, this box will be left blank.
This exercise utilizes AutoCADs default viewport names. At the bottom of
the dialog box, click on the down arrow under SETUP and select 3D. This
tells AutoCAD that the viewports will be set up for viewing the objects in
3D. Under STANDARD VIEWPORTS in the left-hand column, select FOUR:
EQUAL. AutoCAD displays the options selected in the preview area to the
right of the Standard Viewports section. Figure 13-17 shows what the setup
should look like at this point. Click OK to accept the choices selected. Next,
click the SAVE button, or press the CTRL key and the S key on the keyboard
at the same time to quick save.
Move the mouse cursor to the upper left-hand viewport and click any-
where in that viewport to make it active. Only one viewport may be active at a
time. A dark, bold border indicates which viewport is currently active.
Now two additional toolbars need to be opened to access the primitive
shapes and Boolean operations. In the standard toolbar at the top of the Auto-
CAD screen, press the right mouse button. A list of options will appear, dis-
playing check marks next to those toolbars that are currently active in the
AutoCAD screen, as shown in Figure 13-18. The two toolbars needed are
SOLIDS and SOLIDS EDITING, which are two-thirds of the way down the
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FIGURE 13-17
3D viewport setup.

FIGURE 13-18
Accessing toolbars.
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list. When you select a toolbar to activate, the toolbar menu closes. The same
steps listed above must be completed to open the second toolbar. The floating
toolbars may be docked by moving them to any side of the graphics window.
The SOLIDS toolbar contains the six primitive shapes that can be used to cre-
ate different features of an object. This toolbar also contains the EXTRUDE
and the REVOLVE commands that will be used later. The SOLIDS EDITING
toolbar contains the Boolean operations (union, subtract, and intersect)
needed to manipulate the primitive shapes.
The upper left-hand viewport should still be active. This viewport will dis-
play the top of the object and is one of many places to start. Create the bound-
ary of the drawing, using the POLYLINE command, as it would appear in a
top view in a multiview projection. The POLYLINE button is the third toolbar
button in the first vertical toolbar at the left of the screen. Figure 13-19 shows
the 2D outline.



FIGURE 13-19
2D boundary.

When you are using multiple viewports, the views are not aligned with each
other and appear to be different objects. To adjust the size of the object, simply
click in a viewport and scroll the mouse wheel forward to make the object big-
ger, or scroll it backward to make the object smaller. Next, locate the EXTRUDE
button from the SOLIDS toolbar shown in Figure 13-18. AutoCAD prompts you
to select the object to extrude. Select the 2D frame in the top left viewport.
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Next, press the ENTER key to make the 2D frame a 3D solid object. The
frame selected will show as small dashed lines, indicating the object has been
selected. The next step is to Specify height of extrusion or [Path]:. To specify
the height of the extrusion, type in 1.5 inches, which is the basic height of the
object, and press the ENTER key. Press the ENTER key again to accept the de-
fault of 0 for the angle of taper for extrusion. The extruded shape is shown
by the solid lines in Figure 13-20.

FIGURE 13-20
Extruded shape.

The 2D multiview drawing shows that a step exists in the front view. A
cube (a box) will now be constructed to subtract from the existing object to
form that step. Select the BOX button in the SOLIDS toolbar and follow the
instructions provided by AutoCAD in the command prompt. Make sure that
the lower left-hand viewport is active. Select a point away from the existing
object to construct the box.
The next request from AutoCAD is to Specify corner or [Cube/Length]:.
Press the L key on the keyboard to select length. Now the length 5, width .5,
and height 3 must be entered to create the feature that will be used to cut away
a portion of the existing object. Next, move the rectangle into position. Click
in the upper right-hand viewport to make that viewport active. Activate the
MOVE command to move the rectangle into position; use corner-to-corner
positioning, as shown in Figure 13-21.
From the SOLIDS EDITING toolbar, click on the SUBTRACT button,
which is the second button between the union and intersect options. The
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FIGURE 13-21
Positioning of rectangle.

first step is to select the object that will be subtracted, then press the ENTER
key to advance to the next step. In other words, first select the object you
want to keep, then select the object to subtract. The completed operation is
shown in Figure 13-22.
The fillet command can be used to create the two half-inch radii located at
the right side. Simply click on the FILLET toolbar button or select from the
drop-down MODIFY menu. Once the command has been activated, type R
and type 0.5 inch to set the radius of the arcs. Select the vertical line that
represents the point at which the radius will be located (represented in Figure
13-22 by the dashed line). Press ENTER twice to complete the command. Fol-
low the same steps to create the fillet on the other side of the drawing. The
completed fillet operation is shown in Figure 13-23.
The hexagon will be created next, but first the position on the drawing
must be located to eliminate any unnecessary steps. From the inner corner,
draw a line on top of the existing line one inch from the right corner and up
one-half inch. Drawing the lines in another layer is sometimes beneficial be-
cause it enables you to visualize the working plane while creating the hexa-
gon shape.
Click in the top left-hand viewport to make it active. Click on the
POLYGON button, which is the third button down from the top in the
DRAW toolbar. AutoCAD prompts you to Enter number of sides 4:.
Press the number 8 and press the ENTER key to indicate an eight-sided
hexagon. Next, pick the endpoint of the line created in the previous para-
graph to indicate where the center of the hexagon will be located. The
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FIGURE 13-22
Locating the rounded corners.

FIGURE 13-23
Hexagon placement.
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distance across the flats on the hexagon is .75. AutoCAD prompts you to
indicate whether the hexagon will be inscribed in a circle or circumscribed
about a circle. Press the C key to specify circumscribed about a circle. Next,
the radius of the circle about which the hexagon is to be circumscribed
needs to be entered. Half of the full distance across the flat is the radius of
the circle, which is .375.
Follow the same steps to extrude the hexagon that were used at the begin-
ning of this section. The newly created 3D hexagon will now be joined with
the rest of the drawing to form one object. The UNION option is the first but-
ton in the SOLID EDITING toolbar. Once the command has been activated,
simply select the hexagon and the object and press the ENTER key to join the
two 3D objects together. Figure 13-23 shows what the drawing should look
like at this point.
The final feature needed is the counterbored hole. This half-inch drilled
hole with a three-quarter-inch diameter counterbore a half inch deep will be
created using the REVOLVE command. The counterbore can also be created
by using the CYLINDER command located in the SOLIDS toolbar and apply-
ing the UNION command to join the two cylinders before subtracting them
from the object.
Keep the top left-hand viewport active and draw another line extending
two inches from the endpoint used to locate the center of the hexagon, as
shown in Figure 13-24. The lower left- or right-hand viewports may be used
to create the counterbored feature. Create the profile of the feature as shown
in the figure.

FIGURE 13-24
Counterbore profile.
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Locate the REVOLVE button, which is next to the EXTRUDE button in

the SOLIDS toolbar. AutoCAD prompts you to select the object to revolve. Se-
lect only the counterbore profile. Press the ENTER key to advance through the
command. The next step is to specify the start point for the axis. Select the
bottom left-hand corner of the profile; for the second point, select the top left-
hand corner. These points indicate the axis around which the profile will be
revolved to form the counterbore, as shown at Figure 13-25.

FIGURE 13-25
Revolve profile axis points.

Finally, the counterbore needs to be moved into position to be subtracted

from the main object. Click in the upper right-hand viewport to make it ac-
tive. Move the counterbore using the center point of the top circle as the first
base point and use the endpoint of the reference line as the second point. Use
the same steps discussed earlier to subtract the counterbore.
Turn off the layer containing the lines used to locate the center point for
the hexagon and the counterbore. It is poor practice to delete such objects
used to create/locate the geometry of any object. The points may be needed
later to resolve a problem if a mistake arises.
Shading can now be applied to give the object a realistic 3D appearance.
Select the SHADE option from the drop-down VIEW menu or type
SHADEMODE at the command prompt. Click on each viewport and follow
the same steps for shading the support. Figure 13-26 displays the finished 3D
support shaded with the gouraud  edges option.
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FIGURE 13-26
3D support.


The computer and its graphic design software is at a stage where product
design can be standardized. Digital Product Definition Data Practices, ASME
Y14.41-2003, is the standard that sets forth a logical and manageable system
for the use of 3D in the design, manufacture, and inspection cycles of a prod-
uct. The standard supports all basic 2D drawing standards and conventions
given in this text, such as lines, orthographic and axonometric views, sections,
dimensions, tolerances, fasteners, and working drawings. Figure 13-27 illus-
trates a three-dimensional design model. An important addition to the stan-
dard is the use of the XYZ coordinate system, which has been discussed. It
must be shown on the drawing.


With the increasing sophistication and accuracy of digital cameras and scan-
ners, images can be taken and applied easily to enhance a CAD drawing. These
images can be manipulated in a digital editing software package and saved in a
bit map format. A digital image can be inserted into an AutoCAD drawing by
clicking on the pull-down menu INSERT, choosing the command OLE object,
and locating the digital image file. The data can then be aligned with the CAD
coordinate system. An example application is superimposing a new room addi-
tion or a large garage using CAD on a digital picture of an existing house.
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FIGURE 13-27
Dimensioned 3D design model.
Note: The large circle and the thickness are not dimensioned.


In summary,one must know or do the following:

1. Determine whether to use viewports or 3D view commands to view the different angles
when creating objects.
2. Establish different angles of an object in relation to the UCS.
3. Correlate the use of the X,Y,and Z axes with the UCS icon positioning.
4. Manipulate primitive views by using the three Boolean operations (union,subtract,and
intersect) to create 3D objects.
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5. Utilize the revolve or extrude command to create 3D objects from 2D shapes.

6. Shade an object to enhance its 3D appearance.
7. Utilize 3D orbit to rotate objects for better visualization.
8. Complete a 3D drawing with appropriate dimensions and tolerancing.
9. Print the completed drawing.


wireframe construction (page 231) user coordinating system (UCS) (page 235)
world coordinating system (WCS) viewports (page 236)
(page 233) extrude (page 238)
right-hand rule (page 233) revolve (page 238)
constructive solid geometry (CSG) shading (page 239)
(page 234)
render (page 240)
primitive shapes (page 234)
3D orbit (page 242)
Boolean operations (page 234)
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