AutoCAD Tutorial

AutoCAD 3D Modeling: Tabulated and Ruled Surfaces

August 5, 2003

TABSURF and RULESURF are two of those commands that create 3D Meshes. The first command builds a surface with the help of a path curve and a vector. The second one connects to curves with a 3D mesh. Both commands are affected by the value of SURFTAB1 system variable. Let's build some surfaces with the help of these commands.


  • This tutorial is designed for AutoCAD 2004 though might be applicable for other releases.
  • In this tutorial user entries are in boldface.
  • The 8  symbol represents pressing Enter.

1. Download r16_rule_tab.dwg

Note: If you are using AutoCAD 2002 or an earlier release download r15_rule_tab.dwg

2. Open the drawing in AutoCAD. The drawing consists of a spline, a line, and two ellipses [Figure 1].

Figure 1

3. Switch the shade mode to Gouraud Shaded, Edges On.

4. Alter the value of SURFTAB1 system variable to 8.

Command: surftab1 8

Enter new value for SURFTAB1 <6>: 8 8

5. Invoke TABSURF (Draw > Surfaces > Tabulated Surface).

6. Select the spline as the path curve and the vertical line as the vector. Click on the lower portion of the line. A surface appears [Figure 2].

Figure 2

7. The quality of the surface is not acceptable. Therefore erase it.

8. Assign 36 to SURFTAB1.

9. Create the surface again. The quality is acceptable now [Figure 3].

Figure 3

10. Invoke RULESURF (Draw > Surfaces > Ruled Surface).

11. Click the ellipses as the defining curves. A surface appears between the ellipses [Figure 4].

Figure 4

About the Author

Alireza Parsai is the founder of He is a mechanical engineer with more than 12 years experience with AutoCAD. Alireza is an Autodesk Authorized Author, the AutoCAD consultant for Al Khawarizmi Institute, a contributing editor for Augiworld magazine, a writer for CAD Digest, an instructor for AUGI Training Program, and an elected speaker for Autodesk University 2002. He has written 7 books in Farsi, 3 booklets in English, and more than 30 articles for different magazines and newsletters. You can reach him at or visit his website

More CAD Corner tutorials >>