Ellen Finkelstein, October 30, 2003
Copyright© 2003 Wiley Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduced here by permission of the publisher.
image to order online
Chapter 1: Starting to Draw
1. If you inadvertently start a command that you don’t want,
press Esc. The command-line prompt returns.
2. If you are
saving a drawing for the first time, the Save Drawing As dialog
box appears. Down the left side of the dialog box are several
buttons to help you find a location to save drawings more
quickly. Together, these buttons are called the Places list. In
a nice touch, you can reorder the buttons in the Places list.
Just drag any button to a new location.
3. You can choose
Window > Close All to close all open drawings. If any have
unsaved changes, AutoCAD prompts you to save the changes. If you
installed the Express Tools (see Appendix A for details), you
can choose Express > File tools > Quick Exit, which closes all
open drawings (prompting you to save if necessary) and then
exits AutoCAD. You can also choose Express > File tools > Close
All Drawings to close all drawings without exiting AutoCAD. You
are prompted to save any unsaved changes.
Chapter 2: Opening a Drawing
4. Name your templates in a way that clearly differentiates
them from regular drawings. You may want drawings set up for
each of the standard paper sizes (A through E), with a title
block in each. Useful names might be tb-a.dwt, tb-b.dwt (tb
meaning title block), and so on.
Chapter 3: Using Commands
5. If a dialog box has a question mark (?) icon in the
top-right corner, click it to change the cursor to a question
mark. Then click any item in the dialog box to display a brief
explanation of that item.
6. Switching from the mouse to the
keyboard and back is time-consuming. In general, if you are
picking points by using the mouse, using menus and toolbars
to give commands is faster. If you are typing coordinates,
your hands are already at the keyboard, so typing commands
at the keyboard is easier.
7. You can also press the
Spacebar at the Command: prompt to repeat a command you just
used. This technique works well if you want to keep one hand
on the mouse and use the other hand to press the Spacebar.
8. If you create a toolbar button that executes a customized
set of actions, right-click and choose the first item on the
shortcut menu to repeat the action of the toolbar button.
You cannot press Enter to get this effect.
Begin/End and Mark/Back options of the UNDO command are
useful when you are trying something new and want to be able
to undo a whole series of commands in one UNDO command in
case things don’t work out as planned.
Chapter 4: Specifying Coordinates
10. You can type @
¿ at the first prompt of any drawing command to indicate
the most recent coordinate specified.
11. Turn on NumLock on
your keyboard and use the numerical pad for typing in
lengths. Use the Enter key on the numerical pad as well.
12. You can choose either polar snap or grid snap (switch
between them) by right-clicking SNAP on the status bar. A
shortcut menu lets you choose the type of snap you want,
or turn both off.
13. If you are working with a small
snap spacing and the dot grid is too dense, set the dot
grid to twice the size of the snap spacing. You can even
set the dot grid to four or five times the snap spacing.
14. Many users like to work with three or four running
object snaps on at once, such as endpoint, midpoint,
center, and intersection. If you can’t find the object
snap you want because you have several object snaps near
each other, press the Tab key to cycle through the object
snaps, one by one, until you find the one that you want.
15. When using point filters, you do not need to use
existing coordinates for both the X and Y portions of the
coordinate. For example, you can construct an X,Y
coordinate by using the Y coordinate of an existing line
and picking the X coordinate anywhere on the screen.
Chapter 5: Setting Up a Drawing (none)
Chapter 6: Drawing Simple Lines
16. You can use most object
snaps with construction lines and rays. (You can't use
endpoint for construction lines or midpoint for rays.)
Construction lines and rays can be edited like any other
Chapter 7: Drawing Curves and Point Objects
17. You can also create a circle tangent to other
objects by using the 2-point (2P) or 3-point (3P) method
and picking those points with the Tangent object snap.
When you choose Draw > Circle (from the menu), AutoCAD
includes a tan tan tan option, enabling you to specify a
circle tangent to three objects.
18. If you have many
filled objects in your drawing, AutoCAD may need to take
some time to display the drawing. You can save time by
turning FILL off while you draw. Then turn FILL on just
before you need to print or plot the drawing.
can use the hatch feature to fill in any object with a
solid fill, with a great deal more flexibility in the
shape of your objects. (Chapter 16 discusses hatching.)
As a result, the DONUT command is not as essential as it
20. If you are using points for temporary
reference, instead of erasing them, you can set the
point style to the second style in the Point Style
dialog box (no dot) before plotting. Then the points do
not appear on your plot.
Chapter 8: Viewing Your
21. In a very large drawing, you can create
views as soon as you create the title block — for
example, one for each quadrant of the drawing, and
another for the title block lettering. This helps you
move quickly from one section of the drawing to another.
As you determine the need for more specific views, you
can add them.
22. Many users commonly use one viewport
to display the entire drawing and the others to display
zoomed in views of smaller sections.
23. The grid does
not have to be on, but it helps you get your bearings
when working with an unusual snap angle.
creating a new, rotated UCS such as the one in the
previous exercise, type plan (to start the PLAN command)
and use the Current UCS option to remove the rotation.
Now you aren't working at an angle in your UCS. To
return to the World UCS, type plan again and choose the
World option to return to your drawing's previous state.
25. Use snap points and object snaps as much as possible
in an isometric drawing. Also, set the cursor to 100
percent of the screen to better visualize the isometric
planes. (Choose Tools > Options and click the Display
tab.) The grid is also a helpful aid.
coordinate display is very helpful while drawing
isometrically. The coordinates are easier to understand
than the unusual absolute snap point coordinates created
Chapter 9: Editing Your Drawing: Basic
27. When you move an object, choose an object
snap on the object or a nearby-related object as the
base point for exact results.
28. An alternative to
using Remove to deselect objects is to press Shift and
deselect objects by picking or implied windowing.
Chapter 10: Editing Your Drawing: Advanced Tools
mirror lines are orthogonal. Therefore, after you
specify the first mirror point, turn on ORTHO and move
the mouse in the direction of the second point. You can
then quickly pick the second point. Polar tracking can
also easily guide you to specify an orthogonal mirror
31. If you need to create a number of copies of
an object along a straight path, use a one-column or
one-row array instead of the COPY command. It’s faster
32. While using the TRIM command, you can
switch to extending objects by pressing the Shift key as
you select objects to trim.
33. Generally, you pick
the objects to be trimmed individually. You cannot use
Windows to select them. However, you can use the Fence
object-selection method. AutoCAD trims the side of the
object that the fence line crosses. You can also press
Enter at the Select cutting edges: prompt. Then, when
you select the objects you want to trim, AutoCAD
automatically uses the cutting edge nearest your pick
point. You can use this feature to trim to multiple
cutting edges without having to specify each cutting
34. If the object you want to use for the
cutting edge is already selected before you start the
TRIM command, AutoCAD deselects it. At the Select
cutting edges … prompt, you can type p ¿
to reselect that object.
35. While using the EXTEND
command, you can switch to trimming objects by pressing
the Shift key as you select objects to trim.
Usually, you want to stretch at an orthogonal angle. If
you are going to stretch by picking, turn ORTHO on.
Object snaps, polar tracking, and snap mode are other
helpful drawing aids for stretching.
37. Sometimes you
may want to break an object into two pieces at a point,
without erasing any part of the object. Use the Break at
Point button on the Modify toolbar to help you easily
break an object at a point. After selecting the object,
pick where you want to break the object at the Specify
second break point or [First point]: prompt. The two new
objects look the same as before on the screen — until
you select one of the objects. To break objects at a
point, AutoCAD uses @, which always signifies the last
point entered, to specify the second break point. Thus,
the first and second break points are the same.
You can also press the spacebar to cycle through the
grip editing modes. For example, to move an object,
press the spacebar once.
39. The Properties palette
has its own undo function. Right-click the item that you
changed in the Properties palette and choose Undo.
Multiple levels of undo are available. For more
information about palettes, see Chapter 26.
11: Organizing Drawings with Layers, Colors, Linetypes,
40. To create several new layers at
once, click New and type all the layer names you want,
separated by commas. If you want a new layer to have the
same color and/or linetype as an existing layer — which
is very common — choose that existing layer and click
New. The new layer will inherit the properties of the
selected layer. You can then make any changes you want.
41. Both the off and frozen states make layers
invisible. AutoCAD introduced the frozen and thawed
layer states to reduce regeneration time — and that’s
the main difference between On/Off and Thawed/Frozen
layer visibility options. However, today’s computers are
faster, and AutoCAD has since introduced several ways to
avoid regeneration while panning and zooming — such as
Aerial View, Zoom Dynamic, and real-time zooming and
panning. Also, remember that thawing a layer causes a
regeneration, whereas turning a layer back on only
causes a redraw. As a result, you might actually save a
regeneration by using On/Off instead of Thawed/Frozen.
42. When you work with a large number of layers, think
carefully about how you name them. Naming layers in
groups is common. For example, if you have several text
layers, you could name them Text Title, Text Notes, and
Text Schedule. A systematic layer-naming scheme makes it
easy to filter the layers you need, which in turn makes
it easy to make changes to groups of layers.
can modify more than one layer at a time. In the Layer
Properties Manager dialog box, right-click and choose
Select All to choose all the layers. Choose Clear All to
deselect all layers. You can choose a range of layers by
clicking the first in the range, pressing Shift, and
clicking the last in the range. Finally, you can choose
individual layers by pressing Ctrl for each additional
layer. Changes you make to color, linetype, or
lineweight affect all the selected layers.
purging objects in the Purge dialog box, you can select
more than one item at a time to purge. To select an
additional item, press Ctrl as you click. To select a
contiguous group of items, click the first item, press
and hold Shift, and select the last item in the group.
45. You can always change an object’s color back to
ByLayer, using the same Color Control drop-down list you
used to change the color originally.
46. You can always change an object’s linetype back to
ByLayer, using the same Linetype Control drop-down list
you used to change the linetype originally.
global linetype scale is held in the LTSCALE system
variable. You can change the linetype scale by typing
LTSCALE at the command line and typing a scale.
Chapter 12: Getting Information from Your Drawing
Remember that you can set the point display by choosing
Format>Point Style. An easy-to-see point style is
especially useful for the DIVIDE command. Specify the
point style before using the command.
49. By default, text is left-justified.
To change the text’s justification, right-click and
choose Justify at the Specify start point of text or
[Justify/Style]: prompt. AutoCAD responds with this
bewildering prompt: Enter an option
However, if you know the option abbreviation of the
justification you want, you can use it at the Specify
start point of text or [Justify/Style]: prompt.
50. The most common way to edit single-line text is to use
the DDEDIT command. Double-click the text. However, if you start
the DDEDIT command instead by choosing Modify>Objects>Text >Edit
(or typing ddedit ¿
on the command line), you are prompted to select an annotation
object. Select the object and the Edit Text window opens. When
you finishing editing the text and click OK, you are again
prompted to select an object. The command continues to prompt
you for objects until you press Enter at the prompt. Use this
method when you want to edit several lines of text.
create an exponent (or superscript) in the Multiline
Text Editor, type a number and then a carat, as in 2^.
Select the number and the carat and click the Stack/Unstack
button. To create a subscript, type a carat, and then
the number, as in ^2, and stack it.
52. To indent an
entire paragraph in the Multiline Text Editor,
right-click in the editor and choose Indents and Tabs.
Then use both first line and paragraph indentation.
(AutoCAD 2004 only)
53. It's easier to set indentation
and tabs on the Multiline Editor's ruler than in the
dialog box. Drag the first line indent marker (the top
triangle at the left of the ruler) or the paragraph
indent marker (the bottom triangle) to the left or
right. To set a tab, click on the ruler where you want
the tab. To delete a tab, drag a tab marker off the
ruler. (AutoCAD 2004 only)
54. When the Multiline Text
Editor is open, you can change the width of the Mtext
object by dragging on the right edge of the ruler. You
can also change the width of the editor itself by
dragging on the right edge of the editor box. (AutoCAD
55. When you draw in three dimensions, you
need to figure out how to combine three-dimensional
models with two-dimensional text. You can use the
HIDETEXT system variable to choose whether you want text
to act like a 3D or a 2D object. Use the On setting, the
default, if you want text to be hidden behind other
objects and to hide other objects when you use the HIDE
command, such as other 3D objects. If you use the Off
setting, text will not hide other objects, or be hidden,
unless it has a thickness. (See Chapter 21 for more on
the HIDE command and adding a thickness to objects.)
56. Strangely enough, if you don’t have any misspelled
words in your drawing, you cannot open the Check
Spelling dialog box. AutoCAD simply issues the Spelling
Check Complete message. The trick is to insert a
misspelled word and then use the SPELL command. You can
erase or correct the word afterward.
57. Another way
to edit the custom dictionary is to open the file
directly with a text editor. The AutoCAD custom
dictionary is called sample.cus. To find sample.cus,
choose Tools>Options and click the File tab.
Double-click Text Editor, Dictionary, and Font File
Names. Double-click Custom Dictionary File. Click the
path list to view the location of sample.cus.
14: Drawing Dimensions
58. If you often turn layers on
and off (or freeze and thaw them), you may want to
create a separate dimension layer for each layer of
drawing data. For example, if you dimension an
electrical layer that you turn off regularly, you can
have a special Dim-elec dimension layer that you can
turn off with the electrical layer.
dimensioning, create a text style for your dimensions.
Set the height of the text style to zero. You can then
set the text height when you create the dimension style.
If you do specify a fixed height in your text style,
that height overrides any height you specify in the
60. Make it standard practice to use
object snaps for choosing extension line origins. The
point you pick specifies the definition point that
determines the final measurement. Also, proper
association of dimensions with their objects depends on
the points you specify. Accurate dimensioning requires
accurate drawings and therefore exact specification of
the points you want to use for the dimensions.
best results, turn ORTHO on while trying to drag the
dimension line or the dimension text. Polar tracking
also works well.
Chapter 15: Creating Dimension Styles
62. When defining the arrowheads in a
dimension style, you can set a different arrow just for
leaders. Choose the arrow you want from the Leader
63. When trying to fit dimension text,
lines, and arrows in a narrow space, AutoCAD also uses
the gap to calculate the minimum space required on
either side of the dimension text. Reducing the gap can
therefore help fit more of the dimension elements
between the extension lines.
64. Double-click any
dimension to open the Properties palette where you can
change the properties of that dimension.
65. You can
create a new dimension style from an existing dimension
on the fly by using the Properties palette. Double-click
a dimension to open the Properties palette. Click the
arrow next to the type of change you want to make and
make the change. After you’re done, right-click in the
drawing area and choose Dim Style>Save as New Style. The
New Dimension Style dialog box opens so that you can
give the dimension style a name. Click OK.
66. You can
compare a dimension style with the current dimension
style. To do this, follow these steps:
• Choose Dimension Style from the Dimension toolbar and
choose Compare. AutoCAD opens the Compare Dimension
Styles dialog box.
• In the Compare and With drop-down boxes, choose the
two dimension styles you want to compare. AutoCAD lists
the differences by system variable. For more information
about system variables used in dimensions, see the
sidebar, “Dimension system variables.”
67. Click the
Copy button at the right side of the Compare Dimension
Styles dialog box to copy the comparison to the
clipboard. You can then paste it into another document.
For example, you might want to e mail the file to a
Chapter 16: Drawing Complex Objects
can change any line or arc into a polyline. Start PEDIT
and choose a line or arc. AutoCAD responds: Object
selected is not a polyline. Do you want to turn it into
one? <Y>. Press Enter to accept the default. AutoCAD
turns the object into a polyline. (In AutoCAD 2004, you
can change the new PEDITACCEPT system variable to 1 to
suppress this prompt and automatically turn non-polyline
objects that you select for the PEDIT command to
polylines.) You can use this technique to turn a series
of connected lines and arcs into a polyline. First, turn
one of the objects into a polyline as I just explained.
Then use the Join option and select the other objects
individually or by a selection window. After you finish
object selection, AutoCAD tells you how many segments
were added to the polyline. In order to create a
polyline in this way, the individual lines and arcs must
connect exactly end to end. However, if you use the
Multiple option, explained following the current list,
you can join lines that are not exactly touching.
Create a separate layer for hatch patterns. You may want
to turn off or freeze your hatch layer to reduce visual
clutter or assist in selecting objects. Hatches are also
typically a different color than the model you are
70. When hatching, while you are in your
drawing before or after picking points or selecting
objects, you can right-click to open a very useful
shortcut menu. Choose from the following options on the
shortcut menu. This shortcut menu enables you to manage
the hatch boundary without returning to the dialog box.
• Enter: Returns you to the dialog box.
• Undo Last Select/Pick: Undoes your most recent object
selection or point pick.
• Clear All: Undoes all your picks/object selections.
• Pick Internal Point: Switches to picking of internal
• Select Objects: Switches to selection of objects.
• Normal Island Detection: Sets island detection to
• Outer Island Detection: Sets island detection to outer
• Ignore Island Detection: Sets island detection to
• Preview: Previews the hatch.
71. When creating a new
multiline style, first set as current the multiline
style that is the most similar to the one you want to
72. When defining the offset for multiline
style elements, you define offsets that are above or
below the multiline’s pick points. Think of the
multiline as being drawn horizontally to the right to
help you visualize what above and below mean.
17: Plotting and Printing Your Drawing
73. To add your
own title block, create it as a drawing and save it in
the \Templates folder. (To find the location of this
folder, choose Tools>Options and click the Files tab.
Double-click Drawing Template Settings and then Drawing
Template File Location.) Notice that most of the
templates in that folder have corresponding drawings
that are used in the Layout Wizard. If you have a
template that you use for a title block, open a new
drawing using that template and save it as a drawing in
the \Templates folder, using the same name as the
template. (It has a .dwg file name extension, however.)
74. To cycle from viewport to viewport while in model
space, press Ctrl+R.
75. Another way to turn off a
viewport is to select it (by clicking its border while
in paper space), and then right-click and choose Display
Viewport Objects>No. Choose Yes to display the viewport
76. If you create dimensions in a
viewport in paper space and then zoom or pan in that
viewport, the objects and the dimension get out of sync.
Use the DIMREGEN command on the command line to reset
the dimension to match its object.
77. To avoid
inadvertently plotting to a Windows system printer when
you should be plotting to a plotter, you can hide the
display of Windows system printers in the Plot and Page
Setup dialog boxes. Because these printers won’t appear
on the list of plotters, you can’t plot to them. To hide
system printers, choose Tools>Options and click the
Plotting tab. At the bottom-left corner of the dialog
box, check Hide System Printers and click OK.
18: Working with Blocks and Attributes
78. If you create a number of block definitions that you do
not end up using in the drawing, use the PURGE command to delete
them. This reduces the size of the drawing file.
79. When you
save a drawing that you plan to insert as a block, use
the BASE command to create the insertion point. By
default the base point is 0,0,0. By setting the base
point to another point in the drawing, such as an object
snap on one of the objects, you can control how that
drawing is inserted.
80. If you really don’t know
where the file is, or are not even sure of its name, use
the Windows Find feature. Choose Start>Find/Search>Files
or Folders. In the screen that appears, set the criteria
for the file. For example, you could find all drawings
starting with the letter C by typing c*.dwg in the Named
text box. From the resulting list, choose the drawing
you want and drag it onto your drawing using the same
steps listed previously.
81. The first procedure when
working with attributes is to draw the individual
objects that are to make up the block. The exception is
when you want to create attributes without creating any
other objects in the block. You might do this to extract
attributes that apply to the drawing as a whole. If the
block already exists, explode it and then redefine the
block, adding the attributes.
82. When defining an
attribute, the Value item is used for setting a default
value. You can use the value to clarify a format that
should be followed when entering information. For
example, you could set the value of a date to dd/mm/yy
so that users know how to format the date.
83. If you
are creating many blocks with similar attributes, you
can copy just the attributes, modify them as just
described, place them near other objects, and then
create the blocks. This way, you don’t have to define
all the attributes from scratch.
84. If the order of
the attribute prompts is important, don’t use a window
to select the attributes — select them in the order in
which you want the prompts to appear. You can then use a
crossing or window box to select the rest of the objects
to be included in the block. The order of the attribute
prompts will be important if you are taking the data for
the attributes from a listing — perhaps a spreadsheet
that you have printed out. It will be much easier to
insert the attribute values if the prompts follow the
order of the printed document you are using.
you add properties to the listing in the Block Attribute
Manager, resize the dialog box so that you can see all
86. If you export attributes in tab delimited format,
you can open the Multiline Text Editor and click Import
Text to import the output file into your drawing. You
can also open the output file, copy it to the clipboard,
and paste it into your drawing. The Import Text method
enables you to format the text as you would any
multiline text but may take some experimenting to align
the columns. You cannot format the text you import using
the clipboard method, but it is nicely lined up in
Chapter 19: Referencing Other Drawings
In the Xref Manager (Insert>Xref Manager), you can
change the width of the columns in List View by placing
the cursor on a column dividing line until it changes to
a two-headed arrow. Then drag in either direction.
The XCLIP command enables you to create a border in an
xref and hides any part of the xref outside the border.
You can also clip blocks.
89. If you want to create an
index for an existing drawing, click OK once to return
to the Save Drawing As dialog box. Click Cancel. In
other words, you don’t have to actually save the drawing
to set up the index, which is controlled by the INDEXCTL
90. This may be obvious, but the
first principle of managing xrefs is to keep them
simple. Overly complex nested configurations are hard to
manage, no matter what you do.
91. If you set the
XREFCTL system variable to 1 (by default it is set to
0), AutoCAD makes a copy of all xref activity for your
current drawing in an ASCII text file. You can read the
log to troubleshoot problems that may occur. AutoCAD
places the log file in the same folder as your drawing
and uses your drawing name with the .xlg file name
extension. This file can get long. Therefore, once in a
while, you should delete all or part of the file.
Chapter 20: Working with External Databases
92. To get
the Data View window out of the way, you can dock it.
Right-click in the Data View window’s toolbar area and
choose Allow Docking. Then drag the window to the right
edge of your screen (assuming your dbConnect window is
on the left side of your screen).
93. If you want, you
can copy your formatting, including sorting, to the
clipboard and paste it into your DBMS. To do this,
select the records you want to export. To export the
entire database, click the grid header. Then right-click
any cell and choose Copy. Open your DBMS and click Paste
from the Standard toolbar.
94. When you use View
Linked Objects, the selected objects form a selection
set. You can then use the results with other commands
that allow prior selection of objects. For commands that
you must execute before selecting objects, type p ¿
at the Select objects: prompt to use the Previous option
and get the selection set.
95. When exporting links,
you are prompted to select objects. You can select the
entire drawing (type all
¿ at the Select Objects: prompt) and AutoCAD
finds just the linked objects.
Chapter 21: Specifying
96. If you want to create curved shapes
in 3D space, you can create 2D polylines with a width
and then add a thickness and an elevation. Elevation and
thickness are both explained in the next section.
Because it is easy to forget the current thickness,
unless you are drawing a number of objects with the same
thickness, it is usually safer to draw objects with no
thickness and then change the thickness. If you do
change the current thickness, don’t forget to change it
back to zero when you are finished creating the 3D
Chapter 22: Viewing 3D Drawings
98. In the
Viewpoint Presets dialog box (View>3D Views>Viewpoint
Presets), there’s an art to using the two dials to set
the view angle that you want. If you click the inside
border of either one, close to the indicator needle,
AutoCAD sets the angle based on exactly where you
clicked. This results in uneven degrees, such as 47.6.
However, if you click the outside border of either
image, or the numbers themselves, AutoCAD rounds the
angle to the value in the segment.
99. If you want to
create curved shapes in 3D space, you can create 2D
polylines with a width and then add a thickness and an
elevation. Elevation and thickness are both explained in
the next section.
100. 3D orbit can be used as a
substitute for DVIEW, which is covered later in this
101. You can use 3D orbit transparently, that
is, in the middle of another command. Just start a
command, type '3dorbit
¿, rotate your model as you want, and press Esc
or Enter to close 3D orbit. AutoCAD then continues the
command in progress.
102. For faster performance,
select only the objects you want to view with 3D orbit
before starting the command. Objects you did not select
disappear while you are in 3D orbit mode. Of course,
they reappear as soon as you leave 3D orbit mode.
Specifying the proper coordinates for camera and target
location in the 3DORBIT command can be difficult in 3D.
You may find it helpful to place a point object at the
two desired locations before starting the command. You
can then use the Node object snap to pick the camera and
target positions you want.
104. If you want, you can
create your own block and name it dviewblock. Create it
with X, Y, and Z dimensions of 1. When you press Enter
at the Select objects or <use DVIEWBLOCK>: prompt,
AutoCAD looks for dviewblock and uses it to display the
results of the perspective view settings.
using the DVIEW command options, if you want to set the
angle in the XY plane first and limit the effect of
cursor movement to that change, you need to use the
Toggle suboption to get to the Enter angle in XY plane
from X axis: prompt. After you set the angle in the XY
plane, the suboption ends. Start the Camera option again
to set the angle from the XY plane.
106. While it is
common to choose a target point on one of the objects in
your drawing, often you want the camera point to be off
the objects so that you are looking at the objects from
a certain distance and angle. To pick the camera point,
choose Format>Point Style (before starting DVIEW) and
choose an easily visible point style. Decide what
elevation you want, type elev
¿, and set a new elevation. From plan view,
choose Point from the Draw toolbar and pick a point. The
point is created on the current elevation. Then use the
Node object snap to snap to the point when specifying
the camera point in the Points option.
22-44 shows the result of SOLPROF after also freezing
the layer that SOLPROF created containing the hidden
parts of the model. In this case, the layer was named
PH-159. Look for the h, which stands for hidden. The
last part of the layer name is the handle of the object
you are profiling and so differs for each object. As
soon as you have a separate layer for the hidden portion
of the model, you can modify that layer’s color and/or
linetype to show the hidden lines in a contrasting color
Chapter 23: Creating 3D Surfaces
It often helps to prepare for a complex 3D face by
creating 2D objects for some or all of the faces. You
can then use Endpoint object snaps to pick the points of
the 3D face. Place these 2D objects on a unique layer,
such as Frames or Const.
109. In order to easily draw
a polyface mesh with PFACE, draw 2D objects as a guide
for picking vertices. Then you can use object snaps to
pick the vertices. Also, for polyface meshes on more
than one plane, draw a diagram that numbers the
vertices. This helps you specify which vertices make up
110. If you have several adjoining objects
that you would like to use as one path curve, remember
that you can use PEDIT to change lines and arcs to
polylines and join them together. For more information,
see Chapter 16.
Chapter 24: Creating Solids and
Editing in 3D
111. The DELOBJ system variable
determines whether objects used by EXTRUDE to make other
objects are retained. By default, they are deleted.
Therefore, when you use a 2D object to make a solid, the
2D object is deleted. If you make a mistake during
extrusion and notice it later — after it’s impractical
to undo several commands you want to keep — when you
erase the solid, you have no 2D object to use to
re-create the solid. (You can put such objects on a
layer that can be turned off, in case you need them
again.) Set DELOBJ to zero (0) to keep objects used to
create other objects. On the other hand, if you are sure
about what you are doing, keeping DELOBJ at 1 avoids
having to erase unwanted 2D objects in your drawing.
112. You can also use the UNION command with 2D regions,
either for 2D drawings or as a basis for a 3D model.
113. You can use INTERFERE for troubleshooting and
visualizing a complex drawing. For example, you can use
INTERFERE to determine which solids need to be
subtracted from other solids. The new objects are
created on the current layer. You can change the current
layer before using INTERFERE to help you more clearly
distinguish the new solid you create.
114. The SECTION
command creates the region on the current layer. Make
the current layer color different from the object layer
color so that the region is clearly visible.
Sometimes creating an object in the XY plane and then
rotating it afterward is easier. In other words, you may
create an object in the wrong plane on purpose and use
ROTATE3D later to properly place it.
116. The trick when aligning in 3D is to properly
visualize the parts. It helps to hide the drawing first,
as you did in the exercise. Also, take the time to find
the UCS and a viewpoint that make the points you are
specifying easy to see and pick.
Chapter 25: Rendering
117. In most cases, white light is fine. You can
get some unexpected results when using colored lights on
118. Use a name that makes it clear
that the light is a point light. Keep the name short. A
simple sequence of P1, P2 is often sufficient. However,
you could also use P-overhd and P-door or something
119. Set the intensity to zero (0) to turn a
light off. You can use this technique to switch a scene
from a day view to a night view or to experiment with
different lights without having to delete them.
To turn the distant light off, set the intensity to zero
(0). You can use this technique to switch a scene from a
day view to a night view or to experiment with different
121. For your practice renderings while you
are creating lights and materials, turn shadows off in
the Render dialog box. Shadows significantly add to
rendering time, and you’ll do a lot of waiting. When you
are satisfied with the other settings, turn shadows on.
122. If you don’t find the exact material you want,
import the closest one you can find. You can then create
a new material based on that material. The next section
explains how to edit existing materials.
Attaching materials by layer can be a very efficient
method. It requires some planning in advance. For
example, if you have a block that is a chair, and if you
create it so that the legs are on one layer and the seat
and back are on a second layer, then you can easily
attach a wood-like material to the legs and a decorative
pattern to the seat and back.
Chapter 26: Keeping
Control of Your Drawings
124. Knowing the appropriate
scale of an image before inserting it is often hard.
When you move the cursor at the Specify scale factor or
[Unit] <1>: prompt, you can see a bounding box that will
help you visualize the resulting size of the image.
125. To dock the DesignCenter, right-click the title bar
and choose Allow Docking. Then drag the DesignCenter
window to the left or right of your AutoCAD window. To
collapse the DesignCenter down to its title bar when
you're not using it, right-click the title bar and
choose Auto-hide; whenever you move the mouse cursor off
the DesignCenter it collapses. Just move the cursor back
onto the title bar to expand it again. Sometimes the
DesignCenter docks when you are trying to drag it past
the AutoCAD application window. To avoid unwanted
docking, either uncheck Allow Docking on its title bar
or press Ctrl as you drag. (AutoCAD 2004 only)
you have docking enabled, but want to drag the Tool
Palettes window without docking it, press Ctrl as you
drag. (AutoCAD 2004 only)
127. If you just finished
associating a standards file with a drawing, you can
click Check Standards in the Configure Standards dialog
128. When translating layers in the Layer
Translator dialog box, you can select more than one
layer from the Translate From list by pressing Ctrl for
each additional layer. You can select a contiguous group
of layers by clicking the first layer in the group,
holding Shift and selecting the last layer in the group.
Then select the layer from the Translate To list that
you want to map that group of layers to and click Map.
You can also quickly map all layers with the same name
by choosing Map Same.
129. One low-tech way to keep
track of drawings is to keep a book of 8-1/2x11 plots.
Place the drawing name and date written in large text on
a separate layer in the drawing. Set the Plot property
of the layer to Not Plottable while you work and for
Regular Plotting. Set it to Plottable for your batch
plots. Then, even reduced, you’ll know the drawing name
when you look at the drawing in the book.
130. In the
Reference Manager (Start>Programs>Autodesk>AutoCAD
2004>Reference Manager), you can also choose Find and
Replace Selected Paths to change all references that use
a certain saved path and replace them with a new path.
Use this feature when you have a large number of
drawings that need paths to changed referenced files.
131. However, if AutoCAD or your entire computer
crashes, you will probably be left with one or more .ac$
files. A good guideline for erasing .ac$ files is to
only erase those from yesterday or earlier. Leave
today’s alone. If you don’t see the date and time of the
files in Explorer, choose View>Details.
Working with Other Applications
132. You can attach
rendered images to your drawing if you have saved them
as TIF, TGA, or BMP files. A great way to do this is to
create a floating viewport in paper space for the
rendered image, letting your clients see not only the
regular drawing but the rendered result on one sheet of
paper. Figure 25-25 in Chapter 25 was created this way.
Remember that you can now plot shaded and rendered
images. (AutoCAD 2004 only.) See Chapter 17 for details.
133. The IMAGEFRAME command turns off the frame that
surrounds all images in a drawing. Choose
Modify>Object>Image>Frame. Turning off the frame often
improves the way the image looks. However, you select an
image by clicking its frame. Therefore, an Off setting
means you cannot select the image, except when using
commands specific to images, such as TRANSPARENCY,
IMAGEADJUST, and IMAGECLIP. Don’t turn the frame off
until you have finished editing the image. You can also
select raster images using Quick Select. Because raster
images are considered to be on the layer that is active
when they are inserted, you can use Quick Select to
select them by layer.
134. The DRAWORDER command
changes the display order of objects, including raster
and OLE objects. (OLE is discussed later in this
chapter.) This command is very helpful when working with
raster and OLE objects, where you may or may not want to
hide the other objects in your drawing. You can move an
object to the top or bottom or change its order in
relation to another object — above or below it. To
change an object’s display order, choose Tools>Display
Order and choose one of the submenu options. AutoCAD
then prompts you to select objects. Draw order settings
are now saved with the drawing.
135. If you don’t mind
a few steps, you can sometimes get good results
importing large Excel spreadsheets by way of Microsoft
Word, as follows: In Excel, use Save As to save the
spreadsheet in Text (Tab delimited) format. Insert the
file into Word (choose Text Files from the Open dialog
box’s Files of type drop-down list). Select the entire
file and choose Table>Convert>Text to Table. Change the
Page Setup to accommodate the large size of the table,
using a custom paper size. Format the table if you want.
Copy it to the clipboard. In AutoCAD, choose Paste on
the Standard toolbar. (AutoCAD 2004 expands the ability
to import large spreadsheets, but you may still find
this tip helpful.)
136. If you try to use HIDE on a 3D
model that contains OLE objects, the OLE objects
disappear! The solution is to insert them in paper
space. You can then hide the 3D model in one floating
viewport and display the OLE object in another.
You can hide a 3D view and copy and paste the view into
another application. However, you cannot copy and paste
a rendered view. To bring a rendered view into another
application, save it as an image and import it. Chapter
25 covers saving rendered images. You can freeze any
layers that you don’t want to include, such as dimension
and text layers.
Chapter 28: Getting on the Internet
138. The eTransmit feature is essentially the same as
Pack and Go in Microsoft Office, packing together all
associated files with your drawing so that you can
e-mail it to colleagues, clients, customers, and so on.
139. Because you don’t need the transmittal file after
you have sent it (you already have all the files), you
can put it in the Windows\Temp file or another location
where you place files that you will delete.
can use the Web toolbar, shown in Figure 28-7, to
navigate back and forth between previously visited Web
sites, drawings, and other locations.
141. You can
resize the Publish Drawing Sheets dialog box by dragging
on its lower-right corner. (AutoCAD 2004 only)
you are creating a multi-sheet DWF file and are not in
the habit of renaming your layout tabs, you might find
that your sheet names are rather unhelpful.
Handwheel-Layout1 doesn’t explain very much. To rename a
layout tab, right-click it and choose Rename. In the
Rename Layout dialog box, enter a new name and click OK.
(AutoCAD 2004 only)
143. You can print/plot drawings
from Autodesk Express Viewer without having AutoCAD. The
print options are somewhat like those in Microsoft Word
because they take into account the fact that the DWF
file can have many pages. Click the Print button to open
the Print dialog box, as shown in Figure 28-19. (AutoCAD
144. On the Autodesk Express Viewer
toolbar’s drop-down list of sheets in the drawing set,
each layout is numbered. You can use these numbers to
specify which pages you want to print. (AutoCAD 2004
Chapter 29: Customizing Commands, Toolbars, and
145. If you’re not sure of the command
name but know the menu or toolbar item, execute the
command on the menu or toolbar and then press Esc.
AutoCAD displays the command name on the command line.
146. You can print out acad.pgp and tape it up on the
wall where you work.
147. An important part of
managing toolbars is finding a place to dock them so
that they don’t take up valuable real estate on the
screen. You can make several small toolbars and fit them
in the blank spaces next to existing toolbars. The
AutoCAD 2004 Standard toolbar is shorter than the
previous one and gives you more room for your own
148. If you make a mistake when editing a
toolbar button, it’s easy to correct it. If you place a
red pixel over an existing black pixel, choose black and
redraw the black pixel. If you place a red pixel in a
wrong spot, choose the Erase tool and click the pixel.
Chapter 30: Creating Macros and Slide Shows with Script
149. From within a script file, you can open
(and close) other drawings. In this way you can run a
script file on as many drawings as you want. It’s nice
to leave the last drawing open so that when you return
to see the results, you can see that the last drawing
has been properly edited. You then feel pretty sure that
all the previous drawings were similarly edited.
You can save any drawing as an image file and import it
into a presentation program that creates slide shows,
such as Microsoft PowerPoint, Lotus Freelance Graphics,
or Corel Presentations. You can add text, special
effects, and more to create a professional slide show.
For more information, see "Saving rendered images" in
Chapter 25 and "Exporting to other file formats" in
151. When running a slide show, you might
want to maximize the screen area by reducing menu and
command-line space. You can unload your menu, thus
quickly dismissing toolbars from the screen. Drag the
top border of the command line area to reduce the number
of lines of text on the command line to 1. Remember that
when you unload the menu, you have no menus available.
You can reload the menu by following the instructions
for unloading and loading menus in Chapter 33.
When creating a slide library using the SLIDELIB utility
you create a text file containing the names of the slide
files. SLIDELIB can read a listing created using DOS’s
dir command with the /b parameter, which creates a
simple listing of just the file names. Therefore, you
can place all the slide files in a folder and redirect
the dir listing to a file. For example, you can create a
list named ab30sld.lst by typing the following at the
DOS prompt: dir *.sld /b >ab30sld.lst
Creating Your Own Linetypes and Hatch Patterns
your linetype definition will include both dashes and
dots, you’ll get best results if you start a linetype
definition with the dash. Starting the definition with a
dash is a matter of aesthetics, perhaps, but such a line
connects better to other lines.
154. When creating a
complex linetype that includes shapes, you need to allow
for the space that the shape takes up. In the example,
note that the space after the shape (created with the
-.5 code) is larger than the space before it (created
with the -.25). This is largely a matter of trial and
error, but if you know the shape definition well, you
can make a good estimate. When you go back and change
the linetype definition (if your first trial was an
error), don’t forget to reload the linetype (by using
the Load option).
Chapter 32: Creating Shapes and
Chapter 33: Customizing Menus
Sometimes you want a menu item to switch to another menu
item. This is called menu swapping. You could use this
technique to create a menu that swaps to an image menu
that inserts commonly used blocks. However, the new Tool
Palettes (AutoCAD 2004 only) are another way to
accomplish a similar effect.
156. AutoCAD supports
panning and zooming with the IntelliMouse. The
MBUTTONPAN system variable controls the third button or
wheel on your pointing device. By default, it is set to
1, which supports panning and zooming. Set it to 0 to
support definition in the .mnu menu file.
titles of pull-down POP menus appear as the menu title.
Keep these fairly short to keep the menu titles from
running into each other. Don’t place spaces in menu
title names — it becomes hard to distinguish where one
menu ends and the next one starts.
158. Although the
examples shown here use both the initial underline to
allow for translation and the ampersand to allow for
keyboard entry, you don’t need to use these if you don’t
want to. When was the last time you used the keyboard to
choose a menu item on a shortcut menu?
159. The Screen section is very long. If you don’t use
the Screen menu, you can delete it from acad.mns or the
menu file you are using. Don’t forget to back up
acad.mns, or your own menu, first.
Understand AutoLISP and Visual LISP Basics
Visual LISP window contains a number of tools that make
your programming life simpler. You can highlight all the
code between matching parentheses. To highlight from
left to right, place the cursor in front of a left
parenthesis and press Ctrl+Shift+] or simply
double-click. To highlight from right to left
(backwards), place the cursor after a right parenthesis
and press Ctrl+Shift+[ or double-click.\
161. A common
practice is to consolidate all AutoLISP routines in one
folder for ease of use. To do this, you can create a
folder called LISP in any drive or folder where you keep
files that you create. Then choose Tools>Options. On the
Files tab, expand the Support File Search Path and click
Add. Add the path by typing it directly in the edit box
or clicking Browse and navigating to it.
Exploring AutoLISP Further (None)
Exploring Advanced AutoLISP Topics
162. To locate
other ActiveX functions that create objects, you need to
look in the AutoCAD ActiveX and VBA Reference. In Visual
LISP, choose Help, Visual LISP Help Topics. From the
Contents tab, double-click ActiveX and VBA Reference,
and then Methods. You immediately see an alphabetical
list with the A’s displayed. Here are all the VBA
methods that add drawing objects. To create a Visual
LISP function, add VLA- before the method. For example,
to add a circle, you would use VLA-AddCircle.
When typing a function in the Visual LISP editor, you
immediately know if the function is correct, because it
turns from black to blue as you enter it.
Programming with Visual Basic for Applications
You can resize the module text editor as you would any
window. As you start adding code to the text editor, you
will find it easier to work with a larger window. Click
the Maximize button to enlarge the text editor to its
165. You can resize the panes in the VBA
window. Place the mouse cursor on the bar between the
panes until you see the double-headed arrow and drag it
either left or right.
166. You can customize these
colors by choosing Tools>Options from the Visual Basic
menu and then choosing the Editor Format tab. Choose a
type of text and then choose the desired color. Click
167. If you think the Toolbox toolbar has lots of
possibilities, right-click the Toolbox toolbar and
choose Additional Controls. From the Additional Controls
dialog box, you can choose from many more controls.
168. There’s an art to laying out a dialog box so that
it is clear and easy to understand. After a while you’ll
get the hang of it. Pay more attention to the dialog
boxes you use every day to pick up some design pointers.
About the Author
Ellen Finkelstein is the author of How to Do Everything
with PowerPoint 2003, Flash MX 2004 for Dummies,
50 Fast Flash MX Techniques and OpenOffice.org For
Dummies. She learned AutoCAD in Israel, where she was always
the one responsible for poring over the AutoCAD manual because
it was in English. After drafting and then teaching AutoCAD
there, she returned to the United States and started consulting
and teaching AutoCAD as well as other computer programs,
including Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. She is an
Autodesk registered author and an Autodesk Certified
For more information, visit Ellen's
to order AutoCAD 2004 Bible online, visit