AutoCAD Basics: Create a Base Plan for Your Site
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AutoCAD Basics: Create a Base Plan for Your Site

Jan 13, 2017
Video Length:  58:20
Presented By:  Amanda Berry


We all have to start somewhere. In this webinar, we'll start right at the fundamentals of drafting. We'll show you how to use SketchUp and AutoCAD to create a base plan for your landscape, irrigation, or hardscape design. We'll cover the essential drafting tools, unit settings, drafting space, and the use of Xrefs. This session will instill a solid set of best CAD practices that will help you hone your drafting skills – and optimize your use of the tools available in Land F/X.


You should watch this webinar if:

  • You’re brand new to AutoCAD and want to start using Land F/X
  • You’ve been drafting in AutoCAD for a long time and want to be more efficient
  • You want to refresh your knowledge of AutoCAD and make sure you’re using the best practices


Goals of this webinar:

  • Be able to bring your on-site measurements to AutoCAD so you can start using Land F/X for the design
  • Learn basic best practices
  • Learn an efficient workflow to get off the ground


Webinar Contents:

Note: The following catalog of content covered in this webinar is time stamped to allow you to follow along or skip to sections of the video that are relevant to your questions. You can also search for content on this page using the FIND command in your browser (CTRL + F in Windows, Command + F in Mac OS.)

  • Intro/TOC
  • What You’ll Need to Follow This Workflow
  • Workflow at a Glance
  • Start in SketchUp
  • Export Linework to CAD and Refine
  • Save & Xref the Base File
    • Some Basic AutoCAD Techniques
  • Layout, Plot & Design

0:00 – 4:49: Intro/TOC

4:50 – 6:17: What You’ll Need to Follow This Workflow

To follow this webinar, you'll need:

  • AutoCAD or F/X CAD 2013 or newer.
    • Check latest Land F/X compatibility if you’re watching this webinar after 2017
  • Land F/X license
    • Server and Workstation components installed
  • Site measurements

6:18 – 8:49: Workflow at a Glance

1. Start in SketchUp with aerial image and site measurements.

Yes, this is a CAD webinar, but we propose starting in SketchUp and going back and forth between SketchUp and CAD. It won’t take much longer, but it will result in a linked 3D model.


2. Export linework to F/X CAD and refine.


3. Save the refined linework as a base file. Open blank drawing working file. Xref the base file into the working file.


4. Set up a layout page with scale.


5. Plot the layout, then start designing!

8:50 – 29:39: Start in SketchUp

Note: if you’re looking for a more in-depth SketchUp tutorial, check out our series of SketchUp webinars.


The following steps take placein SketchUp:


Add the location of the site using the Add Location tool (9:30)


Selecting a region around the site to provide context (10:30)


Orbiting, panning, and zooming in SketchUp (11:50)


Aligning the site with the X, Y, and Z axes (12:40)


Selecting, moving, and rotating the site (13:00)


Verifying the units (15:55)


Bringing the site measurements into the SketchUp model and creating “faces” (16:12)


Turning the site into a group in SketchUp (functions similarly to a block in AutoCAD) (18:30)


Pulling faces up to their correct heights using the Push/Pull tool (20:25)


Creating layers in SketchUp and placing objects on them (21:55)


Creating context by adding surrounding regions to the site model in SketchUp (22:55)


You can use the Axis tool in SketchUp to change the axes. However, if you use this tool, it won’t reset the origin to 0, 0 like the UCS tool will in AutoCAD. (24:50)


It’s integral to make sure the axes are at 0, 0 in SketchUp. This will make it much easier to link your SketchUp model with a CAD drawing. (26:00)


Adding groundcovers and materials in SketchUp (27:20)


Turning certain components of the SketchUp model on and off (turning objects off in SketchUp can speed up the performance of your SketchUp model). (29:00)

29:40 – 51:34: Export Linework to CAD and Refine

Selecting the Parallel Projection option within the Camera tool and putting the model in Top view  (29:50)


Don’t see the toolbar you need to use? Select it from the View>Toolbars menu.


Turning certain items off that won’t be necessary in CAD (30:50)


Exporting the model to CAD by selecting the Export option from the File menu, then selecting 2D Graphic (31:45)


Setting the Save As Type option to AutoCAD DWG file (.dwg) and saving the model as a DWG (31:57)



Demonstration of what this process would look like without starting in SketchUp (if you start in SketchUp, you’ll simply open the CAD file at this point) (33:38)


Selecting and opening a drawing template, setting the units, loading a Layer State, and starting to draft (34:35)


Using the Xref Manager to bring in the site base as an image (36:40)


Creating a layer where the base file will go (38:15)


Scaling the base file (38:30)


Drafting the site base (40:15)


Note: We recommend using Polylines rather than Lines or Arcs. They’re easier to work with, and you can break them up easily if necessary.


Opening the base file from SketchUp. If you drafted the site in SketchUp, you’ll be at the same point in the site drafting process as you would if you had drafted the site in CAD, except you’ll also have a SketchUp model. (41:00)



Some Basic AutoCAD Techniques (43:45)

Opening the Layer command and adding layers by loading a Layer State (43:45)


Making a layer current (all lines you draw will then be on that layer until you select another layer) (44:38)


Clicking to select an object (45:40)


The two selection box types (45:50):

  • Green (Crossing) box:Anything the box crosses will be selected. Click and move the cursor to the left to create this type of selection box.
  • Blue (Window) box:Only objects that are completely contained within this box will be selected. Click and move the cursor to the right to create this type of selection box.


Opening the Properties panel and moving selected objects to a different layer (46:30)


Using the Land F/X SuperJoin command to turn all linework on a selected layer into closed polylines (48:05)


Changing line colors and linetypes on selected layers (49:00)


Try to designate everything in your drawing as Linetype By-Layer and Color By-Layer (49:30)


The final product: Your base file (50:00)

51:35 – 54:19: Save & Xref the Base File



Starting a new drawing from a template and verifying the units (51:35)



Using the fxREF command to Xref (import) the base file into the new drawing (52:30)



Note that the base file is one contiguous object that you can select at once. (53:10)


Using the NCopy command to select linework from Xref layers and bringing it into the main drawing (53:25)



54:20 – end: Layout, Plot & Design


Setting up a Layout sheet (54:25)


Note: You never want to plot from Model Space – you always want to plot from a Layout sheet, and therefore to scale.


Modifying the setup of a Layout sheet using the Page Setup Manager, and selecting a plotter (54:50)


Selecting a CTB file (color-based printing file) and selecting a plotter, paper size, and plot scale (55:20)


The settings shown in the Page Setup dialog box at this point are what you should select when you plot (aside from selecting your desired plotter and paper size) (55:55)


Making sure your viewport is on the Viewports layer (56:00)


Placing a title block and ensuring the viewport lies within the title block (56:30)


Scaling the viewport by centering the linework in the viewport and using the Land F/X Scale tool to select a scale. Now you’re ready to plot! (57:20)


Creating a new Land F/X project (59:05)


Where to go next (1:01:10):

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