If you’re using CAD for the first time, you'll need some familiarity with the software interface so you can start actually drafting plans. This webinar will take you from the ground up, covering best practices to establish good habits. You'll learn about opening the software, working with file types, and understanding some of the tools you see around the screen. You’ll come away from this hour feeling more comfortable getting into our other basic webinars that require basic CAD skills.
- What You Need in Order to Follow This Webinar
- Opening the Software
- Navigation and Interface
- Why You Would Want Objects on Different Layers
0:00 – 3:49: Intro/TOC
What You Need in Order to Follow This Webinar (1:35)
F/X CAD 2018
- Older versions will have an older ribbon layout and might be more difficult to follow.
- This webinar assumes you haven’t used F/X CAD yet but do have it installed.
Land F/X license
- F/X CAD requires a Land F/X license in order to run properly.
3:50 – 10:08: Opening the Software
Searching for the AutoCAD icon and opening the software (4:05)
Pinning F/X CAD or AutoCAD to the Windows taskbar and minimizing/maximizing the window (4:30)
The default drawing (Drawing 1) (5:00)
Drawing 1 is based off a template with default settings, much like a new MS Word document.
The available drawing templates (5:30)
You should be starting with one of the following two templates:
- acad.dwt (Imperial units)
- acadiso.dwt (metric units)
Selecting a template opens a new drawing tab based on that template. (6:15)
Note that if you see a star next to the drawing name in the tab, that drawing hasn’t been saved yet.
Options for saving the drawing (6:45)
Finding recent documents (7:25)
Saving the drawing into a new folder (7:40)
Different file format options for saving a CAD drawing file (aka a DWG file) (8:25)
Opening an existing drawing (9:20)
10:09 – 25:37: Navigation and Interface
When using AutoCAD or F/X CAD, it’s a good idea to have a mouse with a middle wheel, which allows you to easily move around a drawing and zoom in and out.
Keyboard shortcuts (you can download these using the link at the bottom of this page). (10:55)
Panning around a drawing by pressing the mouse wheel and moving the mouse around (11:04)
Zooming in and out by rolling the mouse wheel (11:25)
The zoom function works based on the location of your cursor.
Selecting and Deselecting Objects in Your Drawing (12:10)
- Selecting one object at a time (12:10)
- Deselecting objects using the ESC key (12:45)
- Drawing a selection window (13:02)
The two types of selection windows (13:20):
- Blue window (selecting to the right): Only selects objects that are completely inside the box
- Green window (selecting to the left): Selects all objects that the selection box crosses
- CTRL + A keys: Selects everything in your drawing (14:25)
- Deselecting just a few items by holding down SHIFT and left-clicking objects to deselect(14:50)
The Properties Palette (15:40)
When you have objects selected, the Properties palette shows common properties of those objects.
The Properties palette with no objects selected (16:20)
When no objects are selected, the Properties palette shows the default settings (such as color, layer, linetype, lineweight, etc.) for drawn objects. When you start drawing, these settings will apply to the linework you create.
Undocking, moving, and docking palettes (such as the Properties palette) (16:50)
Hiding palettes temporarily (17:40)
Making palettes smaller or larger (18:10)
The Command Line Palette (18:40)
Undocking, moving, and docking the Command line palette (18:45)
We recommend keeping the Command line docked because it has a habit of getting lost in the desktop behind your CAD window.
The Command line shows the history of AutoCAD commands you’ve used. We recommend keeping two to three lines of the command history open so you can see what you’ve done. For this presentation, we’ll open it up a bit more.
The Ribbon Tabs (19:30)
The ribbons are collections of tools that work with each other and have similar functions.
The F/X CAD ribbon is a bit different from the standard AutoCAD ribbon. The buttons are bigger and include the full names of the tools, making it easier to navigate.
Hovering over a tool button for more information on that tool (20:35)
The Menu Bar (20:50)
The menu bar includes several pull-down menus that also include tools. The menus are grouped similarly (but not identically) to the ribbons in that they include tools with similar functions.
Don’t see the menu bar? Just type MENUBAR in the Command line and press Enter. Then type 1 when prompted to enter a value. (21:02)
The Model and Layout Tabs (Model Space and Paper Space) (21:35)
The Model tab (aka Model Space) is where you actually draw. The Layout tabs (aka Paper Space) represent your sheets (as in a sheet of paper), which you will eventually plot.
Tools on the Bottom Bar (22:20)
- The bottom bar of your CAD interface also includes several buttons for tools such as: Displaying a grid
- Dynamic Input (When enabled, this feature gives you references when drawing a line, such as the length of the line and the angle at which it’s being drawn. We recommend keeping it turned on.)
When a tool button on the bottom bar is blue, that tool is enabled. When the button is white, the tool is disabled.
Menu for displaying additional tool buttons on the bottom bar (23:15)
AutoCAD Options Dialog Box (23:27)
Typing 00 (zero-zero) to open the Options dialog box (23:27)
Note: You can just start typing anywhere on your screen, and the text you type will be entered as an AutoCAD command.
You can find all our recommendations for the Options dialog box on our AutoCAD Options Settings documentation page. For this presentation, we’ll show our recommended settings on two important tabs:
User Preferences tab (24:10):
- Right-Click Customization Settings (24:15): We recommend that you match the settings shown in this presentation for Right-Click Customization Settings. You can also see our recommended settings in the User Preferences Tab section of our Options Settings page.
Display tab (24:35):
- Setting the Color Scheme to Dark or Light (24:40)
- Drawing Window Colors settings (25:00)
The background is set to black by default. You can change it to the color of your choice, such as white, by clicking Colors to open the color settings, and then changing the 2D Model Space setting to your chosen color.
Clicking OK to save the current Options settings and close the dialog box (25:30)
25:38 – 33:19: Layers
The Layer Properties Manager (26:00)
You can open the Layer Properties Manager by typing LA in the Command line and pressing Enter.
The Layer Properties Manager is a palette like the Properties palette. You can undock, move, and dock it in the same way.
Important: Never draft on Layer 0.
When you select an object in your drawing, you’ll be able to see information about it, including which layer it’s on and what type of object it is, in the Properties palette and Layer Properties Manager. (26:45)
If you need to select a raster image, keep in mind that you’ll need to select its bounding box. (28:20)
Creating a new layer and naming it according to layer naming conventions (28:30)
Making a layer current and drafting on that layer (29:34)
Why You Would Want Objects on Different Layers (30:20)
Using layer controls to refine how you see your drawing and how you display it to others (30:25)
Freezing a layer (30:40)
When you freeze a layer, all linework on that layer disappears from view. Note that you cannot freeze the current layer.
Turning a layer off (31:00)
Much like freezing a layer, turning a layer off makes it disappear from view. However, when a layer is off but not frozen, the linework it contains will still be selected when you use the CTRL + A keys to select all objects in your drawing. For that reason, we recommend freezing layers rather than turning them off.
Changing the color display of a layer (31:20)
Changing other layer settings, such as linetype, whether or not a layer plots, etc. (31:50)
Grabbing objects and moving them to a different layer (32:05)
Deleting layers (32:25)
You won’t be able to delete a layer if is contains any objects. Before you can delete a layer, you’ll need to move all objects from that layer to a different layer, or delete them.
Why you shouldn’t draft on Layer 0: In more intermediate workflows, Layer 0 won’t freeze, which will make life difficult for anyone else who has to view or work in your drawings. (32:45)
33:20 – 40:29: Drafting
Drawing a polyline (33:30)
To draw a polyline, you can just type PL and press Enter.
Remember to keep your eye on the Command line. It will often tell you what you need to do next. For example, when you open the Polyline tool, the Command line will prompt you to Specify a start point.
Controls you can use when drawing a polyline, including switching between lines and arcs (34:00)
The Object Snap (OSNAP) and ORTHO settings (34:25)
- OSNAP (enabled and disabled by pressing the F3 key) allows you to easily “snap” to specific points.
- ORTHO (enabled and disabled by pressing the F8 key) restricts your polyline to angles in 90-degree increments.
Drawing to a specific length by typing in the number of units (34:52)
For example, if you type 10 and press Enter when drawing a polyline, you’ll automatically draw a line that’s 10 units long.
Using the Close command to close a polyline into an object with a contiguous boundary, such as a rectangle (35:30)
Available options when snapping (36:00)
We recommend enabling the following options:
To snap to the midpoint of an object, enable the Midpoint setting.
Pressing SHIFT and right-clicking to open a temporary snap menu that also includes these snapping options. (36:40)
Important: We advise you to NOT draw with SPLINES. They look nice, but they don’t play well with several AutoCAD tools. Instead, we recommend drawing linework with polylines.
Drawing a circle (37:30)
Note that when you see an option within square brackets in the Command line – […] – it’s an option that is not default. To select that option, you’d type the letter key that’s shown in blue. For example, when drawing a circle, type D to set the diameter.
Drawing a rectangle (38:35)
When you see an option in triangular brackets in the Command line – <…> – it’s available through pressing Enter (or the spacebar, or right-clicking).
Note that the Rectangle tool actually draws closed polylines.
Drawing a polygon (39:45)
The polygon tool immediately gives you the option to enter the number of sides.
The Ellipse tool (40:15)
Ellipses work similarly to circles.
40:30 – end: Modify
Moving objects using the Move tool (40:50)
You can move one object, or select several and move them at the same time. You can also use the ORTHO and OSNAP tools when moving objects, as well as enter a specific distance to move them.
Copying and pasting objects (41:58)
Type CO to copy an object, then just left-click to paste the copy. You can also type A to place an array of copied objects, setting the number of objects and the number of units at which to space them. Note that the objects remain separate, so it’s not a real array.
Rotating objects (42:52)
Type RO to rotate. You can then either rotate it around a point of your choice or around its midpoint. You can also use commands such as ORTHO and OSNAP, as well as set a reference angle when rotating objects.
Using the Scale tool to rescale objects (44:20)
You can set an increment at which to scale an object (example: 2 for 2 times larger or .5 for half the size) or scale using a reference length
Aligning objects with each other using the Align command (46:00)
Exploding objects into their components using the Explode command (46:40)
Joining linework (47:00)
Joining linework using the Join command (47:00)
Using MPEdit or PEdit to join objects (47:15)
Deleting selected objects using the Delete key (48:05)
Note: If you’ve followed our recommendations for Right-Click Customization settings, right-clickingwill repeat the previous command if nothing is selected.
Extending linework using the Extend command (49:08)
Using the Break command to create a break in an object (49:30)
Turning an angle into a curve using the Fillet command (50:05)
Fillet includes options such as setting a radius.
Using the Offset command to offset objects from each other (51:00)
Using the Trim command to trim sections away from objects (51:35)
We recommend learning these tools by finding a simple CAD drawing online and re-creating it. (53:20)
Question: What is the definition of “snap”? (10:34)
Answer: When we say “snap” in this context, we’re referring to the Object Snap, or OSNAP, tool in AutoCAD. This tool allows you to “snap” to a particular point, meaning you can easily select that point. (The point can be an intersection of lines, the center of an object, the midpoint or endpoint of a line, etc.) When you “snap” to a point, you’re creating an endpoint of a line you’re drawing that adheres to that point automatically, as long as you click within a target area. It translates to precision in linework rather than just eyeballing where the snap point should be.
Demonstration of how OSNAP works (56:40)