F/X CAD 2018 for New AutoCAD Users 3
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F/X CAD 2018 for New AutoCAD Users 3

Mar 23, 2018
Video Length:  53:58
Presented By:  Paul Houchin

In this final installment of our F/X CAD 2018 webinar trilogy, we'll dig even deeper into the essential principles of CAD design. We'll take you beyond the basics and provide some valuable insights into organizing your drawings and applying a better strategy to using the powerful tools available to you in AutoCAD.

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
  • Working with Blocks
    • Working with Blocks Using Regular AutoCAD Commands
    • Using the Land F/X Block Libraries
  • Creating a Drawing Template
  • Working with Xrefs
    • Preparing Files to Xref
    • Inserting a File as an Xref
    • The Align Command
    • Making Changes to an Xref
    • PDF Import

0:00 – 2:53: Intro/TOC

2:54 – 16:29: Working with Blocks

AutoCAD blocks (2:54)

  • A block is a named group of AutoCAD objects.
  • These groups are saved as a drawing (DWG file)
  • Blocks are inserted into a drawing file and then treated as a single entity.


Why use blocks? (3:30)

  • Save time by skipping repetitive actions.
  • Reduces drawing size
  • Land F/X content largely relies on blocks
  • Land F/X allows for better organization of blocks


Working with Blocks Using Regular AutoCAD Commands (4:25)

Saving grouped linework as a block using the Block command (4:40)


Overview of options in the Block Definition dialog box (5:16)


Inserting (placing) a block in a drawing (8:07)


Using the Write Block (WBLOCK command) (8:40)

The WBLOCK command allows you to set a path and filename for a block you save, as well as save the block as a separate drawing file.


Using the Insert command to place a block that’s been saved using WBLOCK (10:15)


Overview of options in the Insert dialog box (10:25)


Using the Land F/X Block Libraries (12:30)

Our block tools make it much easier to work with blocks, in comparison with using standard AutoCAD block tools.


Browsing to and placing a Land F/X block (12:50)


Saving a block into the Land F/X system (example: a title block) (13:10)


Using our Save Block tool to save a block (13:47)

Overview of the Save Block dialog box, including the thumbnail slide for the saved block, as well as options for entering a description for the block (for internal use), scaling, rotation, and units (14:45)


Browsing to and placing a saved block (15:48)

16:30 – 24:42: Creating a Drawing Template

Creating a new drawing in AutoCAD (16:30)


Overview of the list of drawing templates that a new drawing might be referencing (16:50)


The default acad.dwt drawing template (17:10)


Setting up a custom drawing template (17:35)

  • A drawing template is a copy of a drawing that will maintain drawing elements and settings so every new drawing won’t have to be started from scratch.
  • Saved as DWT file.
  • acad.dwt is the default, but you can customize your own.


Setting up drawing sheets using the Page Setup Manager (17:41)

We cover this process more extensively in our F/X CAD 2018 for New AutoCAD Users 2 webinar. 


We go even more in depth in the following materials:


If you plan to plot to PDF, we recommend using a third-party PDF plotter such as Acroplot rather than the built-in AutoCAD PDF plotter. (18:20) 


Placing the title block (19:18)


Adding Layer States (19:40)

A Layer State is a saved set of layer properties. Use our Layer State tools to apply our default Layer States for planting, details, etc. You can also create your own Layer States. 


Saving the drawing template (20:40)


Adding the saved template to the Template Settings in the Support File Search Path (21:40)

The template will now open automatically when we open a new drawing or use the QNEW command.


Question: Why do you recommend Acroplot for PDF plotting? (23:40)

Answer: Paul likes Acroplot because of the quality of PDFs it produces – especially in color. The built-in AutoCAD PDF plotter can be somewhat lackluster and often produces less-than-optimal results. See our third-party PDF plotter recommendations

24:43 – end: Working with Xrefs

Xrefs allow you to import drawings, PDFs, and images into a drawing for reference.


Benefits of Xrefs:

  • Help keep file sizes down
  • Allow users to work on different parts of the same project at the same time.
  • Can be added, removed, or updated at any time without affecting the main drawing.


See our Xref documentation for more information


Preparing Files to Xref (26:10)

Preparing a file received from another consultant for attaching to a drawing as an Xref (26:10)


Cleaning the drawing (26:55)

It’s imperative to clean every drawing you receive from others (including co-workers or other consultants). Cleaning a drawing prevents corruption – one of the top causes of tech support issues our team sees.


More information on drawing corruption:


The quickest way to clean a drawing is to use our Nuke tool. See our Nuke tool documentation


Note that the Nuke tool will remove all Layout tabs from the cleaned drawing. If you need to keep all the Layout tabs in a drawing, you can also use our recommended manual drawing cleanup steps instead.  


Note that the Nuke tool also creates a backup copy of the original drawing with the suffix QUARANTINE before cleaning it (27:25)


Verifying that the units are set correctly using the DISTANCE command (28:50)


Verifying that the basepoint is set correctly (30:03)

We recommend setting the origin point to 0,0 using the Insertion Base (INSBASE) command.


Saving the file (31:10)


Inserting a File as an Xref (31:20)

Inserting Xrefs using the standard AutoCAD method (31:45)

Opening the Xref Manager (31:45)


Attaching a DWG file as an Xref (32:20)


Overview of options in the Attach External Reference dialog box (32:40)


Reference Type options (33:00):

  • If you select the Attachment option, all files that are Xrefed into that file will also be Xrefed into the main drawing, causing what are known as nested Xrefs.
  • If you select the Overlay option, only the main file (and not any of that file’s Xrefs) will be brought into your drawing.


Scale options (33:40)


Insertion point options (33:52)


Rotation options (34:08)


Path type options (34:12)

  • Full (Absolute) path: The path to the Xref file will be fixed, meaning that if you move that file to another location, AutoCAD will still look for that file in the original location
  • Relative path: AutoCAD sill look for the file name throughout your drive, allowing the file name to change if necessary.


Unit settings (35:04)


Inserting Xrefs using our fxREF tool (35:40)


Overview of options in the fxREF dialog box (36:18)

If the units and origin point in the file you’re about to Xref are set differently from those settings in your main drawing, you’ll see red warning boxes in the Units and Origin areas.


The Align Command (37:24)

The Align command allows you to adjust settings such as the scale in your Xref to match it up (i.e., align it) with your main drawing.


When you use the Align command, it’s important that you have Object Snap (OSNAP) enabled and that objects that reference each other are the same length in the Xref and in the main drawing.


Making Changes to an Xref (40:48)

Fading an Xref into the background using the Fade Control setting (40:48)


Fading an Xref when plotting (42:00)

You can control the fade level of the Xref when plotting by adjusting some of the layer settings.


Adjusting the transparency for a specific layer (43:20)

When you make these types of adjustments to objects in the Xref, you’ll only make changes to them in the main drawing – not in the original file.


Making permanent changes to an Xrefed file by opening the file itself (44:25)

Note that changes made in this way will apply to the original file you’ve inserted as an Xref.


Reloading an Xref to apply changes you’ve made to the original file (45:20)


Unloading an Xref (45:42)

Note that the path and settings for the Xref will remain in your main drawing when you unload it, so you can easily load it again without configuring the settings again.


Detaching an Xref (46:08)

Detaching an Xref will remove all references to that file, including its Xref settings, from your main drawing.


Changing the Xref type (Attach or Overlay) (46:15)


Binding an Xref (46:23)

Binding an Xref means making it part of the main drawing.


Changing the Xref path type (Absolute or Relative) or selecting a new path (46:28)


Finding and replacing the Xref (46:52)


Attaching an image to a drawing as an Xref (47:10)


Scaling an image Xref (48:10)

You can scale an image manually using the Scale tool, or use the Reference option to scale it to an existing object.


PDF Import (50:00)

The PDF Import tool, available in F/X CAD and AutoCAD versions 2017 and newer, provides an easy way to bring a PDF into your drawing.


Overview of the Import PDF dialog box (50:35)

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