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How to create multicolored lines in AutoCAD

khwaja IbrahimThis is a guest post by Khwaja Ibrahim. He is a Mechanical Engineer by profession and a CAD Engineer from Pakistan. His services range from designing for 3D Printing, Sheet Metal, Injection Molding and Manufacturing processes to providing Photo-Realistic Rendered Images.

He gets the utmost satisfaction in bringing ideas to life allowing him to demonstrate his creativity, designing and imaginative skills. As you can see, he also writes tutorials. This one is from 12CAD.com


By default design, AutoCAD’s line is a single entity. This singularity of the line allows it to be treated as a simple drawing element without the leverage of more complex types. However, for those of you who may require such a feature, there is a way other than grouping different colored lines into one.

As said, by default the line is a simple element hence to replicate functionality not built-in, we need to setup the proper environment before we proceed with the actual development. See the below screenshots for a step by step explanation of the prerequisites of sawing multicolored lines.

Preparation

Step 1: Command: MLSTYLE. Use the command MLSTYLE to access the Multi-Style menu. When you press enter, the dialogue box should open up.

Step 2: View current profiles

2cropped

By default a “Standard” profile is defined for regular line drawing. This is also set to the current profile in selection. At any time, this one profile will be available if there are no other. Create a new profile as shown below.3croppedStep 3: Create a new Multi-Style profile

 Give your profile a name and press continue for the configuration menu.

 4cropped

 

 

 

 

 

Step 4: Set up your profile5cropped

The name that you entered is on the top of the current screen. That’s your profile configuration screen where you can define your style.

  • Caps – For a multi-colored line, we’re going to select the Line option for Start & End. The angle doesn’t matter for now. Experiment with it on your own when you want the line to start/end with an arc.
  • Fill – This is the background color. If this is set to none, then where you assign the line to inherit the color from the layer, the line will be drawn transparent. There are two functions here, we’ll cover both later.
  • Display joints – Whether to display the joints where the intervention is defined.
  • Elements – Just as on your canvas, the elements section refers to the elements you will be drawing when using this style. The properties are shown below.
  • For multi-colored lines, the offset should be kept to 0 for all elements defined. This is because the offset is vertical in nature and displaces the lines from each other placing them upon one another. Add another element with the properties as shown below.
  • Color – Self explanatory
  • Line type – 6croppedDefine the kind of line you want this element (segment of the final line) to be.

 

 

 

 

 

Note: We’re using the dashed line type for both elements. The line types can be loaded in the case you don’t see them when you click on the “Line type” button.7cropped

 

 

 

 

 

Load line types if you can’t see the ones you need by clicking on load and selecting from the list as shown below.8cropped

Using the Dashed line type we set up both lines to contain dashes within them. Here the two features of the Fill option come into play.

As can be seen below, the first element’s color is inherited from the layer. Which basically means that one Magenta colored line with dashes will have yellow behind it because that’s the base layer. This can be left to colorless so you can have a line that alternates between opaque and transparent after the same interval.

9croppedNow the preview shows a white line because the element on top is taking its color from the layer which previews as a white line.

Step 5: Set the new profile as current.

Click the Set Current button. And then click  OK. (see below)10cropped

With that, you’ve prepared your default environment for some workaround-fashioned multi-colored lines. Let’s draw!

Drawing

Step 1: Draw the line

The line needs to be drawn using the MLINE command. 11cropped

This selects the line tool with the current multistyle profile. Now draw the line. This is pretty basic, but just to rid everyone of confusion, the colors will only show once the drawing is committed. So don’t be disheartened if you don’t see two hues after the first click. (See below).

 

First click –

12cropped

 

 

Second click –

13

 

 

 

 

 

Zoomed in –

11

If interested in more tutorials, check out these AutoCAD exercises.

 

 

 

 

Do you have another way to create multi-colored lines? Leave a comment!

What’s new in AutoCAD 2017

This year, I’m going to do something a little simpler–show you Autodesk’s video on 2017 new features and then list them.

Smart centerlines and center marks

They’re easier to create and edit.

AutoCAD 360 Pro mobile app

Continue reading What’s new in AutoCAD 2017

Create objects with transparency in your AutoCAD drawing

AutoCAD 2011 introduced the transparency property for objects. Transparency gives you the opportunity to create presentation-ready drawings. You can draw an object that is up to 90% transparent. Here you see some trees filled with a 60%-transparent solid fill.

 

Transparency in AutoCAD 2011
As with other object properties, you should use the Layer Properties Manager to create a layer and specify the transparency as a layer property. Here you see a red layer that is 75% transparent.
autocad-tips-transparency-1
autocad-tips-transparency-3Transparency is pretty useless for the line that delineates an object, but is quite useful for a solid fill hatch or a gradient. Here you see the effect of a red 75%-transparent layer on top of an opaque blue layer. The result is purple at the point of overlap.

 

 

To create an object with a partially transparent solid fill, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Layer Properties Manager (the LAYER command).
  2. Click the New Layer button and name the layer.
  3. In the Color column for that layer, click the color swatch and choose a color.
  4. Click in the Transparency column for that layer to open the Layer Transparency dialog box and type a value between 0 (completely opaque, the default) and 90 (mostly transparent). Then click OK.
  5. Make any other changes that you want to the layer’s specifications and close or collapse the Layer Properties Manager.
  6. From the Home tab> Layers panel< Layer drop-down list, choose the new layer to make it current. (You can also do this after the next step.)
  7. Draw a closed object.
  8. Choose Home tab> Draw panel> Hatch.
  9. In the Pattern panel, choose Solid.
  10. At the Pick internal point or [Select objects/seTtings]: prompt, pick inside your closed object.
  11. Press Enter to accept the solid fill and end the command.

Do you use transparency in your drawings? Why or why not?

 

15 Ways to Access AutoCAD commands

This is a guest post by AutoCAD expert Edwin Prakoso. You can find this and other AutoCAD tips on his website here. Edwin PrakosoEdwin Prakoso works as an Application Engineer in Jakarta, Indonesia. He’s been using AutoCAD since R14 and Revit since Revit Building 9. He occasionally writes for AUGIWorld magazine and is also active in the Autodesk discussion forum. He’s an Autodesk Expert Elite, certified as Revit Architecture 2014 and an AutoCAD 2014 certified professional.

One common question that I get is how to access AutoCAD commands quickly.autocad-commands full

AutoCAD is 30-year-old software. People  used it before it ran on Windows. It was designed to run on different operating systems and different standard interfaces that are used today. That’s why there are many methods to access AutoCAD commands. One method may be faster in general, but another method can be faster when doing other tasks.

For example the command line is faster for most AutoCAD users for activating a line command. But Function keys are faster to toggle Ortho mode. It would be better for you to know all methods, so you can decide which one works best for you.

So let’s explore all the methods that you can use to execute AutoCAD commands and see how you can use them effectively.

1. Ribbon

The ribbon was introduced in AutoCAD 2009. If you learn AutoCAD after this version, you probably use this as primary method. I found that many occasional users also like ribbon.

AutoCAD_ribbon

Many AutoCAD veterans don’t like ribbon, because it’s a big change from toolbar to ribbon. It feels slow (personally I feel it becomes better in later version) and take too much screen real estate.

This is the most apparent way to activate a command in latest version. Even if you’ve never seen AutoCAD in your entire life, you know you can activate a command from here.

2. Quick Access Toolbarquick_access_toolbar

The Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) comes with the ribbon interface. It contains the most frequently used AutoCAD tools.

If there are AutoCAD commands that you use often, you can place them here. Simply right click a command, then choose Add to Quick Access Toolbar in context menu.

3. Toolbartoolbar

The toolbar is a method to activate a command with a graphical user interface. Each toolbar has several similar tools. You need to remember the icon because there is no label next to the icon. Yes, there’s tool tip to help you identify a tool. But it’s still not easy to find a tool if you use AutoCAD occasionally.

The benefit of using the toolbar is it takes less space than the Ribbon.

Since AutoCAD 2015, you need to create your own Classic Workspace if you want to use toolbar. You can read how to show the AutoCAD toolbar here. And if you are familiar with CUI, you can show the toolbar using CUI as shown here.

4. AutoCAD Menumenubar

Like the toolbar, the AutoCAD menu is not shown by default. It’s available in Classic Workspace, but you can still use it.

What I like about menu is, I can always find the command I want there. If I can’t find it on ribbon or toolbar, I can find it on menu. It’s more detailed and straightforward for me.

If you want to use AutoCAD menu, change the MENUBAR system variable to 1. Change it again to 0 if you want to hide it.

5. Command Lineautocad_command_line

Veteran AutoCAD users love the command line. When I teach other software to them, they always ask if the software had similar feature. Not many software programs use it. So the command line makes AutoCAD quite unique.

Instead of using mouse and clicking the icons, you can type the commands here.

Command line has become more advanced, even new users can use it easily. It has AutoCorrect, AutoComplete and Synonym Suggestions that help you if you don’t know the command.

You don’t have to remember the exact command, you can type it in command line and AutoCAD will suggest it for you. Then you can choose it from the list.

6. Context Menuautocad_context_menu

The context menu is a standard Windows interface.

If you select an object and click the right mouse button, you will see menu related to the object, showing what you can do to that particular object.

For example if you select a polyline, you will see Edit Polyline in the list.

 

multifunctional_grips7. Multifunctional Grips

If you select an AutoCAD object, you can see it has several grips. You can access several modify tools by hovering the mouse pointer above the grip.

Similar to the context menu, the tools are related to the object you selected.  In this example, you can see multifunctional grips menu for dimension.

8. Tool Palettetool_palettes

If you need to create object with specific properties, the tool Palette is a great way to activate command. It’s not limited to inserting a block, you can use it for many AutoCAD drawing tools.

For example if you need to draw line on layer “centerline”, you can choose it from tool palette. Your line will be created on the centerline layer, regardless of what layer is current.

Tool palette is very easy to customize. You just need to drag and drop objects to the palette.

9. Other places

There are other locations where you can activate AutoCAD commands. But in these locations, the commands you can access are limited.

  • Application Menu: The Application menu is the big A symbol. Most commands here are related to files, like save, open, print and recover.application_menu
  • View Cube and Navigation Bar: The View Cube and Navigation bar are on the right side of your drawing area. You can access navigation command here, like zoom and pan.
  • in_canvas_viewport_controlIn-canvas Viewport control: You can use Ithe n-canvas viewport control to quickly access Model Viewport, Views and View Styles.
  • Status Bar: At the right bottom of status bar, you can see many buttons . They are settings toggles. You can turn on/off some settings quickly here, like OSNAP and ORTHOMODE.

Activating AutoCAD commands with Shortcuts

Now let’s see the fun part. Because AutoCAD has so many options to activate commands, there are many shortcuts that you can use. You can access a command quicker than moving your mouse and clicking the icon.

10. Ribbon Shortcuts

Yes, the ribbon has shortcuts too. Press the ALT key once, you will see letters above the tabs. Press H for home then you will see letters on each tool.ribbon_shortcut

If you use the ribbon, this is a nice way to activate a command quickly. Or move to other tab without moving your mouse pointer.

*This shortcut doesn’t work if you show the menu bar (MENUBAR=1).

11. Command Aliasalias_editor

When using the command line, you can use the command alias for faster access. For example L is alias for LINE. X is alias for EXPLODE.

You can easily modify command aliases to match your preference.

For example I prefer to change CO to CC for COPY command. The reason is I can type C twice faster and less mistakes than pressing C then O.

If you have Express Tools installed, you can use the Command Aliases tool (ALIASEDIT) to modify command aliases easily.

12. Function KeysAutoCAD_function_keys

Function keys are the key between F1 to F12. The image to the right shows what does each function key do.

Image source: http://www.autodesk.com/store/autocad/autocad-shortcuts#one-key

13. Windows Shortcut Keys

AutoCAD has been Windows software for a long time. So most Windows shortcuts work in AutoCAD. You can press CTRL + C to copy to clipboard. CTRL + P for print. CTRL + A for select all. If you often use them in other software, don’t worry. You can also use them in AutoCAD.

There’s also Mac version, but I don’t use Mac so I don’t know if there are shortcuts like in Windows. If you use AutoCAD for Mac, I appreciate if you share it in comment section here.

14. AutoCAD Specific Shortcut Keys

Besides the Windows shortcut keys, AutoCAD has specific shortcut keys. These shortcut keys only work in AutoCAD.

CTRL + SHIFT + I toggles Infer Constraint. CTRL + 0 will activate clean screen. CTRL + 1 will open properties palette. There are many shortcut keys that you can use, and you can make your own keys.

You can see the shortcut keys list in CUI or you can download shortcut keys list in this document.

15. Temporary Override Keys

You can use Temporary Override keys to override settings when you work. For example if you want to snap to center, you can hold SHIFT + C.

You can see the temporary override keys list in CUI or you can download shortcut keys list in this document.

What is your favorite way to activate AutoCAD command? There are so many ways to activate commands. I listed 15 here, but you may can help me to add more! I excluded old functions like the screen menu, because it is obsolete and I think no one uses it anymore.

What do you think? Which one do you use and help you work faster? I don’t believe that you only use one method.

 

3D video tutorial: Create a 3D wheel with cylinders

autocad_tips-3d-tutorial-wheel-1This is a fairly simple wheel with a center tube for an axle/pole, a rim, and 6 holes. You can create a 3D wheel like this entirely with cylinders! Watch this 9-minute video tutorial and follow along to create it from scratch yourself.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Create cylinders: Cylinders are an obvious choice for a wheel and are often used in mechanical drawings.
  • Set the workspace to 3D Modeling: The 3D Modeling workspace gives you all the tools you need for 3D work; you won’t find them in the default workspace
  • Use the SUBTRACT and UNION commands: These are called Boolean commands and they let you carve out holes and combine objects
  • Change the visual style to check your work: The default wireframe makes some work easier, but it’s really hard to tell if you made mistakes. This image uses the Conceptual visual style, which makes everything very clear.
  • and a few more tasks.

The basic concepts are applicable to many types of 3D models.

Here’s the video. Let me know in the comments what you think! Do you have suggestions for drawing this differently? Did you run into problems? And use the Share buttons below the post to share with your colleagues so they can practice it, too!

Find drawings by specifying drawing properties

autocad-tips-drawing-properties-3If you have LOTS of drawings and want an easier way to find them, you can give them properties that you can search for using Windows Explorer. You can even create custom properties. You’re supposed to be able to search for these properties in the Design Center and Content Explorer, but neither one worked for me. Of course, you can search for drawings by name, but what if you don’t know the name? What if you don’t know when it was last modified? Drawing properties can help.

Create the drawing properties

autocad-tips-drawing-properties-1To specify drawing properties, choose Application Button, Drawing Utilities, Drawing Properties. This opens the Properties dialog box. It has 4 tabs:

  • General: This is just for your information. You can’t add properties here.
  • Summary: Lets you specify a title, subject, author and add keywords. You can separate multiple keywords with a comma. You can also add comments and a hyperlink base to use for relative hyperlinks.
  • Statistics: This is also for information only and tells you when the drawing was created and last modified, who last saved the drawing, the revision number (if any), and the total editing time.
  • Custom: To add custom properties, click the Add button. Then type the custom property name and value and click OK.

Of course, you want to use properties that will help you find the drawing. You might add properties for clients, discipline (architectural, mechanical), geographical location, etc.

Search for a drawing by its properties

To find a drawing by its properties, open Windows Explorer. Then follow these steps:

  • In the left pane, click where you want to search. It can be a drive or a folder.
  • Type a search term in the search box at the upper right. I searched for “chapter,” which was my property. I didn’t have to know its value.
  • At the top, choose Advanced Options and check File Options.

That found the drawing that contained a custom “chapter” property, as you can see in the figure below.

 

autocad-tips-drawing-properties-2

Why not Content Explorer or Design Center?

I tried searching in the Content Explorer and the Design Center and came up empty. What is your experience using drawing properties? If you don’t use them, would they help you? Leave a comment. And please share this post using the Share buttons below — maybe someone else will find it useful.

Add a solid fill to a closed object

autocad_tips_solid-fill-1Sometimes you want to fill a closed area with a solid color, rather than a hatch, like this. This feature is part of the HATCH command, but you may have missed it. It’s really easy to use.

If you need a primer on hatching in general, here are some hatching tips.

Here are the steps:

  1. First set the layer that you want to use for your solid fill. The hatch will go on the current layer.
  2. On the Home tab in the Draw panel, click Hatch. The Hatch Creation tab appears.
  3. In the Pattern panel, choose Solid.
  4. If you have one closed area, you can just click inside it to pick an internal point. If you want to select an object, you can click Select in the Boundaries panel, as you see here. Then press Enter to end selection.
  5. Press Enter to end the HATCH command.autocad_tips_solid-fill-2

Turn fills on and off

I thought I’d tell you about the FILL command. This command (which controls the FILLMODE system variable) can show or hide solid fills. Its original purpose was to help your computer run faster if you had lots of solid fills. Nowadays, that isn’t usually a problem, but turning off solid fills can sometimes help you see your objects more clearly.

Just type fill and press Enter. Then choose On or Off. Type regen to see the change.

Warning! If you turn off fills, they don’t plot! So be sure to turn them back on if you turned them off for ease of editing.

The SOLID command that isn’t a solid

The SOLID command is an old command that’s rarely used now because using the Solid pattern of the HATCH command is much easier. It was the original way to fill a closed area with a solid fill, hence the word “solid.” It’s not related to 3D solids, although if you create an object with the SOLID command and give it thickness, it creates surfaces with tops and bottoms.

You can only use SOLID for straight-edged objects. First create the object and turn on object snap for endpoints and whatever else you’ll need. Type solid and press Enter. then start specifying points in a zigzag fashion. After the 4th point, you’ll get prompts for the 3rd and 4th points over and over until you’re done. You continue to create adjacent triangles in this way until the shape is solidly filled. Press Enter to end the command.

3 small blue asterisks

If you found this post useful, please use the Share buttons below so that others can learn as well!

Update: Convert text to Mtext and back

autocad_tips_text-to-mtext-back-1This is an update of an earlier post Convert Text to Mtext and Vice Versa.

AutoCAD offers several types of text or annotation objects. Some are for dimensions or at the end of leaders, for example. But the most common type is text that you use as labels–and there are 2 types. The original type was called single-line text (or Dtext). When you use single-line text, every line is a separate object, ideal for short labels.

But many drawings require lengthy annotation in paragraph form and for that reason Mtext (multiline text) was introduced many years ago. You can format text almost any way you format text in your favorite word processor.autocad_tips_text-to-mtext-back-2

But sometimes, you have single-line text that should be Mtext, or vice versa. I have some old drawings that were created before Mtext! Here are 2 ways to convert between text and Mtext.

Convert single-line text to Mtext

Here’s some text in an old drawing that is single-line text. You can see that one of the lines is selected. It’s a plat description and of course, it should be Mtext. To convert it, use the Express Tools command TXT2MTXT. From the ribbon, choose Express> Text> Convert Text to Mtext.

autocad_tips_text-to-mtext-back-4At the Select objects: prompt, select the text objects that you want to convert. Usually, a window works best for selecting. After all, you don’t want to have to select each line of text individually!

If you press Enter instead, you get the Text to MText Options dialog box, shown here. By default, the command sorts from the top object downward and tries to word wrap the Mtext that it creates. You can choose to order the text by the order you selected it.autocad_tips_text-to-mtext-back-3

One cool feature of TXT2MTXT is that if you select the text objects first, the command executes without further input — very efficient! Also, the command does a true conversion by deleting your old single-line text objects.

You can see that you now have a single MText object.

autocad_tips_text-to-mtext-back-5

Convert Mtext to single-line text

Sometimes, you need to reconfigure your text because it won’t fit anywhere as a paragraph. In these situations, you can convert the Mtext to single-line text.

One way to convert Mtext to text is to copy and paste. Double-click the Mtext to open the Mtext editor. Select the text and copy to the clipboard. Then close the editor.

Start the TEXT command. Specify the start point, height and rotation angle as usual. You’ll then see a small box and cursor. Paste from the clipboard and press Enter to end the command. The text becomes all one line (which can get pretty long if you have a lot of text). Then delete your Mtext object.

Or you can simply explode the Mtext. This method keeps the line wrapping. It all depends on which result you want. A plus is that you don’t have to delete the original object.

down-red-arrows

How do you convert between the 2 types of text? Leave a comment! And help other AutoCAD users by sharing this post with the sharing buttons below.

Using the Geometric Center object snap

The Geometric Center object snap is new for AutoCAD 2016. It seems to me that there hasn’t been a new object snap for a long time. Am I right? When do you think that last new object snap was introduced and what was it?

Now that the trivia contest is set, let’s get into it. It’s really very simple. You need a closed polyline to use it.

  1. Start a command, such as the LINE command
  2. Access the list of objects snaps — by pressing Shift and right-clicking or using the list on the status bar. You can also use the keyboard shortcut, GCE.
  3. Choose Geometric Center and click to specify the start of the line.autocad-tips-geometric-center-2
  4. End the line wherever you want.

One cool point is that the geometric center doesn’t have to be inside the polyline. In this example on the right, the X marks the geometric center of the closed polyline.

The 1-minute video below shows an example of drawing a line from the geometric center of a closed polyline.

Are you going to use this new object snap? How will it be useful to you? Leave a comment!

AutoCAD 2016 – 30 releases young and still going strong – Part 3

lee ambrosiusThis is a guest post from Lee Ambrosius, who was my co-author for the AutoCAD 2015 and AutoCAD 2015 LT Bible. As you can tell from the photo, he’s a runner — even in some pretty cold Wisconsin weather! Lee is both an Autodesk Authorized Developer and Authorized Author. He’s also the author of the upcoming AutoCAD Platform Customization, His website is hyperpics.com

AutoCAD 2016 is the latest in a long line of AutoCAD releases that dates back over 30 years ago. The latest release offers a number of changes that improve 2D drafting operations, rendering 3D models, and much more.

There is a lot to cover, so Lee suggested that we split it up. In Part 1 we started with changes to the user interface and 2D drafting. Part 2 covered annotation and external file changes. Here in Part 3, we talk about new 3D and CAD management features.

3D – Modeling and visualization enhancements

Continue reading AutoCAD 2016 – 30 releases young and still going strong – Part 3