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Combine or subtract 2D shapes with the REGION command to create custom shapes

Sometimes you need to create a 2D profile that is a combination of the basic geometrical shapes that AutoCAD creates. While you might be able to use the PLINE command to create what you want,  an easier way might be to combine or subtract simpler shapes.

For example, let’s say that you want to create this profile.


Depending on the information you have about the radius of the circle and length of its inset, it might be easier for you to start with these objects:


Here is one way to get the result you want:

  1. Draw the large filleted rectangle, the 2 small rectangles and the circle.
  2. Start the REGION command. (You can find it on the ribbon in the 2D Drafting & Annotation workspace. On the Home tab, expand the Draw panel by clicking its down arrow and choose Region.)
  3. Select all 4 objects and end selection. You’ll see a message: 4  loops extracted. 4 Regions created.
  4. Start the SUBTRACT command. This command isn’t on the ribbon in the 2D Drafting & Annotation workspace, so just type the command on the Command line.
  5. At the Select solids, surfaces, and regions to subtract from .. Select objects: prompt, select only the larger filleted rectangle and end selection.
  6. At the Select solids, surfaces, and regions to subtract .. Select objects: prompt, select the 2 small rectangles and the circle. Then end selection.

AutoCAD subtracts the smaller regions from the larger one, leaving just the desired profile.

Combine shapes with the UNION and INTERSECT commands

You can also use the UNION command to turn the 4 regions on the left to the region on the right.


Finally, you can use the INTERSECT command to find the intersection of 2 regions, as you see here.


Do you use regions in 2D drawings, to combine/subtract them or for some other purpose? Leave a comment!

5 comments to Combine or subtract 2D shapes with the REGION command to create custom shapes

  • Diana

    I think there is a better way, like:
    you draw whatever you like.
    after you getting the result you need, simply press the command BO (for boundary), and press on the middle of the area you’ve got.
    and its creating you a polyline shape.
    just like we all want 🙂

  • Mike P

    One neat trick I’ve used is to create a rectangular region with subtracted circular areas as a means to define model viewports (Mviews) in layouts (or paperspace) with a masked area or areas for enlarged details:

    1) Create a rectangle
    2) Inside the rectangle create a circle.
    3) Use the “region” command to convert both the rectangle and circle to regions.
    4) “SUBTRACT” the circle region from the rectangle region.
    5) Now use the mview command with the “Object” option.

    The circle will be a masked area in the viewport. You can then add a circular viewport in the masked circle for an enlarged detail.

  • mohamed

    when performing subtract in autocad 3d the object disappear , can i get help plz ?

  • Rose Anderson

    Where to get a good teaching resource for 9-10 yr old just learning about how shapes work. Naming and making models..Im a parent from the old school wish.i had goggle. Thanks Rose

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