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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Learning AutoCAD Basics (Part 2)

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The AutoCAD Logo

In this post today, we will continue our course that we started the last time;

For those who didn't read yet the First Part, it is highly recommended to do so because of the relevancy of the information included, which is essential for the full understanding of the topics discussed.
Related- Anyway, here is the link to the Learning AutoCAD Basics (Part 1).
I want to notice hereby, that the goal of writing those learning courses is just informative, by means of it is always advised to practice and practice all the way long, because it is the only way to get better when it comes to Mastering AutoCAD and other graphic software.
Having this said, the following topics will define the main function of the tool or command specified.

First of all, let's get started with the UI (User Interface) overview:


The AutoCAD UI Explained

At a glance, the Classic AutoCAD User-Interface is divided into 7 main parts as follows:
  • The pull-down menu bar
  • The Toolbars (by default: the Standard Toolbar and the Properties Toolbar)
  • The Model Space Area or the Working Area v/s The Layout/Paper Space
  • The Command Prompt and the Prompt Area
  • The Status Line (it gives you useful information about the current drawing)
  • Properties Dialog Window
  • Ad Center Window (AutoCAD Design Center)
So, those are the main tools and functions that compose the layout of the Classic AutoCAD. It can slightly differ in other presets or workspace settings.

AutoCAD comes with a collection of preset workspaces such as the Drafting & Annotation, the 3D basics, and the 3D modeling.

As its name indicate, each configurated set is provided with a group of selected tools and commands designed to help the user for a better experience in using his favorite commands that he needs to complete his task.

We will be describing each part in a more detailed explanation of its features and characteristics in the article below.
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Fig.1- The Various Parts that compose the UI of the Classic AutoCAD- Photo from the version 2013

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Fig.2- The ACAD Design Center used for various tasks such as inserting Blocks or using Layers from other files, etc...

A Note about Picking Points; to practice with the Cursor (Applicable on all Commands)

Move the Cursor (via the mouse) around the Working Area. Note how the Coordinates Readout changes as you drive to display your Cursor's position. It is at the lower left of the Status-Line and shown the coordinates in the usual (X, Y) format. (See Fig.1 above)

Objects Selection

Now, try picking a point by Pressing the mouse pick-button, then move the cursor; a rectangle follows. Try to include some existing objects inside; This is the Selection Window. 

  • Actually, it differs in which direction are you forming the rectangle: if it is from the left to the right, it is a normal selection window, in which only fully contained objects will be selected. (the rectangle mentioned before is color blue). But in the second case, from the right to the left, we are talking about a crossing-window selection, which means every touched object by the rectangle will be selected. (the rectangle here is color green by default)

The UCS Icon

In the lower-left corner of the working space, you will notice the User Coordinates System (UCS for shortening), which informs you about the drawing orientation; X and Y indicate both the referential axis of each point in the working space, used for mathematical graphics.

The Command prompt Area

This is the area that should have your prior attention as being a beginner user of ACAD. In fact, this is where you can communicate with AutoCAD.

When the sentence "Type a command" is displayed in the box, it means the AutoCAD is waiting for your command input and other instructions.

In addition, while running a command, it is very useful to always have an eye on this vital area because it displays the options that come with a specific command such as various parameters to select from to define the object to draw or edit.

"This is how you communicate with AutoCAD"

Besides giving you messages and requirements, the Prompt Area records your activity and provides you with information about objects within your drawing.

Try by using the LI command which lists all the available data of any selected element in the drawing starting with the relevant coordinates of every point composing it, passing by the layer name that it belongs to, etc...

Press the f2 button for a full-page displaying the history of your latest session.



The Status-Line and the Button's Tooltips

Place the arrow-cursor over a button in a toolbar for a moment: The name of the Button (tooltip) will appear, and a brief description of its function will display in the Status-Line.


Opening an Existing Drawing

  • File Management: The AutoCAD files carry the .dwg extension and the .bak as a backup file. The .bak file is automatically created when the first file saving occurs and by default in the same containing folder. In case of file damage or harm the reuse of the backup file is helpful and beneficial sometimes: Just change the bak extension by typing dwg instead and you are done!
  • To open a file from the Select File DIalog Box, place the arrow-cursor over the File menu and click it with the mouse right-click button, then click on Open ... The Select File dialog box appears.
Note: the three dots (...) that appear with a command name in a pull-down menu mean that a Dialog Box will come after.


Getting Closer Views

Click on View Menu → Zoom → Window. Always check what the Command  Prompt Area displays and try to follow the instructions, as you will next specify the area to zoom-in by defining a rectangle with 2 points of its corners.

Also, let's try the other zooming tools:

- zoom dynamic
- zoom all (regarding the drawing limits area)
- zoom extents (regarding the drawing objects)
- zoom previous (returns to the previous view)
- zoom in
- zoom out

Making Modification

From the Modify menu choose Erase command and practice performing the task.
Note that the cursor has turned from its original form to a small square that allows you to select the desired objects; this new shape is called the pick-box.

As you already should do, check also the Command Prompt Area which should display the "Select objects:" request.

Place now the pick box over an object in the drawing and selected it by clicking the left button on your mouse: the object is highlighted instantly.

Now press Enter or right-click the mouse; the object was erased.
The sequence of steps is almost common to many of the commands in AutoCAD:
  1. First, you have to launch the desired command or tool.
  2. Then you select the objects using the pointing device or mouse.
  3. Press Enter again to let AutoCAD know that you did finish your selection.
  4. Then, as the command request, some additional parameters will be required, as you have to provide those respectively.
  5. To complete the command, press Enter again.

Closing a Session

To close your session in AutoCAD just go to the File menu and click on Exit.
Note that AutoCAD will prompt you if you want to save the changes you made recently to your work via a Dialog Box.

To save the modifications done, you should click Yes; if not simply choose No.

At the end of this learning review and as I did mention earlier, this is not a tutorial course: it is just a general introduction to AutoCAD which is essential for those who want to get started in mastering the program.

The goal is to increase your knowledge with the basics and with the how-it-works which leads to better assimilation of the boring and complicated material that the software provides in general.




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