AutoCAD tutorials: Using Scale and Rotate by Reference

Some AutoCAD Tricks & Tips that you might be missing!

You might didn't use this feature before, or perhaps you always notice it when prompting for those 2 familiar commands: SCale and ROtate, but you weren't having the guidance to properly use it, ...at least until now!

If so, you are not alone as many users also don't consider this powerful tool and don't know the real purpose behind it; In this post, we will use one of the most powerful AutoCAD tricks & tips that will help resolve an essential assignment in your drawing; so, we will attempt to explain in deep what this sub-command (/R) is capable of. Meanwhile, you can notice the corresponding option in Fig.1 below:

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Fig.1- Using the /R Option in Scale and Rotate Commands

Scaling Object(s) with the Reference option

In fact, it is a handy and practical tool that resolves and cut short many commands in a single and simple one, reducing effort and thus saving a lot of time. So, let's get started!

In AutoCAD software, the Scale command is popular with most users. However, scaling objects using a reference is still not so used though; In spite of being a useful tool when you cannot have the exact scaling factor you need for a drawing, its usage is still restricted to some professionals, due to a lack of knowledge to all the AutoCAD features in general.

As mentioned earlier, the importance of this sub-command lies in being a shortcut to multiple tools merged into one. To scale objects using a reference, we input the reference length and the new desired length, and autocad scales the objects as per the reference.

Let me explain more by doing the following exercise (Fig.1)


Practicing the Scaling by Reference

Knowing that the ability to resize and scale a design is crucial for AutoCAD users, and assuming we are facing such a problem, how to resolve it? In some works, the matter can determine the success or failure of a project. In order to make scaling designs easier and without errors, a variety of advanced AutoCAD features are here to help us with our task.

This is where Scale by Reference came into action, we can use this to scale “from” a certain size “to” another.  In this post, we will share with you the AutoCAD features that allow you to simply modify your drawings' scaling or selected objects from it when needed and at your request. By using the SCale command, AutoCAD will even allow you to scale objects by a factor or a reference.

  • As for the factor, it is the default choice and it is super easy to use as it requests you to manually enter a number that represents the desired equation for you to apply. For example, if you need to double-scale your drawing, enter the number 2 when the factor option is prompted, or else if you need to half-reduce the scale, then 0.5 is the factor to type in.
  • To specify a new size for an object by reference, you may use an existing distance. The following steps will show you how to scale objects using a Reference:
Assuming we have a rectangle A-A1-B-B1 and a line A-C along its A-B side, as shown on Fig.2 below:
 
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Fig.2- Scaling the rectangle by specifying a reference length

 Choose the scale command from the menu, or just type in SC in the command prompt.

  1. You will need to select the object/s that you desire to scale, or enter ALL for the whole drawing. In the current sample, we'll select the rectangle (Fig.2)
  2. Specify the current distance first — This step is very important to apply it right for the reason that it's the basic of the whole command and without applying it properly the result will not match your intention. So be careful when processing this step!
  3. To specify the reference length: Specify a base point — How to select a base point? it should be logical: such as a visible corner or intersection. Let's choose the base point (A) as shown in Fig.2, then for specify second point: prompt, select the endpoint (B).
  4. Finally, for the specify new lenght: prompt, just pick on the endpoint (C) and you are done!


We now have the object scaled manually “from” a certain size A-B “to” another A-C, without even knowing the numeric value to input; the whole process was done on-screen, and here lie its powers. (Fig.3)

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Fig.3- The rectangle scaled by reference

This technique is useful when the exact scaling factor is missing or unknown as we saw in the example above. It eliminates the need for calculations and potential errors from using an approximated scaling factor. Additionally, it can help in quickly scaling objects while ensuring that the elements in the drawing are scaled uniformly.

  • For more additional concerns on this topic, I am also sharing with you this explainer video that illustrates the scaling by reference process from a slightly another perspective, if we can say. Enjoy the knowledge!



Practicing Rotate command with Reference

And we arrived at the second topic to be discussed in our post on AutoCAD tutorials: Using Rotate command with a Reference. Primary, the term sounds similar to the other previously treated feature, but with a slight difference that we will be focusing on in this section.

Although it's been around with almost every release, the "rotate" function in AutoCAD, and especially the Reference feature, is often neglected or forgotten and skipped in almost training courses. However, this function can come in handy and saves a lot of time and effort.

Shown in the example to practice below: a nut, bolt, and a line. (Fig.4)

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Fig.4- A nut, bolt, and line to use in our example. Graphic:www.cadlinecommunity.co.uk

The goal is to rotate the nut and bolt to the exact angle of the line. To do this, you might select the line and use the "list" command to determine the decimal angle, but you may not get an accurate result; So another solution is to access the "rotate" command from the ribbon menu, or type in "RO" and select the objects to be rotated.


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Again, we will practice with a short given activity:

  • Select the roll bolt as the selection set to rotate.
  • At the Specify base point: prompt, select a convenient base point for “Rotation”; for example, this could be the “Endpoint” or “Midpoint” of one of the lines that are included in the selection set. (Fig.5)
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Fig.5- Choose a convenient basepoint location for the rotation.

  • Next, at the Specify rotation angle or [Copy Reference] <0>: prompt, choose the Reference option by typing "r" or clicking on “Reference” from the command line.
  • Then select 2 points on the object, this will be the “Reference” line for the rotation process. (Fig.6)
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Fig.6- Select two points on the object, this will be a “Reference” line for rotation.

  • The selected objects can now be rotated simply by moving the crosshairs or cursor. However, the selected objects need to be aligned with a drawn component, in our case the line.
  • Use the "point" subcommand when prompted to do so, either by typing in "p" or clicking on "Point" from the command line and then selecting the 2 endpoints of the line. (See Fig.7 for a detailed explanation) You are done!
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Fig.7- Choosing the related points in the rotation direction.

Our mission is accomplished: We did align our object exactly to the specified angle of the line using the reference feature. This option lets us "rotate" any entity manually according to a random angle without the need to calculate the pain-in-the-ass decimal number to input.

I hope you like this short AutoCAD tutorial and that it adds some knowledge and guidance for powerful features you've been missing such as Using Scale and Rotate with Reference! Subscribe for more tips like this one!


References in this post:

- Related AutoCAD on-screen UI: www.freecadhelp.com
- Graphics images: www.cadlinecommunity.co.uk

Nadim Maani

Blogging about Architecture and Designs AutoCAD, Photoshop, 3DS Max, and other software Tips and Tutorials, Lebanese Traditional Style, Real Estate, Home Improvement, Travel, and Places to Visit.

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