This post originally appeared on Habitables as part of my guest blogger series on architectural software.
Before starting any design in AutoCAD, it’s important to format your drawing space to your project’s requirements. This is how I prepare to start CADing.
I will run through this article with references to the Windows version of AutoCAD, but the same commands and menu locations work on the Mac version, too.
NB: if your menu bar (file, edit, view etc) is not showing, then click in your drawing space and type MENUBAR. Your command bar will show that MENUBAR is currently set to 0; enter the number 1 and hit enter – ta da!
My first stop is Units to establish what measurements will be used in the Drawing:
From the menu bar, choose Format –> Units. In this dialog box you can select the type of units you want for length and angle measurements. Most of the work I have done in America is of the architectural nature, so I usually chose that option and just leave it with Decimal for the angle measurement. Upon selecting Architectural, your units will change to the Imperial feet and inches and obtain the standard architecture precision of 1/16″. Of course, if you’re using AutoCad in most other countries your dimensions will be in meters and centimeters. Don’t worry, the same process applies. You’ll just have a different precision number.
Next, it’s time to set up the drawing space. Along the bottom of the AutoCAD window you’ll see square icons, one of which is a small grid. When you right click on that icon you’ll get a contextual menu. Choose Settings from that menu to enter the Drafting Settings dialog box. You can also get there by choosing Tools from the menu bar and selecting Drafting Setting.
There are two boxes that are checked by default and, for me, they make designing in AutoCAD much harder. I always turn off Adaptive Grid and Display Grid Beyond Limits under the Grid Behavior section. I do this so that once I enter my Drawing Limits, I’ve got a definitive working area for my project rather than a grid that goes on forever.
So, after unchecking those two boxes, head over to drawing limits. From the menu bar choose Format –> Drawing Limits. I usually enter 0,0 as my lower left corner and the width and length measurements of the project for the upper right. The video below explains this a little more.
Now you have a working area that is approximate if not exactly the same size as your project and you can start drawing. I find this process helps me get the design moving faster. If you need more grid space later, just go back into Drawing Limits and increase the upper right boundary.
In my next article, I’ll take a look at some of my favorite AutoCAD commands.