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Transparency is something AutoCAD users have wanted for years. Well, we don't have to wait any longer. Transparency is now available in AutoCAD 2011. In this lesson, we're going to learn how to see through our objects. On my screen, I have some abstract line work and we're going to use this geometry to explore the concept of transparency. AutoCAD has given us transparency in the form of a property. So if I open up the Properties panel, same place where I can find my Color property, my Line Weight and my Line Type, we can see the new Transparency property right here.
And just like our other properties, if I open up this flyout, we can see that transparency can be applied by layer, by block or by choosing a specific value. It's important to note that I currently have no geometry selected in my drawing. That means that any changes I make here will apply to the new geometry that's created in this file. I don't want to do that. So I'm going to leave these settings the way they are. We'll let the panel collapse and let's start out by applying transparency to this polyline.
To do that, I'll select it. We'll open up the Properties panel. I'll click this flyout and I'll choose Transparency Value. Then I'll drag this slider and choose my percentage. Now if you don't like using the slider, you can always click in this box and enter a value. I'm going to type 50 for 50% and hit Enter and then I'll hit Escape to deselect my polyline. Notice I can now see through that geometry. Let's apply transparency to this yellow polyline.
Once again, I'll select it. We'll open the Property panel and you know what, if you want to apply a specific value, you don't have to use this flyout. If you grab this slider and drag it to the right, AutoCAD will take care of that for you. Now I want to drag this up as high as it'll go. In fact, instead of doing that, I'm just going to type the number. I'm going to enter 90 for 90% and hit Enter. When I'm finished, I'll hit Escape, and we can see that object is 90% transparent. 90 is the limit. anything higher than 90, and you run the risk of confusing your geometry with a layer that may be turned off.
Let's apply transparency to this blue polyline. This time, we'll do it a different way. After I select the polyline, I'll hit Ctrl+1. This brings up my Property Changer and we can see there's a transparency setting right here. Let me click in this field and I'll type my percentage. I'm going to enter 40 this time for 40% and I'll hit Enter. When I'm finished, I'll hit Escape to deselect my entity and then I'll click the X to close my Property Changer. Now if you want to apply transparency to a hatch, simply select it. This brings up the Hatch Editor in our ribbon and our transparency settings are right here.
I'm going to set this to 46% transparency, just to be different. I'll hit Enter and then I'll hit Escape to deselect my object. I can't tell you how long I've wanted to be able to create transparent solid fill hatch over an aerial photograph in my drawings. Now I can do it in AutoCAD 2011. Let's look at a more efficient way of applying transparency to our entities. This time we're going to apply it by layer. So I'm going to click the Layer Properties icon and when my Layer Properties Manager comes up, if we take a look at the column headings, notice I have a new Transparency column.
Now if I would like to change the transparency of this yellow hatch pattern, I will come down to the hatched yellow layer. We'll move over to the Transparency column and we'll enter our value here. I can type my value or I can use this flyout if I like. I'm going to select 60%. I'll click OK and we'll close the Layer Properties Manager. Now, not only is this hatch object 60% transparent, but any other object on this layer is as well. How many of us have created special pen settings such that we can plot geometry in a 50% grayscale? Now we can get the exact same effect by simply applying a 50% transparency to our layers.
The possibilities are literally endless. Now that we understand how to use the Transparency property, let's try it out in a practical example. I'm going to zoom out a little bit. We'll pan our drawing over. On my screen, I've got a drawing of a proposed boulevard with a role of proposed trees on either side. If I zoom in a little bit, you can see that I've created a drop shadow for each of my trees. Now, currently, my drop shadow is opaque and prior to AutoCAD 2011, this was as good as it got.
Let's use the new Transparency property to make these drop shadows look like real shadows. If I hover over one of my shadows, I can see it was created on a tree-shade layer. Let's open up our Layer Properties Manager again, we'll go to the $fill-tree-shade laye,r and we'll adjust its transparency to 50%. I'll click OK and we'll close the Manager. Now, these look like real shadows. As soon as you start creating transparent objects, pay note to this new toggle in the status bar.
This guy controls the display of the transparency on your screen. If your transparency is turned off, it'll still plot just fine. Remember, this toggle is for screen display only. If you plan on creating plots with transparent objects, when you're in the Plot dialog box, ensure that the Plot transparency setting is checked. As you can see, by default, mine was not. So, if I was to plot this drawing, my transparency would not have plotted. The Transparency property in AutoCAD 2011 is definitely a game changer.
It opens up a whole new world of creative possibilities when putting our designs on paper. Our printed drawings will never be the same.
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