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Once we decide we need to create some layers, the place we want to visit is the Layer Properties Manager. This is our one stop shop for creating and managing the layers in our drawing. As you can see I have just launched my AutoCAD 2011, and I am sitting in the default Drawing file. I am going to open the Layer Properties Manager by moving up to the Layers panel and clicking this icon. The first thing we notice is that the Layer Properties Manager is huge. Fortunately, this guy is a palette, so if I were to move my cursor out, it will collapse.
Since we are going to be focusing on the manager for a little while, I am going to move my cursor back to open this up and I will click the Auto-hide button to turn that feature off. This way the palette will stay open until such time as I move up and click this X to close it. First of all, take a look at the top of the palette. This is where AutoCAD tells us the name of the current layer. Any geometry that I create will be drawn on the Current layer. in this case, it's layered zero (0). Over here to there right, I can see a listing of all of the layers in my drawing as well as their settings, since this is the default drawing I only have one layer, just layer zero (0).
In fact, layer zero is kind of a special layer, every AutoCAD drawing starts with layer zero and you can not rename or delete this layer. Every AutoCAD drawing has to have a layer zero. Let's take a look at the layer settings. These guys are arranged in columns, just like Microsoft Excel and sometimes the columns are wide enough to read the headings. To widen these up, you can click and hold in between the columns and you can drag these out to make them whatever width you like. Better yet, if you right-click on a column heading, you can come down and select Maximize all columns such that you can read all of the header information.
Now this does make the columns take up more space, so you may have to come down here and click and hold down this slider and drag it to the left or right such that you can see all of your settings. To change your layer setting, all you have to do is click on it. For instance, I am going to click this first icon. This light bulb turns the layer on and off. If I click this, AutoCAD brings up a warning. It says, hey, you are turning the Current layer off, do want to do that? In this case, yes, I do. So I will click to accept this option, and if I had any geometry on this layer, that geometry would no longer be visible on screen.
I am going to click the light bulb to turn this layer back on, and let's take a look at this setting. Color, this controls the color of my layer. If I click this Color swatch, it brings up AutoCAD's color selector where I can choose from any one of 255 standard color choices. I am going to leave this set to the default of white and I will click OK. Let's take a look at this setting, Linetype. This controls the appearance of my geometry. Is it going to look like a solid continuous line or is it going to be broken up into various sizes to dashes? I am going to click to make an adjustment and AutoCAD brings up the select Linetype dialog box, from here I can select from any of the Linetypes that are loaded in to the current drawing.
Right now I only have the one lint type continuous. I am going to come down and select Load, and from this menu I can choose from any of the line types that come pre-installed with AutoCAD 2011. As an example, I will select a Linetype and click OK to load it into my drawing. At this point if I wanted to, I can select the Linetype and click OK to assign it to a layer. But I am going to leave layer zero (0 ) set to the default if continuous, so I will just click OK. Finally, let's take a look at Lineweight.
I am going to click this to make it change. this brings up the Lineweight dialog box. From here I can select a line thickness that I want the geometry on this layer to have when my drawing is plotted. Now we will talk more about Lineweights when we get in to our chapter o plotting. For right now I am going to leave this set to the default, and I will click OK. Let's create a new layer. To do that I will click the new layer icon then I will give my layer a name, I am going to call this part, and I will press Enter. I will come down and click the Color swatch, and I am going to make this layer yellow, and I will click OK.
Finally, I will set this layer Current. To do that I will ensure the layer is selected and then I will click this green check. Notice we can see the current layer reflected here. I am going to click the X to close the manager, and as a side note, notice that we can also see the current layer name here. I am going to create some geometry and notice how the circle is taking on the appearance of the layer settings. This circle appears yellow, because the layer that it's sitting on is yellow. In fact, anything that I create in this layer will assume the properties of the layer. Let's make a change.
I a going to click the icon to bring back the Layer Properties Manager, and let's say I would like to change the name of this layer. To do that I will click the layer to select it, and then I will click again to get access to the name, and may be this layer was supposed to be called object, I will press Enter to accept that, and then I will click the Color swatch and let's make this magenta and I will click OK and then I will close the manager. Notice how my geometry had taken on the new layer settings. I am going to create another new layer. I will click the New layer icon.
And I would like to create a layer for my hidden lines. So I will call this layer hidden lines and I will press Enter. Now unfortunately the layer name is being truncated, because the column width isn't wide enough, so I am going to click in between these columns and I will drag this over a little bit and then I will change the color of this layer. I will make it Cyan and I will click OK. Then I will come down and click on the Linetype setting, I will select Load. As long as I am here, notice that several of the Linetypes at the top of those list start with ACAD_ISO.
If you are working with imperial measurements, stay away from these Linetypes, because these guys are pre-scaled for metric use. I am going to come down to the hidden lines area, notice I have three choices. The difference between these guys is the size of the dashes. I will select the standard hidden line (HIDDEN) type, and click OK. This loads it in to the current drawing. I will then select it and click OK to assign it to my layer. Finally, I will set this layer Current by clicking the green check, I will close the manager and I will create some more geometry, this time I will create a rectangle.
Once again, since my rectangle was created on the hidden lines layer, it's taking on those properties. Let's set layer at zero (0) Current, here is a shortcut, a really quick way we can set a layer current is by simply double clicking on the layer name. I will close the manager and now everything that I create is being drawn on layer zero (0). I would like to do one more thing, I am going to launch the Erase command and I will select this geometry and right-click. Essentially, I have just erased everything on the object layer.
Let's bring back the manager and take a look at the icons in the Status column. Notice the icon next to the object layer is grayed out, that tells me that there is nothing on this layer, and at this point I could ask myself if I really need this layer. If not, I can select this and click this red x to delete it. Whenever you are adding geometry to your drawing, ask yourself, does this geometry need to be a particular Linetype or Lineweight? Is this something I may want to turn off when I print my drawing? If your answer is yes, you will want to visit the Layer Properties Manager and create a new layer.
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