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AutoCAD Essentials is a multi-part series that takes a more modular approach to this massive program, used for everything from 2D and 3D CAD design, drafting, and modeling to architectural drawing and engineering projects. In this installment, author Jeff Bartels concentrates on the particulars of creating basic geometry in AutoCAD, including assigning imperial or metric units of measurement, using object snaps to control accuracy, and drawing and transforming basic lines and shapes. The last chapter in the course tests your newfound skills in a short project.
Believe it or not, AutoCAD gives us several different ways to copy geometry. In this lesson, we're going to look at the Offset command. Offset is special because it creates a copy that is parallel to the original object. On my screen, I have a few shapes. I'd like to start by offsetting this circle. To do that, I'll use the Offset command. Offset can be found in the Modify panel of the Ribbon. After launching the command, I will specify my offset distance. I'm going to type 2 and press Enter. I will then select the object that I'd like to offset. And as you can see, if I place my cursor to the inside or the outside of the original object, AutoCAD is showing me a preview of my offset copy.
To create my copy to the outside, I will click to the outside of the original object. When I'm finished, I'll press Enter. Next we'll create an offset of this poly line. I'll move up and launch the Offset command. I'm going to use a distance of three this time. I will then select the object and I'll click to the outside. And notice I'm still in the command. As a courtesy, AutoCAD defaults to a multiple option, such that we can create as many offsets as we like. If I wanted, I could come down and click the original object again and create an offset to the inside. In fact, I'm not even restricted to the original object.
I could offset this line to the right, and then its copy to the right, and then its copy to the right, and so on. When I'm finished, I can press Escape or Enter, or I can even come down and click Exit to finish the command. Now that we understand the basics of the offset command, let's try and use it in a practical example. I'm going to zoom out. I'll pan the drawing over. On my screen, I have some geometry that represents a proposed parking lot. This is a civil engineering example so each unit in this drawing represents one foot. I'm going to zoom in a little bit closer. I would like to finish the parking stalls in the middle of this lot. Nothing says parallel copies like parking-lot striping. Now a typical parking stall measure eighteen feet deep by nine feet wide. I'm going to start by launching the Offset command. I'll enter a distance of eighteen feet, and then I'll select this middle line and I'll offset it to the north.
I'll select the middle line again and I'll offset it to the south. When I'm finished, I'll press Enter. This geometry represents the depth of my stalls. I'm going to zoom in a little bit closer. Remember that a parking stall should measure nine feet wide. So I'm going to select this middle line, and I'll come over to the Properties palette, and if I drag down, I can see that it has a length of 81 feet. This is actually very good. 81 is perfectly divisible by 9. I should be able to fit nine stalls across this distance.
I'm going to press Escape to deselect the line, and to create the geometry of my first stall, I'll use the Circle command. I'll draw a circle at the endpoint of the line, and I'll give it a radius of nine feet. This intersection represents the width of the first stall. To draw my first stripe, I'll launch the Line command, and I'll draw the line from the intersection. I'll Shift+Right-Click to bring up the Object Snap menu because I don't have a Running Object Snap set for intersection. I'll grab the intersection of the circle and the middle line, and I will draw this to a point--Shift+Right-Click-- perpendicular to my first offset. When I'm finished, I'll press Escape. Now, I can simply offset this parking stripe in nine-foot increments.
I'll launch the Offset command, I'll use a distance of nine, and press Enter. I will then offset this line to the left, I'll offset its copy to the left, and its copy to the left, and this can get tedious. We'll do it one more time. I'm going to grab this copy and before I click to place the new line, take a look at the command line. Notice there's a Multiple option down here. This is very helpful if we have to create several offsets. I'm going to choose Multiple. Now, each time I click to the left of the original, I can create a copy. Once I have as many copies as I need, I can press Enter and then Escape to exit the command. To finish the striping on the south side, I could go through the same offset process or I could launch the Extend command. I would then chose the southern offset as my boundary edge and press Enter. I could then create a crossing window to select my stripes and project those to the boundary edge. When I'm finished, I'll press Enter.
At this point, my geometry is complete so I can select each of my offsets and the circle, and I'll press Delete to remove them from the drawing. Let's look at one more way the Offset command can be very helpful as we draw. I'm going to zoom out. I'll pan down here to the southeast. Near the southeast exit, I've got a stop sign. Let's say that I need to place that stop sign 33 feet from the center of the route and exactly three feet from the back of curve. To find that location, I can use the Offset command. I'll launch Offset, and I'll use a distance of 33 feet. I'll select the center of the road and I'll offset that to the west. I'll press Enter when I'm finished.
I will then launch the Offset command again. I'll use a distance of three feet. Enter. I will then Offset the back of curve to the South. When I'm finished, I'll press Escape. The intersection of these two offsets shows me the exact location where to place the stop sign. Let's finish the drawing by launching the Move command. I'll grab the Stop sign geometry and press Enter. I'll pick this up from the center of the pole, and I'll place this to the--Shift+Right-Click--intersection of the offsets. Finally, I can select each of the Offset entities and press Delete. I'm sure you'll agree that Offset is one of the most versatile tools that we have. Not only does it create parallel copies, it is also one of the quickest ways to locate points in space.
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