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Creating a rectangular array

From: AutoCAD 2013 Essentials: 03 Editing and Organizing Drawings

Video: Creating a rectangular array

As powerful as the Polar Array command is, it represents only one type of array that we can create in AutoCAD, there is another. In this lesson we are going to create a rectangular array. A rectangular array is perfect when you need to create copies in a pattern of columns and rows. On my screen, I have a drawing that represents a banquet hall. If I zoom in, in the lower left corner, you can see that I have drawn a table and a series of chairs. As a side note, if I select one of these chairs, you can see that they were created using a Polar Array.

Creating a rectangular array

As powerful as the Polar Array command is, it represents only one type of array that we can create in AutoCAD, there is another. In this lesson we are going to create a rectangular array. A rectangular array is perfect when you need to create copies in a pattern of columns and rows. On my screen, I have a drawing that represents a banquet hall. If I zoom in, in the lower left corner, you can see that I have drawn a table and a series of chairs. As a side note, if I select one of these chairs, you can see that they were created using a Polar Array.

I am going to press Escape to deselect these and then I will zoom back out. I would like to fill this room with tables and chairs. To do that, I will come up to the Modify panel and I will open the Array menu and I will choose Rectangular Array. Note that I could also launch the command by clicking this icon. After launching Array, I will select my table and chairs and I will press Enter. And you can see that AutoCAD has created a default array for me. Also notice that I have a context sensitive Ribbon tab giving me all of the Settings that I need for my rectangular array.

It looks like, I have 4 columns currently, I can probably fit a few more I am going to come up to the Columns panel and I will change this to 8 and then I will press Enter. That is obviously going to be too many. Let me change it to 7 and I will press Enter, still too many. Rather than changing the number up here, take a look at these Grips that I have on the array. I am going to come down and hover over this one on the end. You can see that that it controls the number of columns. If I click to select this, I can drag back and forth and adjust the number of columns visually.

I am going to drag it out to 6 and I will click to save that setting. I will then come back to the Columns panel and I am going to change the distance between the Columns. I am going to change this to 10' and then I will press Enter. That is the center to center distance, not necessarily the walking distance between the tables. As far as rows are concerned, it looks like 3 is going to work just fine. Let's change the distance between the rows to 10' and with respect to Levels, I am not going to mess with these. Levels allow me to create my array vertically in 3D space, which is not what I want to do right now.

At this point these settings look okay. I am going to come up and click the X to close the array. As I look at this, everything looks pretty good until get down to the right side. It looks like these tables are a little too close to the buffet station and the snack and beverage station. Wouldn't it be nice if I had individual control over the components of the array? Actually I do. The trick is to hold down the Ctrl key. If I hold Ctrl, I can select a single item in the array. If I wanted to get rid of this, I could press the Delete key.

Now that I removed this table I would like to move these two tables down 5' to center them in the space. I will hold Ctrl and select this table and this one, I will then come up and launch the Move command, and I like to move these tables from the center, I will pull down, and I will lock my Ortho. I will pull this down 5', Enter. Even though I have made independent changes to these objects, if I click the array, you can see that they are all still considered to be part of the group.

Take a look at the Context Sensitive Ribbon Tab. Note that we have many of the same editing options that we have with the Polar Array. I can change the Base Point, I could Replace an item if I wanted to, I could Reset the Array back to its original Settings. I am going to choose Edit Source and I will zoom in and select one of these tables and then I'll click OK. Maybe I'd like each table to have eight chairs. Well if I select this geometry, notice that I can edit a Polar Array inside a Rectangular Array.

The only thing I have to do is find the settings, notice they do not show up on the Ribbon. If however I come over to the Properties palette, if we look at the top we can see the AutoCAD has found 2 Objects. I will open the menu and I will choose the Polar Array. I will then grab this slider and drag this down, and right here I can adjust any of my Polar Array settings. I will change the number of items to 8 and press Enter. I will then press Escape when I am finished. I will come up to the Edit Array panel and I will choose Save Changes to save the rectangular array.

I will then back up, and center the geometry on screen. Now that I have increased the number of chairs and I have a little extra room on the right side of the room, I would like to increase this space between my columns. To do that I will select the Array, and I will come up and change the distance between to be 10' 6" and it looks like this array will work perfectly, I will come down and click the X to close it. So the next time you need to copy objects into a Grid like Pattern, try using the Rectangular Array command, its dynamic properties and the ease of editing make it a much better choice than creating these copies manually.

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