Creating a rotational array

Video: Creating a rotational array

In this lesson, we are going to learn a more powerful way to copy geometry. Specifically we'll be looking at the Polar Array command. Polar Array allows us to copy objects in a rotational pattern. The best part is the pattern we create is dynamic and can be easily edited. On my screen I have some geometry over here on the left that presents a couple of chairs. This circle on the right represents a round table. I'd like to start by moving this chair on the left over to the table. To do that, I'll launch the Move command.

Creating a rotational array

In this lesson, we are going to learn a more powerful way to copy geometry. Specifically we'll be looking at the Polar Array command. Polar Array allows us to copy objects in a rotational pattern. The best part is the pattern we create is dynamic and can be easily edited. On my screen I have some geometry over here on the left that presents a couple of chairs. This circle on the right represents a round table. I'd like to start by moving this chair on the left over to the table. To do that, I'll launch the Move command.

I'll create a window selection around the chair and I'll press Enter. I'd like to pick this chair up from the midpoint of the front and I'll place it to, Shift+Right-Click, I'll bring up my Object Snap menu, and I'll choose Quadrant and I'll grab the quadrant at the top of the table. Now that my chair is here, I'd like to move it a little bit farther away from the table. Once again I'll launch the Move command, and at the Select objects prompt, I'll type p and press Enter, this reselects my chair.

I will then press Enter again to finish my selection. I'll pick the chair up from the middle of the front and I'm going to come down and lock the Ortho. I will then pull the chair straightaway. I'll type 6 and press Enter. This positions the chair 6 inches away from the edge of the table. Now that my chair is in position, I would like to copy this chair around the outside of the table. To do that, I'll come up to the Modify panel and I'll open the Array menu and I'll choose Polar Array.

Polar Array allows us to create rotated copies. I will then select the objects I'd like to array and press Enter. I will then grab the center point of the array that will be the center of the table and when I do, you can instantly see the copies. Also notice that we have a new tab in the Ribbon. This is a context-sensitive tab that contains all of the Polar Array settings. For instance, if I come up to the Items panel, I can use this to adjust the number of chairs that I have.

For instance, what would four chairs look like? I'll type 4 and press Enter. Maybe I'd like to see what eight chairs would look like. In addition to adjusting the number of chairs, I can control the angle between the chairs or the total angle that I am filling. If I come over to the Rows panel, I can create additional rows. Let's change this from 1 to 2. You can see where we are going there. I can also adjust the distance between the rows or the total distance between the front and the back row. I am going to change the rows back to 1 and let's talk about levels.

If we wanted to get crazy about this, we could start creating additional levels. This would be copying the geometry in 3D space and this is beyond our scope right now. Let's say that the settings that I have currently work fine for what I need. What I am going to do is come down and click the X to close the array. I will then center this a little better on screen. As you can see creating rotated copies is extremely easy. Here's the best part. Rotated copies are also very easy to edit. If I select one of these chairs, notice the computer remembers this is a rotational array.

I now have access to all of my settings. Let's make a change. I am going to come down to the Options panel and I'll choose Edit Source. This allows me to update the geometry of one of my objects, and in turn, all of the copies will also be updated. I'll select the chair I'd like to change and I'll click OK. I'll zoom in on that geometry. I'd like to make a simple change. I am just going to select the back rest. And then I'll click this grip in the middle and I'll pull it straightaway.

I'll type 3 and hit Enter, and you can see that change was applied to the copies. To finish my edits, I am going to come over to the Edit Array panel and I'll choose Save Changes or Discard Changes, depending on what I want to do. I'm going to choose Save Changes and you can see that my modification has been applied to all the copies. Let's make another change. I'll select a chair. This time I am going to come up and choose Base Point. The Base Point represents the insertion point of the chairs.

You can see that Base Point is highlighted by this grip. Currently the Base Point is at the middle of the seat, which doesn't have much geometric value. I'm going to choose Base Point and I'll move the Base Point from the middle of the seat, to the middle of the front edge. As you can see the chairs haven't moved, only the Base Point has. Now that I have adjusted the Base Point, I'm going to come over and choose Replace Item. This allows me to swap out objects in my array with alternate geometry. I'll select this chair as my replacement objects and I'll press Enter.

Now I need to identify the Base Point of the replacement. Well, since the Base Point of the originals is the middle of the front edge, the Base Point of my replacement will be Shift+Right-Click, the Quadrant at the front edge of this chair. I can then Select the objects in my array that I'd like to swap out with the alternate, and since they all share the same Base Point, they are all the same distance away from the table. When I am finished, I'll press Enter and then Enter again, and then I'll click the X to close the array.

Let's say after making that change, I'd like to put this back the way it was. I'd like all these chairs to be identical. To do that, I'll select the Array and I'll come up and choose Reset and AutoCAD will remove the alternate objects. Finally, I'll come over and click the X to close the array. As you can see, if you need to copy objects in a rotated pattern, Polar Array is the best tool for the job. Its dynamic properties and intuitive workflow make it very easy to create and edit rotated copies.

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