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In AutoCAD 2011 New Features, instructor Jeff Bartels highlights productivity and creativity enhancing additions to the AutoCAD toolset. This course covers improved functions for selecting and creating geometry, updated modification tools for hatches and polylines, simplified parametric constraint tools, and the new dynamic surface modeling techniques for creating complex shapes. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this lesson, we're going to take a look at the improvements that have been made to the 3D working environment and tools. These changes not only help the experienced designer, they also make it easier for beginners to start using AutoCAD to create 3D models. I've already got a drawing open on my screen. We're going to look at this drawing in just a little bit. I'd like to start out by creating a new drawing. So, I'm going to move up to the Quick Access toolbar. I'll launch the New command. I'd like to start using the acad3D template. When I click Open, try and remember what the 3D template used to look like.
Notice it's now using the same color scheme as the 2D template. This is by design and it's to help ease the transition between 2D and 3D drafting. I'm going to orbit my view. To do that, I'll hold down my Shift key and the scroll wheel on my mouse. As I move my mouse forward, we can tip the drawing down and notice the horizon. This is a visual cube to let us know that we're working in a 3D perspective view. If I right-click on my ViewCube and set this to Parallel, the horizon goes away, and now I can tell very easily that I'm working in a parallel view.
Let's take a look at our 3D workspaces. I'm going to open up the Workspace menu, and in AutoCAD 2011, we now have two choices, 3D Basics and 3D Modeling. Let's look at 3D Basics first. If you are just getting into 3D, this is probably the perfect workspace for you. This includes a limited set of tools, probably the ones you would use most often in 3D, and quite frankly, this workspace can be a little less intimidating than the full 3D workspace.
Let's open the Workspace menu again. This time I'll select 3D Modeling. This workspace gives us access to all of the 3D and rendering tools. In fact, my Materials Browser is also turned on. Now, we don't need this guy right now. I'm going to click the X to close it. We'll talk more about the Materials Browser in a future lesson. Now that we're familiar with the workspaces and the appearance of the 3D template, let's click Close and return to the original drawing. This drawing contains several 3D objects.
As I hover over this block, we can see this is a 3D solid. if I hover over the wall, this is a surface. and if I hover over the floor, this is a region. Notice that when I hover over an object, it highlights on screen. Sometimes, these lines can get in the way. It can actually be confusing having lines on top of lines. There is a new setting in AutoCAD 2011 called Culling, and we can find that in the Subobject panel. The toggle is right here. If I click this and turn Culling on, notice the difference.
With Culling turned on, AutoCAD only highlights the portion of the entity that we can see. Now the Culling setting is very easy to find. It's actually on several of the tabs. If I go to the Solid tab, it's right here, if I open up the Mesh tab, there is another one right here. So it's very easy to find, very easy to change. Now, one thing to remember about Culling. Not only does it control what you see, it also controls what AutoCAD sees. So if you're experiencing problems editing your models or making your selections, try turning Culling off.
It just might help. I'm going to Shift+Right-Click to bring up my Object Snap menu, and in AutoCAD 2011, we have a new set of 3D object snaps. As I hover over each of these, take a look at the lower left corner of the interface. Notice AutoCAD will give you more information about each snap. Generally speaking, Vertex is very similar to Endpoint. This snap will also grab the controlled vertex of a spline or a NURBS surface, which is based on a spline. I can also select the midpoint on an edge. Center of a face. I can select a knot.
The knot is the fit point on your splines. I can find a point perpendicular to a face, so long as that face is planer or flat and I can snap to a point nearest to a face. I'm going to hit my Escape key couple times to close these menus, and let's try some of these new object snaps. For instance, maybe I'd like to create a circle on the right side of this green block. Now if you look at my status bar, you can see that my dynamic UCS is turned on. That will make this much easier. I'm going to launch the Circle command.
I will then Shift+Right-Click. We'll go to the 3D Object Snaps. I'll select Center of face. I will hover over this face, which automatically orients my UCS. I'll click to accept the center and I'm going to use a radius of 0.5. To create a circle on top of the block, I'll hit my Spacebar. To go back into the Circle command, I will Shift+Right-Click. We will select Center of face again. I'll hover over the top and click and once again, I'll use 0.5.
Let's orbit the drawing a little bit. At this time, let's find the distance between this red block and this back wall. Unfortunately, the Distance command isn't available in my current workspace. So, to launch this command, I'm going to type DI and hit Enter. I would like to find the distance from Shift+Right-Click > Midpoint on edge. I'll select this edge and I'd like to find the point to, Shift+Right-Click, Perpendicular, and notice AutoCAD snaps right to this face.
Now, these new object snaps can also be set as running object snaps. If you take a look at the status bar, we can see there is a new toggle right down here, the 3D Object Snap toggle. I can click this to turn it on; click it again to turn it off. We can also turn it on and off by clicking the F4 key on our keyboard. When we're working in 3D in AutoCAD 2011, we also have more control over how our objects look on screen. I'm going to move up to the View panel. Let's open up the Visual Styles menu. There are five new visual styles in AutoCAD 2011.
We now have shaded, which shades our geometry. We have shaded with highlighted edges. If you like working in monochrome, you can select shades of gray. There is Sketchy. This allows you to work in a loose pencil-sketch view. Finally, my personal favorite X-Ray. this gives us a shaded view, yet we can still see through our geometry to all the back faces.
In fact, now that we have the X-Ray Visual Style, I seldom use any other style. With the improvements made to AutoCAD's 3D working environment and tools, it's never been easier to work in three- dimensional space or to begin using 3D to visualize your designs.
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