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AutoCAD: Tips, Tricks, and Industry Secrets
Illustration by Richard Downs

Flattening geometry to a single elevation


From:

AutoCAD: Tips, Tricks, and Industry Secrets

with Jeff Bartels

Video: Flattening geometry to a single elevation

It's important to remember that even though you may be creating a 2D drawing, AutoCAD is a 3D environment. All it takes is a couple of skewed Z coordinates and you may be constructing geometry at several different elevations without even knowing it. In this lesson we're going to learn how to flatten a drawing whose elevations may have gotten out of control. On my screen I have a drawing of a site plan for a proposed park and I'd like to start by taking a measurement. Let's zoom in and we'll find out how far the sidewalk is from the back of curb.
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  1. 1m 28s
    1. Welcome
      53s
    2. Using the exercise files
      35s
  2. 47m 11s
    1. Adding relevant data to Quick Properties and tooltips
      5m 38s
    2. Creating custom ribbon tabs and panels
      8m 55s
    3. Creating macro-enabled tools
      10m 29s
    4. Increasing speed with command aliases
      4m 44s
    5. Finding commands and system variables using Auto Complete
      2m 35s
    6. Optimizing the size of palettes
      3m 17s
    7. Accessing drawings using Favorites
      2m 25s
    8. Controlling notification bubbles
      2m 24s
    9. Restoring hidden messages
      3m 53s
    10. Following a blog from within AutoCAD
      2m 51s
  3. 1h 0m
    1. Disabling mode settings on the fly
      3m 28s
    2. Finding hatch boundaries in busy drawings
      3m 32s
    3. Generating boundaries from difficult shapes
      2m 20s
    4. Calculating the overall length of multiple entities
      6m 16s
    5. Calculating the area of multiple shapes
      4m 42s
    6. Flattening geometry to a single elevation
      4m 0s
    7. Trimming all entities to one side of an object
      2m 42s
    8. Eliminating duplicated geometry
      5m 10s
    9. Creating true offsets
      3m 44s
    10. Finding errors when joining multiple entities
      6m 48s
    11. Moving and copying entities using Windows shortcuts
      2m 24s
    12. Solving expressions using the command prompt calculator
      5m 1s
    13. Using the Calculator palette
      10m 25s
  4. 21m 17s
    1. Bringing all text objects to the front
      1m 20s
    2. Underlining single-line text
      1m 21s
    3. Managing numbered and lettered lists
      3m 36s
    4. Creating superscript and subscript text
      3m 18s
    5. Removing formatting from MTEXT
      3m 26s
    6. Using fields to identify who revised a drawing
      3m 10s
    7. Squeezing text into tight spaces
      3m 5s
    8. Hiding extra annotative scales
      2m 1s
  5. 16m 55s
    1. Creating "one-click" dimensions
      1m 52s
    2. Dimensioning angles greater than 180 degrees
      1m 40s
    3. Creating dynamic dimension breaks
      2m 20s
    4. Making linear dimensions act like aligned dimensions
      2m 44s
    5. Finding dimensions with false values
      1m 38s
    6. Creating parent/child dimension styles
      4m 45s
    7. Making dimensions easier to read
      1m 56s
  6. 14m 40s
    1. Making global edits to attribute data
      4m 1s
    2. Clipping references using curved geometry
      2m 21s
    3. Exchanging one block symbol for another
      3m 3s
    4. Using drag-and-drop to insert content
      3m 17s
    5. Creating a block library in two clicks
      1m 58s
  7. 10m 42s
    1. Making global changes to layer names
      3m 19s
    2. Converting all object properties to BYLAYER
      1m 43s
    3. Navigating layer lists using the keyboard
      2m 5s
    4. Producing a hard copy of the layer settings
      1m 34s
    5. Removing stubborn layers
      2m 1s
  8. 25m 1s
    1. Accessing viewports within viewports
      3m 21s
    2. Creating viewports with islands
      6m 5s
    3. Creating legends using the Change Space tool
      3m 55s
    4. Rotating viewport content to match layout
      4m 55s
    5. Importing layouts from template files
      2m 3s
    6. Visualizing multiple design alternates
      4m 42s
  9. 30m 18s
    1. Consolidating backup files into a single folder
      2m 48s
    2. Launching applications from within AutoCAD
      3m 53s
    3. Creating custom linetypes
      5m 9s
    4. Incorporating symbols into custom linetypes
      2m 48s
    5. Salvaging data from a corrupt drawing
      3m 57s
    6. Applying hyperlinks to drawing objects
      3m 34s
    7. Converting drawings from name-based to color-based plot styles
      2m 0s
    8. Identifying the owner of a drawing
      1m 18s
    9. Incorporating drawings into PowerPoint presentations
      4m 51s
  10. 31s
    1. Goodbye
      31s

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AutoCAD: Tips, Tricks, and Industry Secrets
3h 48m Intermediate Jan 31, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In AutoCAD 2011: Tips, Tricks, and Industry Secrets, Jeff Bartels shows AutoCAD users how to become more efficient power users, reducing the amount of time it takes to accomplish a task, increasing profit margins, and strengthening marketplace competitiveness. The course covers everything from shortcuts used in geometry creation, to program customization, to real world solutions to common problems. Interface customization, block and reference management skills, and express tool usage are also covered. Exercise files are included with the course.

Topics include:
  • Creating macro enabled tools
  • Using Auto Complete
  • Disabling tool mode settings on the fly
  • Moving and copying entities using Windows shortcuts
  • Using the Calculator palette
  • Formatting text
  • Creating parent/child dimension styles
  • Making dimensions easier to read
  • Making global edits to attribute data and layer names
  • Exchanging one block symbol for another
  • Inserting content using drag and drop
  • Navigating layer list using the keyboard
  • Importing layouts from template files
  • Consolidating backup files
Subjects:
CAD 2D Drawing 3D Drawing
Software:
AutoCAD
Author:
Jeff Bartels

Flattening geometry to a single elevation

It's important to remember that even though you may be creating a 2D drawing, AutoCAD is a 3D environment. All it takes is a couple of skewed Z coordinates and you may be constructing geometry at several different elevations without even knowing it. In this lesson we're going to learn how to flatten a drawing whose elevations may have gotten out of control. On my screen I have a drawing of a site plan for a proposed park and I'd like to start by taking a measurement. Let's zoom in and we'll find out how far the sidewalk is from the back of curb.

I'll launch the Distance command and I'll use the Nearest object snip. Let's find the distance from nearest to here to a point perpendicular to the curb. Notice that my distance is slightly more than 278 feet. I am going to press Escape. Now that distance can't possibly be right. Or can it? You see, I am looking at this drawing with a 2D mindset. What if some of this geometry was drawn to an elevation? Let's take a look.

I am going to double-click my scroll wheel to do a Zoom Extents and then I am going to come over to the view cube and I'll select a southeast isometric view. All right, now this is a problem. As you can see several of the objects have been drawn or inserted at multiple elevations. Now how does something like this happen? Well, if you exchange drawings with someone who typically works in 3D, something like this can happen very easily, because from a top view you can't see the elevations. So it's very easy to assume that everything is being constructed flat on the coordinate system.

You know as a side point, the next time you get a chance open some project drawings that you've worked on with other clients and take a look at them from a southeast isometric view. You might just be surprised at what you see. All right, so how do we fix something like this? Well, I am going to go back to the top view. Let's zoom in. Right now all of the X and Y coordinates of this geometry are good. If we could just set all of the Z coordinate values to 0, we could flatten the drawing. Fortunately there is a tool that will do this for us automatically.

However, it does have one catch. It doesn't work well with blocks, and in this drawing all of my trees are blocks. So I'm going to move up and launch the Layer Freeze command and I'll select one of my trees to freeze that layer, and I'll press Escape. All right the command we will use to fix this, as on the Express Tools tab. I am going to open up the Modify panel and we'll use this command, Flatten Objects. I am going to zoom out.

I'll select this geometry and press Enter. Now AutoCAD is asking me to remove hidden lines. A hidden line would be a line that's obscured from view and in this case I'm going to press Enter and accept No because I don't want AutoCAD to delete anything. And after a couple seconds, AutoCAD converts the geometry and if I adjust my view again, let's go back to a southeast isometric view. In fact let's go to a right side view. You can see this geometry has been completely flattened. Now how do we deal with the tree blocks? Well, I am going to go back to the Home tab.

Let's click Layer Previous to turn that layer back on and let's set this back to a southeast isometric view. I'm going to fix these trees manually using the Properties palette. I'll start by selecting the symbols. Then I'll come over to the Properties Palette and I'm going to change their Z coordinate to 0 and I'll press Enter. When I'm finished I'll press Escape to deselect. All of my geometries now have been flattened and I'll restore a top view.

So even if you consider yourself a 2D drafter it's important to remember that your drawings might have some 3D geometry. In the event you discover some line work with unnecessary elevations, you can quickly set the elevations back to 0 using the Flatten command.

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