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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.
The first step towards creating accurate geometry is knowing that you can enter linear measurements as you draw. The next step is knowing how to control the direction of your line work. In this, lesson we'll explore the Ortho and Polar mode settings. I'm going to start by launching the Line command and I'll pick a point onscreen, and let's say I'd like to create a perfect square that measures 3 x 3. Well, I could pull to the right, type 3, and hit Enter. And then I could pull down and type 3 and hit Enter. But you know what? I guarantee that the angles at which I'm pulling these lines are not accurate.
This guy is not horizontal and this one is definitely not vertical. Tell you what, let's remove some of this line work. To do that, I'll come back and click Undo and Undo to back up where I started. Now, I'm going to come down and turn on my Ortho mode. To do that, I'll come down to the status bar and click the Ortho mode icon. Note that we can also toggle this tool by pressing F8. When I do, you can see that this restricts my cursor movement to 90-degree increments, which is actually perfect. If I want to draw a square now, I can simply pull to the right and type 3 and hit Enter. I'll come down, 3, and hit Enter. I'll come over, 3, and then I'm going to come down and click Close to close my shape. Knowing what we know now, let's try and recreate the geometry on the right side of the screen. I'm going to press my spacebar to re-launch line. I'll pick my starting point. I'm going to be starting in the lower-right corner. I'll work my way around clockwise.
So, I'll pull to the left four units and hit Enter. I'll come up 4.5, Enter. I'll come over 2.25. And then it becomes a race to see who gets this finished first, you or me. Let me come over five. I'm going to come down 1.25. And I typed an incorrect measurement there. That's all right, don't worry. We can always come down and click Undo to take that away. Let me correct that. That measurement should have been 2.5. I'll come over one and a quarter. And then I'll finish my shape by clicking Close. As you can see, by restricting the direction of our cursor to 90-degree increments, it's very easy to create accurate geometry.
Now, what if you'd like to snap to additional angles? Well, that's what the Polar Setting is for. Let's take a look. I'm going to pan my geometry over. I'll launch the Line command again and pick a point onscreen. You can see that the Ortho is still locked. I'm going to come down and click the icon right next to Ortho. This guy stands for Polar Tracking. Note that we can also toggle this tool using the F10 key. When I turn it on and move my cursor, you'll see that polar allows us to snap to 90-degree increments by default. So, if I wanted to draw a line horizontal on my screen, I could simply pull to the right and type a distance like 5 and hit Enter. Ican also draw to other angles if I wish. But as long as I get close to an even 90, I can snap to that direction.
I'm going to press Escape to finish my line. Let's launch the command again. And let's say I'd like to create a diamond shape that measures 3 x 3. I'll start by picking my first point onscreen and you can see the 90 is nice here, but really, I'd like to snap to a different angle. Let's change our polar angle. To do that, I'll come down and right-click on the Polar icon and I will select a new angle from this list. I'm going to choose 45 and you can see that I now snap to every 45-degree increment. So to create my diamond, I'll pull up and to the right. I'll type 3, Enter. I'll come down to the right, 3, Enter.
We'll come over 3, and then I'll click Close to finish my shape. Knowing what we know now, let's see if we can re-create this geometry. I'll start by relaunching the Line command. I'll pick a point in the lower-right corner and I will pull to the left five units. I will come up ten units, making sure that I am snapped to that angle when I hit Enter. And you know, at this point you may be wondering, can you take and jump back and forth between Polar and Ortho? Sure you can. I can come down and turn my ortho back on, and I can come over five units. I can come down 1.23. At this point I need a 45-degree angle. I'll come over and turn my polar back on. We'll take care of this distance, 2.5. I'll come down four. I'll come over 2.5. Then when I'm finished, I'll click Close. And since I'm finished creating geometry for right now, I'm going to come down and turn my polar mode back off. As you can see, the Ortho and Polar modes allow us to control the direction in which our line segments are drawn, making it very easy to construct accurate geometry.
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